This is not my first time around the depression topic, it’s especially not my first time trying to navigate parenting with it, but it’s definitely the first time I’ve realised that I am not alone.
There are so many of us, secretly trying to cope without losing our minds, silently pretending that everything is okay and that we don’t have a problem. Why so secret? Because casual society isn’t ready to face that this is real, they don’t know the “right” things to say and they most certainly have no clue how to help someone in this position.
I wrote early in the year on my digital detox, outlining how it helped me overcome some major symptoms of my depression, I’ve even written about the benefits of grounding activities to help stay level, and my favourite article about the supplementation for depression and anxiety, which shares the various vitamins, minerals and medications that I take to help buffer my depression and anxiety.
Today, I’d like to talk about parenting with depression. It’s a little discussed topic, and in various circles, it’s considered taboo. So I think I’ll share my experience and what I’ve done to make it “easier” to cope with.
A day in the life.
My day starts in pain. Back pain, leg pain, cramps in my calves. This is around 03H00. I then stretch, and massage and try get back to sleep.
First kid is up by 05h00, hubby usually helps him with his milk etc.
Getting kids ready for school is a high stress time. The time-frame and the pressure to get them to eat, dress and pack their lunch is sometimes so overwhelming I feel like I’m in a vortex (depending on the quality of my sleep the night before).
The kids go to school and I can tidy, shower, feed the dogs and get behind my computer for a few hours of work.
Fetching kids from school at 12h30, I always hope that the little one will fall asleep in the car on the way home, cause otherwise the afternoon will be cray-cray. I breathe and take the long way home.
Generally the afternoons are peacefull as the older one plays quietly and I can get some tasks ticked off my list.
The most difficult time of day for me is from 17h00 – 20h00. The witching hour, as it’s called. Everyone seems to loose their ability to behave, follow simple instructions and keep it together. Bath time, then supper, then quiet time to bed time is always riddled with threats of smack bums, taking away toys and turning off the T.V. Which I’m sure it’s like in most homes with kids under 5. When you have depression it’s like walking into a mental warzone, mentally preparing yourself does nothing, the anxiety before this time is usually quite high, and I’m usually pretty irritated because I don’t know what to expect. Smiling and waving isn’t an option, I literally have to pep-talk myself out loud otherwise I will loose my S$!% completely.
What do I do to help myself?
These are some of the things I do that help me stay calm and focused, they don’t always work, I don’t always win the battle, but most days, if I stick to the basics, I’ll be able to manage.
- Don’t drink too much coffee
- Stay hydrated- with water
- Don’t plan too many things for the day – outings, shopping, work meetings etc
- Spend time outdoors every day – just 20 minutes is good.
- Don’t get hungry – or hangry – eat regular low GI meals
- Take my supplements and medication
- Try get a decent nights rest – go to bed with my beanbag on my lower back
- Connect with good friends – whatsapp is a wonderful tool for this
What do I do when I’m having a bad day and the kids are home?
I pray, no jokes, I literally pray and ask God to help me navigate the day. This usually includes avoiding social media for most of the day, staying off my laptop and forgetting my “to-do” list.
Then I just wear my tracksuit (sensory avoiding) and I play with my kids. I get involved with the games, pull out the paint and play catch in the garden. So in a sense, my “bad days” are good days, cause I’ve put down all the things that cause stress in my head, and only picked up the things that cause love, life and fun in my head. Also, music, upbeat, happy songs (usually kids songs) are a great way to perk up. Also, funny animated movies with the kids, my kids are obsessed with Captain Underpants the Movie, and we laugh and laugh together.
To round it up.
The overall idea with depression is to acknowledge it’s presence, but don’t give it any room to dominate. Sometimes you won’t be able to do that, and that’s okay, but implementing things that assist you to stay away from it mentally are always beneficial.
This road with depression and anxiety is long, and there is literally no quick fix. You are not alone, there are so many of us out there, willing to talk and help. Please don’t be silent, asking for help is nothing to be ashamed of.
Also, without a proper, professional diagnosis, it is very difficult to find ways to improve your mental quality of life, so I would highly recommend you see a Clinical Psychologist or Psychologist to help with your diagnosis, prognosis and remedies.