If you are a stepmother, there is no doubt you have found yourself in what can feel like a no-win situation. The very basic nature of being a stepmother, or an “outsider” who has joined the family circle, means that you’ll be examined under a microscope and potentially the recipient of criticism and emotional unloading…and that’s just for starters!
It is important not to deny your feelings, suppress them, or beat yourself up for feeling the way that you do. Of course you are going to have some painful feelings around this dynamic. How would you not? Depression is just a term used to describe a cluster of symptoms that we may experience at any one time.
A woman is more vulnerable to depression when there is any type of role change, transition, emotional upheaval, or discord in one or more of her primary relationships. Blending a family and becoming a stepmother can involve all of these, which are at the very least stressful, even under the best circumstances.
Three of the most universal experiences for stepmothers, which can undoubtedly lead to depression are:
So, what can you do if you are experiencing symptoms of depression in response to these feelings? There are no easy solutions to magically make your heartache go away. However, the less you internalize these experiences, the better you will feel. This means taking a step back from your situation and trying to look at it objectively.
There is nothing you can do to change this particular fact, so don’t spend your emotional energy trying to change what you cannot. This will free you to invest your energy in the things that nourish and replenish you. As you feel happier and stronger, the rest will come together more organically with time.
Avery Neal, PhD, LPC is a practicing psychotherapist, international author and speaker. In 2012 she opened Women’s Therapy Clinic, which offers psychiatric and counseling support to women. Avery is the author of If He’s So Great, Why Do I Feel So Bad?: Recognizing and Overcoming Subtle Abuse, which has been translated and published in twelve languages. Visit averyneal.com for publications, interviews and courses.