I have learned two truths about mental health as a mom. 1. Good mental health is essential to being the best parent you can be, and 2. Most of us feel guilty when we make sure that happens. I spend a lot of time talking about the mental health of my kids, but the parenting process has been emotionally taxing for me as a parent. If I were to make a recommendation to a mom planning a pregnancy, I would tell them while you are getting the physical check-up make a stop by a psychologist too. Mothering under the best of conditions is a hard job. When you add on depression or other mental health disorders, what is hard becomes monumental.
I am telling you this from experience. I struggled with depression long before I had a child. I never sought help for it, even at its worst. I believed the mantra pray about it. You know what the answer to my prayers was, “Get help”. To say the least when I became pregnant with my daughter I was not where I needed to be emotionally. When she was born it got worse. I did go to a therapist. I got the diagnosis, but the treatment was just therapy only and that really did not work for me. By the time I was pregnant with my son it was bad. My OB looked at me and immediately put me on medication. We have had ups and downs for many reasons, but I can say parenting kids with their own mental health concerns put mine on the back burner. This is not the right thing, but it is true. We need to do better.
Writing this, admitting this has been a struggle in my life, is hard. If you think greater society looks at mental illness badly, then black people treat it like it is the plague. Depression is a sign of weakness for us. It means you don’t trust God. You are not a strong Black woman. You are choosing to be unhappy. The truth is depression is a chemical imbalance in the brain. It is not only emotionally painful, but for many of us it causes physical pain. We often live with joint pain, headaches, and fatigue. Depressed people are also masterful at hiding when they are depressed. An inherent part of the disease is a feeling that no one cares anyway, so why talk about it? I am not saying a chatty person talking to you about being depressed isn’t. They may very well be, but many depressed people hold it in. Which is when depression is dangerous. Those negative thoughts get worse over time.
You have probably read other articles about depression so you know depression is not a fleeting experience. It stays with you. Being sad about something bad happening in your life for a few weeks is not depression. Sadness is an important and good emotion to feel and express. Sadness is a component of being depressed, but it isn’t everything. My suggestion is if you think you are depressed go get an assessment from a psychologist. Not only can they confirm whether or not you are depressed, but help you develop good coping mechanisms to relieve your depression and help prevent future episodes. Any information I am giving here is all from personal experience, not a medical explanation. I know the right terms, because I have learned about the disease. It is important that you seek professional help if you are having a hard time coping emotionally.
Right about now, you would expect some suggestions about how to deal with depression and parent. My only suggestion is seek professional help. You can google all kinds of articles and suggestions on how to deal with depression. I have, and I have found a wonderful natural way to deal with it. I am not sharing. I think the most important thing I did was talk to a therapist. I didn’t do it for long. I don’t like interacting with people in general, and I am picky about who I talk to. I had a therapist I loved, but she left and I didn’t replace her. I think any person dealing with depression should have a some therapy sessions, if only to find out a better way to deal with what is triggering your depression. Remember your ADHD kid is watching you. How you deal with your mental heath sets the stage for how they will deal with theirs as Adults.
At 41 years old I have learned I am not always strong. I am sometimes weak and vulnerable and sometimes I am unstoppable. It depends on the day. I am a human being and all human beings have a weakness. All of us feel emotions. The healthiest thing I have ever done for myself is reject the concept that I have to always be strong, and bear the world on my shoulders. My shoulders are not that broad. I carry my family and I will hold up some friends, but I need to be held up too. I wake up everyday with the idea I am going to do the best I can and if it doesn’t go right, tomorrow is a new day.
I want you know I am a woman of faith. I believe in God and the power of prayer. I believe God sends help in many ways and that includes psychologist and psychiatrist. Many of us think it is ridiculous to just sit and pray for healing of a physical disorder without seeking medical assistance, the same is true of a mental health disorder. You can pray for healing, but also pray for guidance to the right medical professional that God wants to use as a conduit to bless you.
Black ADHD Mom