It is the first week of a new year. It is the time for resolutions, and if you are sitting alone in your house with a crying child clutched to your bosom and unsure what this year will hold for you, it can a terrifying thought.
What does a mother promise herself when she suffers from depression? From anxiety?
Will you be happier this year? Will you engage in more social activities? Will you stop crying on your bathroom floor in the middle of the day when your baby is crying and you cannot muster the strength to do anything?
It’s an impossible thought. You cannot fix yourself so easily and you know this. You will feel the year slip between your fingers before it has even started. You have already failed. Maybe next year.
But no, dear heart.
What you need is not a New Year’s resolution. What you need is not a New Year.
You need a New Day’s resolution; a New Moment’s resolution.
A monster is only as big as the shadow it casts over you, and if you think of your future, of your recovery, in the scheme of an entire year, you will drown in helplessness.
Arm yourself against this year—against this beast—moment by moment.
In the next five minutes I am going to put my child down, safe and dry in her crib. I am going to take a shower that will last longer than 3 minutes.
I am going to eat a warm meal.
I am going to tell my partner that something doesn’t feel right.
I am going to call my doctor today.
I am going to reach out for help.
Tomorrow, I will put on a bra. I will wear mascara. I will strap my baby to the front of my body and walk around the mall.
It will take a long time—perhaps the whole year, perhaps beyond this year.
The most important thing a depressed mother can do starting this new year is to find the moments where she feels human, normal. Each moment of each day you need to grasp for something that reminds you that you are not the monster; you are the hunted.
Do not be afraid of this year; do not be afraid of yourself or your feelings. Arm yourself with every ounce of courage you possess. Moments will pass and weeks will fly by.
Your beautiful child will grow before your eyes, and you will learn to cling to that. You may feel broken, but they are not. In each moment of each day, they will do something wondrous, and you will see it because you are their mother.
Draw strength from that. Take slow breaths. Take care of yourself. Take it all in.
Take, and take, and take.
The world gives nothing easily to mothers who are struggling; to mothers who are sick.
You must have the courage to take it.
Each day you will take a little bit more of yourself back. Each day living will become a little easier.
And then, as if by magic, it will be December 31. And you have done it.