Tag Archives: mental health

Parenting With Depression

Parenting with depression..single parenting has its challenges. Especially when the other parent is completely removed from the picture, the pressure to be everything for our kids can be overwhelming. We must remain steady, managing our emotions well so we can help our children learn to manage theirs. Even with help from family and friends, we are the sole parent. The responsibility of rearing falls squarely on our shoulders. The weight can seem all that more overwhelming when you are dealing with depression.
Depression may come in waves, it may linger beneath the surface, or be a constant thorn in our foot reminding us of our weakness. It comes in forms of sadness, irritability, tiredness, or a wide range of other emotions. The variability of it makes it an unpredictable chaos. Single parenting with depression could be a perfect storm. It could be. Unmanaged, it could embed anxiety in the hearts of our children, as they struggle to find consistency and stability. It could. Unchecked, it could feed off our parenting guilt, drowning us in the reality that we can never truly be all are kids need. It could. Unsupported we could find ourselves with our heads just above the water, unable to do and provide all we desire. Under those circumstances, it will be a lose-lose situation for us and our children. But, it doesn’t have to be that way.
In my household, there have been really good “mental health” days, but it took time to learn how to get there. Before I did some weekends were filled with emptiness. Everything would be quiet, except the sound of the television or tablet from the living room, as I lay bed unable to will myself up. “Mommy doesn’t feel well,” I would say when questioned. I desperately wanted something else for my son but didn’t know how to get it. Through prayer and counseling, I began to learn to brace myself for the waves. I thank God on a regular basis that He has helped me learn to parent beyond my depression. Now my son and I get movie and book days where we sit together in our pajamas and only venture out of bed for snacks. When journeying to the park is too difficult, the back door stays open and we blow bubbles, I count his jumps on the trampoline, and let him splash around with the water table. When I am irritable, I embrace ample opportunities to model the complexities of apologizing. A greater blessing is the ability to show my son (and remind myself) that we all mess up, but God’s forgiveness never runs out. On days where even the sound of breathing grates my nerves and being touched makes my skin crawl, I have been blessed with friends and family that will let me come over and rest while my son plays. While I see a counselor, it wasn’t until I stopped waiting to be cured that I could care for my son better.
I would rather not be a single parent that struggles with depression. I would rather be able to have a spouse that can pick up my parenting slack, but that’s not my reality. There will still be lots of Door Dash orders and laundry that piles up. There will be screen time and sometimes it will be more than recommended allotment. Those are the facts, but I can minimize the inconsistency and lack of presence that existed before. In all honesty, we can never be the end-all and be-all for our kids. Instead of rejecting that can learn our weaknesses. Instead of promising ourselves we will never face depression again, we can plan how to parent around it. Before it is needed, we can get help so our kids don’t become casualties of the silence and emptiness of depression.
Shon W

Me, You, And My Medication

Me, You, And My Medication….

I slammed my bedroom door shut and pounded my firsts into my thighs repeatedly. Till finally my legs went numb and some sort of calm had come over me. I was 7 years old and had no idea this would be the first of many outbursts I would have before finally getting a diagnosis at age 27.

I have never been able to control my emotions; I have always struggled with extreme highs and lows my entire life. My depression was a huge part in both my divorces. I had to be medicated throughout pregnancy and post-partum with all three of my children.  I spent years of my life in therapy chairs looking for answers. It was blamed on my mother abandoning me at an early age, being molested, and divorce trauma. But I knew deep down something more was at play. It wasn’t until I met a doctor at age 27, I finally had answer.

Bipolar.

Such a scary word to hear. I sat numb in the doctor’s office for awhile before finally asking.. Will I have to take medicine forever? The doctor smiled weakly and said its recommended you stay on medication. I spent 6 months working with my doctor to find the perfect dose and perfect medicine to stabilize me and it was exhausting, I never thought I was going to feel a normal for myself and that’s all I wanted was a sense of normal. Bipolar explained a lot of my behavior but it didn’t excuse any of it. I made serious mistakes in my bipolar episodes I couldn’t just write off because I had a diagnosis. I had to learn how to live my life on medication and navigate the world. I ruined a lot of relationships during my bipolar episodes including an engagement to what I believe was the love of my life.

How could I fix that? How do I start over fresh?

I reached out. I reached out to family, I reached out to friends, I even reached out to my ex fiancé in hopes of making amends for what I done unmedicated. I had to learn it was okay to accept my mistakes and those around me forgave me for my behavior. Oddly enough my Dad told me he suspected all along I was bipolar. It was about learning a new life balanced out by an anti-psychotic. I take three medications now once daily for my bipolar, one once daily for anxiety and one I take as needed up to three times a day for my anxiety and they both help along with my monthly sometimes bi-weekly therapy sessions. There may come a day where I can overcome my anxiety but there’s not going to come a day where I don’t deal with my bipolar, and I’m learning to be okay with that.

There are times I miss being off my medication. The days I would feel high, on top of the world and get so much accomplished were amazing. I once redid an entire bathroom on one of my “good days”. But the lows were incredibly painful. I would go days without running a brush through my hair or even showering because I was so depressed. Being on medication has made me successful, I firmly believe I have gotten so far ahead in life being stabilized with medications. I may not experience the highs, but I no longer suffer the extreme lows.

I feel normal and that’s something I never thought I would say. I feel like I can accomplish things. I have learned to manage my emotions and control them better. I’ve been promoted at my job and I’m successful and I never though that would be possible unmedicated. I’ve learned that there’s no harm in being honest when you’re struggling with mental illness there’s a whole community out there of people who are ready and willing to be there for you, including me.

Serendipity

Addiction Has Changed Me

I’m not an addict but addiction has changed me.

I worked hard, as my parents did, and earned my way to my independence as a young adult. By the time I was 26, I purchased my own home, had a new car in the driveway, my bills were paid. I was gainfully employed and was well respected in my career. I did not live a life of luxury but I did not want for anything either. I had accomplished some goals in my life sooner than others and I was confident in my abilities. I was happy.

I grew up in a structured family environment, full of love and support. I was a successful adult, still, I found that I was ill prepared for some of what life had in store for me, most of which revolved around my failed relationships; more specifically, conflicts within those relationships. There was never any conflict in my childhood home – NONE. I never saw my parents fight. I only saw respect and honor and dignity.

After I married and began my own family, I would soon find out, however, that I had absolutely no idea how to deal with conflict. Furthermore, I had not the first notion about addiction and its cunning ability to destroy whatever it touched.

Addiction stole my independence in the physical form of my home, my car, my job, my financial freedom, and so much more. And it momentarily buried the strong, driven woman my parents did such a fine job creating. Addiction affected my life by kicking the door in like a thief in the night, pillaging everything sacred inside me, cheating me out of my peace of mind and my ability to trust.

One of my favorite quotes is from Maya Angelou; “I may be changed by what happens to me, but I refuse to be reduced by it.” I tell myself that everyday. Where my self-esteem had dropped drastically in my marriage, I have been able to rebuild that self-image since my separation. Though I may seem hard to some now, those that know me well, and the home from which I came, can see beyond my protective layers. I am happy again and impervious to projections. That strength and purpose in character coupled with my unconditional love is what my daughter will benefit from most.

Addiction holds no bias. It knows no boundaries. It affects all races, classes, sexes, ages, sexual preferences, religious preferences, and so on. Addiction, at its best, will destroy families, jobs, incomes, and the physical and mental health of both the addict and that of their loved ones. At its worst, addiction is fatal. At its best, it destroys.

Addiction is a very real societal issue that requires understanding, consistency, and perseverance through the face of some individuals’ worst evils. It must be recognized and treated as such with as-necessary intervention and medical supervision.

But if you ask me how to treat addiction, you have to treat its root cause. No, I’m not an addict, but addiction has changed me.

Mental health matters.
Josie