I’m Not Always OK – The Dilemma Of Special Needs Parenting and Depression

Pay no attention to the woman in the bed in a fetal position with a pillow over her head in the middle of the day. She probably just had a bad night’s sleep. It happens to all of us now and again, no big deal. Everyone also gets the blues, hey, it’s a part of life, and you move on….

Perhaps it’s more than just a of case of somnolence caused by a lack of sleep from the night before, especially when this pattern has been going on for several days, months, or even years. Activities that were once pleasurable mean nothing now . Isolation and retreat are the norm and provide a safe haven from interacting with others, lest they find out the truth about how and why this unwanted guest, aka: depression, has taken such a foothold in one’s life. It’s just too painful to discuss these details and nothing is going to change anyway…

The previous excerpt is based on a discussion that I had with another special needs parent a few months ago and this is exactly how she is feeling about her life at the moment with her child. She gave me permission to share these details in this forum, with the hope of shedding more light on a very important/personal issue, but wished to remain anonymous. She is a professional person and a single parent. You would never know how severely depressed she is, as she carries herself extremely well and is quite the power house in all areas of her life. However, the many years of raising her disabled child have really begun to take its toll. So many issues that will never end.. Losing hope and doesn’t care about herself or life, yet somehow very recently found the strength within to do something for herself, for the sake of her child. She is finally getting the professional help that she needs and hopes that both counseling and medication can help. She keeps asking herself why it took so long to reach these conclusions..

I so admire her courage and honesty in bringing up a topic that is still taboo and considered to be a weakness by some. Nothing could be further from the truth! But the stigma of a mental disorder in a “perfect” world can be hard to overcome..Depression is one of those topics that is avoided, minimized, and ignored. It doesn’t go well with accomplishments and accolades and generally makes people feel very uncomfortable. Yet, most of us will experience some form of it in our lives at some point. Isn’t it better to be aware of it? Special needs parents are especially susceptible and it makes perfect sense as to why: we love our children so much and take tremendous pride in who they are and just want to see them happy. Our kids are pure, beautiful souls who love unconditionally: we and the rest of the world can learn so much from our kids! But we underestimate the toll that special parenting takes on us emotionally, physically, mentally, and spiritually. As a matter of fact, we are so consumed by our child’s every need after so many years, that there is simply no time to tune into what is REALLY going on with OURSELVES, until BOOM- we hit the proverbial wall!

I have been a periodic purveyor of professional counseling services myself during difficult times in my life, including when Brian was a little boy and I was having a very hard time coping with his needs. I confess I did not feel comfortable discussing this with others at the time; I felt I would have been judged. Ultimately, the sage advice and support I received was helpful; it gave me perspective, and helped me to move on with my life. It doesn’t mean that I have all of the answers figured out for this special journey. As a matter of fact, I am often unsure and struggle with many decisions. I remind myself that I have choices and resources and am never alone. I also know where to go to get answers now if I need to. Sometimes that will be through close friends and family, myself, or a professional- and that’s OK! I still want to live my best life, even when I’m in emotional pain. I want to be present in the moment and experience all that it has to offer, something that I continue to work on every single day…

OK, so the cat is now out of the bag! I hope and pray that my friend’s testimony, as well as my own, may be of help to some special parent who may be struggling greatly with depression at the moment… Please know you are in very good company, there are resources, you are NOT alone, and there is always hope, the very thing that we provide daily for our kids.. It is now YOUR TURN to receive the love and support that you so freely give. ❤️❤️❤️

Until next time, thanks so much for reading! 😊

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