Parenting through Depression: Navigating the Landmine Mind

As I sit here and start to type this up, There are five tabs open in my browser. Facebook and Twitter which pretty much stay open all day while the kids are at school. Not that I’m really utilizing them well, but more, hoping to see notifications and mentions in a sad waiting game of self-worth. My personal blog’s dashboard is open sitting on a half-finished post that may or may not ever see the publish button pushed for it. Of course, my dashboard for Dads Round Table is open. How else would I be writing this? The fifth tab? It’s just there. Waiting for me to point it in some mystical direction on the internet and bring me instant information or entertainment within fractions of a second of asking it to.

But that tab will stay blank. My half-written post will stay half written. Facebook and Twitter will silently scroll a news feed by me that I will completely miss………..

My apologies. I lost my thought and wandered off in my mind a bit there. It’s 1pm and so far I have accomplished nothing productive today. Aside from polishing off the few dishes I created during my lunch, I have been on the couch, nearly motionless as I stare at an empty tab in the browser. No motivation. No drive. No ambition. I’m just… here. And nothing more. In about three hours, the kids will get off the bus ready for an afternoon of snacks, playing, reading, dinner, homework, and so on. Typical after school stuff. And I? I will be faking my way through it. Pretending to be interested, pretending to laugh at elementary school jokes, and counting down the hours until the wife gets home from work. Because today, I’m finding it hard to give a shit about anything.

Photo Credit: George Hodan

Photo Credit: George Hodan

Depression has a weird stigma to it. If I were to tell someone I didn’t know that I am depressed, they would assume I am sad, or upset, or possibly suicidal. But I’m really not any of those things. Not at this time. I’m not sad. Just blank. I’m not upset, just empty. I’m not suicidal, just void of any zest. I’ve left this post up and wandered off to my guitar several times. I stare at it, contemplate picking it up and jamming a bit. Then it’s back to sitting down, and trying to focus on finishing this without it becoming a ramble.

This past weekend was great. Games of backyard baseball with my son, preparing a flower bed with both kids, Easter lunch with family…. No, that was the weekend before last. I don’t really remember this past weekend. I do remember missing a soccer game because of my daughters tantrums. We didn’t go to the movies for some reason. I don’t really remember why. I did play backyard baseball so at least I had that part right. The rest? Gone from my mind right now. The last few days I have been tired, weak, unwilling and unmotivated. I have a lot of days like this. And it must suck for my kids.

They need me to be here. Not just physically here. But present, aware, conscious of all that is happening. They need me to hear these stories of what so and so said or did in class, or how so and so farted in the lunch room, or about Little Girl’s new crush of the week. But days like this? It annoys me. I don’t want to hear it. Even laughter gets on my nerves. I mean, who the fuck gets angered by the sounds of children laughing?

Parenting with depression is like navigating an invisible minefield. Being careful to try to avoid those little hidden triggers that might set off an explosion. Being vigilant of those quick to turn emotions and being able to handle them properly. When you live with depression, it’s not as easy as counting to 10, or stepping into the bathroom and screaming into a towel. Those things are bullshit and of no use. It’s a fight and a struggle to keep up until you have a chance to decompress, often once you have a little help.

It was different dealing with depression before when I was working. I took my feelings out by cleaning at work, working long hours, and at times, self-medicating. The third, maybe not such a good idea. But in the past, I’ve handled it better. In the first few months of being an at-home dad, I didn’t have these feelings. I wasn’t easily frustrated or angered. I didn’t have these unmotivated days and forced smiles. I’m sure the events of the last two years play a major role in it, but I don’t think that’s all it. And still now, I can’t quite pinpoint the source of this disturbance in my force.

The landmine lies hidden, waiting for me to step on the trigger. My footsteps are deliberate and uneasy. My mind flies in different directions like a fruit fly that’s just been swatted at. Someday all will be calm on the leading front. Someday, I will feel “normal” again, at ease again, at peace again. Someday, I won’t have any afternoons with my kids that are faked. If only it could be sooner. Before they are old enough to know that something is not right.

Comments

The Beginning
About The Geeky Nimrod

Husband, Father, Thinker, Geek, Mobile Tech Enthusiast, Writer. I am the one who.... Knocks politely and possibly not even loud enough for you to hear. Just another dude on the internet.

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Comments

  1. Jacques Major says:

    Wow, what a post. I am going through the exact same thing right now and concur with how hard it is. I didn’t know if this was something others went through or is it just me. Hardest part about this that I find is the guilt about not really giving a crap about stuff that’s important – mother’s day, birthdays etc.

    Tks for sharing this insight.

    • The DaddyYo Dude says:

      There are quite a few dads who go through this. Moms too. Unfortunately, so many remain silent about it that it’s easy to feel like you are the only one. I’ve talked with several other dads recently who share the same feelings, which helped me push forward in getting this written and out in the open.

      The guilt is a real downer. Completely agreed. I get angry with myself for getting in that “I don’t give a shit” attitude about things. Then later I feel guilty about it. It’s a double whammy on top of what I’m already experiencing emotionally.

      Thanks for checking out the post and relating your experience!

  2. Lisa says:

    Thanks for this post. I too, as a mom, find myself in a similar position. I work from home as a cyber school (special ed) teacher and find that all my niceness often goes to those kids while my own kiddo gets snappy remarks, etc… Good to know I’m not alone!

    • The DaddyYo Dude says:

      I think I may be the same way. I do peer-to-peer work with Testicular Cancer Awareness Foundation. Support for other men with TC and their caregivers. Sometimes I think I spend to much of my good vibes there and not enough with my kids.

      You definitely aren’t alone.

  3. AccidentallyAtHome says:

    This feels so familiar. I had a space of time while I was working from home before kids and it was utterly unbearable. I could fake my way around the office on off days but without anyone else it was just…blank.

    • The DaddyYo Dude says:

      “Blank” is how I describe myself often. Not sad. Not angry. Not suicidal. But not happy, content, or full of zest either. Just there.

  4. Cale says:

    You hit the nail right on the head with this post. I’ve been fighting with low grade depression for most of my adult life. Having a bi-polar manic depressive Father always made me nervous that one day I would follow suit. So it took a lot for me to finally admit to my loving wife that things weren’t quite right. I was constantly down, moody, quick to temper and not finding any joy in life. Even my kids became a chore.

    It wasn’t until I took that first step and talked to my Doctor that I realized I didn’t have to settle for feeling this way. For me, the answer lay in a low-dose anti-depressant. Don’t get me wrong….I’m not promoting medication over therapy or a more holistic approach, but I am saying that this approach worked for me. Within a few weeks I felt lighter. My wife and I began reconnecting. I started reclaiming my passion for teaching and coaching and my kids noticed that their Dad was back.

    I wish you luck and success in whatever method you take to close the rift and get back on track. It’s a dark path and you don’t have to walk it alone.

    • The DaddyYo Dude says:

      Regaining my passions for hobbies like playing guitar, creative writing (fiction and poetry) has really helped me recently. It was kind of a thing where I forced myself back into those things and “rediscovered” how much they meant me.

      Glad to hear you have found a good balance. It can be hard to do sometimes. Here’s to brighter days ahead.

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