When depression spoils the dream
Trying to keep it all together led this stay-at-home mom of 3 to an emotional crash.
For the last 2 years I’ve been a stay-at-home mom (SAHM). Financially we’re coping well although we did cut down on certain luxuries. I’ve got help in the house and in the garden. I’ve got freelance projects that keep me busy while the kids are in school.

I’m there to pick up my kids and spend the afternoon with them.  And this is the dream life that most working moms crave today.

Except that I wasn’t happy. I found myself resenting the things I had to do.  Making dinner was the ultimate hate job. Dinner turned into whatever was the easiest to accomplish in the least amount of time.

My kids suffered from neglect and my irritability. The moment I didn’t have to do anything for them I would carry on doing whatever I was busy with on my laptop. Or I would hide behind my book in the evening and let my husband take over the parenting duties while I would just ignore them. At the same time feeling crippling guilt about what a terrible mother I am.

And then I crashed. I wasn’t coping anymore and I didn’t know why. Diagnosed with Atypical Depression, I finally understand why the dream life was my hell. Although I’ve had depression episodes since my teenage years, I never realised that the craving I had for company wasn’t just because I was a social creature.

Faces of atypical depression

According to Psychology Today, atypical depression may manifest itself in a variety of symptoms.

•    feeling better in response to good things, eg. after receiving good news or being with 
     friends, but this is only temporary.
•    increased appetite and weight gain, through regular overeating and often binging
•    sleeping excessively
•    feeling heavy in the arms and legs, including overwhelming fatigue
•    sensitivity to rejection. I still get panic attacks at the thought of a job interview or 
     people accepting me in a professional manner.

Isolated at home

The reality of a stay-at-home mom was part of the reason for my severe depression. With the current economic conditions, most women work, so the SAHM is in effect isolated most of the time.  My social interactions were limited to talking to a few moms during drop-off in the morning, at pickup in the afternoon and the rugby practice get-togethers twice a week. 

Each weekend my husband would be tired and fed up with a 4-hour commute every day, so his ideal weekend was to stay at home and rest.  While I just wanted to get out and visit friends and family.

For the SAHM there are no colleagues that you can chat to during mid morning coffee break or in open plan offices while you’re working.  I used to work in a national company where I was interacting with people from countrywide offices on a daily basis.  Now I was stuck at home, with retail therapy only a very rare option.  My closest SAHM friend lives 10km from me, making a quick visit a planned action and online friendships only take you so far.

No, I won’t be changing my SAHM status, because it still is the best thing for my kids.  Being a SAHM isn’t the cause of my depression, only the final straw that broke the camel’s back. 

However, with my husband’s help I’m implementing other lifestyle changes.  Nurturing supportive friendships, therapy, exercise, healthy eating plus certain supplements, getting involved in charity work that will let me be surrounded by people on a more regular basis and knowing when to admit that I need more help in the form of antidepressants. I owe this to myself and my family.

Have you experienced depression? Share your experience below or by email on chatback@parent24.com

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