Depression Brought Me Closer to My Mom

I went through a phase from about age 12-20 in which I thought it wasn’t “cool” to be close to my mom. I thought it was socially unacceptable to rely on the woman who birthed and raised me, and so I found myself pulling away from her.

I didn’t like to talk to her on the phone, tell her what was going on in my life or let her see that I relied on her. Of course, I usually ended up doing all of the above, but I was ashamed of it. I was ashamed every time I demonstrated a reliance on my mom.

And then, in college, my depression got worse. I’d been depressed throughout high school and had always struggled with my self-image, but in college I began to self-harm and feel suicidal.

It was with trepidation, reluctance and pressure from my roommate that I finally told my mom about this, but I insisted that I was fine and didn’t need her.

Until the day things got so bad that I became afraid of myself, afraid I would actually take my life if I was left to my own devices. On the advice of a counselor, I checked into a local hospital’s psychiatric ward.

That was the beginning of when everything changed. My parents drove from South Carolina to Kentucky to be with me, visiting me for hours every day and staying for an extra four or five days after I was released, just to make sure I was OK.

The change wasn’t instantaneous or noticeable at all until a few months ago, when I realized I texted my mom multiple times a day, talked with her on the phone more than once a week and relied on her advice to deal with problems.

It wasn’t just depression problems, either: for the most part, I don’t rely on my mom to help me deal with my depression. I talk to doctors and therapists, as well as my friends and, eventually, my mom. I began to rely on her for everything.

When I’m lost at Wal-Mart and can’t find the right aisle, I text her a question. When I wake up sick I ask her what to do about it. When I get good news about an article being published or a good grade, I let her know.

I read or make her read many of the articles I write, and she’s read both novels I’ve completed and given me feedback. I always (against my will, usually) end up telling her about my crushes and my friend troubles.

I wouldn’t say my mom is my best friend, though, for two reasons.

First, I think there is a line, and as much as I love Lorelai and Rory Gilmore I don’t believe the intensity of their relationship is healthy in real life. Your mom shouldn’t be your best friend; she’s your mom.

Second, I still have this idea lurking in the back of my mind that it’s not OK to be 23 and need your mom. I have this idea that it’s not socially acceptable, it’s not what the “cool kids” are doing and therefore I shouldn’t do it either.

But because of my depression and the fact that, for a period, I did need my mother to help me through, my feelings have mostly changed. Because I suffer from a mental illness that screws with almost every aspect of my life, I’m closer to my mom now than I used to be.

My mom understands when I just need to put my head down and cry for no reason, when I need to lie down and take a nap, and when I need to be forced out of the house and for a walk.

She isn’t perfect, she’s not my best friend, but she’s my mom, and a darn good one at that.