Dear Tzippora,

I read your response to the woman with mother burn-out, and I realize that I am probably also suffering from burn-out, but a much worse case than her. And though your suggestions were probably good for her, none of them apply to me. For instance, you recommended taking a course. But I can't think of anything I would like to do. Instead I lie in bed all day, and only manage to drag myself out of bed and get dressed before the kids come home from school. Sometimes, I don't even manage getting dressed. You also recommended going away for a small vacation with a friend, family member, or spouse. But going anywhere or doing anything seems like way too much of a hassle. I just want to be left alone. By everybody! I feel very guilty about being so unmotivated and reclusive, but I can't seem to change it. I tell myself that I am such a bad mother, but it just makes me more depressed. Please help,

Really Really Really Burnt-Out

Dear Really Burnt-Out,

Unfortunately, your situation sounds more serious than a simple case of burn-out. It sounds like clinical depression. Depression is an illness, characterized by feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness, sadness, and futility. Although post-partum depression has been getting a lot of attention these days, the fact is there are other forms of depression which are just as serious and debilitating. Depression can strike at any time, including during pregnancy itself, after a miscarriage, or after another form of life trauma. Sometimes it is not possible to identify a trigger at all.

If left untreated, depression does not go away on its own. People do not simply snap out of being depressed. Conditions such as dsythemia can linger quietly for years, making family life and life in general feel unmanageable and overly burdensome.

For the sake of your children and yourself, it is important to seek professional help. Get a referral for a therapist from your family doctor, or ob-gyn, and make an appointment right away. The sooner you begin treatment, the sooner you will begin feeling better. If you need to take medication, then do so. Medication can help you feel better faster, and why suffer unnecessarily?

However do not just get a prescription from your doctor and skip the therapy. Medication alone without therapy is not sufficient to help you make the changes you need to reclaim your life. Don't worry about the money right now. Tell yourself that a functioning mother is a gift to your children, a gift that is worth much more than dolls, bikes, or even sleep-away camp.

You did not choose to be depressed, and you cannot choose to be un-depressed. However, you can choose to take action. G‑d does not want you to suffer. Taking care of your health, including your emotional and psychological health is a mitzvah, and our Sages teach that we should treat this mitzvah with the utmost seriousness.