I have personal experience with depression, and it is a crippling illness which is also very easily passed along to your children. It becomes a way of life, and sometimes, it is hard to even diagnose, especially if you have had it for a long time. Depressed children grow into depressed adults, and, eventually, emerge as angry, bitter, and lonely people. I know this because it happened to me.
I know I was not born depressed, but sometimes it felt that way. I was always in trouble at school, and I went to school in an era where we were paddled by the principal. I got spanked at home, as well, as my parents did not know what to do with my blatant disregard for their rules and boundaries. My adult choices revolved around who I could tolerate (that was a short list), and I cycled through jobs very quickly because I could not control my temper, or deal with customers, much less my coworkers. I had mostly men friends, because I could not connect with women.
Many years later, after a decade of therapy, I understand that I was depressed. It started when I was young, and experienced some trauma, which went unresolved. I began to distrust adults, and cut off communication with my parents. I cried almost every day, and would sometimes burst into tears for no reason at all. I was labeled "emotional" and a "hypochondriac," and mostly just "rebellious." I used illness to isolate myself, as I did not know how to dig myself out of the pain. As a teen, I used drinking and partying to dull the pain, and it was all I knew for a long time.
My marriage and subsequent births of my two sons brought this all to a screeching halt, and my depression resurfaced with a vengeance. I became desperately unhappy, yet I still had these two sons who needed me to be a strong, healthy adult. I began to realize that I was spending so much time trying to run from the depression, that I was not taking any time to actually get underneath it. Here are a few things that really helped me to reverse my depression and start my road to recovery.
1) Exercise: I know, this has become a dirty word, there are so many people with extreme views of this; it has become abused and overused. But, I am not talking about hiring a personal trainer and spending a gazillion dollars on gym memberships and equipment. Find something that you ENJOY, that you can easily incorporate into your daily routine. I like to walk, and I happen to live within driving distance of a lovely beach. Parks and lakes are also wonderful for walking. You might enjoy bike riding, or skating, or swimming. It is important to get in touch with your body, and do something that gets you off the couch for a little bit every day.
2) Diet: Another really hot topic, but, again, I am not talking about anything extreme. Just eat food that makes you feel good. My personal experience is that a bag of chips, some candy, and copious amounts of coffee/soda, makes me feel like my guts are going to fall out. I have learned which foods fuel my body in a way that makes me happy. It is not about being a certain weight or adopting an extreme eating plan. Eat to nourish yourself. Food is fuel. Enjoy it!
3) Personal Time: This is VITAL to your sanity. Taking the time to quiet your mind, and just breathe, is something we have lost, as a society. I enjoy meditation, and this often leads to frequent bouts of daydreaming:) Many people enjoy a candlelit bath, or even a leisurely walk alone. Looking inward, relaxing into your true essence, nourishes your soul. If you find yourself angry a lot, look at what is underneath that. YOU are the common factor in every situation in your life. YOU are the one who can change the direction of your thoughts. It takes time, and practice, but, with the proper information and support, you can slowly start to shift your thinking, and create things which are more positive, and even (dare I say it?) FUN!
4) FUN! Find something that brings you joy, and try to do it as much as possible. Laughter truly is the best medicine. For a time, you may want to refuse to watch heavy, dramatic movies, or read books which are sad and depressing. You must cull this energy from your life, so that you can start to recognize and welcome in that happy energy, which has been missing from your life for so long. Personally, I gave up watching CNN and cable news, simply because I found it to be too heavy. I enjoy being a part of the solution, rather than a spectator to endless tragedies. I am on several mailing lists for grassroots movements, and I give to the local homeless shelter on a regular basis. This is a proactive space for me, and I can find happiness in helping others.
You may wonder what any of this has to do with parenting. I have found that happy moms and dads, make happy children. If you can shift your own patterns, your children will benefit greatly, and you may be able to help them avoid falling into the depression trap themselves. My sons tell me that I am much happier than I was 10 years ago, and I am pleased that they have noticed. I still have days where I struggle, but for the most part, I am positive and happy.
If you need more help, we can schedule an individual intuitive counseling session, where I will help you find where this energy is stuck for you, and start to work on making some positive shifts. I look forward to hearing from you!