I know that you are really young, only 11 years old. There is something that I wish I can share with you, but I fear telling you about my secret. I can’t burden you with it, yet it is your right to know. I can’t expect you to hold on to my secret too, yet I don’t want you to go tell the world about it (though I fear that people might know, because something of this nature is impossible to fully hide). I am trying to keep my dignity intact, but at whom’s expense is that?
There is so much I want to tell you, like how sorry I am that your cousins can’t ever come over for Shabbat. As a matter of fact, you can’t ever let any of your friends come over, because what will they think seeing your mother lie in bed all day in her pajamas? How can you let them in to a house that is covered in dirt, and expose myself to the critique of others?
Then there are times when you need to make dinner for the family, because your mother was too depressed to fulfill her parental responsibilities. Which kid your age has to carry that much responsibility? You are only a child, and I want you to feel like a child. Yet, you are so mature, for you were forced to grow up way too young.
You look after your siblings, tend to their needs. The little ones run to you with their “boo boos” and you are always there to comfort them. I am so ashamed that the baby calls your name, more than he has ever uttered the word “mommy”. It seems at times like your mother doesn’t care about them, and you come to admonish me about my behavior. I stay silent, because I know that you are right, and my behavior is far from okay. Yet I do care, more than you will ever know. I feel so terrible for all the times that I push you away, and hide in the security of my own world. It bothers you so much that I am glued to the screen of my computer, and shut you out of my world. You beg me to let you in, listen as you tell me about your day, and take an interest in the things that are important to you. Yet, I ignore your pleas, and don’t tend to your crying heart.
My heart bleeds for you, children. My body is wrapped tightly in a straight jacket paralyzed by something called depression. It has held me captive for six long years. If only I could tell you about it, explain to you why our house is different than all the other homes of your friends. I feel really guilty, more than you could ever imagine. I want the best for you, my precious children, yet I don’t know what to do. I feel powerless to turn my life around.
Some days things are normal, like every other home you have been to. You finally see your mother dressed and out of bed, the house is clean, and there is homemade food on the table instead of the usual takeout. We sometimes even have great days, where we get to go on trips, where we go out to eat, and do stuff like regular families do. Your mother can be really attentive, listen to you talk about your day. I can see your eyes shine brightly, wishing that you can hold on to those “good days” forever. But, you know that days like that are just like a balloon, that can pop at the slightest prick of a needle. The cycle keeps repeating itself, over and over. There is no stability in your life, you never know what to expect when you walk through the doors to our home, after a long day in yeshiva.
If only I would be able to provide you with a stable home, and give you the childhood that you deserve. I also crave for stability in my life, being able to predict what tomorrow will look like. Your anger is mine too, so is your pain, and the frustration at it all. If only I could heal your aching heart, and heal my illness at the same time. I really struggle to stay afloat, more than you could ever imagine. I never give up fighting for you and your siblings. But some times the waves are just too strong, pushing me away from being the mother I want to be. I land so far off shore, fearing like I will never get back to you, my dear children.
I pray to God to free my brain from the shackles of depression, and be free to live the life I so desperately want to. I wish that I can turn on the lights, and experience the joy of life once again. I was in denial for a really long time, hiding from the truth that lie right in front of me. I told myself that I was okay, and I really believed it for a very long time. Now I finally started going for therapy and have an appointment with a psychiatrist. I feel like I might stand a chance and there is a flicker of hope on my horizon.
There was a lot of pain that I was running away from. It might not be easy, facing my demons head on. Yet I really want to heal my sick mind. I promise to do everything in my power, to get well and become the mother you need me to be.