When I had a baby and a two-year-old, and they were both crying, and I hadn’t slept enough, and their father wasn’t home, I used to tell myself, “It’s a phase; they’ll get older and it won’t be as intense.”

When one of them kept biting other kids at daycare, and I recited every day, “Friends are not for biting. Friends are for playing and hugging,” I told myself, “It’s a phase, he’ll learn.”

When one of them regressed in his toilet training when anxious and I was always washing out dirty underpants, the story to myself again was, “It’s a phase; he can’t do this forever.”

Similarly when everyone had the flu and I was gagging as I rinsed vomit off sheets in the bathtub, when a teacher said that the drawings of airplanes with bombs meant I had a violent child, when one developed a phobia of elevators, car alarms and bees… the phrase got me through all the hardest parts of parenting small children. Not to say I ignored these challenges, but only that I kept in mind that they wouldn’t last forever.

This needs to be my mindset about the depressive episode I’m experiencing. It’s dark. It’s so, so lonely. It’s confusing. I get nothing done. I feel guilty about that. I’m boring. Everything hurts. I’m empty. I’m numb. I have body sensations that don’t fit what I am doing. I think obsessively about harming myself, killing myself, even as I’m determined not to do it.

And it’s a phase. It can’t last forever, even when it feels like it. Something will change. It’s hard to wait until it goes away, but it will go away. I can breathe, and let myself feel the loneliness, the emptiness, the hopelessness. It doesn’t feel good, but it’s the truth of where I am right now.