I have suffered from anxiety for as long as I can remember. The feeling of dread over things out of my control was overwhelming in my highschool years. So many times I broke out into a sweat, barely able to breathe for fear of not being good enough. For fear of what other people thought of me. I was an awkward teenager, and made a fool of myself on more than one occasion, which only made my anxiety worse.
The worst part, was that I didn’t know that my anxiety was actually a medical condition that could have been treated. It wasn’t until about 4 years ago that I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety after the death of my son. It took countless therapy visits, doctor’s appointments, and self-reflection for me to be able to put into words what I was feeling in order for someone else to understand it enough to be able to help me. I’ve been put on multiple medications to find the right combination to help me function. I’ve tried meditation, yoga, reading self-help books, and focusing on self-care to try to alleviate my symptoms, but it is still a daily struggle. Feeling like a shell of a person is hard. It’s even more difficult when you are a parent.
Figuring out what was wrong with me was the easy part. Accepting the truth of my mental health struggle was much harder.
As a parent, it can be a struggle for me to function through my depression. I have days still where I can barely get out of bed, let alone take care of my two children to the best of my ability. Add in a husband that doesn’t entirely understand my mental health issues, and it makes a recipe for some very difficult days. Parenting through my depression is comparable to trying to see through a thick fog. If you take it slow, you can make it through, but it will put strain on your eyes to get to your destination. I feel guilty on a daily basis for not being enough. Not a good enough wife. Not a good enough mother. Not a good enough friend. Not good enough to be where I am in life. On those days, it takes every once of my energy to get up and take care of my kids.
More recently, I have found myself losing my patience because I just don’t have it in me to be consistent with my children. I feel like a failure when I’m losing my shit in the grocery store because my son thinks it’s funny to shove the cart into me and other shoppers. I’m struggling to discipline him properly, because the fight takes up so much more energy than I have available. On my good days, I can stick to my guns and stand tall as a parent. On my bad days… well I’m embarassed to say that my children can end up running in circles around me and any place we may need to go. The struggle is real my freinds. Trying to balance the good and the bad days, and find a way to be a consistent parent while fighting my own internal battle with myself is pure torture.
It took me a while to understand that my struggle as a parent wasn’t because I was a bad mom. For the longest time, I thought that I just was not cut out to be the parent I always dreamed I would be. I had to finally admit to myself that my health was effecting more than just me. My health was starting to effect my family too, and it was time for me to face the truth and do something to make it better. By far my biggest challenge was admitting to myself that I needed help. I needed to be truthful in how I thought about the situation, and stop making excuses for what my problem was. Once I could tell myself the truth, then it was time to take the next step and talk to other people that could help me. I had to stop hiding behind a smile, pretending everything was fine. I had to lower my guard, and speak openly about my struggles.
If you are fighting a similar battle with yourself and your mental health, I urge you to seek help. Therapy and self care are extremely important, and being consistent in your own treatment will help you to be more consistent with the rest of your life. Parenting is hard for everyone, but parenting with a mental health disease can be down right terrifying. I still haven’t found a magical cure to make every day perfect. I don’t think it exists. But I have found a few ways to focus on being a better version of myself, and to be a better parent to my kids on those days where it just feels too hard.