I am just a woman, a mother, who struggles to not scream in the shower on bad days and practices breathing in the carpool lane on good ones. To not throw something across the room when I feel everything bottling up inside. I’ll tell you straight up: I’ve tried therapy, medication, diets, exercise, meditation, and prayer. It’s all great stuff, but there’s more that must be said.
Years before I ever became a mother, the darkness crept in. I could feel it knocking. Sleeping in my friend Jess’s double-bed at a sleepover, I confessed it aloud. “I feel this cloud of nothingness.”
She was silent. Then, “Please stop talking about that. You’re scaring me.”
Yes, I’m going to let you right into the door of my heart—into the depression, fear, and anxiety. It is darker here than we want it to be. I understand. Every day I open all the curtains to let the light in and still, it lingers, like a cloud threatening to unleash a torrent. That is the nature of depression and anxiety left unspoken.
My first grade son puts his head on the table and weeps. How he fears his dark room and the noises. He can’t filter what he is experiencing rationally. It comes out in questions, “Is God really there? How do I know he’s real? Sometimes I don’t know.”
“Let’s talk about it,” I say, remembering how speaking my fears years ago brought darkness into light. I remember reaching a shaking hand to wake my husband in the deadening night. “I’m going crazy,” I had told him as I cried.
Mental illness stole years of my motherhood.
I feel the present gift it gives me now to hear my son.
“I don’t want to.” He trembles. The telling can be terrifying, I know. But I push him to name his concerns. He tucks himself under my arm and whispers all of it into the open room.
One tiny step toward dawn.
Friends have whispered in my ear, “When you said you have struggled with depression—well—,” I remember one pausing to find enough courage to continue. “I just wanted to tell you—me too.”
For their sake and my own, I tell my story often. A while back, I was scheduled to share it in a faith community of women. Honest words. Hard words. Hopeful words. You-are-not-alone words. Because God has worked it all for good.
But I was told my story was too scary, too risky. It might stir up someone’s trauma and how would the church deal with all these hurting people?
I opened wide my heart to God and shouted, “Lord, help us all!”
I burned with pain for all of the women who are afraid. Sisters. Mothers. Grandmothers. Broken. Redeemed. All of us bound together by the burning desire to break silence and stigma, sick to death of a sullen society, a scared church, and a speechless state.
Didn’t Jesus come for all of us? Especially the afflicted?
As I write this now, I feel the old dread. Words wanting to bind themselves up inside me—anxiety I am learning to cope with, panic I never wanted.
I remember someone saying being scared is the signal to speak up. Being scared is the beacon to boldly share again. So I continue.
Oh, sisters, telling stories heals us. Why should we shun someone’s freedom story? To tidy it up and cinch it shut with a pretty bow?
We need honest mothers and daughters to stand up and speak out. I feel it deeply in my bones.
Sharing frees us from fear. Tweet This
So I switch on every light in the house, every flashlight and candle. We can gather round and expose our shared weight for the dark devil it is.
Tonight my son sleeps with his door open so we can keep tabs on each other. I’ll go up shortly and find two copies of Charlie Brown books wide open on his bed. They fill his mind with funny things, he says. It crowds out the bad stuff.
This is what we are here for. Share what scares us most. Give away comfort. Hold each other close. Tell what God has done and what He will continue to do—heal. Turn on the light together. Stare down darkness and send it packing.
Come, let’s open the front door and show it the way out. We’ll blind it with our torches.
We are sure to be less afraid.
This post is part of the Motherhood Memoirs.
If you want to read about how God brought light into the dark places of my mothering journey, here’s more.
Stirred to share your story? You can tell it with a beautiful purpose over at Throwing Pinecones.