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  • Writer's pictureErica Livingston

Mental Health in Parents

Updated: Jul 1, 2021

Let’s get real for a second, parents do not get to talk about mental health enough. I don’t know about y’all, but I definitely have mental health struggles. I used to hide them, but then I asked myself, what good does it do? Am I helping myself by hiding my struggles? The answer was a definite no.

I have been diagnosed with depression, anxiety, and a panic disorder. I struggled with postpartum depression and anxiety after the birth of my son. I was only ever really taught that postpartum leads to wanting to hurt your baby, or not feeling connected. I never was told that it can also be the complete opposite. I was terrified to leave David. To be honest, I still am. I have a beautiful support team around me, but it never felt like enough. You could not convince me I needed a break from my child. It just wasn’t plausible to me. So, when the doctor would hand me a postpartum checklist that basically just asked me if I wanted to hurt my child, I’d answer no. I got no help for the extreme, crippling anxiety that I faced after his birth. David’s entrance in this world was a stressful one (which I’ll cover in another post), but it took me a solid year before I realized how badly it had impacted my mental health.

I began speaking openly about having panic attacks and depression on social media, and I was shocked to see how many people experienced the same thing. So many of us struggle mentally, but we don’t open up about it. The stigma is getting better for mental health, but it is up to us to end all negativity around it. I am a hot mess y’all, mentally at least. I have days where I struggle to work up the slightest bit of energy to even parent. I only function properly due to birth control (thanks for the hormonal help 🙌🏼) and my anti–anxiety meds (I use K health for any of my anxious peers too nervous to speak to a doctor in person. I see you, I am you!). Those two things have helped me tremendously, but I am not cured. I will never be cured. My brain is an enigma and life happens.

As a special needs parent, I found myself facing all new anxieties I never knew existed. My son’s diagnosis did not come as a surprise to me (I’ll tell this story later on too!), but it did open new doors I never expected it to. I think most parents, special needs or not, live and breathe for their kids. It can be so hard to remember that we are also humans that need support and help. I know I used to go through an entire day without thinking about myself or my needs once. I had to change that.

Parents, we need to remember that our children need the best versions of ourselves. It’s like the airplane analogy, if the plane is going down, you put your mask on first. You cannot help your children if you cannot help yourself. We need to normalize discussing these hard topics because most of us have some form of mental health struggles, whether we want to admit it or not.

My name is Erica, I have depression, anxiety, panic disorders, and possibly a few more mental things going on.

What’s your story?

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