Stay-at-Home-Mom Depression is Real and You're Not Alone
What society doesn't talk about is the isolation. The loneliness. The jagged break in your identity. This is how you change it.
Momma, I see you. You give everything to your kids, your spouse—and you aren't totally happy about it. You may be feeling lonely, without purpose, something called Stay-at-Home Mom Depression, affecting more than a quarter of Stay-At-Home parents. Something totally normal, so let's talk about how normal it is, and then we can talk about how to get you feeling better.
First, Momma, remember the old you? The one who danced barefoot under the blazing, brilliant stars, drove fast down endless highways, or slept in until you were wide-eyed and rested? She is still there. Although motherhood has you think you have lost your true wild self and handed it over to an abyss of dirty dishes and glacial pits of laundry, the truer truth is: you haven't lost any of you.
Remember when you used to be in school? Maybe you were an athlete? A server? A banker, teacher, or lawyer? You made people laugh, you got shit done. You were recognized. You had passions. You mattered in the big bad world. You tried to transfer this belief to the home, and believed the people you lived with would recognize you like the world once did. But the moment you entered maternity leave, then transitioned to staying at home with your tiny human, you felt a shock to your system. You felt like your identity was traded over for one word: Mom.
And all of this has you feeling a little angry, confused, and sad. But, momma, you aren't alone.
Rachel, a SAHM from New York, who left her job as an office manager, reflects on this feeling, "I struggle every day trying to figure out where I fit into this world now. My dreams and goals still run through my mind daily and I keep trying to think of ways I can make them work while simultaneously raising children."
If you are like Rachel, you are the 1 in 5 parents who stay home to raise kids. You are the one who traded it all for this. And stay-at-home depression is the big elephant in the room. The thing we need to discuss openly.
And you might not say anything because there is a stigma in complaining. Society sees you staying at home as a "gift." Your spouse has a large enough paycheck to support you. You get to witness the tiny, miraculous moments that not all of us get. But even in those moments, something isn't enough. What society doesn't talk about is the isolation. The loneliness. The jagged break in your identity.
And we don't talk about it because we are in the game of pretending everything is perfect. Look at the Instagram Moms you follow—some talk about this, but not all. Momma, if you do one thing, surround yourself by people who tell the truth—all of the messy truth. Because the more we talk about something, the easier it becomes.
And, Momma, if you are feeling completely cut-off from the world and want to go back to work, why not lean into that feeling? You might be feeling guilty, but still, you should try it on.
Just because you chose to stay at home, you don't have to forever. If you want to go back to work, your kids will cheer you on. Because what the world really wants, is for you to be happy. It feels good for a woman to contribute to the greater turning world outside of her tiny world. It feels good to receive a paycheck. So momma, if you miss work—work.
If you want or need to continue staying home, there are ways to work through your depression. Talk to a friend. Journal. Schedule coffee and dinner dates with your friends. Work toward a goal. A 5k, or a marathon. A Pinterest inspired craft festival. A chili cook-off. Work part-time from home during naps and school hours. Whatever you can envision, you can do.
And, momma, if you have something to work toward, it will change everything.
The only constant in life is change. And remember that saying? If you aren't growing, you're dying? Maybe you, momma, need to work on yourself as the whole, complete person you are. You don't need to give it all to have it all. You deserve to leave your mark in your home and world. In fact, momma, you are so beautiful and talented, that the world misses your unique view of this messy, magical place called life. Why not share the wealth?
You may think you cannot hold both your babies and your dreams in the same hand, but that's why you have two hands, momma.
You have the choice on what you peel back from your old self, and find again. And I hope, this year, momma, you don't forget about you.
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This article originally appeared on Parents.com