Mothering in the Dark

Ella and Caleb,

My sweet ones.

I knew all summer I’d write this letter.

But now that it’s here, now that it’s time to write, I hesitate. Fear creeps in and I wonder what you’ll think of me.

Because depression and shame often work together to chain and to bind no matter how hard you fight.

Ella-girl, my first fight with depression and anxiety came when you were three. And Caleb? I was in the ring again when you were one. Both battles were fought with Faith and medication.

Well, my loves?

I’m in the ring again feeling bloodied and bruised from the fight.

I’m not writing so you feel sorry for me. I’m writing so you know me. I want you know the imperfect hollows of my heart and mind.

I writing real. And one day I’ll be brave enough to let you read the real. When you’re ready. Because I never want you to feel as if you have to carry me through the shadowed days. And I never want you to think my dark is your fault. Never, never, never ever.

Because it’s not.

This past summer, while you skipped and danced and swam and biked and played. While you did those things?

I was deep in the dark. Yes. I was there. Yes. I smiled. But I’m an expert at hiding the black days.

You need to know. Your Daddy? He really is Prince Charming. He hides me so often behind his strong tower of safety. He shelters you from my worst days. And this past summer, he made sure you had the fun things to do.

But my darlings, I felt so weak.

Ella? My kind girl. There were times you needed me to do things for you this summer. Times the fog was so thick on me, I simply forgot.

I’m so sorry.

And Caleb? My boy who bounces and bounds with abandon? All you wanted was someone to play with this summer.

I’m so sorry.

My darlings, the guilt is so heavy it consumes me. But that’s the darkness talking. Because there were good days.

There really were.

But sometimes I wonder if you wish I was someone else? Do you wish you had a momma who is all-kinds-of-fun? Do you wish I had it all together?

I also wonder if you know how strong I am.

Because fighting depression and anxiety? Fighting the darkness? It’s not for wimps.

There will be people you hear in the whispered corners of your life that talk. They will say harsh and critical things about those who struggle like me. They will shake their heads and tsk-tsk because they think medication is for the weak. They will believe that those who live in darkness can simply choose light with a finger snap.

My sweet ones? Please don’t listen. Turn your ears away. Those arguments only want to stomp and crush and extinguish the spirits of the fighters.

And those who turn to face the darkness every single day? Those who open their eyes and rise out of their beds and walk one heavy foot after another into the sun?

They are the warriors.

They choose to war against the diseased pieces of their own minds.

So don’t look at me, sweet ones, and worry. Don’t think I will break like a branch drained of life. I’m refined by the fire, not consumed by it.

Because I’m never alone in the depression inferno. The Prince of Peace, my Jesus—your Jesus, He’s there. Always. There are so many reasons He allows these dark times to shadow my life. Reasons I can see. Reasons I can’t. But He never leaves.

Never.

My loves? Don’t believe depression is your momma’s definition. While it influences who I am, it does not define my life. Or yours.

I want to say it again. Again, so you can press it down deep where your memories are strong.

Depression is never someone’s definition.

You need to know I am so much more than a medical term. Believe that I am brave and strong and courageous. Because I choose to fight. I choose to fight with a tiny blue pill—God’s miracle of modern medicine. And I choose to fight with the One who never leaves or forsakes.

I choose to fight for me.

I choose to fight for your Daddy.

I choose to fight for you.

I will continue to choose the fight. I promise.

Because I love you both,

Forever,

Always,

Your Warrior Mom.

family-fun

A day of real smiles and sweet summer memories.

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30 Responses to Mothering in the Dark

  1. Gail Matthews says:

    Keep up the battle, precious one. You are so worth the fight. You are cherished by so many.

  2. Kendra G. says:

    Love you, dear friend! Praying for you and your beautiful family! xoxo

  3. Karen Hanson says:

    Dear Petal Maker,

    Of the blogs I actually read, yours is my favorite. Because you’re so real. Honest. Likeable. You take me back to mothering young. I was far from an expert and made gigantic mistakes. And I didn’t know how to express myself the way you do. My choice was usually anger. I didn’t know it was okay to have depression. Even the temporary kind. God met me in one episode and brought me literally to my knees before He would lift that day’s downness from me. I’m older now. A grandmother. Two of the guys in my family fight depression. It’s painful. They don’t like to talk about it. One considers suicide too often. Scary, this. Whatever the pill color that helps, I certainly don’t think anything less of you because of your honesty. You just opened the hidden door wide and invited us in. How brave of you. How gracious. How like Jesus.

    :)Karen Hanson
    Whispers and Whatabouts blog at WordPress

  4. Michelle Swearingen says:

    There’s so much bravery in your honesty. Praying for you!

  5. Kellie says:

    From one warrior to another, thank you & agape!

  6. Brandy Koester Currie says:

    Oh this speaks to me. These too are weights I carry. I am thankful for that same little blue pill and for my husbands strong tower sheltering others from my anxiety at times. Mostly I am thankful for Gods love and the power of prayer. But even with all these..it is still nice to know we are not alone in our dark days.

  7. Marti Pieper says:

    You are a warrior. And a lover of your God and your family. And I am proud of you–and praying. (with love from one who wants to be there for you–more.)

  8. Kim Smith says:

    This was beautifully said. As someone who works to help those walking the same path your words will encourage others. Stay strong.

  9. Karen Kunitzky Maxwell says:

    What a perfect blog for me to read my first time visiting your page. I too share your burdens and it is uplifting to know I’m not alone. Thank you for that.

  10. Elizabeth Conard says:

    Your courage to share this with the world also is nothing short of a miracle. Onward toward the light and the everlasting arms of rest and peace.

  11. Deborah Hanson says:

    Thank you. It seems almost trite to say that, but it is meant to the depth of my soul. Thank you.

  12. Lee says:

    Heather, I can only imagine the courage it took for you to share this. But I can also imagine how many people have been and will be blessed, enlightened, and encouraged by your words. Thank you for trusting Jesus enough to enable you to trust us, your readers, with your heart.

  13. Mom says:

    You are one of the strongest women I know and I love you with all my heart!

  14. Beth says:

    Heather that was so beautiful!!! I just love you!

  15. Deanna says:

    Heather, I just know that you’re helping people with your words! Keep fighting and keep writing!
    If I could see you today, I’d give you a great big hug:)

  16. Zelma Dodd says:

    Thanks for being real and sharing. I have a friend that just release her book about her journey through depression. Dr. Michelle Bengston she is a neurophychologist . The book is call Hope Prevails. She understands. It was just released and I know it will encourage you. Praying for you.

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