I never thought depression would knock at my door. I’ve always thought of myself as a happy-go-lucky person, one who had a cheerful, positive disposition. You would rarely see me sad or crying (unless I watch a tear-jerking movie).
When I found out I was pregnant the first time I started feeling sorry and sad for myself. I began to worry about law school, my career, even what other people would say about me.
“It must be the hormones,” I thought. As the months went by, the cheerful me was fading. I was always crying for no reason at all especially after I gave birth. I thought, "It must be postpartum depression."
When I gave birth to my second baby, I had to give up becoming a lawyer, a dream I've had since I was 6 years old.
I became a stay-at-home mom. I read somewhere that stay-at-home moms are more prone to depression. It seemed right in my case.
I woke up with barely the energy to drag myself out of bed. Somehow, I managed to do the chores, bathe and feed the kids, bring them to school, wait for them as they finished their extra-curricular activities, prepare meals, read them a bedtime story, and put them to sleep.
I did feel good each time I accomplished something with the kids or saw the house clean. But deep inside, there was always that sense of longing for something. I couldn't put my fingers on it. I felt like I was slowly losing myself.
I used to fantasize about being alone, with no responsibilities to worry about and do whatever I want. Then I would hear my kids cry or fight, and it would bring me back to reality.
I cried over little things when no one was looking. Every time my kids called me, I would pause for a few seconds before answering. I often found myself staring blankly out the window. I was like a time bomb waiting to explode.
Here’s the worst part: I have not talked to anyone about this.
I haven't shared with anyone what I was going through the past years. But, during a lunch date, a good friend told me, "It's a good thing you were able to come with us. You need this break."
I think that's what us moms need. A break.
We all need a break and put ourselves first. I need to prioritize myself so that I can be more effective, more efficient, more stable, and less depressed.
There is still a stigma surrounding depression here in the Philippines. People struggling with depression often wear a mask to show other people that they’re okay even if they’re not. I am scared to open up about it, too, out of fear of being judged. I fear that people will tell me to “get over it” or say “it’s all in the mind. ”
And please, having kids, no matter how much I love them and I am willing to take a bullet for them, is not the cure for depression.
I found myself taking up journaling and calligraphy to help me cope with depression. I wrote every time I felt like bursting. I savored every second of peace at home (and that includes having long baths, LOL) to make me appreciate that there is more to be thankful for than being sad or mad.
I started making friends — mommy friends — who had the similar stories like mine. They made me feel that I was not alone.
Slowly, I am learning to reconnect with myself to enable me to function adequately. After all, what’s the use of being a perfect mother if you feel empty inside?
This piece was submitted by SmartParenting.com.ph reader Ayi Anigan and first appeared on her blog, "The Momma Chronicles." Edits have been made by Smart Parenting editors. Ayi is a former banker turned law student turned stay-at-home mom. She is mom to two adorable girls, Lexi, 6, and Jay, 4. She started her blog as an outlet to remind her that there's more to life than just career and being on top.