My Baby Helps My Depression, but I'm Wary
Usually, anything that helps with my depression feels like a pure blessing from above, but I have some fears about how much having a baby has helped my depression. I've found that my baby can incentivize me to get out of bed even on horrible days where, without a baby, I would have been stuck in bed all day long.
How My Baby Helps Depression
Taking care of him, seeing him smile, feeling his warmth as he snuggles against my chest -- it all brings me a comfort I've never really had before, despite having an incredibly loving husband and wonderful friends. When I got pregnant, I was so worried that having a baby would be incredibly hard on my mental health, but it has actually been the opposite. My baby is one of the best things that's ever happened to my mental health. And that makes me very nervous.
I never, ever want my son to feel responsible for my mental health. Some days, my depression will be stronger than the immense amount of comfort he brings to my life, and I want to make sure he understands that this says more about the intense power of depression than it does about him in any capacity.
Kids are insightful and intuitive, they pick up on these things, and I worry he will quickly realize what a positive impact he has on my brain and start to feel responsible for keeping me happy.
I discuss this conundrum more in the video below, but I'm curious: are there any parents with mental illness out there who have run into fears over how your baby helps depression? How have you protected your kids from taking responsibility for it? I would love to hear your advice in the comments.
Griffith, M. (2020, February 25). My Baby Helps My Depression, but I'm Wary, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2023, December 11 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/recoveringfrommentalillness/2020/2/my-baby-helps-my-depression-but-im-wary
Author: Megan Griffith
My two sons are now 15 and 12. I have had depression all their lives and unfortunately this contributed to the end of my marriage to their father a few years ago. That was the tough part, but here's the better news: I found out how strongly children will resist taking responsibility for their parent's emotions. They know deep down that they can't do something to fix it, and they protect themselves by pulling away. My kids can be compassionate when I feel down, but they withdraw and go off to be with friends and with each other so that they don't get too involved in my feelings. Interestingly, seeing them go off and be ok usually also helps me in the end: it's great to see my kids be able to take care of themselves and practice setting boundaries between being compassionate and taking responsibility for other people's feelings. This all sounds a very long ways away from where you are with a baby, of course! But he will develop this own sense of self and see that you are who you are, and he can love you as a child loves you without trying--or maybe without even wanting--to change you. I think it is ok to admit you are sad to a child, as long as you are not asking them to help. They can't anyway, but it is better for your relationship to be open about who you are and your feelings. I hope this helps and I wish you lots of strength in your struggle!
Thank you so much for your kind words Karen! I'm so glad that your sons don't feel responsible for your emotions. My fears come, in large part, from a deeply enmeshed family where I felt very responsible for my mother's emotions, so I am doing my best not to re-create that situation with my own kids.