One of my greatest gifts and often biggest hinderances is my ability to just power through. I can keep my head down and get through pretty much anything at any given time. Parenting through anxiety and depression is a whole new ballgame though.
Being on medication doesn’t prevent you from episodes of anxiety and depression, it just helps you to better manage them, but even that’s not always 100 percent.
Before kids, no problem. Just stay in bed, ignore the world, have a breakdown, drink too much … whatever needed to be done to get through it.
Now that’s not possible. Or safe.
No matter what is going on in my life — good or bad — I have to show up for my children every single day. If I’m running a 103-degree fever, they still need to be fed. If I had two hours of sleep and don’t feel like facing the world, they still need to be driven to school or the bus stop with packed lunches. And when I’m looking into the dark tunnel of anxiety and depression, they need me to figure out the quickest way to get out of the other end so that I can be present for them.
Fortunately, I’ve had many years to figure some things out. I’ve gotten to understanding myself and my illness and how they work together (and how they don’t) so I can decide what I need.
How I Parent Through Anxiety And Depression
Here are some things I do so I can parent through anxiety and depression:
- Deep Breathe. Often, for me, the driving force behind anxiety is powerlessness. Typically, my strongest anxiety moments happen to me first thing in the morning as I begin to think about my day. So, I’m awake in bed and I close my eyes again (which is dangerous because I could fall back asleep, but fortunately, that doesn’t usually happen. Often.) and take deep breaths. I focus on the breath going in, filling my lungs and focus on how it makes my body feel and then slowly release. I do this as long as I need until I begin to feel the anxiety subsiding and I can begin to take on the day.
- IGNORE MY PHONE. This could have been #1, but the deep breathing is so fundamental for me. Part of the anxiety from knowing what’s coming up in my day also happens when I look at my phone and see texts and emails about more things I now need to do or problems plaguing things I was already set to do. NONE OF IT IS HELPFUL. Sometimes I will ignore my phone until after I get my kids to school and finish my workout. By then I’m feeling much calmer and in control and able to handle any situations which may befall me.
- Exercise. I workout at Orangetheory Fitness four times a week and I love it. One day last week, I was so overwhelmed by what I needed to do that day. I woke up with a sore jaw (likely from grinding my teeth or clenching) and I felt nauseous from the anxiety. I had a workout planned for the day, but taking that time to go workout started to feel like an unnecessary complication. (Add on the fact, I had to drop my daughter off somewhere else because they don’t have childcare and then would have to go pick her up again, obviously.) Just as I was about to throw in the towel on my workout, I stopped and realized this was actually the one thing I really needed today. And, frankly, you never regret a workout. I felt SO MUCH BETTER afterward! It felt like a 50-pound weight had been lifted off my shoulders and the rest of the day went smoothly after!
- Stay Consistent With Medication. This sounds like a no-brainer, but one of my meds I don’t have to take every day. I just take when the anxiety becomes too much. I’ve had to learn to take it when I need it and not stress if I feel I do need to take it.
These are just the tips and tricks I’ve found work best for me! I hope you can figure out what you need to do to help get through your day. I also pray you have an amazing support system like I do for the days when it’s all too much and you just need a break to heal your mind.