This time last year, I wrote about 5 reasons not to feel bad about being sad. Sadness is an emotion I still feel pretty often, and I’ve learned that depression is just a normal part of my life. Like an old friend that pops by every now and then, except this friend is a real downer. While I wish my old friend, depression, would stop coming around so often, there are some ways to cope with it and still manage raising my children. Sometimes parenting a child on the spectrum can present extra challenges (the meltdowns), and I cuddle right up to my depression friend, but I can get out of it.
10 Ways to Handle Depression While Parenting
Like I said, it’s not easy to get rid of depression and it never completely goes away from me, but I can cope with it. Here’s how:
1. Recognize that the sadness isn’t forever.
By far, this method of dealing with depression can be the most difficult. The sadness sometimes feels like it will never end. Sometimes it doesn’t even have a cause, which makes it even more difficult to deal with, but the light is somewhere in the distance and eventually I will reach it, if only for fleeting moments.
2. Resist the temptation to isolate yourself.
But not one wants to be around me when I feel this way, my mind protests. If you feel this way to, tell that voice in your head to kindly shut the f*#@ up. Depression murmurs lies into our brains all the time. My rational mind knows that there are people in my life that love me, if only I’ll reach out to them.
3. Know that your child’s behavior is not your fault.
Children are children. Yes, they pick up on our emotional cues, but sometimes they can also be just as moody as we are. It’s hard not to think it’s our fault our children have meltdowns in the middle of Walmart and cry right along with them. The fact is, there are many triggers to challenging behaviors. Like unfamiliar social situations, crowded stores, and the dreaded toy aisle. You can’t control for all of them. But you can remain steadfast in your resolve not to give in or give up. Eventually, the behavior subsides and you can move on. Here are some extra tips for managing.
4. Don’t forget your medication.
If you take medication for your depression, make sure you continue taking it. Get a pill minder to help remember to take your medication, set alarms on your phone if you have it, but always take your medication. My worst days happen on the days I forget to take my meds. I feel like a big cry-baby, but without my medication, I know I just don’t cope well with difficult situations.
5. Stop depression-shaming yourself.
Enough people exist in the world to tell us that we should just cheer up and get over it. Or that we need to get over it because there are people worse off than us. The fact is, depression is hard. Often, there’s no reason for it except a chemical imbalance. You can help having depression any more than a diabetic can help having diabetes. It just happens. It’s hard enough to feel depressed without telling yourself that you suck for feeling that way.
6. Know that you are not alone.
Communities of people out there exist on Facebook, Reddit, and other places with people just like us. Connect with others so you won’t feel alone.
7. Go out and do something fun.
Try to find some time to do something you enjoy. Sometimes that means forcing yourself to get up and move. Allow yourself to have fun, whether you feel like you deserve it or not (because you deserve it).
8. Find your person.
Who can you lean on in times of trouble? If you have no one, it may be time to contact those friends you’ve been avoiding. Depression should never be dealt with alone.
9. Imagine the worst case scenario.
This seems counterintuitive, but sometimes it helps to imagine the worse case scenario and realize that you can handle it. Or perhaps think of ways that when the worst happens, you can manage it. For example, what if you contact a friend and they’re too busy to hang out? Think of other people can reach out to. Or, if there’s no one, are you really any worse off than you began? Probably not, right?
10. Find an activity to do with your kids.
The next step is to force yourself to do it. Then feel proud that even though you feel depressed, you made your children smile. Color with them, play Candy Land, or take them to the park. Record those happy moments in your mind. You need them.
Depression sucks, but you don’t.
What tips do you have for managing it?