If you’re having a hard day, give yourself permission to relax!
Guest post by Samantha McDonald
Samantha is a Life and Family Coach who mentors women through life-struggles such as depression and anxiety, helping them thrive so they can experience overwhelming peace and real joy. She is also happily married to her husband of almost 20 years. Together they have 3 children - 2 daughters and 1 son. Her two youngest have ADHD and anxiety, and her son is also on the Autism Spectrum. She loves all things Pinterest, having date nights with her husband, and family movie nights with the whole family. Life would not be complete without her furry children - 2 cats, Daisy and Oreo, and 1 crazy black lab, Ruger.
It was 2:00 am. I had just nursed my daughter for what seemed like the 10th time that night, and she would not go back to sleep. So naturally, I reacted with anger. I left her in the bedroom with my husband while I went downstairs to have a temper tantrum. Slamming cupboard doors, yanking dishes out of the sink, and throwing pillows across the living room.
This was my life for the first 8 months of my newborn daughter’s first year. I had waited 5 years to have my first child. We were ready and we were both excited. So when we brought her home I was expecting sweet baby cuddles, joy-filled moments, and a heart that was overwhelmed with love for my child.
Needless to say that did not happen.
The first year of her life was a cycle of anger, guilt, and self-condemnation. This continued for days, weeks and then months, until my husband finally suggested I go see the doctor. Once I did, changed everything. She totally understood what I was going through and placed me on a plan towards healing.
During this time, I realized I had been experiencing depression all my life. It was especially difficult after the birth of my first and third child. Through medication, counseling, and help from my family, I’ve been able to win the daily battle with depression and anxiety.
Now that others know more about our story, my husband and I have been asked often, “How do you support someone who is going through this life experience?”
My family has had A LOT of experience helping me through these times. There are many ways my family and friends have helped me, but there are 3 key strategies that my family has implemented that help me every single day.
When someone is experiencing depression and anxiety, it can be very difficult for them to explain how they’re feeling. As a friend or family member who has no idea what this feels like, you may find yourself believing they’re simply not trying hard enough or tell them they need to “get over it”. Saying things like this does not help them. They need to feel free to express their feelings and be completely honest with you.
This exercise is not for the faint of heart. It is a process you will need to practice every day. As my husband as told others, “I had to learn to listen with my ears open rather than my mouth."
Know Your Enemy
It may appear at times that your loved one is the enemy, especially if he or she is having a very difficult time controlling their emotions. As someone with a depression diagnosis myself, I was often very angry, feeling like I was constantly yelling at my family. During these times, my family had to remind themselves that I was not the enemy. I was being hijacked by an ugly, controlling disease that would not let go easily.
As you are helping your loved one, keeping this perspective in mind helps you not take his or her words or actions personally. Remember, they often don’t realize what they are doing, until the damage is already done.
Create a Strategy
Our family had to come up with a plan for when I had a depressive episode. This strategy reflected our unique family make-up so it may look different for everyone. There are 3 ways I helped my family understand how I was feeling and how they could help me through it.
These are just a few of the strategies we’ve implemented in our own family. There may be many more that work for you and your household. If you’re looking for other strategies to help you and your family, I created a free guide, “How to Talk to Each Other About Depression”.
Like the article? Let Samantha know!
Wife & Mama with a passion for peaceful parenting, natural living, homeschooling... and my daily café au lait.