It is true that 8 years ago I personally took the decision to quit my job and become a stay-at-home-mom. Yes, our circumstances played a major role in our decision (no parents around, no helper, no trusted family members nearby...). Staying home was supposedly a temporary decision before baby #2 arrived and since then time started flying by too fast.
However, with all the joy and privileges I have earned from my decision, one thing slipped through, developing a SAHM depression.
However, I have decided to share my own personal experience. I learned I am not the only one to feel this way, there were even studies and polls (according to Gallup) to shed light and highlight the increasing percentage.
Why it's hard to talk about it? Why this depression is overlooked among SAHMs?
Because not going to work every day is viewed as a privileged choice (for the lucky ones!) Hence, those moms who are struggling don't feel they have the right to speak out. So they bottle up their feelings for fear of looking ungrateful compared to the moms who wish to be in their shoes.
I mean, how dare you complain when you have this priceless opportunity to raise your own kids?
Yes, of course, we are grateful to raise them, to witness all their milestones, to always be with them but that's literally all we become.
So allow me to shed light on the other matters that no one talks about!!
- The isolation, the loneliness, the loss of identity and your sense of your own self!
- The hours spent crying in the shower because your day was so overwhelming.
- How edgy, aggravated, and irritable you are.
- The sleepless nights, the constant worrying, & living in fear for your kid's safety.
- No one wants to understand how can you be this utterly exhausted when, after all, you are just sitting home all day. Add up the house still looks like a wreck!
- And my favorite one; NO one understands how it feels to hear the painful statement you don't have a "real job".
I once was a working woman. I had a job to go to, people and ADULTS to interact with outside the house, the financial security, and the feeling of contributing and accomplishing something. Minding you, that once both my kids were old enough I started looking for a job, however, it is not that easy to find one when you have very limited options.
I can't tell you how many times I hear that 'oh, you have too much time on your hands," & "how I envy you for being home, I wouldn't complain if I was home".
But once you are home things change! Unless you are wealthy enough to constantly go out and around, engage in lots of out-of-the-house activities, have mom's coffee breaks every other day, or join a gym. Or you have a stay-at-home-helper to take all the never-ending house-chores off your hand. Then yes depression level will definitely be much less..
So despite having the "best JOB in the world," I have been suffering from chronic depression for some time and constantly feeling miserable as a SAHM. The pressure moms put on themselves to keep the house clean, make home-cooked meals, keep their kids safe happy and entertained, is sometimes suffocating. It gets to a point you feel so unappreciated.
What is worse, when your depression becomes obvious to those around you and you start hearing comments such as "You have to get yourself out of it," or "Stop doing this to yourself" or "you're just being dramatic and negative!".
Please do allow me to elaborate that depression is not an ON/OFF switch button. Contrary to what most belief or say, for some people, depression is not a state of mind.
Every mom loves her kids like crazy and would do anything for them, but when you do it non-stop around the clock, day in and day out it becomes exhausting.
So next time you hear or see a SAHM venting her frustration, listen and make her feel appreciated. Allow her to openly and honestly share her feelings without being judged or mocked! And as loving and supporting our families and friends are, they too could make a huge difference once they acknowledge what a SAHM does.
To my fellow SAHMs, there will never be a perfect way of parenting, nor an end to the battle SAHMs versus Working moms.
So whenever you are feeling stressed, burnt out, tired, unappreciated, lonely, unsecured, or simply sad...try to remember you are an amazing mom, a one-of-kind mom. And if some self-compassion didn't work then reach out, speak out, and don't be afraid to share your own feelings.