As women, we are more likely to suffer from mental illness than men. Women are twice as likely to suffer from depression. 10% of women (as opposed to only 4% of men) suffer from posttraumatic stress disorder. (SOURCE)
According to the World Health Organization:
Gender differences occur particularly in the rates of common mental disorders – depression, anxiety and somatic complaints. These disorders, in which women predominate, affect approximately 1 in 3 people in the community and constitute a serious public health problem… The disability associated with mental illness falls most heavily on those who experience three or more comorbid disorders. Again, women predominate… Gender specific risk factors for common mental disorders that disproportionately affect women include gender based violence, socioeconomic disadvantage, low income and income inequality, low or subordinate social status and rank and unremitting responsibility for the care of others. (SOURCE)
More than half of all women between the ages of 15-44 have given birth. (SOURCE) So it isn’t a stretch to say that moms struggle with mental illness.
The thing is, no one really talks about it. In facts, according to WHO, “Patients, too, appear reluctant to seek professional help. Only 2 in every 5 people experiencing a mood, anxiety or substance use disorder seek assistance in the year of the onset of the disorder.” (SOURCE) This is proof that there is still a lot of fear surrounding mental illness.
This is not okay. Ladies, mental illness is a serious epidemic (for everyone: women, men, parents, non-parents), and we pretend it isn’t happening. For those of us suffering, we hide our scars (emotional or physical) and show the world our masks of perfection. We post on social media how great our dinner turned out and how our kid won the spelling bee and how our husband got that promotion.
We don’t post about how we spent a half hour crying in the bathroom, pleading with God to let our baby please sleep longer than two hours tonight. We don’t post about how we thought about self-harming today. We don’t tell the world we had a panic attack today and weren’t sure we’d ever make it out. Instead, we show them our white-picket-fence-life and pretend there are no other layers to that.
Well, it all ends here. I’m going to get real with you today. And in doing so, I hope to open up the discussion on mental illness.
- I suffer from depression, anxiety, panic disorder, and rapid cycling bipolar disorder; I am in recovery from anorexia nervosa and drug addiction
- I’ve been to inpatient treatment centers for my disorders, as well as outpatient, and therapy.
- I carry the scars of years-worth of self-harm
- I am currently being medicated for these mental illnesses
- And none of this makes me a bad mom.
There. I’ve said it. It’s out there, on the internet, for the world to see. I am anything but perfect. I am flawed. I have struggled since adolescence with my mental health. I continue to have poor body image and self-esteem. Although my medication helps drastically, I still struggle with all of my illnesses. I still have days where I don’t want to leave my bed. I still have days where my heart races and a panic attack hits me. I still have days where thoughts of self-harm flit across my mind. I have days where I don’t want to eat, or I fantasize about drug use.
But that’s okay.
None of this makes me a bad mom. It makes me a human, a human that suffers. A human with some chemical imbalances. A human with many flaws and faults. But a human, nonetheless.
Based on the statistics I provided earlier, I can only imagine how many mothers are out there, suffering in silence. Suffering because they fear the judgment others will inevitably dole out on them for struggling. Suffering because they simply don’t know where to go or who to turn to. Suffering because they’ve always wanted a family, so why are they so depressed? Suffering because everyone has bad days, so why do their bad days make them want to self-destruct?
It’s time to stop. Right now. It’s time to open up about your pain. Let’s end the silence and begin the healing. And if this article spoke to you at all, would you do me a favor and share it? Let’s spread some awareness and acceptance around the internet. I’m so glad you made it here, and I hope you’ll come back.