In episode 254, I received a question from an individual who is tackling Major Depressive Disorder as a parent with feelings of perpetual unhappiness. Here I dive into the question and offer my support, highlighting the options available and what to do when you feel like your like is in ruin.
Hello Duff, I want to apologize for my grammar first, because English is my second language. I am a 24-year-old from Antalya, Turkey. I just discovered your podcast and instantly fell in love with the work you’re doing. I have a big question for you, but if you decide to cover this one on your podcast, please keep my name anonymous. Feel free to share my age, gender and location. I was hesitant to write to you but here we go.
I long for something that I don’t even know. It hurts me so bad that I can’t even live my everyday life anymore. I’m so desperate. I’m in this constant battle with myself and every single day is very tiring. However, I don’t know how to handle everything that is going on in my life at the moment. I constantly daydream and wish my life was completely different. Mostly, I just imagine myself being this independent woman, just living by myself, standing strong on my own feet. Being a mother and a wife is very tiring and just not for me. But here I am, a mother to the most beautiful child, yet alone, I just cannot stand myself. I wasn’t made to be a mother. I try my best to be “a good mother” but I constantly fail at becoming one. Every day is another struggle: constant yelling and a child’s crying.
I cannot get along with my husband either. We can’t even keep a conversation going for a minute without it turning into an argument. I just don’t know what to do at this point. I feel stuck, tired and numb. I haven’t even “let it all out” and cried for the past few months or so. I am also currently studying Psychological Counselling and Guidance at the moment and my life is getting on my school’s way. I don’t want to leave my family (especially my 3-year-old daughter) behind and start fresh. I have been diagnosed with Major Depression when I was in my late teens and went through therapy and medication, which did not help at all. I was on medication for several years; doctors tried many different combinations including anti-psychotics even though I wasn’t psychotic at all. They also mentioned Bipolar Disorder and BPD but dismissed the idea since I didn’t have most of the symptoms and their final decision was Major Depression.
I feel like my whole life is ruined and I ruin everything that I touch. Feeling like a failure also doesn’t help. Thank you for taking time to answer my questions. Have a nice day.
First off, invariably whenever someone writes in and says sorry for grammar or language because they aren’t a native English speaker, their English is way better than most people here in the states, so you have absolutely nothing to worry about here. Second, I’m super sorry that you are having such as a hard time right now. I’ve had my wife on the show a number of times and she has shared how being a parent with significant mental health difficulties is no joke. It sounds like there are a lot of things happening at once.
I hear a lot of self-blame in this question. The good part of that is that you are not in denial that this is hard for you and you are trying to take some accountability. The bad part of that is that you are probably being unrealistically mean to yourself. It sounds like there are a lot of different circumstances here. Raising a kid is tough. Raising a kid with mental health difficulties is tough. Being in a marriage that is unfulfilling, uncooperative, or abusive is tough. Being a student is tough. Having untreated mental health difficulties and trouble navigating the system designed to help you is tough. All of these happening at the same time is really f**king hard. That’s not all on you. I don’t blame you at all for feeling down and hopeless. If anyone were going through what you are, I’d be very surprised if they weren’t having some trouble with their mood.
The resilience of kids and embracing your authentic self
Don’t forget that kids are very resilient. As a parent, I have this conversation all the time with people. We judge our parenting against what we are “supposed” to do and what other people seem like they’re doing. It’s good to aspire to be a good parent, but you also need to remember that very few of us had perfect parents or childhoods and here we are. By my observation, many parents also have a certain sweet spot in terms of age where parenting is a lot more comfortable and natural to them. I know that my wife’s sweet spot is not in the like 2-4 age range. And that’s okay. There will be another age, maybe late childhood or early adulthood where she is totally in her element and I’m like uhhh what do I do with this monster? Just because it’s hard now does not mean that it’s going to be this hard and feel this unnatural forever.
It becomes even harder when you are trying to be someone that you are not. Instead of coming to understand and lean into your strengths, you may be setting an unrealistic expectation for yourself and then judging yourself harshly when you fall short of it. I think that there’s something special about being authentic and true to yourself and leaning into that. You can’t just neglect your kid, but you can model what it’s like to try your best even though you are also suffering. You can model what it’s like to have compassion for yourself and try to adjust your approach to something that works better.
Also keep in mind that, as someone with depression, you are probably doing a lot of mental filtering and only noticing the things in your life that already support the negative way you feel about yourself. There are likely plenty of other things that are neutral or show that you are indeed a good person, a good parent, and a good partner. Those things just aren’t given the attention the negative things are.
Mental health treatments
You talked a little about your previous experiences with mental health treatment and I wanted to address that briefly. Huge caveat here is that I live in the United States and I have no idea how the Turkish mental health system works. But you said that you had therapy and meds and it didn’t help anything. That doesn’t mean that they couldn’t help you. That means that you didn’t have the right approach or the right providers for you. In therapy, you have so many different modalities and within each of those, every individual provider is way different. For medication, even if you’re just talking about SSRIs, there are many different medications within the same class. You mentioned that they used antipsychotics with you even though you weren’t psychotic. That’s not entirely unusual. It’s likely that they were using these as an adjunct treatment. Something you add into the mix when someone isn’t responding to the first-line medication.
The reason I’m mentioning this is that it sounds like you could really really use some support. You are struggling and you deserve to get help. So I don’t know if you have the ability to try out different providers or easily talk with a specialist about medication strategies, but if so, I would highly encourage you to reach out. There is also couples counseling if that’s something available to you and your husband would be open to. I don’t think it’s fair to expect someone in your position to get through without some extra help.
I know things seem impossible and hopeless right now, but they are not. Mental health difficulties often screw with your sense of time. You feel like your problems are stuck and are going to last forever. At the same time, you feel like current issues need to be figured out and solved as soon as possible. That’s a recipe for feeling really bad. In reality, imagine you were able to really make some changes over the next year. You found a new therapist, got on some new medication, started leaning more into your strengths as a mother, reduced conflict with your husband, and maybe even reduced your course load or took a leave of absence from school. By the time your child is 4 or 5, you could be in a much different place. In the timeline of their life, they wouldn’t even really remember things being as hard as they are now. You still have so much time and you are not stuck. You have options.
This is one of the hardest points in your life. But just imagine how powerful it will be to look back on this and remember everything it took to get through it. You can do it.
You can listen to this on Episode 254 of the podcast!
Thank you for the great question!
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