To My Daughter, Growing Up in the Shadow of My Depression

Dear Daughter,

I really don’t know where — or how — to begin. I suppose the best place to start this letter is with these three words: I’m so sorry.

Make no mistake: I’m not sorry for my depression. Like any other illness or disease, it’s beyond my control. But I am sorry for how it hurts you.

I am sorry for how it has affected us.

You see, on “bad days,” depression makes me mopey and foggy headed. On those days, my body feels heavy and my mind is either completely overwhelmed or entirely empty. Thinking hurts, moving hurts, and just “being” hurts.

That’s when I turn inward. I pull back and I push away. I curl up on the couch as you are left to play all alone. Of course, you ask for me. Your eyes will lock with mine and you will ask me to be your prince, or your princess. You will want me to play “monster” or “bad guy” with you. Sometimes, you just want me to be your mommy.

“Not now, honey. Not today. Mommy doesn’t feel good,” I say. “Do you understand? Is that okay?”

You then nod and mumble “okay,” but the pain is written across your face. Your sadness is magnified by your silence, and it reverberates long after your little voice fades. I’ve upset you. You are hurt. Once again, I’ve let you down.

Image Source: Kim Zapata

I’m sorry for my temper; my angry fits of screaming, yelling, and shouting. And I’m sorry for my tears; the bawling and crying. The truth is, I “break” a lot. There is usually no reason for it. It’s often misplaced and misguided. Lord knows that a glass of spilled milk shouldn’t enrage me, upset me, and then reduce me to tears. But it can, and it does.

I’m sorry for the fun we’ve failed to have. There are so many steps I haven’t danced with you, songs I haven’t sung to you, and stories I haven’t shared. There have been too many midday naps taken, lunches that were never served, and memories that weren’t made.

I’m sorry you feel responsible for my happiness. I’ve tried, and will continue to try, to explain that you are not the cause of my pain. But I know that you are empathetic, and naturally want to to help others. You want to fix others, and you want to fix me.

I’m sorry for often being snappy and sullen, and then angry and aloof. For being both clingy and distant, and annoyed while apathetic.

I’m sorry if I’ve ever made you feel unwelcome, unwanted, or unloved. That has never been my intention. In fact, that couldn’t be further from the truth.

Even when I seem absent, when I am sick and struggling, I am happy just to be with you. I am happy to have you beside me.
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Depression is complicated disease. It is a confusing disease. And while I am trying to work through it, and want nothing more than to overcome it, sometimes it will win. Sadness will win, and I will be left flailing and failing. I will be left feeling as though I’m drowning.

But, please remember, my moods are not your fault. My thoughts are not your fault. My illness is not your fault. Even when I seem absent, when I am sick and struggling, I am happy just to be with you. I am happy to have you beside me. I have never loved anyone more than I love you. You are my life, and my world.

I know that that when I am crying, shaking, and yelling this is hard to believe, but it’s true. You are the reason I try. You need and deserve a better mom. You deserve the world.

But for now, I just want to say that I’m sorry. I love you, and I’m sorry.

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Article Posted 2 years Ago

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