When Everything Isn’t OK :: Battling Mental Illness as a Mom


It's not okay, and that's fine“We’re fine.” 
“We will be fine.” 
“Everyone’s fine.” 
“I’m fine.” 
“I will be fine.”  

These are the things we say to one another when a friend or family member asks how things are going. But what if everything isn’t fine? What if when we wake to the cry of our infant or the yell of our toddler it takes every single fiber of our being to lift our head off the pillow? What if we feel completely isolated and hollow as we pour the Cheerios in our kids’ bowls thinking of the day ahead with emptiness? 

What if we are anything BUT fine?

With the news of two highly public figures ending their own lives this past week, it brings to mind all the internal struggles humans face on a daily basis … most of which no one truly knows the extent of.

When I heard the news of Kate Spade’s passing, I felt truly heartbroken. As if by carrying her handbags and wearing her shoes and sunglasses, she was somehow more of a friend than a mere figment of my closet. And then with Anthony Bourdain’s passing I felt the same wave of grief. I texted my husband, telling him I was so saddened by the news. His response was the reason for this post…  

“It is so sad. But what’s more sad is it happens so frequently – every single day – and it’s only brought to light when someone in the public eye does it.”  

As moms we are supposed to be the caretaker. The one who not only brings it all together, but holds it there, too. We rock and cradle and soothe and kiss and caress and fold and tuck and wipe and dress and remind and feed and clean and … do it all.

Sometimes though, we just can’t.  

Mental illness comes in a variety of forms. Although much more accepted today by society, it is still misunderstood by many as something that can be controlled or fixed.

Clinical depression is seen as sadness. Bipolar disorder is seen as crazy. Multiple personality disorder is seen as a Hollywood plot. Anxiety is seen as a reason to drink. Postpartum depression is a term we may have heard while reading books or blogs during pregnancy, but so many women have no idea they are battling it until they are on the other side.  


I am a third generation mental health illness fighter. My grandmother was diagnosed with clinical depression. My mother was diagnosed as bipolar disorder. And I was diagnosed with clinical depression at age 13.

I remember shying away from telling men I dated in my 20s that I was on medication for this illness. I felt awkward about it and honestly, ashamed. I did the up-and-down dance of going on and off my medicine because I was sure that I could somehow “resolve” it by another means. I convinced myself that I didn’t need “happy pills.”

It took me almost 20 years and having a daughter of my own to realize having clinical depression and taking an anti-depressant had nothing to do with HAPPINESS. It had to do with FUNCTIONALITY.

The chemicals in my brain do not churn out the way they are supposed to. In order to regulate them properly, I have to supplement them with a medication. I made a commitment to myself and my family to work with my doctor to make sure my medication and dosage are working well. If I happen to miss a day or two because my refills aren’t on time or frankly – forgetfulness – it can upset the balance of my brain chemistry. 

This is where awareness becomes vital.  

When I am not feeling “fine.” When my thoughts become darker or shrouded in anxiety. When I become more impatient with my children or am not finding joy in things like iced coffee or going to Target – I realize something is not right. It is then my responsibility to reach out and take hold of someone who knows how to help me.  

According to WHO (World Health Organization), one person every 40 seconds takes their own life. I believe what attributes to this statistic is that people do not know how to reach out and take hold of someone who knows how to help. OR they simply do not have anyone they can reach out to.  

As mothers we feel as though we should be fine all the time, because we have to be. Well, I am here to say … We DON’T.  We CAN’T.  WE are HUMAN. We have to acknowledge we may be battling more than just a “down day.” If we have more “hard” days than “good” days we may have to reach out to someone. And that is completely FINE. In fact, it is more than fine – it is the best thing in the world.  

If you feel as though you are experiencing any symptoms of mental illness, there are so many resources available to you. Do not feel embarrassed, ashamed, or that you can overcome this alone. You can text CONNECT to 741741 in the U.S. and connect with a resource to assist you with the help you need.   

Let’s stop with the FINE and start with the HELP that you need.  

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Brandi’ Starbuck is a recent transplant to the Columbia, SC area from Charlotte, NC where she met her husband, Bryan, and where they welcomed their first baby girl, Mackenzie. Now living in Blythewood, SC with a spirited, fun-loving 2-year-old (who looks exactly like her daddy, but acts just like mama) and expecting their second baby (a boy!) at the first of April, they are thrilled to call the Midlands home! Brandi’ juggles working full-time, outside the home, as a property manager of an apartment community in Northeast Columbia, keeping Mackenzie entertained, and occasionally enjoying a date night with her handsome hubby! Lover of shoes, social media resale shops, and all Pinterest recipe boards, she is excited (and terrified) to have two young children and can’t wait to share her journey with others in her writing. Along with their three small dogs that were their first “babies,” they are one small addition away from completing their family! You can expect to see the Starbuck family strolling along the Villages at Sandhill on the weekends, with a cliché and loved cup of Starbucks coffee in their hands, wearing matching tees purchased from a mom-owned Instagram shop.


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