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.
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,
Your Warrior Mom.