It also made me want to come clean. You see, I have a confession to make.
Over the years I have talked freely about the mental illness that took my husband's life almost 11 years ago.
I have made it no secret that my precious daughter struggles daily with several different mental health diagnoses.
I have even mentioned that my know-it-all son is afflilcted with ADHD.
However, my friends, I have never once opened up to you about me...
I've never once told you about the days on end I have spent holed up in my bedroom - until my best friend literally dragged me out and forced me to shower.
I have never shared with you my frequent bouts with self-loathing, my sometimes suicidal ideations, and thoughts of what a better place the world would be in my absence.
I can't think of a single time I have mentioned my nights in the ER because the tightness and pain in my chest was so horrible, I thought I was dying. In reality I was sufferin massive panic attacks.
I don't talk about these things because I'm ashamed. For so long I have had to hold it together for the benefit of my kids. I tell myself, they didn't choose to be born into an only parent household. They deserve a chance at a normal childhood. They need a mom who has it all together.
So I put on the mask of resilience, and I forge through each day playing the part of the mom I think my kids deserve and the part of the woman I think everyone expects me to be.
But sometimes the mask suffocates, and sometimes the part is lacking a good script. It's in those times I feel my world caving in around me. I fear that I will be discovered. That my secret will get out. That someone will know that I am far from the emotionally and mentally stable person I portray myself to be, that I'm a fraud. I fear that someone will sweep in and take my kids from me, declaring me unfit to give them their best chance.
So I cry it out. I have my panic attacks. I withdraw from the world for a little while. And I regroup.
And after the intermission, I begin the next act.
But I can't keep the secret anymore. The pain in my chest comes more frequently these days. My temper is shorter. I find satisfaction in things - simple or grand - less and less. I am beginning to realize that despite my greatest performances, I am not Super Woman. I can't fight the evil wizard, slay the dragon, and rescue the princess all by myself.
Depression is an ugly disease that causes you to believe you are less than you are. It convinces you that you deserve less than the joy God intended for you.
I have been fighting it alone for years, unbeknownst to my children, my parents, my family, and many of my close friends. But I refuse to let it steal any more life from me. I have decided it is time to face this demon head on, to fight it, and to win, so that I am able to give my kids their best chance. And so I can finally have mine.