A Mom Under The Weight Of The World

It was never easy being a parent. For a while now, illnesses, school shootings, and bullying are something we have to think about in addition to the normal making sure our kids don’t get hurt falling off the the jungle gym, chewing their food thoroughly, and knowing how to swim safely. In the last decade or so, we have also had to learn how to protect our kids in what seems like a much crazier world than we grew up in.

And now, we have covid. Any sickness that our kids used to get is amplified because now we are worried that it might be something worse than it is. Things like seeing friends and family and participating in extracurricular classes used to be easy, but now have become more difficult because we have to weigh the risks of catching a relatively new disease that we don’t yet know how our bodies will react to. Every single daily activity is weighed for risk.

It’s easy to say to not worry and that whatever will be will be and that we tried our best in protecting our kids. But it’s not that simple.

Your kids are your hearts walking around outside of your body. I’m sure most of us have heard this analogy before. It’s so true. Anything they feel, we feel. The question is how long can we last.

I know we aren’t in the worst position in the world. I know there are parents dealing with dictatorships and wars and poverty, all while in a pandemic. Even though we are aware that we might be in a better situation than a lot of other people, it doesn’t make our feelings any less valid. How much can we handle before we break? How do we keep going?

I can tell you what I feel like when I see anything affect my child. I want to do everything and anything I can to make sure they feel 100%, whether physically or emotionally. I feel so helpless like that there is nothing that I can do that will be good enough. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve cried just because I feel like I’m the worst mom on the planet because I’m not doing enough to protect my kids.

We are in a situation that is beyond hard and that we don’t actually know when it’ll end. I don’t have a good solution to offer up either. I’m just trying my best at this point. And hoping with all my heart that it gets better.

Sharing Depression

I recently talked to my parents about the fact that I have a tendency towards depression. I admitted that I’ve had it since I was a teenager. It wasn’t something I could put a name to at that point but looking back after all of the experiences I’ve had living with it, it was there just waiting for me to fall into its pit. Somehow, even with these feelings constantly swirling around me, I managed to get all the way through my 20s before it became a major issue. And finally with all of the right elements in place, it did become a huge issue.

I couldn’t get out of bed on those days. Food wasn’t meaningful. Every day was such a huge struggle that life was beyond hard. I must have cried so much in that time frame. Because of the constant therapy and the fight I finally decided to put up against it, I did make it through.

Even though life was infinitely better and more well-rounded through my 30s, it would still linger in the background. For a while after having each of my children, post-partum depression definitely made a strong appearance. Luckily, for me, it wasn’t as bad as it could have been. Eventually, I even got to a point where my life was starting to feel good because I was getting more time to chase my dreams.

Then, covid hit. Everything went backwards. For a while, it was fine. It took almost a year and a half but then the little pieces of it added up. Somehow, without noticing it, it became bigger and bigger until just earlier this year, I realized that depression was back. Not just a hint or a faint scent but full-fledged back.

It’s not like I shut down. I didn’t. I couldn’t. I have a family to take care of. I have businesses to run. I can’t lay in bed for hours, eating candy, and hoping to feel better. I have to continue to function this time. So I did. I kept pushing forward. What choice do I have?

You know when I realized it was depression? When I realized I couldn’t feel excited about anything. When joy seemed to be nowhere in sight. I wasn’t laughing anymore. Things feel like they’ll never be better. Sometimes, you end up floating around in that black cloud that makes you question “what’s the point?”.

The best decision I made when covid hit was to get back into therapy. So now, I’ve been doing sessions throughout the last year which means I haven’t sunk as fully as I could have. I’m also aware and grateful for the support I do have around me because I know that they keep me afloat in what could have been that bottomless pit. Just a few moments of calm each week with people that love me keeps me holding on.

So I told my parents all of this. My parents have been pretty supportive with the whole mental health thing. They’ve tried to understand why and how I feel as I do. This isn’t always the case with South Asian Indian parents. Mental health is still a stigma. Depression is a stigma. Anxiety is a stigma. Everything that isn’t able to be physically seen is a stigma.

The biggest question that comes out of it is “How can you be depressed when you have everything?” I do have everything. I’m luckier than most. And the biggest blessing I have is the ability to communicate openly how I feel. I know I’m not alone.

So this is how I answered the question, “It’s because I had everything that it wasn’t or hasn’t been worse. I survived because I had the family support. I survive daily because I am able to talk about what I’m going through with my spouse, family, and friends. I get through each day knowing the next might be better because I don’t have to hide that I don’t feel okay.”

That’s it. Just being able to share that little piece, being able to cry when it’s not all okay, is enough to make sure I don’t drown when things are hard, when the world in general is hard. That’s how I know that one day I will get through it. It’s hard thing to consistently believe but I have had better days and for now, one day at a time is all I can do.

Floating

How many of you are currently living inside of your heads? No matter what’s actually happening, you are just floating through your day to day. You get through each day, functioning, doing your daily tasks but not really living in the present.

Has anyone else started worrying or thinking more about every day things that you wouldn’t have considered before? (“Started” might be the wrong word since covid has been going on for over a year now.) The slightest things I wouldn’t have noticed before stress me out now. Allergies, pain anywhere, a change in anything.

I recently looked up the timeline of the flu of 1918 to find out when things would feel a little bit more normal again. The article I read said that by spring of 1920, it was like it never happened. Overall, it doesn’t seem too bad, 2- 2.5 years of dealing with masks and quarantining. But living through it is harder than sounds. Every step we take is filled with worry and stress. The “what ifs”, the “is this the right choice”, the “should we” haunt us every day and every day after that.

We are living with loneliness even with a house full of people, the personal and professional sacrifices that some of us have made in order to deal with schooling and full time caretaking, and the lack of freedom that comes with thinking about what is necessary for the good of the community. The things that would have alleviated these feelings in the past are not options in the current state of society. The events and celebrations that we would have looked forward to have all but disappeared. We float.

It’s emotional and mentally exhausting. It’s surviving and dealing with small pieces of joy that are incredibly difficult to see. It’s feeling like things will never be okay again. It’s putting one foot in front of the other, while feeding your family, making sure they are safe and mentally okay, and giving them what they need to at least survive, if not thrive. And, in the end, what will each of us be left with?

I’m ready to get my feet back on the ground and move forward. I don’t want to float anymore.