From the National Institute of Mental Health:
- One in four women will experience severe depression at some point in life.
- Depression affects twice as many women as men, regardless of racial and ethnic background or income.
- Depression is the number one cause of disability in women.
Only one fifth of women who suffer from depression seek treatment. One fifth of one in four, which means that in a room of sixty women, fifteen suffer depression but only three are getting help.
What is it about us as women that makes us vulnerable to depression, & then paralyzed to receive help?
Through our determination to be seen as strong, rather than the weaker sex, do we not recognize the symptoms? Do we push aside the exhaustion & irritability as “being a woman,” not understanding that they are signs of imbalance, just as much as tears? Or maybe that guttural instinct to “buck up” as a mother & push through, despite the nagging anxieties & cloying despair.
In the era of the supermom, we feel pressure to be an odd mixture of a June Cleaver housewife & a Martha Stewart business mogul — are we afraid to verbalize that we cannot do it all? Is there shame in that feeling that maybe, somehow, someway, we failed womanhood?
Or the shame that buries deep in our soul when the depression pulls us away from children & spouses & the focus of our life, but we fight a losing battle against it & we are too afraid to say, “I am sorry, but my heart is not here.” We are told that women should not feel this way.
Or perhaps the shame of the neighbor’s wagging tongue that has already weighed the label on our sweater, the car in our driveway, the organic qualities of our dinner, & the manners of our children. Dare we expose one more Achilles Heel to the harshest judges?
Is it the rising cost of healthcare in this downtrodden economy where some of us struggle to keep shoes on small feet & food in mouths? Perhaps it is a failure of the medical field to screen properly & then offer options. Or even the lack of options (did you know there is only ONE inpatient postpartum mood disorder clinic in the country?!). Is it because it is one more task on our growing lists, where small children cannot tag along?
No matter the cause, I boldly say this — Women, you are worth it.
If you are hurting & suffering & scared, please know that you deserve to feel better. It is not weakness that asks for help – instead, there is courage in the acceptance.