Parenting when life is great can be difficult so you can easily understand why parenting while depressed becomes a daily struggle that you feel will never end. The key thing to remember is your ill, depression is an illness but it can be treated and you will recover.
It is during these weeks, months or even years when you’re depressed that you need support more than ever and that’s OK, we all need help and support as a mother, this has no bearing on your mothering skills.
Parenting can be lonely, being depressed makes you feel lonely, so when you put them both together you have a recipe for disaster and that’s how it feels, like everything around you goes wrong, nothing you do is right. It is a challenging time and I know it all too well as I am a mom to 6 children and I am diagnosed with Bipolar and PTSD.
Things To Remember When Your Parenting While Depressed
Stop The Guilt Eating You Up
Depression is an illness, you are not depressed because you are weak, you have done nothing to cause this so be gentle and kind to yourself. Parenting while depressed is so very difficult and when you have zero tolerance for your children, you struggle to even get out of bed on a morning and you burst into tears at the slightest thing, of course, the shame and guilt set in.
I know how guilt eats you up on the inside because I too felt it was my fault. Depression is evil, it changes your thoughts without you knowing, it causes you to feel a failure, but your not.
If you’re depressed, you feel sad, hopeless and lose interest in things you used to enjoy, it is the illnesses fault that you don’t want to go to the park with your child or you can’t stop feeling like you are worthless. Blaming yourself and feeling guilty because you feel that you’re letting your children down is all too common.
You are not to blame – Depression is
It’s OK To Get It Wrong
Even on the best of days we get things wrong, we are too quick to blame or we shout at our children. We ignore them or we secretly pray for five minutes of peace. Parenting is difficult and anyone who says it isn’t doesn’t spend enough time with their kids.
There is no such thing as a perfect parent, so just be a real one.
It’s OK to say you don’t want to take them to the park because you just can’t face the outside world and instead you bring the duvets down into the living room and you all watch movies for the day.
It’s OK to make jam sandwiches for lunch because you don’t have the strength to cook.
It’s OK to tell your kids your head is poorly and its making mummy feels sad, but you love them very much although you may be shouting and crying a lot recently. It’s fine to let your kids see you’re a human being.
We all make mistakes, we all get parenting wrong at times, I know I do, so accept when parenting while depressed you are going to get it wrong at times but it’s OK. You are not superwoman you’re a depressed mother who is ill but who is trying her best under the circumstances.
Ask For Help
This was one of the things I found the hardest to do yet it was a lifesaver. Asking friends, family or health professionals for help made me feel a failure as if it proved I was not coping. Yet when I got over the fear of being judged and I spoke out, the love and support I was given changed my life.
The GP is not going to phone social services because you have asked for help. If you break your arm the staff at the hospital would not assume your not able to care for your child and the same goes for depression.
Your friends and family will be all too glad to step in and help you. They will not judge you or think any less of you, if anything they will feel admiration for you as they too will know how hard it is to reach out, it takes a lot to ask for help and to say you need support and you should be praised for this.
There are a variety of depression support groups for mothers, check to see if there is one in your local area.
Online support groups can provide a safe haven for you, I own Support For Mothers, a Facebook group where you will find mothers of all ages chatting and offering support in a non-judgemental and monitored environment.
Take Your Medication
If your GP prescribes medication which will usually be antidepressants please do take them, give them time to work and be patient, miracles do not happen overnight. It can take 4-6 weeks before you feel any changes. You may also be offered counselling or a talking therapy, these can help significantly so do go along and engage in treatment.
If you were diabetic you would need to take insulin to live, if you were a cancer patient you would take whatever medication that gave yo to survive, if you have a broken bone you would have an x-ray and take painkillers, so treat depression the same way as you would any illness or health problem.
You can kick depressions ass but you need help to do so and this comes in the form of medication or other therapies.
It’s thought that antidepressants work by increasing levels of a group of chemicals in the brain called neurotransmitters. Certain neurotransmitters, such as serotonin and noradrenaline, can improve mood and emotion, although this process isn’t fully understood. NHS
If you take an antidepressant for four weeks without feeling any benefit, speak to your GP or mental health specialist. They may recommend increasing your dose or trying an alternative medication.
Talk about your feelings
Again this can be difficult to do thanks to the stigma of mental health, you fear being judged and I know the main worry about being honest about your feelings is that someone will phone social services on you and your children will be taken away, I promise you this is not true.
I have been an online agony aunt for almost 6 years and I speak with hundreds of mothers each day parenting while depressed and I encourage each and every one of them to seek professional support, not one of them has had their children removed from their care.
Bad parenting and mental illness do not go together, depression does not make you a bad mother, it just makes it more difficult to be the best person you can be and you may just have to settle for being just OK for a short while.
Parenting while depressed brings a whole heap of new challenges and difficulties, but I promise you that things do and will get better with the right people standing by your side, it’s your job to go out and find them.
What you can do today:
1 – Phone your GP and make that appointment
2 – Join an online support group
3 – Phone or text a friend or family member and ask if they can help you out a little
Do you agree that parenting while depressed can feel like living in hell?
Are you a mom who has suffered depression? Tell me what has helped you.