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How I Deal With My Depression as a Parent

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It is waking up in the morning and having your heart sink the minute you wake, making it almost physically impossible to leave the bed.

It is uncontrollably retaining every bad memory you can think of and replaying it over and over in your head until the ability to feel happy has completely diminished.

It is looking at your beautiful, healthy, strong child and still feeling absolutely heartbroken.

It is holding back tears your entire shift and bawling your eyes out the entire way home for no particular reason; or worse, holding back tears from your children and trying your best to fake a smile the entire day.

It is crying into your pillow until you can’t breathe, while still not being able to explain all the reasons why.

It is feeling completely alone.

It is feeling like a failure, all of the time.

It is all of these things, and more. It is the rawest, heartbreaking feeling to feel such pain and not being able to feel relieved. As if there are so many books on your chest and you will never take a deep breath again. I have been there as a child, and I have been there as an adult. And I can tell you, even when life looks absolutely black for months on end, there is light within. Depression is relentless, and even if you are doing your absolute best to have a wonderful day, it seeps through your mind with greater and greater force until you feel nothing at all. It is everlasting pain in your heart. It is consuming. It is hell on earth.

But what I do know is: it is not the end.

I know getting out of bed is hard, and when it is, I hope you remember that the second you do, you were strong. You accomplished something already, and you will get through the day. You are loved, and somebody needs you. A new day does mean a new start, and you deserve that.

Sometimes I subconsciously expect others to take my pain away, including my family and those closest to me. I don’t mean to, and I know they care, but I just want to feel less pain and sometimes there will be no words that heal you. Sometimes, when you’re weak and fighting, and you’re not hearing anything you want to hear, the best thing to do is to show love. Accept a hug, take a hot bath and remember not everyone understands the battle you are facing – but that doesn’t mean you’re facing it alone. They are there, and they will always care.

If you’re a parent, you have already felt the sense of worry thousands of times. You will feel guilty at times, exhausted most of the time, and will make mistakes that, after being awake for way too many hours, feel like the most horrible mistakes in the world – but they aren’t. Children just want to feel loved, cared for and safe. They are also the most intellectual people in the world and likely know you better than anyone. With that being said, they know when something is off, and they will look at you while you’re crying because there is no place to hide it and wipe your tears with their little hands, and your heart will break. However, this is not a sign of failure on your part. This shows you are raising a strong, caring individual who loves you very much. It is also a reminder your children need you to be OK, so do what you need to do. Find a babysitter for a few hours to rest, to mindlessly walk through Target to replenish yourself again, and then greet them with the happy smile they know and love. Constantly remind yourself you are a good parent. Remind yourself a million times if you need to. If they are fed, clean and happy, you are doing your job.

Mostly, it is being honest, and asking for the help you deserve. If you feel any of the things I have felt, you should know you deserve to change. Every one of us deserves to be happy and deserves to feel better. I have hidden from depression for as long as I can remember, I have been embarrassed and I have felt ashamed. And just like everyone does, I have told myself that my problems don’t matter, and have reminded myself there are so many people who have it worse and I need to be grateful. But the truth is you do matter, and you need to stand for yourself and find what you need to make it stop. It is never selfish to ask for help and it is always necessary. Depression has the ability to destroy you, but what I need you to remember is that you are worthy of a good life — to see the beauty of a good day and to feel genuinely happy, and you can and will destroy your depression.

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Photo by Jordan Whitt on Unsplash

Originally published: September 11, 2017
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