When a Parent is Depressed – Even the dog suffers!

In the interest of honesty, I almost didn’t write today. I did a “Remember this one?” post yesterday and skipped the day before.

Here I go again… into the spiral of depression and anxiety. God, I hate it! I hate it, I hate it, I hate it!

I could give you the particulars of how and why I got here… and… actually, I will.

I attribute this round to the changing weather, the earlier darkness, the corner of a UTI (urinary tract infection for those not in the know), a disappointing and hurtful exchange with a friend, a sudden and dramatic pause in a continuing conversation with one of my adult children, and …

… this one last thing that will sound really dumb…

As I drove around the corner to our home, after being at the doctor for the second time in a week (and you know how much I love the doctor, given my health anxiety)…

… and having almost been sideswiped by a driver that was totally in the right (I was in the wrong. I couldn’t see around a truck and inched out, only to find I’d inched directly into the path of a speeding car)…

I found our landlord’s father unexpectedly in our yard with another unknown man, chopping, power-washing and tossing everything in their path, including the pumpkin we specifically bought for the squirrels. It was the cutest little pumpkin and we were excited to invite the little critters we love so much into our yard. And they’d just figured out it was there – we only got it two days ago.

I almost burst into tears. Overreaction, much? Ugh.

Then, I spun into that conversation in my head about how I’m nearly 60 and have never owned a home because I’m so pathetic.

Did I mention I hate this?

When a Parent is Depressed by William R. Beardslee, M.D. is a good book for today because it talks about depression… but most of all, it talks about how a parent’s depression affects children… and really, the entire family. Or in this case, you. And yes, I actually mean to say that you and I – my readers and I – are a family, of sorts. And I’m depressed. So, you are reaping the “rewards”… such as they are. See how that works?

Beardslee weaves academic, scientific and anecdotal experience into this book, which  was one of the first of its kind, though I can’t imagine how that happened! Surely, it didn’t take until the 2000’s to determine that depression of a parent affects the children in the household? Seriously? But as you read, you begin to realize why this might have been. It has only been recently (the last twenty years or so) that the stigma of depression has been (at least somewhat) lifted… that we have begun to discuss it openly and to see it as a disease, not a character flaw. Okay, I’ll buy that!

Although, I follow a lot of people on social media who share my diagnosis of anxiety and depression… and just yesterday, some (well-meaning?) person suggested, once again (and as if we haven’t thought of it) that perhaps if we acted “as if” we weren’t depressed… or maybe make a gratitude list. Or take a walk. Or something. We could just get rid of it.

If only.

Dare I mention that faking it, lifting a pencil or even getting out of bed is sometimes… impossible? Ugh.

I think of that commercial that used to be on TV… some depression prescription medicine… and the dog is by the door with her tennis ball… she wants to play… but mommy is a zombie on the couch. Even the dog gets the short end of the stick when Mom’s depressed.

Yep. A book like this is necessary.

You know what else I like about this book? It talks about how we worry that our depression will pass on to our children. I never worried about it because I never thought I was depressed. I mean, in my thirties, I was finally diagnosed, but I was also diagnosed with ADHD… and actual migraines. Honestly, it all got muddled together. My doctor gave me pills for anxiety, too. But I was just nervous sometimes. No biggie.

Except it sure-as-hell was a big deal. Look at me, getting back to me again. Sorry.

It IS a big deal… for a lot of families. And this book is good. Did I already say that?

Maybe that’s the best I can do today. We all understand each other here, right?

This book is worthwhile and good. Buy it if you need it. Read it when you can. Probably easier when you’re not actively depressed.

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