I’ve always worried about how my depression would affect my child (or future children). Depression runs in my family and I have struggled with feeling like I’m irresponsible for having made the decision to have a child knowing that he is at greater risk to experience depression. I’ve always wanted to be a mom, though, and ultimately I convinced myself that it would be okay for me to have a child if I did enough therapy, took the right meds, and built a support network around myself. So I did all of that and then had Jack. To my surprise, my depression got more complex and harder to beat.
This Saturday was demonstrative of that fact to me. I had trouble getting out of bed, trouble gathering enough energy to do anything. I managed to get out and pick Jack up from his dad’s by 9am, but then came home and fell asleep for a couple hours while Jack watched a DVD, despite downing a double mocha. I had planned on taking Jack on some adventure this weekend so that David could focus and get caught up on schoolwork, but I ended up shuffling him into the backyard where I could sit down while he played with bubbles and rode his tricycle.
I’m not sure when it happened but at some point I started crying and couldn’t stop. I wrote pages and pages in my journal and cried harder. Jack asked me what was wrong, why was I sad, etc., in between climbing on me and yelling at me. I scrolled through the address book on my phone looking for someone to call but I couldn’t figure out what to do. I felt panicked and suicidal and wasn’t sure when the intensity would settle down, so I finally broke down and sent Joe a text stating that I didn’t think I could properly care for Jack. And then I cried harder because it felt as if I was a terrible parent since I couldn’t take care of my kid.
Obviously I need to make some changes. I need a support network that works with my parenting life. At the very least I need to get a babysitter to call in emergencies. Sometimes, even when you have a whole village surrounding your kid, everyone is busy or tapped out.
I know I can’t keep taking things on until I am full up. I need to be more conservative so that I do not get to the breaking point. I need to leave room for unexpected challenges, put aside some of my time and energy because I do not have an extra supply anywhere.
Lastly, I need to accept myself as I am. It’s a hard lesson. It’s difficult to accept that no matter how hard I try I’m not going to get to where I want to be as a parent. I will never be a soccer mom. I will never be the parent who takes their kid to Mommy & Me Yoga classes. I will never be a parent who doesn’t have a mental illness and who doesn’t have to make adjustments and accommodations for it.
Honestly, though, I don’t know where the middle ground is. I generally subscribe to the thought that a person should always work to better themselves, but it’s also not really worthwhile to work toward unattainable goals. I can’t teach Jack what I don’t know, and I can’t pass on skills that I do not have. I just don’t know how to be accepting of that without losing my motivation to be better. I fear that this is what my parents did – accepted their circumstances and just ran with it, which resulted in disaster. I don’t know that I can accept that there is no way to prevent that in Jack’s life.