I’ve lived with depression for as long as I can remember. I was diagnosed with depression about 15 years ago after my second suicide attempt. I was a working single mother at the time. I had more sad or “blue” days than good ones. The pressure of being responsible for the care of another living human being was too much at times. I felt trapped, cornered and alone. There was always this lingering feeling of hopelessness and despair hanging over me.
Although I had a thriving career, family, and friends who loved me I just couldn’t seem to get myself together. Like many others, I was highly functioning so those closest to me didn’t realize the pain I’d been suffering in silence. It wasn’t until I’d attempted to take my own life did my support system rally around me to help me finally get the professional help I so desperately needed.
Today, I am married with three sons, pregnant with my forth! I still live with depression however, I no longer feel as if the walls are closing in on me. Seeing a therapist on a regular basis as well as recognizing my triggers has been instrumental in my continued success with mental wellness.
Let’s face it, being a mom is a huge responsibility and being a stay at home mom can feel like an even bigger one. Below I will share my top 5 strategies for managing depression as a stay at home mom.
Don’t be afraid to admit you need help.
Most moms I know are superwomen. Not only do we physically carry our children for 9 months we are usually the backbone of our families making sure everyone has everything they need. We often push our feelings, wants or needs to the side because we’ve been conditioned to simply soldier on.
When you feel sad, overwhelmed, or stressed these are signs that need not be ignored, especially if the feelings linger. This is the time to share those feelings with your spouse or a trusted friend or family member. The hardest part of this battle is admitting that you need help.
Seek the help of a trusted mental health professional.
Now that you’ve admitted you need help, the next step is pretty simple, seek the help of a trusted mental health professional. I am a huge advocate of therapy. This one area has given me to tools necessary to maintain my depression while living a pretty good life.
I still have moments of sadness, I still feel overwhelmed but with the help of therapy, I’ve learned how to cope with the stress of everyday life. I’m now equipped with an arsenal of strategies to confront my feelings as they arrive and process them in a healthy manner as opposed to allowing my depression to control my life.
Therapy has taught me not to aim for perfection.
Things will fall by the wayside and I just have to be ok with that. My sadness no longer lasts for days on end. Therapy has given me the grace to be patient and less critical with myself and about myself.
Incorporate daily routines that foster positivity and mental stability.
This could mean beginning your day with prayer, journaling, meditation, reading….whatever sets your mind in a peaceful place, begin and end your day with that! A large part of maintaining mental wellness is being very intentional about setting the tone for your day.
My mom used to say, “what you allow, will remain.” You have to completely recondition your mind and that sometimes means restructuring how you go about your daily tasks. If you usually get up in the morning and immediately feel the stress of the day ahead and do nothing to redirect that negative energy, that’s what will remain. THAT is what will set the tone for your entire day. Instead, try waking up in the morning, letting the sunshine in and beginning the day with gratitude! This act alone puts depression on notice that it cannot occupy your mind or space today!
The same can be said for setting a positive routine before bed as well. Chances are if you put practices in place before bed as well, you will wake up in a better, more peaceful frame of mind.
Be kind to yourself.
Listen, I am the queen of self-defeating thoughts. There is no faster way to spiral out of control and into the abyss of depression than speaking ill of oneself. I’ve learned that when a thought comes into my head that tells me I’m not good enough, I’m not this or that I immediately counter the negative thought with a powerfully positive one. I AM a great mom, I AM a great wife, I AM smart, I AM kind…you get the picture. What you say to you about you matters so make sure you are saying the very best things.
Take time for you.
This last one has taken some time for me to get used to but I’m beginning to get the hang of it. TAKE TIME FOR YOU. Such a simple concept, yet so incredibly difficult for moms! I schedule an entire “day off” for myself every week.
Sometimes I do absolutely nothing and other times I may treat myself to very small luxuries that I usually don’t have time for. That luxury can be as simple as going to a coffee shop and reading that book I’ve had sitting on my nightstand for weeks untouched or meeting up with friends without the husband and kids to simply unwind and relax. Do more of what makes YOU happy. When you prioritize yourself you put your mental health and wellness at the top of your list!
Be open and honest with your spouse.
Lastly, I will leave you with this, be open and honest with your spouse. I shared my mental health issues with my husband early on. When I feel overwhelmed I’m able to share that with him and he supports me beautifully. One of the first things he does when he walks in the door, is to ask, “how do you feel today?”. Depending on my answer, he will cook dinner, take the kids or just listen to me sort through how I’m actually feeling. This has helped normalize my depression in our home. I am grateful for his continued love and support!
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National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-SUICIDE
National Postpartum Depression Hotline: 1-800-PPD-MOMS