First up in my guest posts this week is Lewis who writes the brilliant Adventure Brown Blog. Lewis is easily one of my favourite dad bloggers. This post is brutally honest about how he has suffered from depression, and in particular when he found out his partner was pregnant with their first child. It’s a rollercoaster of a post that will send you on an emotional journey. It truly is a must read. Thank you to Lewis for guest posting for me.
I Have Depression Am I A Bad Dad
As soon as I found out that my other half was pregnant with my first born I started to become ‘unwell’. I dont think this was the sole reason, yes I was nervous about becoming a father. but I had been on a slow downward spiral for many months beforehand.
I remember it quite well. A sudden rush of darkness just seem to come over me one day. It was very scary as I had never felt like this before, I couldn’t sleep because of the thoughts I was having, and when I did sleep I had nightmares which woke me up.
It took a while for me to open up to my partner, but it was her who noticed the change in my behaviours and raised it with me. Thankfully she has the balls to say something as I think if she had never said anything I would of bottled it up forever until i got to bursting point.
9 months passed and it became that bad that I ended up on the sick from work 4 weeks before the birth. I sometimes wonder how my other half managed her first pregnancy alone while also dealing with my depression. Looking back is difficult as I wished I had been more supportive of her throughout the pregnancy – instead she was looking after me!
But the day my son was born, it was if all those thoughts and feelings seemed to drastically disappear, as if I never even had them. He was the light at the end of my tunnel. I had a purpose and something to focus on.
For many months after Zach was born I continued to take prescribed antidepressants and I eventually went back to work. But being off the first few months of Zachs life was very important to me. I bonded with him and spent a lot of time learning just how to be a “DAD”.
However depression and anxiety is likely to always come back to bite you in the arse right when you are least expecting it! It doesnt go away – it just lingers behind you – and it only takes one little trigger for it to come jumping right back out again. So this time when I became unwell again – rather than thinking of myself, I also had a family to think of. Over three years have passed now and i have yet another little person to put first.
Depression is hard enough to cope with when you are in a relationship but when there are also children involved it becomes….I dont even have the words to describe how difficult it is.
I feel low most days, and I feel very tired all day, not just because of broken sleep, but because my mind is constantly running overtime. I want to spend as much time with my family as I can, but sometimes I just want to come in from work and lock myself away in a room and be by myself. But of course this is mostly impossible to do. I have the Dad role to play and help with my children – entertain them, feed them, bath them, bedtime routines as well as other household chores.
It is hard to say this and to admit it to myself, but sometimes I think I can be a bad person, a bad father. I sometimes allow myself to only think of ME. Im not making excuses for myself but sometimes when you feel the dark cloud you just dont have the energy, but I try to push through it, but sometimes I think I am pushing my family away. I know I have a short fuse at times and my patience can be minimal. I often hear myself shout before I even know I am doing it. Because of this, I often feel like my eldest son favours his mother over me. In the last month or so he has decided that he doesn’t want me to put him to bed anymore. Is this because I have pushed him away or is this just his age and a phase that will pass??
Deep down I know it is just a phase – but it highlights to me the guilt I feel that sometimes I dont think I am the best Dad I could be to him.
So what can I do about it? To be honest I really dont know. I have had 3 bouts of counselling, 2 have worked and have helped me. But my biggest downfall is medication. I hate the stuff. I havent taken any medication for around 8 months now. I dont believe they work, my other half will say otherwise and always sees a difference in my mood when I do take them correctly. But even when I do intend to take them – I always forget, even with reminders set on my phone, and then I just think whats the point in taking them??
Medication can be a powerful thing, im sure of it. See when I have been taking medication correctly and for a lengthy period of time I feel fine so I do the worst thing you can do and stop the medication. I know its a no no, but I just cant stop myself. I miss a day here and there. Stop taking them. Restart taking them. Let medication run out. Im a GPs worst nightmare if the truth was known.
Having hobbies and doing things that make you happy can sometimes take your mind away from the darkness. For me I have a few different hobbies I like to try and do, photography and walking are the two main go to hobbies I have. But I often feel guilty spending so much time doing these hobbies alone when I should be spending time with my family. Trying to get the balance right is exhausting.
The only advice I can give to anyone stumbling along on this “Dad with Depression” journey is to look after yourself and have someone you can talk to. It doesn’t have to be a partner or family member, it can be anyone you feel comfortable with. Talking is the most important, especially in us men. We have this stigma for not speaking out about our feelings, and figures show that young men with depression are most likely to take their own lives. Dont feel ashamed – a mental health illness is no different to having a physical illness that we can see.
Its about time us men unite as one and break the stigma attached to men and mental health. #mensmentalhealth