Becoming a parent changes your life forever. In an instant you’re entrusted with the responsibilities of your new child’s life.
One topic that rarely gets discussed in the highly analyzed world of parenting is how depression or postpartum depression compounds the everyday stresses of parenting.
Parenting with depression can feel isolating. Maybe you feel even more pressure to put on a facade to evade being judged or seen as a bad parent.
The bar can feel high. In reality, the process is messy for everyone.
We asked The One Project community to share their experiences managing depression while raising newborns, young kids, and teens.
Our members talked about how depression affects parenting, how they broke the cycle of stigma and silence in their families, and how they’re setting an example by asking for help.
I’m grateful for Carmen, Aaron, and Leandra sharing their experiences so openly! Hopefully their stories will help spark a conversation.
My postpartum depression (PPD) journey began quite in contrast to the well-held ideas of being unable to bond with my baby. PPD took hold with almost primitive levels of protective surges that were passed off casually as a bonding process going “quite well.”
I realized that things were going awry when I had trouble even letting my partner hold our baby. I became agoraphobic. I refused to leave the house in case I lost the baby. I didn’t want him to fall ill if we went outside. I recognized that I might have an issue far outweighing my ability to understand or cope.
Yet I remained stoically firm. Rooted in my fear.
I battled a blossoming frond of despair. I shunned support. Nobody knew my secret. So it remained.
This is the first time I've actually verbalized my illness. It remains hard to discuss even 11 years later.
The collage I made to accompany this extract is how my head felt at the time. A blue flower grows from the cracks that I believed were opening in my well-being.
I'd love to write a book one day about this. If only I had the confidence.
Thanks for reading. ❤️
— Carmen Scott
As a parent these days, it’s impossible to be present for everything our children do. Then you throw in the unexpected wild card: depression.
You pretend that you can be there. Inside you couldn’t be further away.
How do you explain depression to a child when you can barely explain it to yourself? I have no formal education on depression besides my own experience and research.
My partner and I decided to give our kids controlled exposure to depression. I try to express all feelings, both good and bad.
When I’m down, I’m honest with my kids. I tell them and always make a point to let them know that I love them no matter what.
When I lose my cool, I always apologize and try to calmly explain why it happened and how it’s not their fault. Let me say it again. IT IS NOT THEIR FAULT.
I never want my kids to feel like they did something to cause my depression at any point. This is a personal fight inside of me. I want them to know that they are the best medicine for my depression.
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Children are aware of things. Much more so than we give them credit for.
It can be tempting to let your kids come up with their own understanding of depression. I think it’s better to be open, honest, and unashamed of your feelings. Do your best to explain why you’re feeling this way.
This method has brought me closer to my family than ever before. It has led to countless hugs at the perfect moment from tiny humans with the biggest hearts.
— Aaron Rouselle
Parenting with depression has not been easy for me or my children.
The sudden outbursts. The lack of energy. The negativity. The sleeping and lounging around. The messy buns and no showers. My kids have seen it all.
But in reality, they have benefitted from the deep conversations we have. They know I’m real. In my talk and in my actions.
They saw me seek help at an outpatient mental facility. They’ve seen me go to counseling. Relive the past. They’ve received my apologies and my hugs. My love.
I’m harder on myself than they are. I truly am sorry.
But my kids were my motivation for seeking help. I wanted to be a happier, more levelheaded, and more controlled person for them.
I’m still a work in progress, but I’m in a better place than I was! I’m very grateful for them and my husband! I have a good life to live. They keep me going.💕
This is a picture of my kids when I was grieving the loss of my mother. They were so grateful I took them to the park. I was glad that I had enough energy to do so! My son has never met my mother. She died a year before I got pregnant with him.
— Leandra Richie
I believe the more that we’re open about our mental health, the better we can support each other. We should talk about being a parent with depression and what it’s like to go through PPD.
Chances are that kids may run into their own challenges with depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues as they grow into teenagers.
They are one major step forward if they’ve already experienced a mental health condition and learned that it’s OK to talk about it and ask for help.
Let’s take that step together.
For more information on how to manage depression, reach out to your doctor or healthcare team.
NPS-US-NP-00675 JUNE 2020