I worry that my children will present symptoms of depression because of my own struggle with the illness. When I was growing up, depression was whispered about during pitty-pat games or the neighborhood block party. Women who took antidepressants were reviled and don’t even THINK about a man living with this disease. African Americans didn’t get depressed. We pulled ourselves up by our “bootstraps”, self-medicated with liquor or marijuana, or expressed our internal battles through rage. When I could finally call my illness by a name, I felt an immediate release, a gratefulness that I could get better.
Raising two children in a more enlightened age, I am pleased that they can get help, even if the actions of a moody teen can be OVERdiagnosed for whatever pharmaceutical company has been to visit the pediatrician. On some of my down days, I wish for a time when depression didn’t cripple me, making me feel like I was wading through molasses. I wish that I had gotten hep earlier, had found my therapist sooner, was an all around better mother. Unless The Mister has been working on a WAYBACK machine in his spare time, that isn’t going to happen. What I can do is the following:
- Embrace Gratitude: I’m grateful that I was able to have moments when I could enjoy my children. While playing Barbies with The Teen or being a road for The Boy’s trains was fun, it is something we could giggle about. I recall every trip to the library or bookstore where both would curl in my lap and allow me to rest my head on theirs as I read a story. Even now, The Teen will climb in bed with the pretense that she’s looking for the cat to be close to me. I appreciate each time I can create a new memory to counter a negative one.
- Change Perspective: I remind myself that I was not a bad mother. As any person who grows and matures realize, I did the best I could. Were there thing I could change? Probably, but I was The Teen’s age when I became a mother. Knowing how she won’t take my advice, I know I was twice as stubborn. When I realize how much I have actually grown as a person living with depression and a parent who recognizes the blues can be an ass-kicker, I give myself a break.
- Be Aware: Knowing the signs of depression, I focus on my children’s behavior. If The Teen is sullen for no reason at all, that means she made a major faux pas and is not looking forward to telling The Mister or me. If the The Boy is overly talkative after school, I know I need to check my email for a note from a teacher. I also encourage them to talk to me, and accept the consequences of their actions. I make sure I don’t Google every action because that would drive us all up a wall. I also know that there is body language to look for in both children and to not allow my own thoughts to become their destiny.
- Enjoy: take time to truly enjoy and appreciate the life I have and the lives I created.
This post was inspired by the novel If I Fall, If I Die by Michael Christie,about a boy who’s never been outside, thanks to his mother’s agoraphobia, but ventures outside in order to solve a mystery. Join From Left to Write on January 22nd as we discuss If I Fall, If I Die. As a member, I received a copy of the book for review purposes.