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Things I Miss Since Depression Struck Our Household

imageAs I lay on my side last evening, inviting sleep to come, the thought crossed my mind of how many things are different since depression came full force into our household. These are just a few. Some are mundane but missed and others are important and are mourned.

– Going food shopping together with one of us checking the coupons and ads and the other the shopping list.
– Back rubs or gentle lines drawn on the back with one’s finger
– Talking in bed together either in the early morning or late at night
– Doing the gardening together whether it is mowing the grass while one weeds or some other combination.
– Talking about something other than depression
– Having belly laughs together over some inane thing
– Talking during meals
– Little surprises that say the other was thinking of you
– Days where you both go to bed thinking, “It was a very good day indeed.”

There are more but you get the picture. When depression takes over and your loved one is centered on him or herself and it is difficult for the relationship to flourish, for the people involved to both feel love and care.

The flip side – because there is always a flip side – is that you are simply bowled over when something returns and suddenly your loved one is not centered on themselves – he or she is thinking of you. That does your heart good, taking your breath away and bringing a smile to your lips. It’s then that you realize everything you are doing is worth it because this is someone you love and this is that someone breaking through to show you the real person behind the depression. I’m good with that.

-Bernadette

The Decision

Depression sucks. I hate the feeling of powerlessness that I have when my loved one sits across from me and says, “I feel so alone.” I hate to see him removed from the festivities around him. I get angry when I know every medicine he is taking and nothing seems to be working. I hate that depression is not only ruining his life but it is doing a number on mine.

As much as I try, sometimes depression just gets the upper hand, making me want to run away and do something that is totally frivolous and takes nobody else into account. I want to go off to ride rides in an amusement park or lay in a hammock and just read. What was that saying in the 70s? Stop the world I want to get off!

But the reality is waking another day to figure out another way of helping him and of making myself continue on the road of health. It is another day of being positive and trying new things, of laughing and figuring out a different way that something can be done to alleviate, at least for a time, the cloud of depression on my loved one. It’s another day to make the decision to love myself and my loved one. I am thankful for that.

– Bernadette

Helicopter Parenting and Depression

It’s that time of year when colleges inform thousands of college bound students of their acceptance into the college’s hallowed hall. And then comes the mad rush to deck out that dorm room, to get all the necessary “equipment” for the first year away from home, and to balance issues regarding finances and roommates and odds and ends of starting a new phase of life.

One of the things that is often not addressed (although it has of late been getting a lot of press) is how the parents react to this life change for their child and themselves. The term “helicopter parent” was coined because of the unique method these parents have of hovering over their kids and attempting to solve the problems that occur instead of allowing the child to deal with his or her own challenges. Well, it is official now: helicopter parenting is not good for your kids. It can often cause depression.

According to Bonnie Rochman, a Time Magazine columnist, a new study in the Journal of Child and Family Studies found that being overly involved in your grown-up kids’ lives can do more harm than good. The research was conducted by the same scientists who showed last year that intensive parenting — constantly stimulating your children — can make moms more depressed.

When my kids left for college, I was very sad. Our relationships would change. Their need for me would change. But I felt it was very important for them to become their own persons. I can’t say it was easy or that I didn’t make mistakes, but I think because of my “back off” attitude, they have become two very strong, competent, and loving people. And our relationships have only grown into nurturing adult friendships.

Helicopter parents often deprive their children of making decisions, of trying to solve problems that arise, and of becoming their own person. When we, as parents, refuse to let go, we actively work at creating a generation of people who don’t know how to make decisions, who don’t trust themselves to make those decisions, and who get depressed because of their inability to meet the simple challenges of life.

The students in the study reported that when their parents hovered, taking over the decision making, the student often felt depressed and anxious. They often felt incompetent. The parents, on the other hands, felt exhausted and often depressed themselves, feeling that the sacrifice they were making was worth it because they were “helping their children.”

Let’s not open another avenue for depression to creep in. Let’s land the helicopters now and look to be the “good-enough” parents who are there and willing to help when asked but not interfering in situations that might help their child grow and keep the black dog of depression at bay. –Bernadette