The Secret Battle Fought By Many Moms

Many parents, especially mothers, find themselves fighting a secret battle.

Raising children comes with many challenges and can be a roller coaster of emotional ups and downs.

Feeling overwhelmed and exhausted is common in parenting small children, but for some moms, the feelings are never-ending and can have serious consequences for both parent and child.

Depression and anxiety in mothers is rising due to the many pressures of work and home and raising a family.

And while there was a certain stigma attached to depression in generations past, this is no longer the case.

Many moms experience feelings of anxiety, loneliness, and sadness that do not seem to go away, and with mothers at the core of the family, it can have a profound effect on their children.

Feelings of failure and hopelessness can cause us to disengage from our children, not want to socialize or participate in activities, and young children especially do not understand.

Open communication is key, circling the family wagons to provide support and love.

Tracy Thompson begins her thoughtful book “The Ghost in the House with two brilliant sentences: “Motherhood and depression are two countries with a long common border. The terrain is chilly and inhospitable, and when mothers speak of it at all, it is usually in guarded terms, or in euphemisms.”

If depression happened in a vacuum, it would be so much easier.

But it doesn’t. It happens in the context of a family, raising kids, being responsible for other human beings even as you can’t take care of yourself.

The first thing all mothers need to remember is they are not alone.

Parenting is a tough business, and especially for stay-at-home moms, the isolation can compound symptoms.

But there are several things moms can do to alleviate the symptoms of depression and anxiety and bring balance to the home.

Whether or not a woman makes the decision to seek medical help for depression and anxiety, these simple ideas are good for all mothers to adopt.

Goodtherapy.org reported on some tips for any mother who is suffering from anxiety or depression:

  1. Sometimes “good enough” is perfectly fine.You can’t always give 100%. Some days will be harder than others. You don’t have to be a super-parent every hour of every day.
  2. Find your tribe.Seek out a group of people who are aware of your condition and can help you through it. This can be an online group, but an in-person group is even better.
  3. Find apsychiatristIf you’re pregnant or nursing, you need an expert who understands how antidepressants may be transmitted and how they could affect your child. Don’t go off your medication without talking to a physician. Some antidepressants are safer than others.
  4. Beware of postpartum depression. Educate yourself on the difference between the baby blues and full-blown postpartum depression or psychosis. If you see signs of postpartum depressionor psychosis, contact your doctor immediately.
  5. Forgive yourself and your children.Everyone makes mistakes. Be gentle with yourself and the people around you. Depression often masks as agitation, irritability, or anger.
  6. You are not your condition.Your depression isn’t the only thing about you. It isn’t even the most important thing. You are a parent and may be any number of other things: a partner, a lover, a friend, an employee, a teammate, etc.
  7. Don’t hesitate to reach out.Ask for help from your spouse or partner, friends, an extended family member, someone from your church or congregation, a family doctor, or a mental health professional.
  8. Lighten things up.Take a break from the news, which tends to focus on heavy and upsetting things. Listen to, read, and watch things that make you feel good, are funny, and don’t stress you out.
  9. Live fearlessly.Don’t let depression stop you from doing things or meeting people. That can be easier said than done, but get out there, live large, and experience life with your children.
  10. Let your children in. Depending on their ages, you may want to tell your children different things about your condition. The very youngest of children don’t need to be told anything. Around the age of 4, your mood or visits to your therapist may be noticed. You might explain that mommy or daddy sometimes gets really sad and needs help. You can relate it to when your child gets sad and you hold or comfort him or her.

Every mom experiences ups and downs while raising children, but the key is to be aware of symptoms that do not go away or that affect your relationship with your children.

The decision to take medication is a very personal one, and pros and cons should be discussed at length with a physician.

The key is to ask for help, find support, and take whatever steps are necessary to maintain a sense of safety, security, and balance in the family-unit.

One Comment

  1. Wondering Woman says:

    Interesting, but depressing article. However the worst advice in it, IMHO, is to seek help from one skilled in the use of antidepressants in pregnant or nursing mothers, as this reflects the modern day attitude that we need a drug or pill for every bump in the road or change in our emotions throughout the day!

    Change – Ups and Downs- sorrow and joy – are a fact of of life!

    Laughter and joy are a natural response to happiness – depression is natural during those down times ,but instead of sinking into depression and wasting time worrying, which does nothing to change anything, learn to LIVE IN THE NOW! Yesterday is gone and you cannot change it – nor can you live in the future! We can only live in this moment in time, not recall it to relive it, so don’t waste this moment! If you have a roof over your head, food in your stomach, clothes on your back, are fairly comfortable climate wise – you have much to be thankful for NOW. If you are lacking any of these you should be doing what you can to improve the situation. Whether you think you can or can’t do it yourself – it never hurts to talk with your creator, thanking HIM for what you do have and asking for the help you need, whatever it might be. Seek and you shall find – Ask and you shall receive. HE gave us free will and he doesn’t interfere with your daily life unless you give him permission or invite him in!

    Parenting or raising a sane, moral, ethical child to adulthood is a tough job for both parents and is not easy. It is a tough job with lots of ups and downs But it should be a delightful journey most of the time. The two major things that every child needs is 2 parents who love them enough to discipline them and feeds them as nutritionally wise as possible in order to keep them as healthy as possible. Parents also need the wisdom to let their children make new discoveries and accomplishments on their own, which can make for some anxious moments. Advice to both Mom and Dad on disciplining, if you are the one who spots something your child needs to be disciplined for, please do not
    tell your mate to do it. Especially for those lucky enough to be a full time stay at home MOM, do not keep a list of everything your child does wrong during the day and recite them to your mate to administer the discipline. Making the father out to be the bad guy is unfair to both the father and the children!

    Recalling the first time my oldest climbed a tree when he was about 3 years old, and his grandmother yelled for me to get him down, instead I walked over to the lowest limb he was already on and told him to go for it if he thought he could and stood by to catch him if he fell. He not only made it up the tree but safely back down. Rescue was not necessary! WOW! YOU did it!!

    When you live in the NOW with your infants, toddlers and on through the teens, the journey is most delightful as you watch them learn to sit up, walk, talk and discover the wonders of this huge world. Those 1st 3 years is just one wonderful discovery and accomplishment after another – learning more in those 3 years than at any other time in their life. This time passes so fast, relax and enjoy this journey and help them with new discoveries – watch the wonder and happiness in their eyes – and the tears when they discover roses have thorns – or the stove is hot! Enjoy your job as a parent when they get a little older and want to try unwise things. Help them learn to think for themselves as you play “what if” and explore possible outcomes of what they want to do with them. If you can find a church that still teaches the Ten Commandments or Universal Law instead of the modern day “politically correct” crap, attend services with them. There will be many times when you will just have to remember “THIS TOO SHALL PASS” and thank God that your child has almost made it to adulthood, and keep thanking God daily for keeping them safe sane and sound. All too soon you will find yourself wondering where the time went as you stare “the empty nest syndrome” in the eye and join all the other parents of the high school graduates in saying “OMG, just yesterday they were babies”!

    Recalling a few decades ago when Ann Landers asked her readers if they had it to do over again, if they would have children, and was surprised at the number of negative answers she got. Maybe the lack of positives was due to a lot of us short on postage money, but loving raising our kids! Children, mine and others, have brought me lots of joy and wonder, but also some worry and sorrow – but every thing considered – the thing that my Creator gets thanked for daily, is all of my children are alive.

    Relax and enjoy your journey. If the NOW is happy, do what comes naturally and LAUGH! Unhappy can range from a piddling broken fingernail to losing a loved one. If its a piddling unhappy, clip the nail or whatever you can do to remedy the situation. If it is a serious unhappy like a home destroyed or lost loved one – do what comes naturally and WEEP! Sorrow and grief is something that we all must live through. Pills do not really change the situation only delays the recovery and often creates worse problems.

    Think not? Do a little research – psychiatric medications often cause weight gain to the point of morbid obesity (baby blimps) and also many other problems. For instance many of them cause depression of our inhibitions and increase the risk of suicide and of violence. How many of those suicides were secondary to recognition of increased feelings of violence, making them fearful of harming their loved ones? Remember the mother on antidepressants killing her 5 children? the school shooters and the theater shooter – all said to be on psychiatric drugs – yes, even the pet chimpanze, raised as a pet from infancy, who was shot by police on its last violent rampage – whose owner had started giving him Zanax to keep him calm. The death certificate should have read
    secondary to psychiatric medications on all of those victims, yet the anti gunners keep trying to use them for disarming purposes, but guns don’t pull their own triggers – people do. However when one looks at the fact that listed unwanted side effects of most of these psychiatric drugs include increased risk of violence and suicide, among many others, one wonders if we shouldn’t hold the pharmaceutical manufacturer and the doctor who prescribed it as accountable, if not more accountable, than the one who pulled the trigger – since the drug has altered the shooter;s ability to think rationally!

    We must stop being a pill popping nation – pills can’t solve our problems. The most important thing this author said was: Ask for help if you are unable to solve your problems without help – but know who to ask, because the pill is not going to solve the problem, and very likely to make it worse – especially if your problem is financial because the doctor’s fee and the vastly over priced drug are both going to make you poorer very quickly!

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