It’s one thing to be depressed during a bitter cold winter with record low temperatures. I’m pretty sure I was not the only one going a bit stir crazy this winter!
But it’s another thing to feel down for days on end when the sun is shining and the weather ideal, when getting out of the house or off the couch on those days feels like an impossibility, and when thinking gives a headache.
It’s clinical depression.
It was nearly 14 years ago that I finally sought medical attention for the depression that consumed me. After being diagnosed with clinical depression and anxiety, I’ve been on and off of various medications for the duration of that time. While for the most part my depression is under control, I can never completely shrug off some aspects of my illness.
And yet, I’m a stay-at-home mother of two. I get them fed. I get no time off. (Weekends and evenings don’t really count since I have “child radar” that knows when they need me…) I love them and cherish them, and I’m grateful to be home with them.
Stay-at-home parenting with depression has it own set of challenges, but I believe everyone has their own challenges, and this is mine.
Here are some of the things that find help me get through the down times when depression is making life difficult.
Take my medicine. I’ve got to take my medicine to take care of myself. Life gets busy but it should never be too busy to swallow a couple of pills.
Eat well. I tend to not want to cook when I’m depressed. This is bad because then I eat junk. I need to make sure to keep my body happy by giving it happy food.
Get offline and outside. I need to leave the phone alone and focus on kids, sunshine, swinging, making dinner, and otherwise living life. Despite the fact that Facebook and other networking sites often bring people together, when I spend lots of time online, I tend to feel more isolated and depressed. Stepping away helps.
Exercise. It is so hard to do when I’m feel down, but it always helps boost my mood, even in the midst of the worst of it. I can always include the kids by taking a walk with them.
Pray (or meditate). Prayer and scripture reading or other religious study always helps keep me focused. If I’m having a rough few days, I think back: often I’ve forgotten to take the time to talk to Heaven for guidance (and listen for the answers).
Talk to someone. I tend to become a hermit when I’m feeling depressed. Talking with my kids is nice but I recognize that they cannot help when the depression hits hard. It’s important to me that I admit that it’s a hard day to a friend or loved one or therapist, without bringing the burden on the little minds I care for each day.
Keep perspective. There is always a break at some point! Depression tends to spiral down for me, and sometimes I’m pretty stuck at the bottom for a while. But I do know that there is always a respite at some point, a moment when I once again feel like cherishing the wonderful moments of life.
I live for those moments.
This post is a reminder to myself of the things I know I must do to get through the tough days. It is not meant to be medical advice. I do hope that some of the things that work for me may help you as well..
How do you best cope with depression while parenting little ones?