Parenting While Depressed
Depression is hard, and even harder when you have to keep parenting. Let go of guilt by following these seven tips for Parenting while Depressed.
This is hard for me. I go through bouts of depression and get lost in myself. One thing that I continue to do, however, is to take care of my children the best way I know. I attempt to give them as much love, attention, and guidance as I can while in my fog.
As I write this, it’s difficult to express the bittersweetness I feel about this vulnerable state. It’s a state and I recognize it, it’s apart from me because I am self-aware. I can separate body conditions from my soul, that has taken more practice than anything I have ever attempted to accomplish.
I thought being in full joy was the only way to be, that it was the only way to live, the only way creative growth could take effect. It never occurred to me that acceptance and living to the fullest was an individual journey. I am as happy as anyone can be, but it’s a different happy- I am in acceptance.
At first, I thought acceptance meant that once I arrived there that things changed and I would naturally be in the next developmental level. No, it means you are where you need to be, and it is there that you find that joy. And parenting while depressed is just another state you have to accept as you heal.
Things As They Are
Joy begins when you learn how to deal with things as they are. I am currently in slight mental pain (I got a virus and my head began to feel cloudy and out of sorts, learning to stop fighting depression and go with the flow has helped me navigate when I get these familiar symptoms) but it is in this state that I find Parenting the hardest, parenting while depressed is no joke.
Boy oh boy, kids are your most demanding life obligation and your most rewarding. Taking care of them while not at your best is harder than most people like to share. But I must share how I do it, so you can breathe and forgive yourself, when you question if you’re doing them harm by being sick.
Kids Are Amazing
Children are amazing little critters. Their bodies regenerate cells faster and their minds automatically think in-the-now. So when we have depression it’s us who suffer the most but we assume we are hurting them by just existing.
You, unlike your children, will not regenerate and heal faster. It’s up to you to continue to remedy what you can to heal and get back to parenting while depressed.
What Depression Is
Quickly let me explain what depression is. Depression is an inflammation of the brain. Just like a knee that might become inflamed and does not function at its fullest so does your brain. However, because the inflammation is in your brain, it will affect your way of thinking.
Depending on where you have inflammation will depend on what your symptoms are. Some might have more of temporal lobe (side of the head) brain fog/pain while others might feel it over their eyes and jaw, vision disruption.
I feel my inflammation mostly over my frontal lobe (forehead) and so my executive function gets dysregulated (decision making, motivation, and organization). Depression can feel like a gnawing, low-level headache, f
The Way You Think
So now you understand that because depression inflames your brain that you will also think through the symptoms. Depression is notorious for distorting your thinking and making you believe that others might feel how you are feeling.
So, for example, if you feel tired, you think you are pushing your children too much. If you feel angry, you think your children must be just trying to be naughty. This distorted thinking is what makes parenting while depressed so hard.
Let me remind you, what you are feeling is not what other people are doing or being, but what you are going through. Be mindful that depression makes you feel isolated too. This isolation tricks you into believing you are hopeless and that those around you also think you are hopeless.
So now that you know that, you are not hurting your children by your existence, but maybe by your mistreatment of yourself.
7 Tips for Parenting Like a Boss While Depressed
Below are a few tips I have created to help you and guide you in raising amazing children while in a depressed state.
Tip One: Learn to Self-Regulate
Self-regulation is about learning what you are feeling and understanding how to maneuver through emotions. Learning to work your emotions rather than them working you is important, it allows you to react to situations appropriately, understanding what your body/mind needs and allows for self
Another term often associated with self-regulation is self-awareness. Self-regulation is the action and self-awareness is the trigger. For example, when you feel angry, your body is telling you something is causing an elevated fight-or-flight response. Acknowledging the anger is the first step (self-awareness) and calming yourself to fix the issue is the action (self-regulation).
It’s important to self-regulate when you have depression so that those around you (your children in this case) don’t take on anxiety from your anger, sadness, anxiety, or disinterest.
Tip Two: Teach Yourself Self-Care
Learn to use self-awareness to take care of yourself. It’s beyond difficult to get motivated to take showers, eat right, but you have to. We parents are so lucky that we get a real-life reason to hang on to life. Some people with depression don’t have other humans to hold on for. Get up, do life and remind yourself that you have someone that matters.
I wrote a how-to heal depression post HERE, I hope you read it and take some steps to heal yourself. Have a reason to keep yourself healthy and mentally agile, your children need you.
Tip Three: Teach Your Children Self-Care
Chances are since you have depression, your children might be prone to it. Teach them what self-care is so they know how to combat depression and even stop it from occurring. They need to take care of themselves properly and you are their best hope for learning what to do.
Speak to yourself out loud while doing your self-care, for example, “I need to get myself a glass of lemon water, that helps my body get rid of yucky stuff in my blood,” or “I think I need a shower, I think it’s been two days, and showers make me feel better,” or “Oh boy I sure need a healthy snack, Cheeto’s sound amazing, but an apple is healthier and better for my body,”.
The more you attend to your self-care, the more exposure to real self-care your children will get, plus it’s what you need to heal.
Tip Four: Get Out Of the House
Find the time of the day when you have a bit of energy and take them out. Some days will be harder to accomplish this than others.
One of those things that healthy-brained people take for granted is the energy they have. Depression takes so much energy, and you get left laying on the couch more often than not. The guilt you feel when you lie around and have your children watch TV instead of getting out is awful.
Activity is important for you and them. Get out in the sun, rain, or snow, even if it’s just for 15 minutes at a time. If it’s too hard for you to get up, call a friend and ask them to take your child out for a bit.
Be cheerful when you have no energy and can’t interact with your kids, it might feel fake, but they need it.
Tip Five: Being Bored is Okay
Activities are great, but some boredom for them will not kill them. Seriously, if they have gotten out already and claim they “are bored,” or “we NEVER do anything,” be okay with their statements. Follow their statement with “being bored helps your imagination and you are just fine.”
That means being okay with not doing things here and there. You are not mistreating them by having them spend lazy boring, afternoons at home. In fact, boredom can be healthy for children, it helps them problem solve.
We think we are hurting our kids with our way of feeling, that somehow the way we feel is pouring out our cells and onto those that we love. NO, the way you are feeling is not what they are feeling; you are still the best thing for them.
Tip Six: Just Sit and Play
Sit and play with them in-the-now during your most difficult moments; they are therapeutic for you. You see, sitting on the floor playing or coloring with them is a great way to spend time with your child when you feel depressed. Practice playing in-the-moment, really get into the games or coloring.
Those in-the-now moments help relieve mental pain. When you focus on the moment, it relieves depression symptoms, and that can help boost your natural healing state.
Tip Seven: Eat Healthy
Remember that healthy eating is excellent for you and them. It’s hard to move yourself during bouts of depression but you must look for those small energy moments and plan out your food for the week. Use grocery delivery services if you can. If you can’t get your groceries delivered, go during less busy times and buy what you plan to buy. And buy healthy food!
You already know that you are depressed and that is inflammation and inflammation is a side effect of neural
Finally, inflammation of the brain can happen to anybody, but some people (lucky you, and me) are more prone to it. Learn the things that you need to heal yourself. Self- regulation is a must; it will disarm the depressed moments. When you disarm those moments, it gives you a fighting chan
Children are resilient, happy creatures, as long as you are getting up, trying, being with them, they will be just fine.
The number one thing your child needs is you, broken, sad, happy-you, that is all they need. Love and hug them often; it’s therapy for you and them while you parent.
Why is my depression different from your depression right now? Because I am self-aware, self-awareness makes it possible for me to separate myself from my body, and that guides me in healing myself faster and managing my condition with as little disruption to my life as I parent while depressed.
In fact, (lord, my kid just screamed freaking loudly, why oh why do toddlers feel like they must express their vocal cords like that? Ha hah) I am happier than I would have been if I did not know how to separate from my condition. Yes, I would rather not feel this discomfort, but it is what it is.
What is a major challenge for you living with depression? Is there a particular symptom that effects you more than others? Let me know below if there are other subjects in parenting I can help write about. Gentle healing to you, hugs.
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