Menu

To the mama battling depression: You are not alone

Depression can mean days of extreme insecurity and feelings of being unlovable. But remember, mama, you are neither.

To the mama battling depression: You are not alone

For most of my adult life, I’ve struggled with varying degrees of depression. It’s not something I talk about often because it’s not in my nature to make a big fuss over (what I perceive as) my flaws or weaknesses.


I’m also extremely fortunate that my depression tends to be cyclical and relatively moderate. And I’ve been through the cycles often enough that, even at my worst, even when I might not believe it in the moment—part of my mind always knew that at some point there would be light at the end of that dark and lonely tunnel.

Then I had a baby. And suddenly I found myself walking that tunnel not alone, head down and determined to power through to the end, but carrying precious cargo, unable to stop and address my own wounds because, well, I had more important things to focus on.

FEATURED VIDEO

In some ways, it was good. I couldn’t wallow or exaggerate my problems in my own mind—to me, they just weren’t as important as whatever my baby needed. But, in other ways, it made things so much harder.

I couldn’t pause and practice self-care the way I would in the past because, well, to me, that just wasn’t as important as whatever my baby needed.

Postpartum depression (thankfully!) gets a lot of attention these days, but for millions of mamas, the dark days don't end after their baby's first (or third…or eighth...) birthday. So, to the mama whose depression struggles started long before that plus sign on the pregnancy test and will continue long after, I want you to know:

You are not alone.

You are not alone in those dark, disquieting thoughts. For me, depression brain is a voice whispering at the back of my mind as my husband and I watch a movie before bed: “He knows your flaws…how could he want to stay married to you?”

Depression brain is a voice whispering at the back of my mind when I see my friend’s post from a girls’ dinner on Instagram: “They didn’t invite you because you’re so boring now.”

Depression brain is a voice whispering at the back of my mind after I snap at a tantrum: “You should have handled that better. You are a terrible mother.”

Depression brain is a voice whispering at the back of my mind in the middle of one of my 2-year-old's famous bear hugs: "I wonder when she'll stop loving you?"

That voice is one we all hear, saying different things, but all with the same message: You are failing and unlovable. And it lies to all of us, mama.

You are not alone in the moments of pain. When your body feels so heavy you think your clothes might actually be made of lead. The physical implications of depression are so real. And for every time you curl up in bed thinking you just can’t do another day, I promise you another mom is feeling the exact same way.

But isolation is not your friend, so reach out to someone. Find a small circle of people you feel safe talking about your depression with, and give them the language you need to express when you are going through a low. (I.e. "I'm not feeling like myself lately..." or “Remember a few months ago when I was having a hard time…it’s happening again.”)

You are not alone in the loss. In the moments when you don't or can't answer "What's wrong?” because if you start to talk about it, you'll start crying and you may never stop. Talking about it will help, mama, so do your research and find a professional you can meet with. But there are also many things you can do for yourself to help take care of yourself.

Journal your feelings, book an exercise class, plan a relaxing evening at home, take a bath, prepare a nutritious meal, schedule a night out—whatever you know will help you feel cared for and strong.

You are not alone in the moments of anger. When you snap at your husband, resentful that he can't make you happy or that he seems so light while you squirm under this boulder of sadness, praying for rescue. Or maybe you snap at your mom. Or your friend. Or, perhaps worst of all, your child.

While you don’t want to get comfortable losing your temper on whoever is in front of you, carrying the burden of guilt for not being perfect isn’t helping you heal. Take a moment to breathe and try to come back to the conversation from a place of empathy. Try saying: “I’m sorry I said that. I’m feeling sad (or stressed) today, but I shouldn’t take it out on you.”

You are not alone in the moments of guilt. Guilt—heavy as an actual weight on your chest—that your child will remember her mom as sad. That she will remember her mom as sad all the time.

On my worst days, this thought guts me. I want to raise my daughter as positive and confident and happy, and every day that passes under a cloud of depression, I worry that I’ve already messed it all up. But I know it’s important to remember that, if I learn to deal with this (and my family deals with this) in a positive way, there’s a good chance she will learn to deal positively too.

And pretending that everything is great all the time wouldn’t be setting her up to deal with anxiety or depression or even just run-of-the-mill sadness she might/will experience in a healthy way. So I try to keep the dialogue honest: “Sometimes Mama feels sad or anxious without any clear reason, but we should always feel safe to talk about how we feel and try to find ways to help each other feel better.”

And I always remind her that she is so deeply loved no matter what.

Depression is often not visible. Especially as a mom, it’s often not days spent in a dark room or hours and hours of crying in the shower. We are pulled back into the world by our children, and so our suffering is usually much better hidden—or at least more easily missed.

Depression as a mother can mean days of weighted down hopelessness, extreme insecurity and feelings of being unloved or unlovable.

But remember, mama, you are neither of those things. And you are never, ever alone.

If you’re struggling with depression, know you can always get help. Call The National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 to talk to someone today.

I felt lost as a new mother, but babywearing helped me find myself again

I wish someone had told me before how special wearing your baby can be, even when you have no idea how to do it.

My first baby and I were alone in our Brooklyn apartment during a particularly cold spring with yet another day of no plans. My husband was back at work after a mere three weeks of parental leave (what a joke!) and all my friends were busy with their childless lives—which kept them too busy to stop by or check in (making me, at times, feel jealous).

It was another day in which I would wait for baby to fall asleep for nap number one so I could shower and get ready to attempt to get out of the house together to do something, anything really, so I wouldn't feel the walls of the apartment close in on me by the time the second nap rolled around. I would pack all the diapers and toys and pacifiers and pump and bottles into a ginormous stroller that was already too heavy to push without a baby in it .

Then I would spend so much time figuring out where we could go with said stroller, because I wanted to avoid places with steps or narrow doors (I couldn't lift the stroller by myself and I was too embarrassed to ask strangers for help—also hi, New Yorkers, please help new moms when you see them huffing and puffing up the subway stairs, okay?). Then I would obsess about the weather, was it too cold to bring the baby out? And by the time I thought I had our adventure planned, the baby would wake up, I would still be in my PJs and it was time to pump yet again.

Slowly, but surely, and mostly thanks to sleep deprivation and isolation, I began to detest this whole new mom life. I've always been a social butterfly. I moved to New York because I craved that non-stop energy the city has and in the years before having my baby I amassed new friends I made through my daily adventures. I would never stop. I would walk everywhere just to take in the scenery and was always on the move.

Now I had this ball and chain attached to me, I thought, that didn't even allow me to make it out of the door to walk the dog. This sucks, I would think regularly, followed by maybe I'm not meant to be a mom after all.


Keep reading Show less
Shop

14 outdoor toys your kids will want to play with beyond summer

They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

With Labor day weekend in the rearview and back-to-school in full swing, most parents are fresh out of boxes to check on their "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys. So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, they're Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

Meadow ring toss game

Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.

$30

Balance board

Plan Toys balance board

Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!

$75

Detective set

Plan Toys detective setDetective Set

This set has everything your little detective needs to solve whatever mystery they might encounter: an eye glasses, walkie-talkie, camera, a red lens, a periscope and a bag. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.

$40

Wooden doll stroller

Janod wooden doll strollerWooden Doll Stroller

Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.

$120

Sand play set

Plan Toys sand set

Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.

$30

Water play set

Plan Toys water play set

Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.

$100

Mini golf set

Plan Toys mini golf set

Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.

$40

Vintage scooter balance bike

Janod retro scooter balance bike

Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.

$121

Wooden rocking pegasus

plan toys wooden rocking pegasus

Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.

$100

Croquet set

Plan Toys croquet set

The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.

$45

Wooden digital camera

fathers factory wooden digital camera

Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.

$179

Wooden bulldozer toy

plan toys wooden bulldozer toy

Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.

$100

Pull-along hippo

janod toys pull along hippo toy

There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.

$33

Baby forest fox ride-on

janod toys baby fox ride on

Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.

$88

We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

Shop

It's science: Why your baby stops crying when you stand up

A fascinating study explains why.

When your baby is crying, it feels nearly instinctual to stand up to rock, sway and soothe them. That's because standing up to calm babies is instinctual—driven by centuries of positive feedback from calmed babies, researchers have found.

"Infants under 6 months of age carried by a walking mother immediately stopped voluntary movement and crying and exhibited a rapid heart rate decrease, compared with holding by a sitting mother," say authors of a 2013 study published in Current Biology.

Even more striking: This coordinated set of actions—the mother standing and the baby calming—is observed in other mammal species, too. Using pharmacologic and genetic interventions with mice, the authors say, "We identified strikingly similar responses in mouse pups as defined by immobility and diminished ultrasonic vocalizations and heart rate."

Keep reading Show less
News