This story is part of our End of the Childbearing Years series, exploring the experiences, decisions, and feelings of Mormon women around this pivotal transition. Each story is a generous and vulnerable offering. We ask that comments be sensitive and nonjudgmental toward any woman’s choices or beliefs.

By Carolyn Booth

Although I have the option to have more children, it hasn’t felt right for almost a year.

I have had depression in varying degrees my whole life, and also suffer from anxiety and a toxic level of perfectionism. As much as I try to shield my kids, two boys at four and two years old, it’s difficult to do so when it aggravates my symptoms.

When it first occurred to me that I will probably never have the little girl I wanted (Vivienne would be her name), or another emotional, beautiful boy, I did go through a grieving process.
But I knew the children I already had deserved more.

I was already yelling too much, when the anxiety bore down on my chest and throat. I was already needing to be in bed a lot. I was already struggling preparing their meals, and taking them out of the house.

I knew I needed it for me, too. I needed to get on top of eating three proper meals a day, which rarely happens, even now. I needed to stay on my medication, because not doing so presented the risk of suicidal ideation. I needed to stay alive for my kids.

So now, I’m at a point where I’m discovering once again who I am. I’m discovering the things I like, and the things I need to change. I am now dedicated to advocating for the cause of women in the church, because I believe we have so much to offer. I’m also looking into studying psychology, and the prospect is exciting. One day I’ll be able to say “I’m a psychologist,” instead of “My husband is a psychologist,” and I will be able to help people. I’ll be able to engage empathically from my own experiences with mental illness.

Also, maybe I’ll be able to learn to love my scratchy cat, Elphaba.

Carolyn Booth