10 Legitimate Reasons That Depressed Mothers Are Afraid to Ask for Help
You would be hard pressed to find anyone who is unfamiliar with the terms "Depression" and "Bipolar Disorder" in this day in age (to name the two that I would consider to be the most "mainstream of the Mental Health Horn O' Plenty anyways). There has been a steady increase over the last few years of people seeking treatment for a myriad of disorders in fact. The World Health Organization claims that 1 in 4 people suffer with a mental health condition, and Depression alone is on the verge of becoming the number 1 medical condition that will cause people to turn to Public Disability Programs for financial support, as they are unable to maintain employment or support themselves in any other way.
These numbers are incredibly concerning. Which is why over the past 5 years, we have also seen the rise of the Suicide Prevention campaigns, "Let's Talk" campaigns, and Mental Health Awareness campaigns. The overall goal is to work on eliminating the stigma that also walks hand in hand with Mental Illness and encourage those who are struggling with their Mental Health to feel confident in seeking out the support and treatment that they need in order to (hopefully) better manage their symptoms and improve their quality of life.
For the most part, I believe that these campaigns have been very successful. More and more people are openly talking about their own struggles with mental illness on Social Media. We are seeing more and more blogs every day. There are Suicide Hotline phone numbers everywhere you look it seems. And quite frankly, these things are long overdue.
But, there is still 1 group of sufferers that have to really proceed with caution when it comes to this one. And that group, of course, would be the Moms.
Yup. We as Mothers are nowhere close to being given much in the way of compassion if suffering with Depression. The stigma that Mothers face is absolutely unbelievable. Admitting that you are a depressed Mom will almost always bring out the the rock throwers and torch lighters. And this point barely scrapes the surface of the issue.
Based on my own experience, and the circumstances where I have personally witnessed others being slammed into the pavement for having the audacity to even consider dropping the "D" word, here are the Top 10 reasons as to why Mothers are less likely to seek help or admit that they are struggling with depression in a society that openly supports the notion that we have to stop stigmatizing those who are struggling with Mental Illness.
10. You will almost always be invalidated
This is so very true. There will be no shortage of common folk and even a few Professionals in fact, informing you that it isn't even "that bad", and kindly reminding you to pull up those "big girl panties and get on with it."
9. You will be reminded of how selfish you clearly must be
Yep. Remember lady, YOU made the choice to bring children into this world, you have no business crying about it now. How selfish you must be to subject your poor kids to your bullshit. Grow up!
8. "If I can do it, why can't you?"
Karen over there has 5 kids, 3 jobs, a hobby farm, and even crochets blankets for premature babies at the hospital on Sundays! You don't even have 1 job and only 2 kids! What the fuck is wrong with you?
7. You should be grateful
Because some people would do anything to have children, but can't. Some people's kids have cancer. Kids in Africa are starving. *Insert "they have it worse story here".
Maybe if you spent more time counting your blessings, you wouldn't be so "depressed", asshole.
6. Mothers have an image to uphold and holy shit if you do not measure up
Isn't culture awesome like that? According to every goddamned advertisement since the existence of print media, "Mom" has a very specific role and image in society, and if you are not constantly happy, nurturing, organized, thin, domestic, and involved in every imaginable fundraiser or bake sale that your community has to offer? Or, if you are all of those things....but sad about it? What purpose do you even serve? We were made for this shit. What do you mean you hate your life and want to die? Those poor kids :(
5. Even those who do empathize, still can't understand
Again, based on the whole notion of what a Mom is supposed to be, it seems impossible to understand that you could be anything but thrilled to be living the dream as a Mom in 2018. They are concerned to a degree of course. But hey, at least most of us have washing machines these days rather than a wash board and bucket tub so....what's the problem? Please refer back to number 3 if anything here is lacking in clarity.
4. If you are in a relationship/married, chances are your partner just "doesn't get it"
They just don't understand why you are sad all of the time. And quite frankly? Your shit attitude and lack of interest in sex is forcing them to consider getting their needs met elsewhere. Do you really want your depression to be the reason that your partner leaves you? Stop being so selfish.
Pro tip: the onus for cheating in a relationship is always on the cheater. Nobody can force another person to engage in infidelity under any circumstances. Ever!
3. Managing scheduled appointments feels impossible, especially when you are poor
Has anyone else noticed this, or is this just me? Every time I have attempted to schedule an appointment with someone in the Mental Health field, the only times that ever seem to be open are 3 months in the future, and during a time where I am legitimately unable to attend. It got to the point where I simply gave up on it altogether. Another thing to consider is that in many cases, actually getting to the Doctor is a huge battle in and of itself. Especially when we realize that mental illness tends to effect those in poverty on a far larger scale than those who are financially better off. Long story short, it is extremely challenging to actually meet program requirements, visit both Doctors AND Psychologists/Psychiatrists, and still manage to pay the rent when you lack the resources and transportation to even do so in the first place. To clarify for those in the back: being too poor to pay for transportation does not equal too lazy to actually seek the help that one needs to function.
2. Calling a Crisis Line and even hinting at thoughts of suicide can land you in hot water
Look. I get it. If the operator on the other end has reason to believe that you may cause harm to self or others, they are legally obligated to get police involved. I can appreciate their position, truly. However, there is a big difference in feeling suicidal or thinking about suicide, and actually having a full blown plan to actually do it. Is the operator a mind reader? No. But surely they should have a base understanding of how to objectively assess the situation. And many do of course. But all it takes is getting the wrong operator, or a newbie, or someone who is biased and assumes that every single caller is going to ultimately pull the trigger and KABOOM. Welcome to the back of a Police cruiser, on route to a padded room in the Psych ward of the nearest hospital. Heaven help you if you have children and this happens and no backup childcare. You will be taken by force and yes, I have been threatened by an Officer with a taser if I did not comply. I could go tasered, or untasered.
Regardless, there was no alternative. I wasn't suicidal, intoxicated, or out of control. I was just very very sad, and decided to call a Crisis line. I had no childcare back up. Which leads me to the number 1 reason that I personally will never again in my life reach out for help regarding my issues with Depression.....
1. It can actually get worse. Say hello to Child Protection Workers
I have very little polite discourse when it comes to the mere mention of this corrupt and deplorable Government-funded and publicly-supported baby snatching ring that claim to be there to "support and protect" children and families.
Admitting that I was depressed did indeed result in the temporary loss of my 2 children. I will not get too detailed here (that will be saved for another article entirely, believe me). But yes. Admitting that I was feeling very sad, very overwhelmed, and reaching out for help ultimately fucked my family 5 ways from Sunday. If we thought that I was depressed before? Ha. That was nothing compared to what came later. I am now overwhelmed with guilt as my children wound up traumatized by Foster Care as did I. I came thisclose to losing my house, vehicle, and we are still in the financial toilet months later as I lost the child benefits that were necessary to support the bill payments. I had nothing. I am still begging the bill collectors for more time as it takes months for those to kick back in once you they are removed. But that is besides the point. The bottom line really is, asking for help almost cost us everything. And, I have actually developed panic disorders and a literal fear of people since. I have always been more on the Introverted side of the coin, but this is different. This is a full blown withdrawal from society in general.
Before we even dare to try and justify what these "Protection Workers" did here, consider these few things first:
- The children were not present when I decided to reach out for help and had no knowledge that I was even right bummed out to begin with (you learn to hide depression well after years of social shame for having it in the first place).
- I was not intoxicated in the slightest, I do not have issues with alcohol or drugs nor have I ever.
- I have no record in the slightest of abusive behaviors, especially towards children. I have never harmed a single person in my life.
- I did not threaten or even claim to have a plan to commit suicide whatsoever. The closest that I got to the topic of suicide was stating that I was so overwhelmed with the struggles of life that I wish that I didn't even exist in the first place. When directly asked if I had any plans of self-harm, I responded with a sound NO, as I have 2 children to raise and am the sole support parent.
- I am solely guilty of making it known that I am depressed and that I wanted to actively engage in getting help for it, because being a Mom and being depressed makes it extremely difficult to parent and I was concerned that my ability to be a good Mom was being grievously harmed by fighting with my own goddamned mind day in and day out.
The point is, there is absolutely no excuse whatsoever for the sheer levels of Hell that tornadoed through my front door, simply because I felt "safe" to make that life-altering phone call. Making that call took every ounce of courage that I had in me to even punch in the phone numbers. And sadly, my case is not that uncommon. We just don't read much about these things in the mainstream media because if we did? Well, the general public might not be too pleased with what their tax dollars are paying for here. Oh and by the way? In Ontario alone, 1.4 billion dollars is taken from the public purse to fund the individually owned and operated Child Protection Corporations.
So much for offering compassion and support it seems when you consider how the funding structures work I suppose.
So, there you have it folks. These are the reasons that I truly believe that Mothers (especially the most vulnerable, which are single Mothers of low income) keep their mouths firmly shut when it comes to their struggles with depression or any other stigmatized and fully misunderstood metal illness. The truth really is that there ARE risks involved, and by reaching out, we really are putting a lot on the table. You have to ultimately decide if it is worth the gamble. And this, to me, is beyond horrific.
It shouldn't be a terrifying and risky ordeal to simply reach out for help with a medical condition. I never dreamed that this could happen to us. If I could go back to that day in July, and if I could have predicted that outcome....I never would have picked up the phone. Never. And it bothers me on such a deep level that I, or anyone else for that matter, should feel this way. I want to be very clear about this one: Suicide is a REAL THING, and ANYONE who feels such levels of despair that it begins to look like the only tangible option should immediately seek help and actually fucking get it. At no point should reaching out for support result in a world of punishment that ultimately leads to worsening mental and emotional conditions at the end of the day. This notion alone renders me utterly speechless.
We as a society need to wake up. There is no reason whatsoever to treat Mothers who need help in this area with such disdain and disregard. And if we are going to keep "talking about Mental Illness", ending stigma, and encouraging people to reach out for help? We need to offer that same level of love and compassion to Moms as well. And quite frankly, I do not believe that we have come close to creating a feeling of inclusion and safety with it comes to supporting and encouraging Mothers to reach out, and it is driving us further into despair which I can promise you, isn't helping anyone. Especially those "poor kids" that we keep mentioning as a side note.
This issue needs to be brought to the table and it needs to start happening right now.
Please, if you know a Mom who is struggling, or if a Mom finds the courage to admit it (whether in person or online) I am asking that you really consider how you respond. It only takes 1 off-hand comment or assumption to discourage her from mentioning it ever again, and in some cases, could be the catalyst to a preventable tragedy. Let that sink in. You do not have to understand, but at the very least, please offer her some sort of compassion. If you are incapable of doing that much? Say nothing at all. Just keep scrolling.
Finally, for those of you who can easily identify with this, and who are feeling very hopeless, miserable, or depressed? This part is important:
I want you to know that there is help out there. I know, it certainly doesn't sound that way from what you have just read but hear me out. Everything that has been stated here has come from a place of raw honesty and truth. Yes, these things did happen to me. However, I would never ever discourage anyone from seeking out whatever support that they need to manage this shit, and if you ARE feeling suicidal (as in, you have a plan, you are thisclose, things like that)....please call 911 or go to your closest Emergency Room. Whatever you have to do to not make a drastic decision that cannot be undone. Your children desperately need you, even if it doesn't feel that way. Even if you feel like the biggest failure in the world as a Mom, believe me when I tell you that Foster Care is far more traumatizing than you on your absolute worst day. Your kids would rather you be sad than gone entirely. This is my ironclad guarantee to you. I am just saying that you need to be cautious in how you go about it. Be sure to look into local services that are known for taking good care of those who seek them out. A good example, in my opinion (if you are in Canada) would be the Canadian Mental Health Association if you need a place to start. These folks actually get it. They were my light in the darkness, truly.
Additionally, my door is always open if you need a boost or just want to vent and have your feelings validated. Good people still exist and I have faith that those who create Hubs such as this or simply follow along with us, will always welcome you with open arms (even if our arms are a little broken as well.) If you are one of these awesome folks, please make your presence known. Angels like yourself are in short supply!
Remember this: reaching out for help is not something to ever be ashamed of. You are not weak, a failure, a loser, a "drama queen", and you are certainly not in the wrong. Nobody chooses to battle with Mental Illness and being afflicted with one is not your fault! Finding the courage to seek help and support is actually the polar opposite of each of those statements. In fact, recognizing that you have a problem and taking the necessary steps to deal with that problem makes you a fucking Warrior. Do not ever forget that.
The way that we continue to treat Mothers who admit to needing help with Depression is the problem here. Not the Mothers who admit it. Period. We need to very seriously reconsider how we continue to isolate and shame Mothers still, even in 2018. The current system is not working and requires a serious overhaul if we truly wish to offer hope and treatment to those in dire straits, and if we truly mean it when we collectively agree that it is "ok to call for help." Very simple changes in just our general attitudes towards depressed Mothers could mean a world of difference. This is where hope begins.
Can you relate to any of this? What are your experiences with seeking help or services for mental health-related issues? I, for one, will never judge you and would be honored if you felt comfortable enough to share your story in the comments. It might help you to feel less alone in this battle while offering a sense of relief for others who can totally relate to the war that is our own minds. Both positive and negative input is encouraged. Whatever your story entails, it is both valid and important. I hope to have your input!
There is still a huge stigma against Mothers who struggle with Mental/Emotional Distress
© 2018 Amber Slater