I was reading Canadian Parent recently and came across an article that totally resonated with me. In it, the author talked about the realities of how exasperating and exhausting parenting can be at times. But, what really struck a cord in my head was his assertion that women in particular often suffer from depleted mom syndrome – a condition that goes well beyond post-partum depression and permeates the lives of young mothers.
While I don’t know that I entirely buy it as a diagnosis, I could definitely see at least a few of my friends in the description of women who’ve gotten to that place – including myself.
For the last six months or so, I’ve been really battling my ability to make everything happen in my life. It’s been a space that has exhausted me, helped me gain 30 pounds and given me cause to believe that somehow I have lost a bit of power over my own existence.
I started watching other moms around me to see if I could connect with someone because I really wasn’t willing to go down the path of medication or post-partum depression ho-hah. I knew I was dealing with some of that too. But, this was different.
What I started to see was a collection of motherhood that was in full overwhelm. These women were drowning and I felt right there with them. It scared the hell out of me.
You know how you get to that place some days where you know you’ve taken on too much? Well, imagine feeling like that all of the time and realizing that there was no possible way to relieve yourself of the responsibilities – that you had actually created a world full of things that you could not walk away from no matter what you thought was the right thing for the health of your family and yourself.
It’s a scary place.
I’ve never been the queen of balance, and I have trouble saying no when people ask me to lend a hand. So, when it finally occurred to me that I had hit the wall finding myself feeling alone, pissed off and a bit out of control I shouldn’t have been surprised. And, honestly, I wasn’t. But, what I left in my wake was both incredibly personally painful and a shocking wake-up call.
A friend of mine said the other day that there was a point in her life where her children had become a task rather than a connective experience of love and family. I cried a bit for her and realized that’s how I felt about everything – from my kids (please don’t judge me, it’s a horrible realization to come to), to my relationship with Ken, my family, the sad state of my friendships and most definitely my work.
Everything that I had worked so hard to build and the things that had inspired me to do all that I had was nothing more than another thing on the to-do list every day. I looked at my kids and saw more work. I looked at my husband and saw a great guy who would just have to wait because I had nothing left to give him. I looked at work and saw something that I had come to resent.
This wasn’t depression (because I had finally said I needed help with that and it wasn’t helping). This was one very seriously depleted life. I had lost my inner light and was too exhausted to ask for help to rediscover it externally.
So, when I read this story about depleted mom syndrome something went off in my head and I understood that it was (and is) time for me to regroup, re-evaluate, reach out to my friends and family, make some very difficult decisions.
Over the next couple months I know for sure that my life – our lives – will change dramatically. It has to. Living a depleted life is much like conceding to a zombie-like existence. It is hollow and while I know so many of us cope with this space in our lives at one point or another, the collective of womanhood is about connection and empowerment. I’m so very much in need of rediscovering that place.
As for the author of the depleted mom syndrome piece, thanks so very much for the springboard. It’s always amazing to me how ideas can be contagious and start a fire under someone.
Wait, did I just see an inner spark?:)