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Parenting with depression
Posted by lucyd
19th Nov 2015

Of all the things that are a million times harder with depression, parenting has to top the list. Itís a tough enough job anyway, but it often feels like trying to climb a mountain in the fog when you havenít slept for a week.

Every single one of those little daily tasks that have to be done to keep the family functioning feels like an almighty struggle. Sorting the school uniforms, making packed lunches, ferrying the children to and from clubs, listening to readingÖ Itís all just exhausting.

At my worst, I can barely do it. I delegate breakfast duties to my husband just to give me an extra five minutes to drag myself out of bed. I get him to supervise homework while I curl up on the sofa, broken. Shamefully, there have been whole weeks where I havenít cooked a proper meal; instead, theyíve lived off chicken nuggets and pasta. And even that wears me out.

The guilt is constant, constant and overwhelming. It hits me from every angle. I feel guilty about those freezer dinners. Guilty that Iím not encouraging my son with his schoolwork. Guilty that I spend whole afternoons in bed while my husband takes them out. Guilty that Iíve probably given one or both of them my faulty genes. Guilty that Iím a snappy, short-tempered mum instead of the patient, sensitive one I want to be.

I shouted at my daughter on the school run this morning. She was upset because she couldnít keep up with her friends on her scooter. I lost my temper with the whinging and shouted.

Her face just crumpled. And worst of all, I could see that she was trying so hard to keep the tears in that she couldn't even speak. For the first time ever, she seemed scared of me.

I want to be the sort of mummy who puts her arms round her child when sheís feeling sad and left out. Not the one who snaps and makes it 10 times worse.

The worst guilt of all is that it feels like if my children were enough, I wouldnít feel like this.

Throughout this whole period of illness, people have told me to think of the children, keep doing things with them, keep going for them.

And I havenít.

That is just such an awful thing to admit to.

They are amazing, wonderful, brilliant creatures. Infuriating at times, but funny, bright, warm and loving.

They should be enough for me. They should be enough that even on the blackest days, thoughts of them, their present and their future, should keep me going.

But when I was sitting in bed swallowing handfuls of tablets, they werenít. That must make me pretty much the worst mother itís possible to be.

Poor babies. They deserve a better mother than me, better by far. And while I know that they wouldnít automatically get a better replacement if I wasnít here, often, it feels like it would release them, set them free from a life with a depressed mother who, day by day, is chipping away at their self-esteem, their innocence, their joy.

I'm ruining their lives and I hate myself for it.

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