‘I have a loving husband. My life is a fairytale. I should be smiling. I have no sob story to garner support.’: Mom suffering from depression gets real about mental health stigmas

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“You would think I’d be the happiest woman in the world.

And honestly, I should be.

I have a loving husband, two healthy children, and a thriving career. At 36 years old, my life is on the upswing. Who would have thought?

Courtesy of Mary Katherine Backstrom

I have no reason to struggle. I have no reason to cry.

Except, I have depression.

My friends ask why I am having a bad day.

‘Look at all the amazing things happening in your life! MK—you are cancer free! You are publishing your first book! You have everything you have ever wanted!’

Except, I also have depression.

I remember recovering from my kidney donation. The stitches in my abdomen stretched every time I reached for a cup of water. I would buckle over in pain, and family members would rush to my side with medicine and whispers of encouragement.

I had reason to hurt. My wounds were physical and obvious and raw.

I was treated with exquisite care.

And I remember recovering from my bilateral mastectomy. Nothing earns the world’s empathy quite like a young, cancer-stricken mother. I got cards and candy. So much mail. Hugs and support.

I had reason to cry. I had lost my breasts.

For goodness sake, I was diagnosed with cancer.

But when I’m suffering from depression…

There are no stitches aching in my side. My body looks perfectly fine.

I have no sob story to garner support. There are no scars. No candy or whispers of encouragement.

My life is a fairytale, these days.

I should be smiling.

Hell, I should be DANCING.

Except, I have depression.

My friends, if you are reading this, I need you to know a brutal, unbelievable truth:

I’ve given an organ. I’ve had two breasts surgically removed from my body.

Physically? I’ve been through hell.

But NOTHING has hurt as deeply as mental illness.

I suffer from depression.

Key word: SUFFER.

Because walking this road is lonely and long and humiliating. I don’t deserve anyone’s flowers. I haven’t earned any onlooker’s sympathy.

Looking at the highlight reel of my life, I should be relishing this season of blessings. I should be smiling and praising God for every good thing that I’ve undeservingly received.

Except… I have depression.”

Courtesy of Mary Katherine Backstrom

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Mary Katherine Backstrom. Follow Mary on Instagram here. Submit your story here, and be sure to subscribe to our best stories here.

Read more stories from Mary:

‘Thump-thump.’ I was the only barrier between my children’s precious snoozing and whatever horror awaited us downstairs.’: Mom battling anxiety recounts hilarious story of ‘intruder’

‘Real talk: I am tired. I’ve gained 20 pounds, and I miss my church family. This isn’t normal. It isn’t okay.’: Woman struggling with mental health says ‘It’s normal to feel done and over it’

‘Every family has their THING. But, whether or not your family has it figured out, I hope you’ll consider a small piece of advice.’: Woman encourages others to make this their family’s ‘thing’

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