Battling the Depression Demon as a parent

I’ve had a hard week so far, my depression has been intense at times. I think I’m going through a surge of hormones, my periods are still trying to figure out how they’re supposed to work again since having Pickle. I’ve always been someone who can find it difficult to really talk about how I’m feeling, but i’ve realised that as a mum it’s so much harder to admit I’m not feeling ok. 

I’m a big advocate of ‘it’s ok to not be ok’, but that doesn’t mean I don’t find myself subconsciously buying into the stigma at times. 

A few times over the past few days I’ve felt uncontrollably low. I’ve felt like everything’s wrong and mostly as though I’m somehow wrong. I’ve felt like I’m a let down to my daughter, I’m overwhelmed, and can’t keep up with everything I have to do or the pressures of motherhood on my own. 

I forgot to keep up with laundry for a few days, so today alone I now have 5 loads to do. I’m not even sure how one person and one tiny baby can accumulate so much laundry, but there it is. I have so much housework to do, and if I don’t keep on top of it every single day it becomes impossible to do whilst looking after Pickle. 

It feels increasingly hard to talk to anyone, or do anything, but at the same time all I want to do is tell my friends how bad I feel. I desperately want to find the words to convey just how broken I feel, but I can’t find them. 

The words ‘I feel depressed’ feel inadequate, they aren’t enough. I want people to know that I’m hurting, that I feel lost and alone, worthless and confused. But I can’t say that to them, I never could. Those words feel like too much to put on someone I care about, and for what purpose? I don’t want to worry them or bring them down too. 

My inner child wants desperately to tell them how I feel, so that they can say some magic words and make it all go away. I know this is impossible. 

I feel like my stomach is doing backflips. My eyes sting with the threat of tears, and there is a constant lump in my throat. I feel both full of emotion, and empty. I feel fearful and sad, and so much guilt for being ‘like this’. I’m filled with an overwhelming sense of pressure for all the things I have to do, but my energy is depleted. Movement at times seems like a distant memory of something my limbs used to know how to do. 

The fear of telling anyone that I feel like this now that I’m a mother is immense. I feel so much pressure to always be so absolutely perfectly wonderfully ok now that I’m a mum, but that isn’t human. 

It’s as though I feel like admitting I’m not always ok means admitting I am a failure to her. Nobody should feel like that. If there’s anything that’ll risk making a parent struggle to be a ‘good enough’ parent, it’s leaving them to battle these feelings alone. Leaving them to feel isolated and unable to speak up.

There is an overwhelming pressure as a parent to be ‘perfect’. We must never feel sad, we must never let them see us cry, we must never let them see us struggle. And honestly, what a load of crap that is. 

In reality, how I feel doesn’t negatively impact how I parent. Feeling sad or low around my daughter sometimes isn’t bad. Sometimes crying around my daughter isn’t bad. Putting her on the floor for half an hour (so long as she’s happy) to entertain herself whilst mummy has a moment sitting keeping an eye is not bad – in fact it’s great for her development to get this time to entertain herself. Yet I can’t shake this guilt when I’m feeling depressed. 

If I hide difficult emotions from my child, what kind of role model is that really? One who sets unrealistic examples. It’s so important that our children see us sad, that they see us cry and struggle, because we are modelling what it’s like to be human. Then it’s important that they see us let these emotions out, name the emotions, talk about how we’re feeling and show them healthy outlets. It’s important that we model that most of the time we keep going, and by doing the things we need to do it’s surprising how much they can help us to feel better. We also model that occasionally, we really need a day filled with self care – we put our feet up, snuggle under a blanket in our pyjamas and have a movie day filled with self compassion and healing. They need to see us when we’re not ok, to understand that it’s ok to not be ok. How else will they learn healthy coping techniques for when things feel tough?

The last few days I’ve had times where I’ve felt so hopelessly lost and overwhelmed. I’ve let myself stay in the bedroom a little longer some mornings, modelling self-care, but I bring her playtime to us on the bed and we have fun, depression doesn’t mean we can’t still laugh and have fun. I keep doing the housework, I stick to our routines because I know routines are key for mental health management. I don’t force a smile if I feel sad, I tell her ‘mummy just feels a bit sad’ although 95% of the time I smile the moment I see her.

It’s a work in progress for me really accepting that it is ok to not be ok around her, and that it’s ok to talk to my friends when I feel low. I wish knowing all of this made it easier, but mental health knows no logic.

So much love to all you parents who are battling your demons but still functioning, looking after your bubbas and being kick ass parents. Don’t forget to look after yourself too.

Published by amberb320

A single, working Mum and aspiring writer, trying to navigate a pandemic in Bristol, UK.

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