It’s not easy being green – and other wise words from famous frogs

January 11, 2008 Kyron 13 Comments

I recently read an article that discussed a study that found that some moms of autistic children may be prone to depression. I have to tell you that really aggravated me. Not because the statement isn’t likely true but as if parents of autistic children had a corner on the depression market. Anyone who is the parent of a special needs child realizes that any parent of a special needs child, mother or father, may be prone to depression. When a parent comes to the realization that their child may be different there is almost always a sense of guilt and/or loss that can become a more serious depression. More over, the type of disability the child has makes a difference as to the level of depression and accompanying social anxiety. One study specifically goes into the level of social anxiety in parents of children with mental illness. That’s one I can speak to.

I know that over the years I have become far more introverted than I ever was in my earlier life. I have a very tight knit core group of friends. I have had people reaching out to me and I can frequently feel the anxiety rise. The harsh reality is that many of those people would likely be lovely, kinds souls. It’s never who is imagined in my minds eye however. I have this gremlin who tells me how horrified they will be at Katherine’s behavior, how they will knowingly tell me that Katherine’s disabilities are my fault and my doing and make me the social pariah of the eastern seaboard. Unrealistic? Completely!gremlin Its not easy being green   and other wise words from famous frogs

My gremlin is pretty good at talking to me and convincing me he knows all – some kind of omniscient green thing with bumps. Think Sesame Street on a bad acid trip (please people the acid piece is just expressive not actual) I’m guessing some of you have a “friend” like this who tells you similar things. Actually we all have a gremlin or two. The question is how to quiet the dang thing so he’s just aggravating background noise.

As a great therapist once told me, the voice only has as much power as you give it. I have the choice to listen to it and give it’s word credence. He also told me that the more I can distract this gremlin the better off I’d do. I do know this – the more I allow that gremlin to enter my thought process, the more anxious and depressed I become. Sometimes this only happens once every few months, some times it happens several times in a week. Kind of depends on a number of influences not the least of which is Katherine. This is especially true in a week where Katherine is having an especially rough time or I am battling windmills trying to get appropriate services in place.

The reality is I spend an overwhelming amount of my time focused in on how Katherine feels. How Katherine is doing. Getting Katherine what she needs, and so on that I really have to remember to dial in to how *I* feel. As it has been explained to me numerous times by that great therapist I don’t do anyone, especially Katherine, any good if I get myself stuck in the gremlin goo. (it’s supposed to be a visual, let your imagination run wild) This got me thinking about how I deal with this depression and how other parents can too.

For a long time I didn’t even acknowledge it was depression. I wasn’t depressed – I was having a rough day (ok, so what if they strung together for days, weeks or months at a time) For a time, I needed medication and therapy. I tell you this because maybe knowing there’s another mom out there who needed help will make you not feel so alone. By the time I came off the meds, my therapist and I had developed a varied list of things I could do to fight off the blues which we all inevitably feel from time to time to keep it from gaining control. Sometimes I have less than 5 minutes sometimes I have a couple of hours after the kids are in bed. Here’s my list of 10 things to combat the onset of depression for a starter. Feel free to use the comments section to add what you use to fight off the blues as well!

  • Take a walk – or a jog – or a bike ride – any exercise at all will help. It doesn’t even need to be a long one. It actually releases endorphins which combat the blues
  • Read – sometimes all it takes is a few minutes with my mind in a good novel to remove the negative and break the cycle
  • Start a project – make sure the project can be broken into multiple pieces – your the mom of a special needs child – you’re not likely to have an 8 hour stretch you can devote to a project – scrapbooking, redecorating a room, reorganizing some files, start a garden – I started this blog.
  • Sleep – if I have time for a nap – even a ½ hour can make huge differences in my outlook
  • Take out a cookbook, find a recipe and dare to try something new
    Take a big pillow and scream REALLY loud into it – sounds ridiculous and you may feel like an idiot the first couple of times but the primal release it gives – well there’s nothing quite like it.
  • Eat WELL – sometimes I realize my mood is because all I’ve had all day is a cup of coffee – I don’t mean BINGE – I mean make sure you’ve fed yourself a healthy meal to give you the energy your body needs.
  • Cry – oh I know, that sounds ridiculous – but honestly it releases that pent up sadness in a natural way – you honestly can feel better just having a good cry.
  • Help Someone Else – volunteer to help the elderly, work on a community service project, donate time to a food bank. Yes, your life is hard – there are different kinds hard. Helping someone else can give you a real boost.
  • Music – listen to a favorite CD – better yet, sing and dance along. Ok, if you can’t sing and dance just don’t do it around anyone other than your 2 year old who will just love the performance no matter what!

Please keep in mind that there are symptoms to more a serious depression. According to the Royal College of Psychiatrists you are likely to be in a more significant depression if your feelings of depression don’t go away quickly and they are so bad that they interfere with their everyday life. If you are feeling 5 or 6 of the below feelings I would strongly encourage you to seek out further help if you:

  • feel unhappy most of the time (but may feel a little better in the evenings)
  • lose interest in life and can’t enjoy anything
  • find it harder to make decisions
  • can’t cope with things that you used to
  • feel utterly tired
  • feel restless and agitated
  • lose appetite and weight (some people find they do the reverse and put on weight)
  • take 1-2 hours to get off to sleep, and then wake up earlier than usual
  • lose interest in sex
  • lose your self-confidence
  • feel useless, inadequate and hopeless
  • avoid other people
  • feel irritable
  • feel worse at a particular time each day, usually in the morning
  • think of suicide.

Taking care of our kids is a HARD job. Taking care of yourself is critical to your child’s well being and overall success. Talk to a spouse, trusted friend or clergy member if you are experiencing the problems above. They can help you find your way to the proper help. It’s NOT weakness. You did NOTHING wrong. You CAN overcome it with the proper help.

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Categories : Articles, Depression, Medical

Currently there are "13 comments" on this Article:

  1. Cindy says:

    Thank you for this web sight I am so exhausted today I will read. I just wanted to share my gratitude.

  2. Cindy says:

    this was just wonderful, and I fit almost every one of the signs. I really never thought that I was suffering so much emotionally.

  3. Jacqueline says:

    Thank you for validating what I’ve been feeling for a long time. Many times I feel so inadequate or “weak” because of my inability to “move on” and just deal with my child’s disabilities. Your article helps in reassuring me that I’m not weak, crazy, or incapable. :)

  4. Marie says:

    Amazing article , thank you this came at just the right moment. Because i am a single mother struggling with severe depression and raising a special needs child. No family or friends. I love your blog

  5. Angela Pardue says:

    Thank you for this. I’ve just realized I’ve been depressed off an on for 22 years. I knew something was wrong, but never thought it could be the challenges of raising a special needs child. Now I don’t have to feel guilty for feeling that way. I wouldn’t trade my son for anything, but at least I can tell myself it’s ok.

  6. Vanessa says:

    Chance to do those things that help fend off the onset of depression can be impossible when you’ve special needs twins who can’t be left alone and no babysitter.

  7. Suzan says:

    Bad day today . Feel everything getting on top of me . Don’t know where to start

  8. Ri says:

    some days you just feel broken inside and the loss of your dreams and hopes crushed. It is so hard when there is no help and you feel like no one understands. Baby steps minute by minute is all we can do sometimes. It takes a lot of courage and strength to parent any child but when you have children with special needs you have to reach down deeper and be the olympian of parenthood!

  9. misty says:

    Thank you for this post. I have come to realize I have been showing signs of depression, for months. With a child of special needs, we are pulled into a million dieections and don’t take time for ourselves. We spend weeks doing day-to-day activities, just going through the motions.

  10. Stephanie says:

    I think I’m covered by half the list. I don’t have a strong Church support system (none), or any family member’s I can rely on. I find myself fantasist a move so far away from where I am at. Lol to the other side of the world. Just so I can REALLy be out of reach from the people I think should be more caring. But I realize they wouldn’t notice even if I was here or there.

  11. Mary T says:

    I have all of them except suicidal thoughts. But I eat constantly to dull the depression. I have twins special needs daughters and am overwhelmed by all of the things I’m SUPPOSE to be doing for them. My age is not helping. I finally made an appointment to get treated. I cannot stay out of it long enough to do anything that is helpful to myself. Hope everyone else is getting some help.

  12. Andrea says:

    I feel each and every one of them, just about each and every day. With 5 kids, even one the good days my son has, there’s always another grenade about to be launched from another direction. I have no support system to speak of, and I don’t drive so I have almost no outlet to reach out other than the computer. My life’s been like this for some time now (30 years, to be precise), even before the kids came along. I don’t really know how or why, but each day I get up and try again…I guess that’s really all you can do sometimes. With that said, this article and the comments to it, give me a little bit more hope and strength…. WE’RE NOT REALLY AS ALONE AS WE FEEL AT TIMES. :-)

  13. Gina says:

    Thanx! Ive known for a couple years that im clinically depressed. Ive been on and off meds and therapy but nothing works and well its because they say i need to make “lifestyle changes” and as you all know that isnt really an option! Its just always good to know others out there can actually relate because im so sick of people who have no clue of our reality say everythings gonna be ok or something else along those lines! And having outlets is great because i dont know about all you but i have no adult life or social life. No family or friends and 3 daughters and 2 have disabilities and 1 is unhealthy and has anxiety problems because shes stuck in the cracks!!! Hugs to all!

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