I personally struggle with depression pretty regularly – pretty much every few months.
It always starts out small. Little things will start to get to me a little more than they usually do. My patience gets thinner. My fuse gets shorter. The things I normally enjoy seem less interesting than usual.
I reach out to friends less. I watch TV more. I spend less time playing with my son because I just feel too tired. I troll social media constantly looking for something, anything, that will give me a little excitement or hope. Of course, those things just don’t work, and I wind up spiraling down, and at some point, I just feel like I don’t recognize myself.
All in all, I just feel like I slow down.
It comes on so gradually that sometimes I don’t even realize it until I balled up in a corner crying because I spilled the milk I was trying to pour – and then I realize maybe I need to take a step back and get myself together.
But the thing that really gives me a kick in the butt is how it affects my parenting. Along with the usual guilt that comes along with depression, I feel awful when I don’t feel like I’m being the parent my son needs. When I look at his sweet little face and think, “I can’t be a mom today.” It kills me.
If this sounds at all familiar, first of all: I’m so sorry. It sucks. But I just want you to know that you’re absolutely not alone – and there are things you can do to make it better.
NOTE: If you’re having thoughts of suicide, PLEASE don’t try to deal with things on your own! If you’ve hit that point, please reach out. You can call the suicide hotline at 1-800-784-2433 to speak to someone, or, if you prefer, they now have a text line. You are loved and needed. There is always hope.
6 Ways To Deal With Depression When You’re Parenting Alone
Give yourself a break.
Don’t be too hard on yourself. If you’re doing the best you can, you’re giving your kids all they need.
The truth is, your kids don’t need to see perfection. They already think you’re pretty much perfect (it’s beneficial sometimes that they have nobody to compare you to :)) but what they need to see is a mom who’s trying. That’s because they’re imperfect, too – they wouldn’t be able to relate to a role model without flaws.
Just do what you can and let the rest go.
So what if you didn’t find stimulating Pinterest-worthy activities for your kids today? So what if everyone had peanut butter and jelly for breakfast, lunch, and dinner? So what if you watched Daniel Tiger all day long? So what if the dishes or the laundry is behind because you weren’t feeling up to doing them?
There’s certainly worse things a kid could go through. Those things do not make you a bad mom.
Call in reinforcements.
Do you have family nearby who could come give you a break? Give them a call. If you don’t have family nearby, try to track down a babysitter through whatever connections you have. If you asked, I’m sure another mom in the department would be able to help, too.
Don’t be afraid to reach out. If you need time to yourself, it’s important that you take that time. It’ll make you way happier and better able to deal with the stress of parenting.
Speaking of asking for help: if it lasts for an extended period of time, don’t feel ashamed to ask a doctor for medication or counseling. You might be surprised how many others do the same (hand raised!)
Get ready for the day.
I don’t mean you need to get dolled up like you’re going on a fancy date. I mean, change out of your pajamas (even if that just means putting on leggings and a t-shirt), brush your teeth, brush your hair, and look presentable.
It makes a surprisingly big difference in my mood when I do this. I instantly have more energy.
I don’t care if you don’t leave the house once today. Put yourself together 🙂
Get out of the house.
That being said, there’s something to say for getting out of the house and into a new environment.
One of the best ways I’ve found to deal with being in a rut is getting my workout clothes on, lacing up my running shoes, and taking my two-year-old for a run. I mean, it’s not like an awesome run, but being outside puts a smile on my face, and he loves to “chase Mommy”.
Truthfully, it’s not even the exercise I need so much as just being outside. Something about it seems to “re-set” my brain and make me feel a little more zen… even when the peaceful sounds of nature are interrupted by “Mom! Mommy! Moooom!”
But it really doesn’t matter what you do: go to the library, go to the zoo, take the kids for Slurpees (no judgment here!) Just do something to improve your mood 🙂
Limit phone time.
Cell phones can be a useful tool to helping yourself get out of a funk. When I call a friend or my mom, even if I don’t vent about what’s getting me down, I feel so much better by the time I hang out.
But the downside of smart phones is that you can more easily feed a social media addiction – which is more likely to make you feel lonely and unworthy, not connected and loved.
The thing is, when you’re on social media, you’re seeing everyone else’s highlights. It gives you this illusion that everyone else has nice homes, perfect marriages, well-adjusted kids, flat abs post-baby, etc. It makes you feel like you’re literally the only one who struggles with anything.
There’s also a lot of news that’s prone to bum you out on Facebook (hello, trending topics bar.)
When you’re in a rut, delete the social media apps on your phone. You can always re-add them later, but if you have to use your laptop to peruse Facebook, you’re going to be less likely to do it.
It’ll also help you focus on the most important thing: the people you’re around in real life.
Do something nice for someone else.
One of the things I struggle with when I’m in a period of depression is feeling incredibly unlikeable. I convince myself nobody likes me, that the people who spend time with me only tolerate me, and that they’re probably all saying nasty things behind my back.
I’m super mean to myself sometimes.
But the best way to quell this feeling is to do something inherently likeable for someone else. It proves to myself that I am likeable, plus it boosts my mood to see a smile on their face.
Depression sucks. There’s no two ways about it. But – there are totally ways to help make it better.
What’s the best way you’ve found to deal with depression?