Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Parenting with Depression

For those days when things are just a little bit fuzzy...
For those of you who come here for the quirky quips, the offbeat quibbles, the general perkiness of it all…come back tomorrow. I promise, there’ll be more then. In light of recent events, however, I wanted to take today, pull back the curtain and talk about something that really matters. Something I, and thousands, if not millions, of moms all around the world, struggle with every day. 

Parenting with depression.

 Nobody Knows

It doesn’t seem to matter how much publicity depression gets, how much people claim to understand it or who says it doesn’t bother them. At the end of the day, most depression sufferers have something in common.

They don’t want to admit that they have a problem.

Many of the people who read this will be surprised that anyone would use the words “me” and “depression” in the same sentence. Most days, they’d be right. Perky and happy and upbeat and looking at the bright side of life are mottos I try and live by.

Those are the days I’m winning. Those are the days I can look depression in the face and say, “Nyah nyah nyah nyah nyah! I’m taking my life back!” Sometimes, however, I’m not the winner. That’s when things start to get sticky.

What Happens After?

There are many things in life that can cause depression to flare up. The doctor diagnosed it as seasonal, and to an extent he’s right. Winter’s definitely harder for me. I find myself struggling to keep a smile on my face when I’m spending day after day inside these four walls in the middle of winter gray…which is why my living room is currently painted like something straight out of Seuss!

Snow isn’t the big killer for me, however. Stress is. The minute I start to feel overwhelmed I just shut down, starting a cascade of fail that leaves me buried under missed deadlines, late bills, short tempers…and lost time with my kids.

On the days depression wins, I’m not a great mom. I’m not even a particularly good mom. As a matter of fact, if my kids get fed and get to school on time I consider it a job well done. Depression is one of those things that just swallows you whole. You don’t want to play. You don’t want to go places. The chitter chatter and constant bickering of little voices that would normally go in one ear and out the other drives you absolutely…fricking…insane.

I’m sure it’s different for other moms. For me, if I can’t deal with life, I certainly can’t do a bang-up job parenting my kids. We get by. They watch a lot of cartoons. Go into raptures because I lift the limits on their video games just to get us through the day. 

But those days aren’t fair to them, because I know what they really want, what they NEED, is me. There. Connected. Giving them 100% of my undivided attention.

Happy Drugs?

The first thing most people ask me when I tell them I suffer from seasonal and stress-induced depression is whether or not I take anti-depressants. That’s a hard question for me. I have, for limited periods of time, taken baby doses of anti-depressant drugs. They help-some. The side effects inspire me to take them as little as I can possibly get away with.

I’m hoping one day to find a good solution. In the meantime, I have to keep parenting as best I can and hope one day my kids will look back and say, “It was enough.” I have to TRY and keep my stress levels down (yeah, I laughed at that one too) so I can keep my head in the game.

Depression Isn’t a Stigma

…but very few parents are going to step up to the plate and admit that they have a problem. If you find yourself struggling, reach out. If you don’t want to talk to your spouse, talk to your doctor. If you don’t want to talk to your friends, find a good therapist. (Most of them are covered by insurance.)

Most importantly, if you find that depression is making it hard to function, if you find yourself struggling just to get out of bed and missing deadlines and due dates like there was no tomorrow, ask for help. You’re worth it.

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