Being a Dad is great, dealing with depression is not so great and being a Dad with depression can be tough. Everyone gets sad from time to time and I think it’s good to have moments of sadness and depression in our lives so we can stop and take stock of why we are feeling this way and do something about it. The problem for me, and I’m sure for others, is when there is no mechanism present that tells us we are more than just a bit sad and we are in fact experiencing a depressive episode. By the time I have mustered up enough introspection to work this out, it is too late and I have already fallen too deeply in to the abyss to return by my own means and need to rely on external forces i.e. my partner, family or friends to pull me back.
During these episodes, I have already jettisoned my perspective and abandoned almost all of my rationality, my world becomes a fabrication according to whatever my state of mind determines it to be. With what little rationality that remains, I can see myself doing things, sometimes realising the absurdity of my actions and the invented justifications that follow but I am completely unable to prevent myself from doing these things. That sounds a little scary, even to myself but luckily, most of these episodes only last a few days and some are so mild that they are easy to spot. With help from my partner, they are extinguished immediately and forgotten. Some episodes last for longer however and this is when I believe my method for dealing with depression helps.
So how do I deal with being a dad with depression? Well, I have worked out over the years that I have little control over the periods of time where I am experiencing depression but I do have control once again when these episodes are over. It’s during this time that I work as hard as I can to set our life up in a way that it won’t all fall apart if I have a couple of weeks where I am not feeling myself. It’s during these times that I will apply for new jobs, lose the weight I sneakily put on, commit to our home business and of course spend as much time as possible with my family. It’s not that I don’t spend time with my family when I am depressed but I’m obviously a lot more fun to be around when I am not – and that’s the dad I want them to know.
I decided a while back that taking tablets was not for me, along with the side effects, they inhibited the highs that I like to experience in life – those moments where it feels like things could not get any better and I want my kids to see ‘that dad’ from time to time. Of course I still experience the opposite where it feels like things could not get worse and I am sure my kids will start to see this too as they grow older but I am hoping that by being honest with them about how I feel will help them understand.
So of course, being depressed still sucks and I have so far, been unable to completely remove these feelings from my life but I like to think that I have made things bearable during these times until I manage to get back to my happy self once again. My family are my lifesavers, maybe literally – I owe it to them to try and be the best dad and partner I can be; this is how I do it.
Whilst depression can be just a part of the ebb and flow of life for us all at some point in our lives, it’s important to keep the lines of communication open and talk with someone we trust in times of overwhelm. The stigma surrounding depression needs to be lifted, and speaking honestly about how we’re feeling should be something we can do without feeling judged or embarrassed. It’s not a sign of weakness, in fact, my partner would suggest that paradoxically, it takes great strength to be vulnerable – and there can be light at the end of the tunnel.
Production Manager, From the Womb to the World