I guess it would be considered a taboo to say that you aren’t happy all the time. As parents we are supposed to be thrilled and excited all of time, tears of joy flowing from our faces and pride beaming out of our hearts like the beacon of a lighthouse amidst a rocky shoreline. Let’s get real here, we have our ups and downs, and that’s human nature. It’s important to try to make sure our children are living well adjusted and joyful lives, but sharing with them the spectrum of emotions we feel as humans is perfectly natural. To be happy all the time though, is that a reality? Of course not! One of the hardest standards to live up to as a parent are our own, but I still feel guilty when I am giving less than 100% of me to my child. When you suffer from the occasional sour mood, it only compounds with that guilt and turns into a big grey cloud hovering over you head for the rest of the day. Now that didn’t help anything did it?
To be honest, sometimes I wake up and feel terrible, for no reason at all. I can’t ever really pinpoint it, and especially if “nothing is wrong”, but occasionally when I rise out of bed I already feel anxious, sad, or depressed. I do know that once I wake up like this, or start feeling this way, it is important for me to pay attention to any triggers that make it worse. These triggers can turn my emotions into a downward spiral of stress, sadness, despair or anger. All for no reason at all. When you are a parent, it’s one thing to feel depressed, but you aren’t the only person you are affecting when you feel this way. Your interactions with your child and/or partner can be lifeless, dull or negative. It is important to not let these feelings flow over into your child’s life and even more so for you not to take it out on them and even teach them these debilitating habits.
Everyone feels blue sometimes. Loss of loved ones, frustrations at work, or arguments with your partner are a natural part of our lives and can be important in exposing your child to how you appropriately and properly deal with these types of things. It’s a reality that we feel the range of emotions in our life, and that even unpleasant emotions are a natural reaction to our outside stimulus. However if you are suffering from mood swings, unexplainable depression, or just feeling anxious a little too much, then you really should pay attention to how it is affecting your life, those around you, and what steps you can take to overcome it.
If I feel upset, I used to gravitate towards making myself feel worse. I have realized this and try and stop it as soon as I notice it happening. I’d listen to angry or depressing music, sulk around, and feed my feelings with junk food to excess. This behavior compounded on top of me, and then I would feel guilty for not being cheerful all the time and for wallowing in my own pity. That certainly didn’t help, I felt bad about feeling bad and that made me feel worse. Wow, what a mess! I quickly learned this is not an appropriate way to deal with negative feelings, and that, though I couldn’t always pinpoint the cause (sometimes it’s just being tired, sick or for no real reason at all) I had to recognize the depressive feelings and stop it dead in it’s tracks.
People that don’t understand the spectrum of depression, anxiety, or mood disorders might think you are just being negative for no reason. It is a hard thing to grasp especially for those that don’t experience it. “What’s wrong” is something I commonly hear, when I really couldn’t answer the question if I tried. The truth of the matter is nothing is wrong at all. How can anyone grasp that concept, when I don’t even understand it fully myself? It is hard especially for those around us to process the idea that they aren’t the cause of your negative feelings, and it’s natural for them to want you to “cheer up”, but it certainly isn’t helping the situation either. It’s a hard thing to deal with, and an even harder thing to live it.
If you are dealing with fits of depression or anxiety, it is important to commit to changing for not only your mental health but for the others around you. Try to clearly and concisely explain your feelings to those around you and assure them that they aren’t the cause. Explain to them that you care for them, but need a little quiet time. I know that is easier said than done, but it’s a reality that we have face head on, for our own and families benefit.
Buddhists say that being depressed is a representation of our constant seeking of outside stimulus. Their teaching suggests that we should seek a middle ground, or balance in our health and lives instead of riding the waves of the extreme highs, and crashing down into the lowest lows that inevitably follow. That makes perfect sense to me. Their practice suggests daily meditation. Though my personal definition of that is pretty loose. I don’t hear up in yoga pants (well not always) and stare at a candle chanting. I consider a morning walk, a bike ride, a yoga class, or just a few minutes reading a book to be meditation. It is clearing my mind and helping me gear up for the stimulus that the day is going to throw at me.
Here are some tips to help you deal with depression, anxiety, or mood disorders. Its nothing to be ashamed of, and something to wear as a badge when you work your way through it. To be clear, these tips would be best for mild depression, anxiety and the occasional sour mood. If you have a serious depression issue, or think dark thoughts often, I can only suggest you seek medical help. It’s for the best, for you and those around you!!
Natural tips for dealing with the blues:
Exercise. Exercising is one of my favorite ways to combat depressive feelings. Many studies have proved that a daily workout can improve mental health. I usually try to go for 30 minutes a day, five days a week. This is my favorite way to clear my mind, and get my blood pumping.
Make connections. Although it’s easy to withdrawal when feeling blue, friends can be a great pick me up. Join a group, a class, or just have coffee with a friend. Sometimes just making that connection with someone outside of your daily routine is all the different you need.
Cut caffeine. I know this seems impossible to a lot of people, myself included. However caffeine has been proven to mess with our normal moods, cause mood swings and aggravate depressive symptoms. If you are feeling negative, cut back on the coffee and see if you improve.
If all else fails, find a mental health professional. That might be exactly what you need, and one of the best choices you could have made in your life. They can decide what steps you could take to help you cope and see if you are a candidate for medication as well.
Pay attention to your diet. There has been a lot of suggestion that your diets plays a big part in how you feel. You are what you eat after all. Consider a good multi-vitamin and fish oil and see if that helps. I find that the routine can help, and the effects, placebo or not, are noticeable. B vitamins, Vitamin D, and St. Johns Wort also can offer some relief, I suggest you do your research on what might be right for you.
Feeling depressed can really be a tough patch for a parent to deal with. We aren’t supposed to feel that way, but when we do it is important to deal with it in a healthy manner. What is also important to know is that your feelings don’t make you a bad parent. You aren’t alone. Many parents (340 million people worldwide) deal with depression of some form or another, but what makes the difference is how you deal with it. Good luck!!!