Depression is the peak of grieving and almost guaranteed at some point in the journey of special needs parenting. Depression affects all of us, and the reason why it’s important to talk about it is that there are ways out of it. We don’t have to be depressed forever even though sometimes it feels like we will.
What I have learned about depression, is that getting through it takes work. It’s not something that just goes away.
Getting to the acceptance stage of grieving is the most crucial stage. When we get to that stage, a whole new world opens up. A world of clarity and hope and peace and purpose. We start to see that whatever circumstance we are in, it can be a blessing instead of a curse.
And I don’t know about you, but that is all I want. I want to live a life where I am happy, my family is happy no matter what our circumstances are.
In this episode, I talk about 5 strategies that help with depression. They aren’t necessarily a cure, but ways to help cope in a time where your mind is fragile.
Be kind to yourself
When you are going through a traumatic time, like being at your child’s bedside in the hospital or getting through a significant diagnosis, its completely understandable that its hard. Instead of beating yourself up and having shame for how you are feeling, give yourself some compassion.
Imagine you are looking at the little girl (or boy) version of yourself. What is it that that child needs to hear. That child still lives in you so be kind and be gentle. You are only human.
Take care of your brain
Your brain is an organ. Take care of it. If you are depressed, your brain is sick. It needs to be treated with the most care. Just like a person with heart disease should watch their sodium intake, a person suffering liver damage should stay away from alcohol, someone who is depressed needs to stay away from anything negative that can be removed. If you feel bad about yourself when you are scrolling through Instagram, shut it off. If you have a negative friend who drains you, take a break from them. If certain TV makes you feel sad, change the channel. All of those things are fine to a healthy brain but one that is depressed needs as much positive stimulation as possible
Just say NO
Don’t take on any more responsibility than you need to. For me, I was used to always being the one who volunteered to throw a party or help out in school. When Remy was spending so much time having seizures, and it took all of our focus, I needed to drop anything that was essential. The things that I didn’t drop, got so little of my attention, it only made me more stressed out that I couldn’t show up the way I was used to. Just say NO
Don’t make any huge life decisions
You know that move you always wanted to make across the state or that job you really wanted to take. You know how you always wanted another child, stop those conversations and don’t move. Making decisions during times of crisis and depression only lead to more suffering and stress and overwhelm. Hold off on those big decisions unless they immediately alleviate something challenging. For example, if moving across state gets you closer to family or better doctors, suck up the move and go. If you just think it would be nice to live in another house, stay where you are and think about that in a year.
Go see a therapist or doctor. You need to do whatever is necessary to be the best version of you. Even if that stretches your finances. There is only one you, and it’s your job to make sure you are ok. If you can’t find childcare, bring your child with you or do an appointment over skype or the phone. Don’t let anything get in your way of getting the right help or right medication.
Bonus- Do whatever it takes
What worked for me, is to listen to a gazillion podcasts, youtube videos and read tons of self-help books. It was vital for me to drown out all the negative thoughts that I was so addicted to. With seeing a different perspective, I started to look at the lessons in every heartache and the joy of the good moments. I learned the practice of worrying less and living in the moment. Below there are some links to some of the videos that I have LOVED.
(I didn’t mention these in the episode but they are also VERY helpful for getting you in a better state of mind. Eat whole foods, exercise and meditate. Youtube how to do that, I am still learning myself)
If you are in a season of depression just know that you are not alone, it’s entirely normal to be going through depression and you CAN get better.
Here are some of the suggested links you can check out. The first is a link to a webpage for a podcast I highly suggest about depression
Amy Porterfield podcast episode on depression.
This episode was done beautifully. Her podcast is about online marketing, but this particular episode just speaks to depression. I HIGHLY suggest you listen.