Depression, Anxiety…AND being a Parent?

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All of us who have been challenged with the genetic link of depression and anxiety have spent an entire lifetime just learning how to cope.

From our early days as a child we were fearful of things that were trivial for others. We were sleepless, and in fear most days of something… an upcoming event… or anything and everything else that we came across.

Later in life came depression…the feeling of being overwhelmed. Stuck in a deep dark hole, hopeless that we would ever find our way out. Nothing seemed to bring a smile to our face, and if so…. It was just a show to others so they would think that we were trying.

Fast forward several years… We have now become parents. Patents of children who are displaying similar traits to what we had just lived through. There is evidence that this genetic link is once again being passed on to a new generation.

You and me…. We have spent our life flying with broken wings due to these illnesses…. And now are expected not only to continue caring for ourselves, but for our beautiful children as well.

Herein lies the challenge… We feel that life is difficult just to get through ourselves,  but how can we find the energy, strength, and wisdom to accept the continual role of getting our children through it as well? There are times when I have nothing left to give, yet… it seems that more is expected from me. Is this ringing true to you?

The white horse is on the way…there are things that can help!

We have to first deal with the emotion that we are passing these genes on to our kids, giving them the same struggles that we have. Do you see this as unfair to your kids? I have to say that for a lot of years, I felt that way about this. I would see my daughter at age 3 struggling with such separation anxiety just from my wife walking out of the room that she was in.  Oh no…. not my children too!

But, I’d like you to consider this thought. Each one of us has, or will be given, circumstances in this life which will enable us to become a better… stronger version of ourselves. A great deal of the time, this strength and development seems to center on a medical issue like cancer, diabetes, autism, and yes… depression and anxiety. It is in God’s wisdom that he allows these things to come into our life. They are the reason that we are here, not an unfortunate coincidence.

This being the case, do you think that passing difficult genetic characteristics could actually be seen as a blessing, rather than a hardship? Here me out for just a minute.

We’ve just passed on something that is familiar to us. We understand it, we have lived it, and we have found a pathway to deal with it. If our children have to have a challenge to grow, there is somewhat of a “blessing” that they be given something that you understand, and can point them to the right direction to deal with it?

Don’t see this as unfortunate, unlucky, or a curse. You actually have more guidance to offer your children that your parents were able to offer you. Feel blessed with the knowledge that you have come to learn about of depression and anxiety. Be grateful that you can guide them through.

But what about the “Burn out” or the feeling of never-ending challenges that teenagers bring to your life, when again… you feel that you are sometimes broken and have little left to give?

First and foremost you need to care for yourself. That sounds a bit selfish, but think about it…. You can’t drive a car that does not have gas in the tank. You can’t expect to be nurturing, if you yourself are spent.

Big secret coming… are you ready?

First step in caring for YOURSELF…You need to feel understood. During these moments, it is important that you have a chance to describe what it’s like to be YOU. You have absorbed all of these hard things from parenting….you are hanging on just by a thread. As you continue to add more and more to your emotional burden, you are taken out of the game, if not given the chance to make room in your emotional being.

Unloading this is empowering. Find a spouse, counselor, or friend who will listen to you get this out. The intent of this is not to find solutions or ideas on how to proceed…. It is strictly to verbally describe what you are going through, and the difficulties associated with what you are feeling.  There is power in this process…. If you don’t believe me, try it this week.

There are people in our life that get us!!!!! There are people in our life that DON’T. Unloading to that person who has the deer in the headlight look as we talk to them is not the one that you want to do this with, as it can actually cause you to go deeper inside of yourselves.

Second secret… Do not own your child’s/teenagers problems. With anxiety, we have a hard time letting things go. When someone else experiences a problem, especially our child,  we own it as if it’s ours. We spend countless hours worried about it, and play things out in the worst possible scenario.

Your kids are going to make mistakes. Let the consequences be what directs them back to good choices. And, as a parent…. Just do the best that you can….Just… Do…. Your…Best…”that’s it!”

I see God as the ultimate parent in how He is raising me in this life. But, even being the perfect parent, one-third of his children did not do as He asked. They rebelled against Him. Our relationship with our children is no different…Our kids have their agency to choose good or bad. We can still love and care for them, but they will make choices that send us into a depression tail spin.

From my experience, there is a tremendous benefit in allowing the full punch of consequences to happen. Don’t try to shield them from the discomfort resulting from decisions that they have made.  Living a life of bad choices is not a happy one.  Let them associate this feeling with the choices that they have made.  The challenge, we are fix it kind of people who always want to show love.  “Showing love” by trying to remove consequences is a set back.  Don’t get caught in the trap.

So, in simple terms, take some time to care and heel yourself.  You can be on the fast track by emotionally purging by expressing how difficult live is… to someone who understands what you are doing.

And, don’t emotionally own people’s problems.  We worry as a way to control situations that we can not fully control.  Excessive worry is emotionally harming.  Recognize that as a factor of Anxiety.  Let the worry of a problem quickly move into a plan.  Once you have the plan, shut off the worry… and implement your plan… whatever it is.

Our job as parents is again to just do our best.  The parental contract with God does not include turning out perfect children… That is impossible.  They have come with their own personalities, and have a constant dark group of evil trying to take them down… each and every day.

Our Heavenly Father gets your stress.  He also has blessed this world with Krispy Kremes and chocolate… He wants us to work through trying times, but His intent is not to have us just suffer.  There is peace in asking Him to take the wheel once in a while.  Then, trust that He will help you drive that crazy car of ours that always seems to overheat.

Now, as you ponder this stuff…. I’m off to grab a glazed dozen of those “Holy Delights”.

…Keep you face towards the sunshine!

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