i won’t be like her

Dear Eddie and Charlie,

When I was little I had a friend whose house I went to quite a few times.  I remember I loved spending the night at her house because she had a cool older sister and brother and she had all the Gem dolls.  Her parents let us watch PG movies which was AWESOME (except that time we watched Jaws.  I may have called your Grandpa in the night claiming to be sick so that  he would come pick me up because really I was too scared to stay).

And maybe the movie Splash gave me bad dreams too.  That mermaid tail was way too creepy for my 8 year old mind.

Whatever.  I felt cool for watching those movies.

Anyway, her dad was really nice.  He was always the one to pick me up or bring me home.  He brought us places like her older brother’s wrestling matches.  And he was funny.

But her mom?  I didn’t see much of her.

No matter what time I got there, her mom was in her room with the lights dimmed and a humidifier on.

We were not allowed to play in the kitchen area near her parents’ room.

We were not allowed to go in the bedroom and ask questions.

If we needed anything, we went through my friend’s dad.  He even made all our meals.

In fact, I can’t even tell you what her mom looked like.

It always made me feel a little scared.

I didn’t know if her mom was sick or what.  I remember someone at sometime talking about her not being sick, but alluding to the fact that she was not well in the head.

No one ever talked about it…but after all these years I know that my friend’s mom was depressed (at the least).

Boys, your mom suffers with depression too.

I know what it’s like to not be able to deal with anyone.

To want to lock myself in a room and sleep my life away.

I understand feeling like the world is too much.

I have been told I am loved and prayed for and felt none of it.

I have been completely numb and hollow.

But I didn’t stay in a locked room.

I didn’t turn out the light and turn off my life.

I don’t know what happened to my friend’s mom.  I hope she got help.

I did.

Today, as I write this, I do not feel the cold grip of depression.

But I know from experience that it still hangs around.  Waiting for a vulnerability when it can reach in and grasp me by the heart.

Waiting.

But I know this evil.

I have stared it down and won…many times.

And I will always win.

Do you know why?

Because I never want you to be afraid to play around me.

I never EVER want you to feel like you have tip toe around me in order to be a kid.  to have fun. to enjoy your life.

I want you to have a momma who sings and dances and bakes and makes memories with you.

I want to have family nights with you guys and your dad.  game nights and movie nights.

I want jokes only our family gets and chatty family dinners and silliness.

I want to be part of your lives.

Because you are my whole life.

But depression will be there from time to time.

But it won’t be a secret.

We will talk about what momma is feeling and we will fight it together.

Because the more we fight?  The smaller this depression feels and looser it’s hold on me is.

And when it passes?

We will celebrate.

Every time.

Until depression goes away for good.

Because it has to.

It’s not welcome to our family game nights.

I love you both,
Momma

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About Katie

Just a small town girl...wait no. That is a Journey song. Katie Sluiter is a small town girl, but she is far from living in a lonely world. She is a high school English teacher, college adjunct instructor, freelance writer, mother, and wife. Life has thrown her a fair share of challenges, but her belief is that writing through them makes her stronger.

Comments

  1. Wow. This is a beautifully written and inspiring piece. I have suffered from depression for a number of years as well, and I have such trouble expressing it’s relation to my children. I think I may have to read your beautiful words to them one day. Thank you. Keep celebrating.

  2. You are amazing for writing this. I’ve had bouts of depression (some worse than others) but it’s my kids that always bring me out of it. It’s not fair to them to have a mother curled up in bed day after day. Just the fact that you are talking about it means it’s not getting the best of you. That’s what being a great Mom is all about.

  3. Sometimes people ask me why I am so willing to talk about my inner deamons….about my abusive parents, about my anti-ego and the shades of OCD and PTSD and BDD that they left me with. I’ll slip into metaphors, like how I talk about these things to shine a flashlight on a boogymen in all my dark corners and take away their strength — for myself, and for those still too overcome with the shadows to find a light.

    You, my friend, are a beacon of light.

  4. Damn, I am so sorry you have to deal with this; that in the midst of so much joy there’s the fear of what darkness may sneak up and grab you without your permission.

    But I read these words (and so many others of them for Charlie and Eddie) and I BELIEVE YOU.

    Every bit of it.
    You will be there.

    And all of you will be stronger and closer for the openness and honesty this will require.

    Good thing you’re already so very honest.
    And full of love.

    You’ve got this, girl.

    You know what to do.
    And when you don’t you’ll figure it out.

    Together.

  5. What a scary memory. The people who are supposed to be strong for us as kids…hurting and not able to get help.

    I love that you wrote this to your boys. All three of them, really.

    And much love to you as you continue to push this monster away.

  6. Wow – just wow – for your honesty with this. Thank you.
    I think there is still *huge* stigma in our mom-culture around what it means to be depressed – some people are scared of it or don’t understand it and so there is still a high level of “keep it to yourself” stuff going on. So when I read a blog like this where someone is brave enough to tell it like it is, I am amazed.
    Great post.
    You are a great mommy and your kids are lucky to have you.

  7. I swear you reach in and find all the right ways to say what’s in my head and heart. I feel exactly the same way about my struggles and the effects they could have on my kids. You rock.

  8. Wow. Beautifully written. I feel that way too….no matter how depressed I get, I wont push away my children. Gotta fight for them

  9. Maija @ Maija's Mommy Moments says:

    Your words are so strong I know you have the strength to continue the fight.

  10. Lovely. So relatable. I’m really glad I read your post today. I’m inspired. :)

  11. I love this. I hate that depression is so often a scary secret.. or an unknown.. i love that you will be open with your boys. me too, friend, me too.

  12. I have bipolar disorder and have had to explain my episodes to the kids in the past. You are a stronger person for you struggle, and your kids will appreciate it!

  13. This was wonderful. I love the celebration aspect of coming out the other side – every time. Because that’s what it should be about.

  14. Just lovely. Hang in there, Katie. And I hope you really do give this letter to your boys, at the right time.

  15. What a beautiful and inspiring letter. I struggle with depression every day and I try my best,
    to still be there for my kids, they are my biggest motivation to keep fighting this, until I win.
    Thank you for sharing this.

  16. I have no doubt in you as I read this. I KNOW you will fight for your family and your boys will all fight with you and for you, and your love and strength will always win out.

  17. You are an inspiration, my friend. This is a wonderful letter. All I could think of as I read it was what Oprah always says, “When you know better, you do better”.

    xoxo

  18. I could have written this. Its my story too only it was not my friend’s mom, it was mine and I played at other kids’ houses because I was afraid to bring my friends home and upset my mom with the noise. Great piece. I always said that I do not blame my mom for her depression, I blame her for not getting the help she needed and by extension, her family so desperately needed.

  19. Great piece. It is good you could recognize that you needed help. Sadly some never do. Peace.

  20. This is beautiful! And it makes me realize that while I am functioning through my own depression, I’m not half the mom I’d like to be and that my kids need me to be. Thank you for posting this.

  21. This is beautiful. I’m happy for you and your family.

  22. This letter was so powerful. I want to be able to share my struggles with PPD and PPA as well as my previous diagnosis of generalized anxiety disorder with my girls.

  23. p.s. Because I know you’re curious, I found you via a new app I just downloaded on an ipad. It’s called Zite.

  24. Anonymousey says:

    Have suffered for 20+ years. Mine is treatment resistant. I am so happy you could have kids and successfully parent them. I chose not to because of all the meds and my general state of “low”. It is progress every time someone speaks about it. Thank you for being brave.

  25. Thank-you so much for writing this. I too suffer from depression and am vigilant as much for my little boy’s sake as my own. I wrote recently about my depression on my site as well. But I hadn’t thought to write to my little boy – I think it’s wonderful that you are being honest and open with your children. I wish you and your family all the best as you keep up the good fight. Hugs.

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