Wow, there is a word that scares alot of Dad’s, scared the hell out of me when it was first suggested that I was depressed after my ex-blocked access for my son. This was a hard stage of my life.
For me, what set my depression of was a combination of factors and was about 5 years ago when my ex-partner decided to end the relationship (strike one), strike 2 was then the fact that she blocked access for my son to see me. What set my depression off though, was strike 3, the constant abuse I was getting from my ex.
Before I go any further though, I do not want to make this a hate story, all I want to do is strike some context to say that it took many factors to set the depression going but this is unique to me. For others, it could be something very simple, there is no 1 thing. But what is depression and what set’s it off?
Put simply, depression is a medical illness that is suffered by alot of people, I mean ALOT! It is an illness that affects how you feel and can leave you feeling very sad for no reason. It can affect your energy levels and your ambition or interest in activities you once enjoyed. It can show itself in many ways and different ways to different people. It is different to just feeling sad and lasts alot longer. You may not want to look after yourself, even have thoughts of ending your life in the most serious of cases. Depression, however, is a simple change in brain chemistry.
There are many things that can cause you to feel depressed. For me, summed up, it was grief and stress. For others however, it is other difficult life circumstances, a change in hormones or genetics with some people slipping into a depressed state more easily than others. I think however, for Dad’s that I’ve spoken to who are fighting for access with their children, the common factor is stress.
There is lot’s of info out there for mum’s and feeling depressed, for me and other Dad’s however, there is not that much so I had to find my way through a labrynth of questions to find answers and solutions. Here are my tops tips for dealing with depression.
- Make sure you look after yourself, get lots of exercise and have a healthy diet. This maybe the last thing you want to do but it will help. Eat your 5 a day and get 20 minutes excercise a day, that’ll help sort you out!
- See your GP, there are many things your GP can recommend to you. In some cases, it can be something simple like a change in lifestyle, giving you a number for a local support group or even giving you some anti-depressants. Your GP is the expert, just be 100% honest with them and answer the questions you have.
- See a counsellor, for me, this is a must. Talking to friends is great, talking to family can help, but they do not have the trained methods to help diagnose what has caused your depression.
- Be social and do not hide away from going out with your friends. The biggest thing for me was to get the “get up and go” but once out, I enjoyed myself. Seeing my son (when I finally battled through the courts to get a contact order) was great and we both had a whale of a time. Being depressed does not affect the way you can look after your children, it is just you thinking it does but please speak to your GP if you have any concerns.
- Try not to drink alcohol! The odd pint here and there will be OK, especially a cold one in the garden on a hot summers evening with the BBQ raging and your friends round but keep it to the odd pint here and there. It is not the answer and can lead to more problems down the line.
- Face your fears and do things that you now find difficult. This could be driving to the shop or talking to others. Just get up and do it.
- Get plenty of good sleep! Having a good sleep routine in place can be great. The average adult needs about 8 hours a night, some need more, some need less. Find out what works for you and stick to it. Getting a good sleep routine is difficult at first, but once you have one, will help. Try not to rely on tablets but please speak to your GP and they will be able to help… I will try to get a post done on how I got my sleep routine sorted in the future.
Like me, you will beat and learn to live with your depression. It is an illness triggered by almost anything. Do not be afraid to confront it and ask for help. You will need to for your children and for yourself to enjoy your time with your children and be the superhero Dad you are!