When depression and parenthood collide.

depression-photoDepression sucks. It’s an asshole that I wish I could kick in the balls. Add anxiety to that and panic attacks and woo hoo, we’re talking about loads of fun. Not.

Before the hummingbird, I could disappear into my head and throw all the pity parties I wanted. After the hummingbird, I have to try and keep it together.

It can be really hard to do. There have been a few times when she’s asked me why I’m so sad. Then she’ll do something to get me to smile and ask me if I’m still sad. I tell her no and thank her for making me feel better but the truth is I’ll feel even worse that she noticed.

But like I’ve said before, just because you become a parent doesn’t mean that your life outside of your kids just shuts off.

In some ways I think it may be a good thing to have the hummingbird see that I’m not always smiley and happy. That it’s okay to show all kind of emotions.

I have so much guilt though.

I know that when I go through my phases of depression, I’m not as present with my daughter as I should be and that makes me feel like the worst mother ever.

Add in the Postpartum PTSD I’ve been trying to come to grips with since my daughter was born and I feel like I’ve missed out on some really great times with the hummingbird because I was lost in my own thoughts and trying to battle feeling so fucking depressed.

Then I started thinking about what I would tell someone going through the same thing which made me see things a little differently. Although sometimes it can be hard to practice what you preach, it made me see that I was being way too hard on myself, which is what I do best.

These are the things I would tell another parent dealing depression…

1. Stop beating yourself up.

2. You’re not a terrible parent.

3. You need to do what you have to do to deal with depression in your own way and you’re not horrible if you have to take time for just yourself to try to heal.

4. If your depressed, it’s okay for your child to see that you may be feeling down. If needed, try to explain it to them in the simplest terms that they can understand.

If I’m having a particular rough day with depression and anxiety, I’ll let my 4 year-old know that mommy is feeling sad but it has nothing to do with her. Or I’ll tell her I’m not feeling good but mommy will be okay.

5. Do not under any circumstances feel like you’re failing your children when going through a depressive episode.

6. Sure, you have kids but you need to take care of YOU. A happy parent equals a happy child.

They will be learning more and more about the real world as they get older and having them see you depressed will be the least of your worries because holy shit, the world can be such a fucked up place. Oy!

Now, I just need to start taking my own advice.

If you have depression, do you have any advice on how you’ve dealt with depression and your children?


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8 Responses to When depression and parenthood collide.

  1. Theresa June 17, 2013 at 03:36 #

    I think all the things you list are true and good approaches. As the adult child of a mother with disabling depression, let me just add one thing: get some help caring for your children if at all possible. My mom had long periods where all she would do was sleep or cry all day long. Not her fault, but it meant that we were essentially on our own during the day at a young age. If your depression becomes so severe that you are, essentially, non functional, send your kids to daycare if you can afford it, drop them with friends a few days a week if possible, or something. It will give you a break and give your kids a break as well. It doesn’t mean you are a bad mom to ask for some help.

    I am also predisposed to depression and anxiety, though fortunately not as severe as my mom’s. I understand the problem from both sides of the fence.

    • Elle June 18, 2013 at 17:07 #

      I’m lucky to have a husband who will take our daughter out for the day if I’m feeling really down. xo

  2. Denise June 17, 2013 at 06:12 #

    I have depression. Have had it for ages, before I had kids. I’m on Zoloft. I highly recommend medication if you aren’t on it already. You do it for yourself and your kids. Since being on medicine (for the last 16 years), excepting a few “vacations” from my meds, I don’t have to worry about phases of depression. Good luck to you.
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    • Elle June 18, 2013 at 17:09 #

      I’ve been on Lexapro for awhile and just started Abilify which seems to have been helping more. I also was seeing a psychologist that helped. I think after our upcoming move, I’ll see another one to be proactive. xx

  3. k June 17, 2013 at 18:47 #

    Help with childcare, plus medication and therapy are a must.

  4. k June 17, 2013 at 19:02 #

    I’m getting help now for this very same thing. Every time I leave my therapists office I feel hopeful. She gives me support, helps me identify my triggers and we make plans for what I can do for myself, and who to ask for help. Thanks so much for posting this. You are right – we are not bad parents for having this illness. We can heal!

    • Elle June 18, 2013 at 17:11 #

      My therapist was really helpful and once we move, I think I’ll find another therapist since I think it’s so important when you have depression. I’m also on medication and currently had the dosage raised. xoxo


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