Parenting is not easy on the best of days: it’s filled with unexpected twists and turns, and every day brings something new to the table. Therefore, if you’re struggling with depression on top of that, it can make just getting through each day seem like an impossibility. However, being affected by depression doesn’t mean that you aren’t still a great parent, and it won’t stop your children from looking up to you, believing in you and loving you. If you are a parent who is experiencing depression, then here are a few points that you should always try to remember.
Depression does not define you
The first and most important point to remember is this: you are not depression, you have depression. Your mental illness does not define you, and it doesn’t take away from you being able to be a great parent, and do all the other things that you want to do in life. One in four people are believed to be affected by mental illness, and considering how many people across the world have children, it would stand to reason that you’re not the only parent who has depression either; which means that having depression doesn’t not in any way make you a failure as a parent. Don’t let your depression make you think that you can’t go and do all of the things that make you happy: live fearlessly, and remember that you are in control of your mental health, not the other way around.
You’re doing your best
Most parents have days when they feel like a failure, and it’s perfectly normal to want to try and get everything right for your kids. However, it’s important to remember that when you are experiencing depression, you’re often going to feel like you aren’t doing as well as you actually are, so don’t give yourself a hard time. There are going to be days where you can only manage the bare minimum, and can’t always go that extra mile to do all the extra-curricular activities or give your children one hundred and ten percent, but so long as you are doing your very best at all times, that is perfectly fine. While some days might be harder than others, on those days where you can breathe a little easier, you can make sure to give your children all that ever tender loving care that you couldn’t quite manage on the down days.
Find a support network
Parenting is a full time job, and even the hardest and most dedicated workers need to have a break sometimes. If you were working in an office, you’d have a human resources liaison to turn to when you were in need of help, but there is no HR representative in your home, so you need to go out and find your equivalent. Perhaps that will be a member of your family who you can turn to in your time of need, even if it’s just to ask them to come over and have a drink and talk for a bit, or even just ask them to look after the kids for a few hours so that you can get some downtime and recuperate. Alternatively, you might ask your friends to be your support network, especially those who have children themselves and can understand what you are going through. Think of other parents as your co-workers in the same job role as you: turn to them when you’re in need of advice, or just need a shoulder to lean on. It’s okay to ask for help: after all, the people around you who care about you and want to see you succeed.
It’s okay to ask for help
Depression is something which varies for everyone. Some people experience chronic depression which lasts months or even years; while for some people, depression is only a temporary thing which occurs after experiencing a tough life event, or after a long period of stress, and occasionally in these instances they may find that the depression will naturally start to shift over time. However, no matter whether you’ve been feeling this way for two weeks, there is no shame in asking for help. By seeking out the advice of a professional, you will be able to find out what the best course of action to treat your depression will be. It might be that your depression will be best managed through medication. Alternatively, if you are depressed because of your marriage, etc. then you might find that counseling at the Naya Clinics will help you to work through the cause of your depression and find coping mechanisms to help you get by.
Be kind to yourself
Don’t give yourself a hard time over things. There might be certain things which you can do on specific days, such as face going out to the park with your kids, but if you’re still spending quality time with them, then they’re still going to enjoy just being with you. Remember that your own health and wellbeing is just as important to maintain as your children’s, because they look up to you and will notice if you aren’t taking the best possible care of yourself. On days when you are struggling, there is nothing wrong with getting someone to look after your children for a few hours while you do some routine self care. That might mean taking a long bath and doing something therapeutic that you enjoy, or it might simply mean lying down on your bed in the middle of the day and taking a nap to regain some lost energy. Whatever you need to do to get you through the day, and to be your healthiest self, both physically and mentally, make sure that you do it.
Be open with people
Depression can be a very lonely form of mental illness, but one way to combat this is to be as open and honest as you can with those around you about your feelings and experiences. This is the only way that people will be able to fully help and support you through your difficult moments. If your children are of an old enough age to understand then don’t be afraid to explain it to them in a way which won’t worry them, but that will help them to empathize and be on the same wavelength with you. Children pick up on tension, so if you can be honest with them, they will appreciate being treated like an equal and being given some understanding of the situation.