Stigma. Supermom. Shame. Struggle. Shattered. (You are worth more.)

by heirtoblair on October 17, 2011

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.

shatteredglass 300x199 Stigma.  Supermom.  Shame.  Struggle.  Shattered.  (You are worth more.)Translation?  Women are suffering, hurting, bruised to the core…& not seeking 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.

photo credit

{ 30 comments… read them below or add one }

Frelle October 17, 2011 at 2:10 pm

thank you so much for publishing this over here, so many need to read this and know their worth. Your bravery is beautiful :)

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heirtoblair October 17, 2011 at 2:51 pm

oh, friend. You are too kind but I felt like it needed to be said at least one more time. WE ARE WORTH IT. & there’s no shame in that.

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Misty @ The Family Math October 17, 2011 at 2:11 pm

This. is. truth.

Neither way is easy. Being depressed isn’t easy, and seeking help isn’t easy. But the benefits of getting treatment far outweigh the benefits of not: You can have a normal, happy life in which you function more fully as a mom and a woman, or you can be an overwhelmed/overstressed/overemotional mother behind closed doors while everyone outside thinks you have it all together. Except that most people aren’t as good at hiding the strain as they’d like to think.

It wasn’t an easy choice for me, either, but treatment was absolutely the right decision.

On a side note, Beth Anne, Tim Tebow is staring at me from the ad in your sidebar, and it’s incredibly distracting.

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heirtoblair October 17, 2011 at 2:51 pm

Tim Tebow is delicious, right?

Please try to not lick your screen.

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Katherine @ Postpartum Progress October 17, 2011 at 2:59 pm

Hilarious. He is staring. Meow.

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heirtoblair October 17, 2011 at 3:01 pm

he’s inviting you into his stay-cool britches.

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Misty @ The Family Math October 17, 2011 at 3:06 pm

I am sitting at my desk at work SHAKING with barely held-in laughter right now.

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Allison October 17, 2011 at 2:11 pm

I love this post! I suffered through some major anxiety while trying to go back to work and having a 3 month old at home. I just simply couldn’t do it all, I couldn’t do it all at 100% and I am thankful for my dr. who let me cry and verbalize that and I was thankful for my husband who didn’t understand 100% becuase he couldn’t phsyically feel what I was feeling but encouraged and loved me same. WE ARE WORTH IT!

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heirtoblair October 17, 2011 at 2:52 pm

& the chorus said AMEN.

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Ann Becker-Schutte October 17, 2011 at 2:15 pm

What a powerful, important post. Thank you for your thoughtful exploration of the barriers that prevent us from seeking help & support. Thank you even more for your passionate reminder that we *deserve* that support. I’d go one step further and say that those who love us are counting on us to take good care of ourselves–they need us to be healthy.

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heirtoblair October 17, 2011 at 2:53 pm

“I’d go one step further and say that those who love us are counting on us to take good care of ourselves–they need us to be healthy.”

YES. So many days where I wanted to give up, even recently, I knew that the boys I loved & the family I loved needed me to be healthy. I think it hit home for me when The Momma looked over one afternoon as we were watching Harrison play & she said, “You cannot leave this little boy. You have to keep fighting.” I tucked those words away to keep me going even when it feels all dark & twisty & awful inside.

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Katherine @ Postpartum Progress October 17, 2011 at 2:58 pm

+++++++++++++++

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Casey October 17, 2011 at 2:58 pm

Amen sister! I may need to steal some of this for my blog ;)

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Kimberly October 17, 2011 at 2:58 pm

All that I have to say is …. AMEN

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Laura (@RunningDoyle) October 17, 2011 at 3:07 pm

Love this post. Thank you so much!! Admitting I needed help was one of the hardest things I did, but getting help is one of the smartest decisions I’ve made.

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Rachel October 17, 2011 at 3:12 pm

Thank you so much for posting this! I agree with Kimberley . . . AMEN!

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Katie October 17, 2011 at 3:29 pm

Some helpful info….

http://www.jennyslight.org/

Jenny was a good friend of a college friend who is now an ob/gyn. She just won a HUGE grant to study, diagnose and treat PPD.

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Robyn October 17, 2011 at 3:40 pm

One of our culture’s great tragedies is its attitude toward mental health issues. We are taught to be ashamed or embarrassed if we are “different,” or we encouraged to “just deal with it.” We would be such a happier, healthier society if we could shake these misconceptions and embrace our struggles. I have been seeing a therapist for anxiety for about 18 months now, and I can’t even begin to express the impact this has had on my life. Instead of letting anxiety rule my life, I am able to be my authentic self. It has been the hardest journey I have ever taken, but I am eternally grateful for the support I have been shown by my family, friends and therapist. The more voices we have out there, the better. I am always very open about my anxiety because you never know who might be listening. I feel as though if I can help just one person start his or her journey, I have made all the difference in the world. Thank YOU for being another voice.

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Sara T. October 17, 2011 at 4:12 pm

Thank you for this… I have been struggling lately and needed that reminder. I quit therapy a few months ago. Over the weekend I had a huge set back/meltdown. I made an appointment today with a new therapist. I need to be here for my husband and daughter. It just gets so hard sometimes.

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Brie October 17, 2011 at 5:15 pm

Thank you. I had 2 babies back to back and after the second one, I feel like I’ve gone through the ringer. My second is almost 7 months old and it wasn’t until last weekend that I reach the end of my rope and told my husband what’s been floating around in my head. I am scared of being alone because those are the worst moments for me, but I feel like I have taken the first step to feeling like myself again.

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Megyn October 17, 2011 at 5:27 pm

Thank you for this, BA, and for always standing up for those of us with depression/mood disorders. I struggle with blogging about my depression because our society frowns on discussing our problems, especially as women. Thank you for shoving society’s BS back down their throat and telling it like it is. We need more people like you!

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Melissa @ Completely Eclipsed October 17, 2011 at 9:01 pm

I feel like women are so scared of judgement that they are afraid to admit that they need help, even to themselves. I definitely know that I’m prone to depression. I can even see it in my blog. My writing goes in cycles, really up and happy and hopeful and really down and dark and lonely. And I find that my readers will laugh along with me when I’m up, but when I have a “bad moment” post, I either get ignored or get told to “stop complaining” “count my blessings” or “don’t worry about it.” I feel in this case, as in many cases of parenting, women just aren’t there to support each other. Great post.

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Nicole October 18, 2011 at 1:00 am

thanks for writing this. there is a huge stigma surrounding mental illness. you are doing a tremendous amount of work to fix this. thanks again.

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K October 18, 2011 at 5:36 am

Thank you so much for posting this! I suffer from depression and finally had the courage to ask for help. It was the hardest, bravest and best thing I have ever done.

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Izabela October 18, 2011 at 9:36 am

I just want to squeeze your cheecks. It has been so hard to tell my hubby how I’m feeling and why. I’m going to print this out, hand it to him, and maybe it’ll allow a start to a conversation. Thank you so much for these postings on depression. They help…they really really help.

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Andrea October 18, 2011 at 10:13 am

Aw, BA, you’re going to make me cry on my way into work! In a good way!

Thank you for being part of the solution for so many of us. I don’t think you fully realize how your words really truly impact those of us who share in the struggle. When you can see yourself – the darkest parts – in someone who you really admire, well, it allows you to see that you are not JUST broken, and you won’t be that way forever.

XO

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StaceyP October 18, 2011 at 1:23 pm

Thank you.

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Karri October 18, 2011 at 7:45 pm

Thank you for writing this post. Thank you for all of your honesty about depression that you blog about. Thank you.

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Beth October 20, 2011 at 10:12 pm

Hi Beth Anne,

I am currently taking an English Literature class at my college and we are studying works from Beowulf through the 18th century. I have been amazed at the amount of misogyny found in these earlier texts- which essentially is our cultural inheritance. It is no small wonder that you would feel inclined to let women know that they are of worth, that their depression doesn’t define who they are, and that they deserve to seek the treatment they need. The whole idea of superwoman is a joke. No woman (or man for that matter) can do it all. There will always be sacrifices needing to be made for her time. I think that women will be most happiest when they decide to focus on what they accomplished in one day (instead of what they didn’t), when they honor their feelings (instead of follow what is expected of them), and when they see what they did well. Of course there is no easy answer. But baby steps each day are certainly helpful.
Thank you for your bravery in speaking out about depression and for throwing caution to the wind about the stigma that surrounds it. That’s how change happens- with one voice at a time.

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Christine October 23, 2011 at 2:13 am

“Is it because it is one more task on our growing lists, where small children cannot tag along?”

Wonderful post. Thank-you! You touched on something that was a great source of anxiety for me when my kids were little. Why are so many things not child friendly? I mean, I couldn’t bring my kids with me for my PPD therapy. I mean, how did they think I got PPD?

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