Depression and Anxiety and Stay at home Parenting – OH MY…

As someone who struggles with depression, the term one of those days has a whole different meaning to me. Today has been one of those days. It has been one of those days where I call it a win to have gotten out of bed. Where it was a Herculean effort to put one foot in front of the other and stay up and moving. When I wanted nothing more to lay down, pull a blanket up over my head, and not move for like a month. You can't do that in society. You definitely can't do that as a stay at home mom. Being a stay at home mom adds an element to depression I never knew before. On days when you can't even fathom taking care of the basic needs of yourself to keep functioning – you have to keep your kid(s) going. You managed to open your eyes – you deserve a medal. You sat up and considered getting out of bed. You deserve a parade to go with that medal. If you get up and out of bed, you get a party. If you get up and parent those days…you get it all. You won't care of course. All you want is to curl up, rock, maybe hum, under a blanket, listening to headphones, all alone. So you know, when you are feeling a little more up to it – medals, parades, and parties. Now add in a toddler who just wants to run, climb, dance, spin and play outside - then inside - outside - inside…you get the point. You get up and you manage to do all that - making sure your kid eats, dresses plays laughs and learns. You get all the accolades and celebrations in the land. Except here's the thing – you don't. I want to introduce you to the mind of a stay at home parent in the throes of depression and anxiety. There are days I wake up and every inch of me is screaming. Do you know what it's like to have a toddler dump all her blocks off the wagon, and use it for a skateboard? Exhausting. This kid never stops. Don't get me wrong, I'm lucky. I have a healthy, smart child with a love of life. It's awesome - and exhausting. Her mouth also never stops. “Mama Up. Mama shoes, out. In. Snack, please. Mama Doc. You ok?" You know what you want and aren't afraid to make it known. Mama doesn't want to watch Doc McStuffins for the 150th time - if Mama hears time for your checkup again, Mama is going to want to run into a wall. When you're fighting to just function, excessively cheerful kids shows DO NOT help. Outside. Yeah. When you are in the throes of depression, the last thing you generally like is nature. Let alone playing in a sandbox, and then blowing bubbles and let's not forget playing drag baby girl around the yard in her pool because she loves it and you love her, but you don't want to even be out here let alone running in a circle. No baby girl, Mama is feeding you lunch, but on a normal depression episode day she wouldn't be eating so please don't shove that cheese stick in her mouth, please don't no, no and now I am eating a cheese stick. Around this time, anxiety will show its ugly face. You will doubt everything you do, say, act. Are you being a bad mom, are you letting your mood affect your kid? Did you make sure they ate right and enough, as you have no desire to eat? Are you taking them out enough because you hate being out right now - or are you going out too much to compensate? Does she need quiet time right now, or do you? Did you play enough and teach enough and love enough and discipline enough....and...and...and... So it continues into the night. You will inevitably lay awake at night while anxiety reigns, making your mind constantly go from one worry to another, examining everything for what you did wrong. Once you finally go to sleep though, depression will take over and you will start the cycle again the next morning. It is rarely just one day. Depression episodes last a while, often with anxiety. Besties – isn't it sweet. So to other stay at home parents suffering from depression and anxiety you aren't imaging the suckiness we're stuck with. Your kid(s) are the best things in your life, but sometimes, you have to force the behavior whether or not that feeling is there. Take it easy on yourself. You love them, you would do anything for them and sometimes the disease that turns your entire life upside down wants to take that away from you. It won't. You have made it through this disease to have a life, a spouse and kids – which makes you damn strong. So keep opening your eyes every day and making it about that kid. It's important for them and you. There is NOTHING in your life before them that could have gotten you out of bed on a day like today. That is powerful. That is important. That is lifesaving. You are NOT alone. There are many others. Just know whether you get out of bed today, or just sit up – I am proud of you. The episode will eventually end. You won't have to pretend to have fun chasing your kids around and dancing. You will have fun. You will treasure it in a way that parents who don't suffer from depression will never understand. I do. So here is your medal. Whether you're ready for it or not.

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