Sunday, February 22, 2015

Depression, Anxiety and How They Make Me a Better Mother

I have had life-long struggles with depression and anxiety. When I say life-long, I mean that I cannot remember a time when I did not have periods of intense anxiety and debilitating sadness. As I age, I have found more and more coping mechanisms and feel like I am struggling less and less. But, the struggle is still real- and more frequent- than I would like.

I remember as a child, many people telling me to just "cheer up" and "stop taking things so seriously". So, I learned to put on a false face of cheer and face the world even as the sadness and fear raged within. I did not learn to cope until adulthood when I began to actively seek coping mechanisms.

I have been doing ever so much better in my adulthood. I have many more days of happiness than sadness, more days of calm than anxiety. However, I do still have periods of depression and anxiety- sometimes extreme, debilitating periods.

I was in a funk recently. Stuck in irrational fight-or-flight anxiety over things that were certainly not life threatening and didn't deserve the constant, debilitating fear I was feeling. I knew in my rational mind that this fear made no sense, but depression and anxiety(those Bitches!) never listen to my rational mind. I was aware that I was not being present with my children at the time nor was I as patient as I usually hope to be as a mother.  It, of course, only increased said funk and I was beating myself up over this at bedtime.

As I was berating myself(something that I excel at, unfortunately), I also began to think of how I interact with my kids when they are having a bad day/sadness/anxiety. I realized that the way that I respond to them would have been incredibly helpful to me when I was a child. I am able to comfort them and assist them with finding their own coping mechanisms so hopefully they can arise into adulthood with an already full bag-of-tricks for managing the shit storms of depression and anxiety when they blow into their lives. Even in my worst times, I try my very best to be endlessly available and open with my children. I wish ever so much more for them than I have had for myself.

So, when we are stuck in our own shit storms, Mama and Papa Bears of the world, remember that your own struggles are making you stronger. Remember that the ways you find to cope are helpful learning opportunities for your children. Remember that showing your own imperfections is a reminder to your children that perfection is a gross falsity.

Shine on, Dear Ones. Reach deep into your parental soul and remember that you are ever so much more than enough to do this hella hard business called parenting. Your children will one day be grateful for your struggles and the lessons you had to show them. 

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