The Anxious, Panicky, Depressed Parenting Technique...Isn't working...
The Struggle is Real
How do you look at your child and put on a good face when you're a confused, emotional mess? You have no ambition, and although you want to take the sadness off your face and smile down at him/her to give them comfort, you simply don't have the ability. Worse, you have no real way to explain it to them. "Sorry kiddo, I'm trying." The child looks at you with such unconditional love and adoration that the guilt makes you feel like jumping off a building. I know it, I've been there...still am but working it out.
The kiddo is looking to you for love, understanding, and guidance. Your job, my job, is to teach him how to be a productive member of society and feel confident in the knowledge of himself. How can you when you hide for fear of a panic attack or emotional breakdown? The struggle is real and it's all around us. More and more adults are dealing with depression among other mental illnesses. Parents who are supposed to be teaching their children about life realize they were never given the rule book and are still trying to nurture their own hungry souls.
Un-examined life experiences reach a pivital point and if you're the type of parent I am, you feel guilt on top of it all. It's not just you anymore, but this child who you care so deeply for, but sometimes aren't able to get out of bed to help. You helplessly fall prey to your emotions on not only a daily basis but hourly basis, minute by minute even. I often wonder, what was I thinking? I have no right to raise a little person! This poor child!
Depression, The Dishonest "Friend"
My son has seen me spend days in bed. I would wake up to get him to school (and sometimes not be able to even do that) then go back to sleep until he got off the bus. I would have an anxiety attack thinking about waiting at the bus stop, having to socialize with other parents, who were probably doing everything better than me, judging me, wanting to talk to me. I have nothing good to talk about, go away. My depression and I are a lonely couple and as a single mother the only person often left to see me this way is my six year old son.
Before the medication, he saw me have emotional outbursts. Of course, I'm angry at myself. But he's too young to have to ease his mothers demons so I can't explain it to him. The only thing pitiful about it is the constant struggle in your mind that says you can do it on your own and get past it and be the woman and mother you were meant to be. Depression lies to you and sometimes you feel good for a while, but it sneaks back in like an malicious yet comfortable friend and you find yourself back in bed before you knew what hit you. Back to your indescribable sadness and guilt and the cycle begins again.
I would have brief successes. I quit a job to attend college to "go after my dream" of being a writer/artist. I was proud, telling myself and others that I'm going to school so I can teach my child to go for his dreams. In reality I would rather take some online courses so I wouldn't have to worry about getting up to go to a job which I would eventually lose because of attendance. My old pal Depression would hit snooze on the alarm clock and I simply wouldn't care anymore. I'd rather live in my dream world. At least there, I wouldn't have to participate in a society that I didn't feel I belonged in.
I like to think it all started with the motorcycle accident I was in where I saw my dear friend die on the road, or seeing other deaths. But actually, Depression and I go way back, years before all that sadness.
Help Guide for Depression
- Dealing with Depression: Self-Help and Coping Tips to Overcome Depression
You have more power over depression than you may think. These tips will help you feel better.
Panic Sets In
Yes, Depression became more of a nuisance after the deaths. I realized that people I cared about could be taken away quickly. Soon two new troublesome "friends" joined the team.
A year ago, I woke up in the middle of the night, I was having a heart attack. I couldn't breath, I felt dizzy, my heart was racing, and I was going to blackout any minute. I called my mother afraid that I would drop dead right here and my son would wake up to my lifeless body. If I hadn't scarred him enough, the guilt of this would follow me to hell. At the Emergency Room I was told I was having a panic attack.. I would be at the ER twice more that month.
Convinced the doctors had no idea what was going on, I thought, it has to be my heart. I know my own body right? I go for tests, wear a heart monitor, and find out my heart is strong. I'm having panic attacks, which disturbed me. How did I not know my own body? Isn't that my human right? I've lived in it and will continue to do so until I die, my experience is my body. Now, the fear that I will die from a heart attack, thinking it's a panic attack raids my thoughts, but that is an anxiety attack. I have anxiety attacks about my panic attacks. And just think, only a year ago it was just me and good ole Depression. Now there's new monsters in the room with their own set of rules, which included nightmares. Dream world isn't a comfort anymore.
As I saw myself in my son and realized what a heavy burden I was placing on him having to deal with me, the panic attacks grew more and more. I would go to my doctor and was told that most mothers feel this way when they have children his age. He began acting like me and no one wants to see a miniature, needy, bossy image of themselves on a daily basis. I began to resent myself for not being the mother I wanted to be. The ultimate failure as a life teacher and consistent, reliable caregiver. I failed at motherhood like I eventually failed at every other job, but this was the most important job ever and failure isn't an option. I can't just give up.
Signs of a Panic Attack
- Panic Attacks and Panic Disorder: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment
Guide to panic disorder, including symptoms, treatment, and what you can do to help yourself.
And So We Begin
After in-completing my college courses, I began working as a Sales Representative at a company. I loved the job, the money and my co-workers. I used humor as a way to keep my distance from truly getting to know anyone. I always excelled at my work, when I was there and this was no exception. For almost a year I believed I could succeed, then Depression came knocking again and I couldn't get out of bed, I didn't care and watched everything crumble around me.
I decided it was time to take a hiatus from the habit of success and failure. Time for the path of spiritual and mental wellness. Sounds great, right? But it's scary, after losing the job, Depression and I spent a lot of time in bed. Sheer determination pushes me to get help and some steps I think are helpful.
Steps to Take
One step is getting support, this can be difficult even if you don't have the anxiety that I get talking about myself intimately. Many of us feel ashamed, why can't I just snap out of this? But if Depression has taught me anything it's that it prefers me in bed, alone and isolated and at this point anything Depression wants can take a hike because that "friend" has been around too long. Counseling or support groups are ideal. Not friends, not your significant other (certainly not your mother, she worries enough.) Someone or somewhere you feel comfortable telling the truth. Don't be an isolated depressionists! Open up!
Try to keep up socially. No matter what I cannot ignore the fact that my son is a social butterfly and wants to attend the same functions as his friends. Cub Scouts has been our newest adventure and much to my chagrin, it's extremely involved but it's good for us both!
Exercise! I know myself enough to know that if I am telling myself I HAVE to do something, Depression will tell me no. Melissa, you don't have to do anything but pay taxes and die. Funny how I sometimes defend my Depression even though I know that these other things would make me feel better. But Depression and I go way back, we're comfortable with each other. we snuggle, watch movies and sit together in our "negative bubble' and tell each other stories about how much people don't like us, how we don't fit in society and how we will ultimately fail if we try anything. I'm still working on exercise...
Get Depression packing with happy, positive thoughts even though they are foreign and uncomfortable. Burst the negative bubble, it hates that. You don't have to be perfect, look at other people for crying out loud! Some people are happy with all their stresses and still get out of bed every day even if the house wasn't cleaned to pefection first. When we set our standards too high, we set ourselves up for failure. I would lay in bed and look around and think, well now I have to get up and clean all of this before I leave the house to do anything, which would give me the extreme desire to roll over and take a nap. Start small and be positive. Do the good ole things you did way back when you felt human. Read a book, walk, cook, paint....
Consider medication. I didn't want to be medicated but for me it's helped the "overwhelmed" feeling. I wouldn't consider it without counseling and support backing it up. Taking time for yourself is important, some of us spend too many years with a dishonest friend in Depression.