Emotional survival can be difficult. This is especially true for a single mother of a child with a mental illness such as depression. What with dividing yourself between your job and your child, shouldering that financial and emotional burden can have a tremendous impact on a person
While caring for and supporting your child, it is important not to neglect yourself. Doing so could end up dragging you down into depression. After all, research has found that mental conditions such as depression can run in the family.
As the parent of a child with depression, you likely know the signs. If not, it is important that you do; not only for your child, but for yourself. If you see yourself exhibiting change in sleep and eating patterns, lethargy, lack of focus, extended sadness, and other signs of depression, it might be time to see a doctor or mental health professional.
As you pay attention to your well-being, remain cognizant of triggers. What causes you to feel stressed? Sad? Other negative emotions? If possible, avoid these things. If not, self-talk may help. (Not necessarily aloud, of course!) “It’s just for today. I’ll be home soon.” “Calm down, take deep breaths.” Guiding yourself through your thoughts can help you to deal with difficult situations as they pop up.
In order to emotionally survive amidst the stress and avoid developing depression yourself, though, it is crucial to resist the urge to focus solely on your child’s wellbeing neglect yours. There needs to be a balance. If you’ve ever travelled on a plane, you have heard the flight crew say that in case of drop in cabin pressure, you should put your own oxygen mask on before attending to anyone else, even your children. The same principle applies here: If you are not mentally well, you will not be able to give your child the support they need.
What do you enjoy doing? What helps you relax and unwind? Do you enjoy listening to music, watching TV, reading, or spending time with friends? Make sure you include these things in your day or week. There are also activities known to be mood-boosters and help protect people from feeling too overwhelmed. Exercise is one of them. A light jog, even some jumping jacks while you watch TV can be a big help. Meditation can be a great way to clear your mind, too. And what’s more, you can even teach your child these tools!
Another method is to avoid carrying this burden alone. You might feel you have no choice but to keep the knowledge of your child’s condition to yourself, but a trusted friend or family member can be a source of support for you both. Even if all you need is a listening ear, take advantage of the opportunity. Also, if you need time off from the care of your child, a trusted person can be able to help.
With these tips, you will be better equipped to be a strong support for your child.