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The Kids Are Alright / I'm Getting Better, Man
Posted by dirkgently1066
14th Jun 2014

Won't Somebody Please Think of the Children

So I have become a father again. This is undoubtedly a Good Thing. And a boy too, to complete my family unit. What more could I ask for?

And yet, I have sunk back into depression.

Why?

Depression is not a simple illness, there is more than one thread to be pulled. Yet there is one very obvious cause.

I have become a father again.

In a sense, this is perhaps a post-paternal depression and one that I appreciate others may have difficulty understanding. Let's get something straight right off the bat. I love my son. I am delighted to have him and we cherish him dearly. But his arrival represented a change. My family unit was suddenly and irrevocably changed. It was always 'my girls', now it is 'my girls and my son'.

Of course the circumstances of his arrival are very different to those of the girls. This time, we already had children. With Karen in the hospital for 4 days, I had to look after the girls. As a result, I didn't get to see Aiden, my attention was needed elsewhere. I resented them for keeping me away from him, which I of course felt guilty about.

Then when he was home, I felt it important that the girls not feel pushed out so I would spend more time with them, inevitably causing me to get irritated with them quicker whilst at the same time not bonding with my son.

I shout at them all the time. I have written about it elsewhere but I feel like a glass of water, full to the brim, one further drop ready to send me spilling over the edge at any moment. I worry about the long term effect of my behaviour and mood on my children. Will they grow up remembering a dad who loved them very much and tried his best? Or will they remember a miserable, grumpy, irritable man who never had enough time for them?

And the thing is, they are good kids. Sure, they can be naughty and play up but so can all kids. Even at their young age, I can see that they have kind hearts and a loving nature. They'll be alright, whether because of, or in spite of, me.

And what of Aiden? Honestly there are times I forget he is there. I have deferred so much of his care to Karen so far that I barely feel involved. And there again comes the guilt.

Perhaps this is not so much a post-paternal depression but more a post-paternal anxiety, which has wound itself into a depression.

But there is more going on. My dad's death inevitably lingers in the background. The horrible truth is that I find myself barely thinking of him unless there is something specific that gives me pause for thought, at which point the grief is momentarily overwhelming. Daily life simply kept going, there was no other choice. And what does that bring? You guessed it, guilt. And sadness, that he never got to meet his only grandson.

Work plays a part too. When the gilrs were born, I had the security of my old job. I was a fixture, a part of the furniture, That I have secured a permanent contract at my new employer is great but the weeks and months of doubt and uncertainty have undoubtedly ploughed a furrow of anxiety.

They key question of course is So, What Now? Honestly I don't know. It is 12 months almost to the day that I entered therapy. As I sit here typing this, in many ways my mental health issues have never been more pronounced. I am not sure how much others understand but I am acutely aware that therapy was never the end. The mental health journey is not an A to B trip of illness to recovery. There are many detours, many roads to be travelled and ultimately the destination is unimportant, it is the journey that matters.

I can of course take comfort in the knowledge that I have learnt tools and techniques for change. I know what it looks like at the top of the well, I know what it feels like to pull myself out. But right now, there is a cold comfort in staying where I am. My Black Dog must be fed. Sometimes I wish I was all alone, that I didn't have a family, that the world would just disappear. These are just thoughts and thoughts are not actions.

Yet this is not a blog of despair. I write not to dwell and fester but to instigate change. I want to be better, I want to be happy and I know I can achieve it.

This is the first step, to acknowledge how I feel, to share it and confront it. I must be careful to be kind to myself and my next step will take that literally as I make a concerted effort to lose weight and get fitter.

And after that?

One step at a time.

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