People think I’m superwoman, but I’m really just a mom pushed too far by anxiety and bouts of depression. That’s the mask I wear. That’s my superpower of sorts. That’s the heavy shield I bear.
We call it anxiety. Experiencing the mental markers of worry and racing thoughts and avoidance and fear to prove it. And we’ve become okay owning anxiety because we all crawled through a year of isolation, work-from-home, e-learning, social distancing, disinfecting, questioning, and so on, with sanitizer in one hand and medication in the other. Anxiety became a community of sorts, and we celebrated its acceptance, finding common ground in sweeping everything under its rug. But, if anxiety is a rug, mine is detailed with a depressive fringe.
And depression is something no one wants to roll out on display.
We own up to our anxiety, but what about the depression of it? What about the hopelessness, the indifference, the feeling of worthlessness, and the thought of simply giving up – quitting. Why is no one talking about depression? Why is anxiety okay and depressive days or periods of time are not?
Perhaps it’s because anxiety is something built on nerves, and nerves mean you’re alive. But depression… Depression is what happens when you feel nothing at all. When your anxiety has ripped through, leaving you hollow. Anxiety happens to moms – supermoms – who are juggling the world; who are active and able. Depression, seemingly, is something that happens to women unfit for motherhood. It’s not something you picked up in passing – the catching of a bug.
You are the bug. It is within you. It’s your brain.
Today, with the help of monthly counseling and daily medication, I can safely come down from that kind of negative self-talk because I would never think that about someone else. But, I would be lying if I told you that my heart and head don’t detour down that road of destruction, asking me to prove myself when I already have. I already do.
I already am.
But I’m not superwoman.
It’s supposed to be a compliment. It’s supposed to be a nice thing. It’s supposed to support girl power – a rally to women who get sh*t done.
“You do it all!”
“You’re killing it!”
Am I killing it? Or am I killing myself?
I initially struggled to transition into motherhood because I was hanging on so desperately to what I could do and accomplish before becoming a mom. And when I had my second, I had to prove to myself twofold that I could keep up. As if being a mom wasn’t enough. As if having a career and managing motherhood didn’t already fill my plate. As if anything extracurricular wasn’t a bonus.
Have you ever held onto something so tightly that it slipped through your fingers like sand? I’ve held onto my pre-kids identity a little too tightly. I’ve held onto the “ideal” mom a little too fiercely. I’ve held onto the ceaseless nature that my now socially accepted anxiety encouraged me to preserve. I’ve held on until I was grasping at air, free-falling into depressive days and sleepless nights, experiencing the impact but feeling nothing at all.
I am not superwoman. I am not supermom. I am not supernatural.
I am me. Imperfect, but worthy. Flawed but filled. Uncertain, but determined. Broken, but able.
I am human.
On a recent depressive day, where the former of the above statements weighed heavier than the latter, I opened the car door to let my girls out, and their smiles beamed at me. Tears rushed to my eyes, a blanket of feelings resurfacing and the reality that depression had masked cutting through. These precious girls. My precious girls. I asked myself how I could ever forget my worth when they are so tied up in it.
For those smiles, I know I am enough. For the echoing giggle – a ripple effect of joy – I am enough. For the time, they formed within me. For the body that they called home. For the parts of me that will forever be theirs. I am enough.
I am enough, not because I am superwoman. I am enough not because I deny myself days to feel sad, to take my medication, to speak with a professional, to cry and feel and make a new plan. I am enough because my kids look at me like I hung the moon and decorated the skies with stars as brilliant as they are.
I am enough because I am mom. And moms are humans, too.