Sometimes it’s an invisible pain. Sometimes Mommy hurts and you don’t even know it. This is my story of depression, looking back.
NOTE: As fate would have it, I pitched this entire story (parts 1 and 2) to several women’s publications and they were all rejected. But because I feel this is such a strong, and sometimes still taboo subject, the message needs to get out there. Maybe it can help someone you know.
Those tiny toes. That soft, curly hair. A newborn baby brings so much joy to a family. But when I held my baby for the first time, I was in disbelief thinking, “What do I do now?” I didn’t bond with my firstborn immediately. Was something wrong with me? Why did I feel this way? How do you deal with the scary uncertainties of becoming a first time mother?
I wasn’t a teenager when I had my daughter. But even as a married, educated 26-year-old working for a Fortune 100 company, I felt more unsure of myself than ever before. And it took years for me to grow close to my daughter and see her as more of a blessing than a burden.
Fast forward five years, and I still didn’t quite have a grasp of how to balance motherhood, working at home, and my own ambitious personal goals. I figured it was just my problem. I figured that my snappy attitude and low tolerance for my child’s misbehavior was simply a characteristic of my impatient personality. I told myself to “suck it up” and deal with it, because in life, stuff happens. I didn’t know I was depressed.
Terrie M. Williams, celebrity publicist and author of Black Pain: It Just Looks Like We’re Not Hurting, knows what I mean from her own experience with depression. “As African Americans, we don’t acknowledge our pain and we don’t speak about it,” Williams says. “Our attitude is, ‘Don’t tell your business to other people,’ because it’s a sign of weakness. From the days of slavery on, you’re taught to have the attitude that you do what you have to do, and you don’t complain.”