When mom’s depressed; Addressing depression for the sake of my kids
When mom’s depressed; a meaningful interaction with my daughter about my depression
“You know what, Mom?” My daughter Zoya touched me on the arm the other day.
“I know that you have been happier lately.”
“Oh really, how?” I asked, as I rubbed the spot in between her shoulder blades on her back.
“Because you are doing more at home and with us.”
“And because you sing while you do the dishes again.”
When Mom’s depressed
According to an article published on the Fisher Price Website,
“In America today, there are 19 million people walking around depressed. This statistic includes celebrities like Mike Wallace of “60 Minutes” and Tipper Gore, wife of our previous vice president. Of these 19 million people, roughly one-third don’t even know they’re depressed. And of those who know they’re depressed, nearly two-thirds don’t seek any treatment.”
I’ve battled chronic bouts of depression on and off since high school. But after the birth and adoption of my four children, the ugly monster known as depression has reared its ugly head at my family often.
Honestly? My depression embarrasses me.
I’m a mother.
A speaker (coincidentally, mostly to groups of mothers).
I am a leader at my church.
I believe in God’s grace.
I’m a person who should have it all together. That’s what people expect from me.
But I don’t have it together. And I find that God uses me more when I’m vulnerable with my struggles.
Really, though, it’s about my kids
My husband Sergei and I have been actively seeking out ways to help ease my depression.
I want to feel good. I want to find joy in joyful things: like one of my kids’ smiles, a walk in the park, watching something fun on T.V. Hanging out with friends.
But really, though, it’s about my kids.
I fight depression and seek out ways to change for the sake of the children God gave me.
I am the only mother they have. And they do not deserve a mother who stays in bed for days at a time.
“We love you Mom, even when you are sad.”
My daughter Elaina wrote on a piece of scratch paper and gave it to me about a year ago. I hung it on my wall.
I look at it every day.
My children’s love and belief in me keeps me going even when I don’t believe in myself.
Addressing depression for the sake of my kids
So I fight.
I’ve broken up my life into three major parts.
I believe in Jesus but when I am depressed, I don’t want to talk to him, or read his word, or talk about him. But I know that when I struggle, I need him most. So I pick up something like the book of Psalms, and I read a little bit. I don’t set up a big schedule. I don’t set aside prayer time.
But I whisper out a “help me” and I know that God hears me.
If you struggle with depression, invite God into your struggle.
He’s there anyway.
My friend Katie said something very wise. “It is so important for us all to remember that being a Christian and having depression are NOT mutually exclusive… and that having depression does not indicate a lack of faith.”
Amen and amen.
As a mom who’s depressed, I catch myself up in all kinds of bad habits. For the last three months, I go to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy once a week. Talking is still a primary focus of this type of therapy, but the idea is working through my bad habits to assert better patterns in my life. Every week I leave therapy with a couple of action points to work on.
It has helped me immensely as I battle depression to establish healthy behaviors back into my life.
And I am not at all ashamed to pay someone to be my best friend .
I understand that something in my brain is lacking, and depression ensues. I’m taking an anti-depressant. I see a psychiatrist every other month. Some day I’d like to be off medication. But that day is not today. I’m OK with that because I sing while I do dishes now.
My kids make me laugh.
I actually like people again.
I also am forcing myself (with the help of my therapist) to get outside and exercise. I take VItamin D, and other essential vitamins.
I turn on music at lunch time and dance around the kitchen with my kids.
If you are a mom who is depressed
Here’s my advice.
Split up your life into three parts: Spiritual, behavioral, physical and make small measurable goals.
But fight for your kids.
Fight for yourself.
And leave me a comment if you are comfortable doing so.
I will pray for you.
Because I know the struggle is real.
But there are things you can do, with God’s help, to feel joy again.
And by all means, don’t ignore how you feel because you are embarrassed.
It’s just not worth it to live your life in bed.
It’s not worth your kids’ childhood and well-being.