Depression and parenting

As I look back at my posts from the past several months, I notice that I have hardly mentioned my children. Depression seems to have taken over my conversation. As this is supposed to be a blog about parenting, I think it is a problem. Yet when someone is battling depression, it can dominate everything.

I am very thankful that God has allowed the bulk of the depression I was dealing with to go away. As I was going through this journey, I had to ask myself the question – how do you parent while battling depression? I have wanted to write about this before, but have been scared to do so. I still am. Admitting that your parenting isn’t always perfect is scary.

The reality is that parenting can be made harder than it already is due to the presence of depression. Depression makes everything much harder. Simple tasks like eating or showering can feel like monumental tasks when you have depression. Add parenting to that mix. It is very hard.

So how do you do it? I am not a doctor, phycologist or counselor. So I can’t tell you what the medical profession would say. All I can say on the subject is from personal experience.

1. Pray.

Pray lots. Tell God everything. In telling God how you feel, it may help you find and deal with some of the emotional issues that either trigger the depression or that are arising from the depression. It was in my sessions of prayer, that I was able to find the root of my depression and deal with it. It wasn’t fun or easy, but I’m thankful God showed me what I needed to work on.

2. Talk to your doctor.

Depression can be the result of many different factors. It can spring from emotional trama, fear, spiritual oppression or a chemical inbalance in the body. Getting a physical with labs can help determine if something is physically wrong. Your doctor can also assess if medicine is needed to help pull you out of depression. They may also suggest food and lifestyle changes that will help you heal.

3. Admit you are battling depression.

I have found that the road to recovery starts by telling those close to me that I am battling depression. In the past, there has been a stigma associated with depression. Thankfully, more and more people are talking about it. From experience, I know that making that first admission is hard. However, I have found great relief by naming the depression out loud. I find that naming the depression gives me an opponent to fight rather than beating myself up for how I feel. I also have found that my family and friends have been supportive and rallied around me when I told them I had a problem.

4. Supply food, water and safety for your children.

On the days when my depression put me in bed all day, food, water and safety were the most I could provide for my children. I also tried to be available to them, if they chose to come to my bed.

What you feed your children doesn’t have to be fancy. Apples, potato chips, and granola bars are fine. As long as your children have full tummies and something to drink, what they eat isn’t that important. On the days when you feel better, then they can eat better. For now, making sure they are full is enough.

Also make sure they are safe. This is going to look different for everyone. For me, it meant that my baby was in her crib where she couldn’t get into things, fall down stairs or get hurt. I felt like a horrible parent for not interacting with her very much. But I knew that her safety was more important. Thankfully she has a brother who loves her and would play with her.

If you don’t feel like you can adequately provide food and safety for your children, it is okay to ask family or friends to watch them. You aren’t a terrible parent for needing help.

As moms, the best way to parent our children effectively is to make sure we get healthy. It is hard to be a good parent if we can’t take care of ourselves. So yes, do what you need to to get healthy. Depression is a sickness of the brain that needs attention, rest and possibly medicine to recover from.

If you are struggling with depression, you aren’t alone. Seek help from God, your doctor and your family and friends. Remember, there is always hope.