We are only as sick as our secrets
My grandmother committed suicide in 1949 at the age of 31.
She left a husband and three young children behind, one of whom was my 9-year-old father.
This family secret has haunted me for most of my life.
Why did she do it?
Were there warning signs?
Did she try to get help before she got to a place where taking her life seemed like her best option?
Nobody really talks about it. My dad and his siblings were so young when it happened that they don't really have many answers...not that I would ever dare to ask much about such a traumatic part of their lives.
But I think about it often.
I think about how a woman gets to that point.
I think about the time in my life when I battled depression like my life depended on it -- because it actually did.
And I think about how my generation is and isn't much different from my grandmother's.
Back then, she didn't have the ability to connect with other women on the Internet and find out that she wasn't so alone. She didn't have access to information and online communities. She may not have had anyone with whom she could share her dark thoughts and get support.
Perhaps instead of dealing with her overwhelming feelings she numbed herself with wine every afternoon like so many women do today not realizing they're compounding the problem.
Or maybe she did reach out to someone but was told to "just snap out of it."
Whatever she did or did not do is irrelevant. She lost her fight with depression. And her surviving family has suffered greatly because of it.
But my generation has the ability to do better. We are armed with more information, choices, and support than ever before.
Sadly, there's a whole world of judgment being unleashed upon these young mothers for how they're managing their depression, anxiety and rage.
And I wonder, would these outspoken detractors prefer the alternative?
Because I can't imagine anyone would think that severely abused, neglected, or abandoned children are a better outcome than a generation being raised by stable, caring, present mothers.
These women are your sisters, your friends, your favorite bloggers, your neighbors. Depression is nothing new. But talking openly about it and successfully treating it is.
Regardless of how women today manage depression, be it medicine, talk therapy, diet/exercise, alternative therapies, or a combination thereof, shouldn't we stop judging them and be grateful they are getting the help they need?
It's a popular saying in 12-step groups that "we are only as sick as our secrets."
I wish my grandmother's story had a different ending. I wish she could have had access to the same treatments and support we have today. I wish depression didn't feel like such a shameful secret to so many young mothers. But I am alive today thanks to the antidepressants I took at a time when I needed them. And there is nothing sick or shameful about that.
Leslie Marinelli is a writer, wife, mother of three, toilet humor aficionada, and transplanted Pittsburgher trapped in the suburbs of Atlanta. She's a weekly columnist and the Editor-in-Chief of In The Powder Room, as well as the creative force behind the award winning blog, The Bearded Iris: A Recalcitrant Wife and Mother Tells All. Leslie enjoys writing in the third person as much as she likes finding hair in her food and getting episiotomies. You can connect with her on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter as @TheBeardedIris.