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I've had anxiety and depression since I was 11-years-old. I grew up seeing therapist after therapist, and tried many different medications to help, "make me feel better." When I became an adult, I decided that I really wanted to try and get better. I continued therapy, medications, surrounded myself with loved ones, and tried my best everyday to get up and be positive. Then, I found out I was pregnant. I was in a brand new relationship, I had just started feeling better, and now I had to worry about how I was going to be a parent. When I went to my first ultrasound appointment, they informed me that the medications I was taking for my depression and anxiety, were not suitable for pregnancy. I was told that I needed to stop taking it, and I needed to find something else to take that was safer. Come to find out, all the "safe" medications I had already tried without success. So there I was, pregnant, confused, and without medication. I continued therapy and did my absolute best to make sure that I prepared myself, the best that I could have, to be a parent. My pregnancy seemed to fly by, surprisingly. Before I knew it, I had my baby boy in my arms, and he was perfect. I was so happy!! But soon after, that happiness became stress, sadness, and worry. I was slipping back into my depression, and being sleep deprived did not help with that. I felt like my world was crashing down, and although I was happy my baby was healthy and thriving, I felt like I wasn't good enough. After a while, my therapist and doctor thought I could have Post Partum Depression. This is a type of depression that woman can get after pregnancy, whether you had depression prior to pregnancy or not. I went through therapy, started medications again, and I started to feel better. Now, my son is 4-years-old. He's incredibly smart, funny, and a good kid. I am a lot better now, but I still struggle. Some days are better than others, and sometimes I just really want to sleep all day and do nothing. But I remind myself that I am stronger than I think. I look at my son's pictures, his artwork hung on the wall, and think about his little laugh. Being a parent isn't easy, but being a parent with depression makes it a lot harder. You have to remind yourself on a daily basis that your child needs you. Knowing that means you also need to take very good care of YOU. You are a mom, you are your child's Superwoman, and they look up to you. If you feel you are depressed, think of the reasons that make you want to get up in the morning, to have fun with your child. I found many things that help me with my depression, and so now, I am going to share those things with you.
- Take a nap. Have your child/ren join you if they're still small and have nap time. This helps you get sleep, and helps reduce having a very cranky baby or child during the night.
- Brew a pot of tea. This will help relax you, and depending on the type of tea, can really help reduce your stress. Look for specialty teas in stores. There are many different kinds to help with stress, headaches, and even bloating.
- Find a fun activity to do with your child. Google search some crafts or kid friendly recipes. Bonding with your child is a great distraction, and seeing them laugh and smile is the best part.
- Go to the park or plan an activity. Staying distracted is key when you have depression. Get some fresh air, sit out in the sun(don't forget the sunscreen!), have a picnic, etc.
- Get some exercise. Go for a walk or practice some yoga. You don't have to do anything too strenuous, or time consuming, just something that will make you feel good. Exercise is great for your body, and your mind. When exercising, your body releases a chemical in your brain called endorphins. This is a happy chemical in your brain that makes you feel, well, happy. Remember to hydrate!!
- Talk to your spouse about how you're feeling. This is very important if you know you are having a really tough time. Let them know everything that you are feeling. They love you, so they will help you any way that they can. If you are a single parent, reach out to family or friends. Someone you know that you can trust and talk to about anything without feeling judged.
- Find a therapist if you don't have one already. Having a therapist really helps me stay on track with my treatment. Find some ways to cope with them, and practice that at home. If you can't afford a therapist, there are websites and helplines you can call 24/7. These are 100 percent confidential, so anything you tell them, they need to keep private.
- Take a "day off." My therapist gave me a great tip when I started seeing her. Take a day off from everything, at least once a week. Leave the kids with your spouse, grandparents, or other trusted family or friends that don't mind helping out. Explain to them what your plans are. Let them know that this is going to help with your depression, and your treatment. When your day off comes, find something fun to do. Go out to eat, go to a movie, pamper yourself, or catch up on rest and watch movies at home.
I really hope that these things help you, and I hope that my story will help you realize that you are not alone. No parent is perfect. All that matters is that you wake up and try your absolute best. You are a great parent, and at the end of the day, your kid(s) will love you. Every day is a new day to start fresh. Make a list of some things you want to change, and also make a list of some fun things you can do with your family. Give yourself a pat on the back and tell yourself that it WILL get better. Now go give them a big hug, tell them you love them, and start to believe that you WILL get better.