black-flagsToday is my birthday but I don’t feel the need to celebrate.

It’s not about getting older. I don’t mind adding years to my curriculum. The years and some grey hairs might actually help to finally getting profiled as a mature scientist.

It’s about celebrating life. My life. I don’t feel like I should celebrate it while I’m going under in yet another episode of depression.

It has been two years since I was diagnosed with severe depression. I guess my reluctance to celebrate my birthday means I still haven’t come to terms with it. I’ve had therapy. I’m taking my meds. And still depression lurks around the corner. I loathe it. Depression makes me loath depression. At least thàt part makes sense.

But then there’s my children. They are my everything. They are the reason I’m holding on while giving up. I don’t struggle to take care of myself for me. I take care of myself for them. Depression or not, I’m still their mother. And I feel incredibly guilty about that.

I often feel I should never have decided to have children, let alone adopt a child. I worry about not providing a stabile environment for them to grow up in. I worry about transfering my lability to them. I worry about pushing them away from me when I’m over and out. I worry a lot.

In turn, they both worry about me.

My 9-year old son is the most worried and gets really affectionate when he sees I’m going through yet another rough patch. He doesn’t like to talk about it, but he does want to understand. My 7-year old daughter on the other hand, likes to tell everyone about her mom who is a bit coucou. She likes to talk about depression a lot.

So I talked to them about depression. I referred to it as the black balloon, and added some details as they grew older. They know some wires in my head are not connected as they should. That information is not coming in the right way. That I need to rest a lot to heal. That I’m in fact, yes, a bit coucou.

I also told them that it is still OK to laugh at me when I’m so utterly confused that I lose at every board game. That it’s all right and maybe even fun to instruct me on how to cook diner. And most importantly that I still love them with every inch of my coucou head.

Even on my birthday.

How do you feel about ‘combining’ mental illness with motherhood? Do you talk about mental illness with your children?

This is an original post for World Moms Network by K10K in Belgium. The picture is credited to the author.


If you ask her about her daytime job, Katinka will tell you all about the challenge of studying the fate of radioactive substances in the deep subsurface. Her most demanding and rewarding job however is raising four kids together with five other parents, each with their own quirks, wishes and (dis)abilities. As parenting and especially co-parenting involves a lot of letting go, she finds herself singing the theme song to Frozen over and over again, even when the kids are not even there...

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