Dear Parent Who Has Depression,
You are not alone. One in six adults in the UK has a mental health problem. 4-10% of the UK population experience depression at some point in their life time. You’re definitely not the only parent to have depression. You are not alone.
Your depression is not your fault. You didn’t choose to have depression. You don’t want it to be a part of your life. Your depression is not your fault.
Depression and everything that comes with it does not care how ‘lucky’ you are. Suicidal thoughts can spring up, however ‘lucky’ you are. They do not care how much money you earn, what kind of house you live in, how many children you have, or anything else. Depression and suicidal thoughts can happen to absolutely anybody. Depression doesn’t care how ‘lucky’ you are.
Having depression doesn’t mean that you’re a bad parent. It’s an illness, not a character trait. It might affect how you interact with your kids to some extent, but so will loads of other things. Having depression does not mean that you’re a bad parent.
Medication and therapy do not mean that you’ve failed. It can be hard to reach out for help. It’s not always easy to tell people that we need some help and support. But lots of people need help and support for all sorts of reasons. Needing help when you have depression is no different from needing help when you have any other illness. Reaching out for support does not mean that you have failed.
If your friends and family offer to help you, it’s okay to let them. People’s friends and family help them out all the time for lots of different reasons. If you can’t return the favour right now, that’s okay, too. Your friends and family should understand that you have an illness that isn’t your fault. It’s okay to let your friends and family help you.
It’s okay to let others help your children. Young carers and young adult carers work with young people who have family members with a mental illness. It could be worth having a chat with your offspring about whether they might like to get support from the carers centre, or elsewhere. Doing so can also help you to worry less because you know that there’s a service looking out for them. It’s okay to let others help your children.
Nobody is perfect and there is no such thing as a perfect parent. It can be easy to beat yourself up for making mistakes. For not being ‘better’. But will just make you feel awful about yourself. Nobody is perfect and there’s no such thing as a perfect parent.
Your best is good enough. You are trying your best. You are doing all that you can to beat your depression. You’re trying your hardest to bring your children up as well as you can. Your best is good enough.
It’s not that you don’t want to have the energy and enthusiasm to set up play dates and picture-perfect picnics. Right now you have an illness which is draining you. It’s zapping your energy. It takes everything out of you. It’s not that you don’t want to have the energy; you have an illness.
Social media isn’t real. It might look like all of your fellow parent friends are forever meeting up with one another. They might appear to be creating perfect children, have the perfect job and have the perfect relationship. But it’s not real. There are probably many doors slammed in their houses, many problems at work, and the odd argument between them and their partner. They just don’t broadcast those things to social media. Social media isn’t real.
Raising kids is hard work. Raising kids when you have depression is even harder work. What you’re doing is incredibly strong. It’s incredibly brave. It’s incredibly admirable. Raising kids is hard work.
You don’t need to deny your depression. Kids tend to be more perceptive than we give them credit for. They often know when things aren’t quite right. They normally notice if someone’s not okay. You will probably want to explain things differently depending on the age of your child. You also don’t need to tell them literally everything going on in your life. But you also don’t need to pretend that your depression isn’t happening. You don’t need to deny your depression.
Look after yourself. Your kids and family are important, but so are you. You matter and you deserve care and support. It’s hard to care for others when we’re completely run down. In the same way that you should always put your oxygen mask on before helping others with theirs, you need to try and look after yourself in order to look after others. You matter. Look after yourself.
You’re amazing. Looking after yourself when you have depression can be a herculean effort. Looking after yourself and your family when you have depression is on another level. Every day you’re doing your best to look after your family whilst also managing your depression, and that is amazing. You’re amazing.
We want you to know that you are loved. That you matter. And that your best is good enough.
Lots of Love,
The Blurt Team x
Please help us to help others and share this post, you never know who might need it.