As some of you know, the last few months have been rather challenging for me as I have been struggling with depression. It has been an overwhelming, frustrating and exhausting time for me and my family. I have faced some very dark days and it’s hard to think of my kids witnessing it. This woman that I was becoming — sad, angry, irritable, tired, withdrawn — this is not the mother I want to be to them. This is not the example I want to set for my kids. I want to show them that I believe in myself and am strong enough to not allow depression to take over my life. And so I am taking steps, many of them for that matter, to do just that. It’s a journey that requires a lot of patience for me and everyone close to me. I’m having better days, but I still have tough ones. I have faced some challenges as a mother so far, but I have to say that trying to be a good mom while struggling with depression has been my biggest parenting hurdle yet. And I will get through it — for me, for my kids, my husband and the rest of my family and friends.
One thing I have learned so far is that there is not one way to cope with depression. Anyone who has it may have different methods, and I highly recommend that if you have depression, or think you might, to consult a doctor to explore options that work for you. After consulting with my own family doctor, I have been taking a mild prescription and have been utilizing other ways to help me get through this journey. Taking care of myself is an important part of coping with my depression. This has meant ensuring that I am eating well, drinking lots of water and getting good sleep. It has also meant knowing my limits and being gentle with myself. If I am feeling overwhelmed and need a break then I do it, and I am working on not feeling guilty about it. These are tools I have been using to cope; as my moods can differ each day, so do the methods I use to get me through my tough moments and to maintain a healthier and happier mind, body and spirit.
Yoga: Practicing yoga helps me focus and I find a sense of strength in the poses. I can easily let go of negative thoughts and feelings, creating a more positive space for myself. The movement of flowing through the poses is very calming for me. I also find yoga is a great way to clear my mind when it feels cluttered. It’s like with every pose stressful thoughts leave my brain and I can easily turn to more peaceful thoughts.
Just breathe and meditate: Sometimes I find it best to just stop and take a few deep breaths. There is something very soothing about it, especially if I close my eyes while doing so. It’s so simple, yet so effective. If I can find a quiet place to do this I like to sit still and really focus on breathing in and out slowly. Breathing is also an important part of meditation, so occasionally when I take some time to quietly practice focused breath, I pick a phrase to repeat to myself in my head while I breathe. One phrase I chose recently was “I am calm, I am strong, I am peaceful.”
Music: I find listening to music very calming, and often it can be an immediate mood booster. Sometimes I like to put on a mellow playlist to help calm me down if I am feeling very anxious, or sometimes I like to put on more upbeat tunes and sing along. There’s something quite therapeutic about belting out a good song alone in my car!
Writing: Whether it’s getting creative with a blog post or just letting out my emotions writing is therapy for me. There is something about writing that brings me to a very positive and happy place. For years I put aside my love for writing, but after starting up again a year and a half ago I now feel like I can’t imagine my life without it. Writing is a part of me and I am happy I reunited with it. At this time in my life writing has helped me tremendously.
Therapy: Talking to someone to help sort my thoughts and provide a different perspective on my situation has really helped me work through my emotions. Therapy has helped clear my head at times that I have felt clouded and unsure. It is teaching me to be more self-aware and to really become more in tune with my emotions, why I feel the way I do and ways I can learn, change and grow.
Doing all of these things on a regular basis has not only helped me as an individual but also as a wife and mother. Parenting our children is a partnership I share with my husband and I know my depression has presented challenges. During the times when I need to utilize my five coping methods I have also needed my husband to step more into my share of the parenting role, and I am very lucky to have that support. I am also very lucky to have two wonderful kids who have showered me with hugs and kisses when they have seen mommy sad, and have been accepting and respectful at times when I’ve explained that mama needs a little quiet alone time (something that quite impresses me since my children are so young). By taking these steps to overcome my depression I know that I will become a stronger mother again.