Depression and parenting a child with special needs have a close connection. Having a child with additional needs parents are more vulnerable to depression than anyone else. We encounter depression almost every day (meltdowns, delayed milestones, being unable to help our child, future worries, lack of sleep, and whatnot), and we get so used to it that we cannot even notice it until we break down.
Talking about depression is taboo in many societies. In the society I grew up in, it could even put your character at stake. I have encountered depression several times in my life, and every time it attacked me in a totally different way so that I was never prepared for what to expect and how to navigate through it.
I tried talking about it, but fortunately or unfortunately I was always shut up with the notions like:
- Depression is not a thing, it’s just a bubble in your mind.
- You are feeling this way because you are not praying.
- Ahhh, we should not talk about these things, talking about what is troubling you makes you weaker.
- Ohh, it’s because you don’t do exercise.
- You know, these thoughts hit only empty minds; get engaged in more work and keep yourself busy.
- Hey, never say this again, you have such a successful career, better education, and a good lifestyle. Depression is for those who fail…
“Unfortunately”, because I desperately wanted to talk about how I feel, I so much needed a shoulder to cry on and an ear to listen to me. I so much wanted to have someone to tell me that it’s OK not to be OK sometimes, but I couldn’t have what I wanted.
“Fortunately”, because I had all that I needed; with no help available I had to find my own ways. “Fortunately”, also because unlike many people I didn’t have suicidal thoughts, and I wanted to swim out of the ocean and wanted to enjoy life.
I believe anyone can have depression at any stage of life, and being a parent of a child who has additional needs, you may be at a higher risk of getting anxious, depressed, feeling exhausted, and burned without an obvious reason, too fatigued to do simple day-to-day tasks.
So, I am taking this opportunity to talk about depression; my very own journey, the most depressing moments I went through, the times when I hit the rock bottom and how I bounced back.
What I want to tell you today is that: It’s OK to get tired of everything around and want to shut down for a while. Even machines need some rest to perform efficiently. It’s OK even for the strongest person to feel weaker sometimes. Just keep a strong desire to live your life to the fullest.
It’s OK to feel the way you are feeling when depressed; stressing over finances, other insecurities of life, relationship matters. Write them down all and know about everything that’s troubling you. Try fixing the least troubling first and keep going.
Depression is an imbalance in chemicals in your body, it is never an imbalance in character. You must talk if you want to and if no one is ready to talk; talk to yourself, talk to God, find a counselor, consult a physician and use the medication if needed.
Anger can make you bitter or better and the choice is yours. Choose to be the later one. Know that it’s OK to be angry; if you don’t get angry, you are either a stone or something that has no life in it. Just don’t harm yourself or anyone else; talk your anger out, write it out, sing it out, paint it, craft it, bury it in the garden or a pot and plant something at the top, swim it, run it or do everything that pleases you.
Depression doesn’t just hit you when you fail, it can overpower you at the peak of your success too, and many celeb depression stories are evidence of this. Focus on handling failures with a positive mindset, and when it comes to the peak of your success, it’s never a bad idea to slow down. Consider it as a blocked highway, and taking an exit to a slower route will keep you going.
To take an exit on a highway, you must reduce the speed instantly, why not slow down on the faster highway of your life and take an exit from depression. Once you have successfully dropped it on an exit, you can get back to the highway again.
Summing it up!
Depression is not something that once fixed, will not come again. As your life takes new turns, there comes depression with new and more powerful ways to surround you. Be prepared by connecting with people who listen to you and validate your feelings.
Educate yourself about herbal and other remedies that can be helpful during the toughest times, keep an updated list of physicians you can count on during that time, and be proactive. Take some time for shutting down every day, let it be five minutes of a peaceful shower, a cup of tea outside in the balcony/garden, or taking a quick walk around the house talking to yourself.