Good morning everyone, and Happy Monday! According to Twitter (because Twitter is always right, right?) it’s Mental Health Awareness Week. And since one of my focuses on this blog is Mental Health, I will be tackling mental health issues all week.

I wanted to kick things off on this Monday morning for all you Stay at Home Parents and Work from Home Parents. An analysis was completed recently, which found stay at home parents are more likely to develop depression.

The Research

In a study for the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health, researchers found that parents whom transitioned from paid employment to unemployment experienced increased levels of “mental distress”. However, the good news is that these feelings of distress were felt most strongly within the first six months of that transition.

Additionally, a study published by The Family Journal found highly educated women (women with university degrees) that stay home with the children instead of working to provide financial support to the family, struggle with a wide range of emotional conflict.

But, why?

So, what might be contributing to this mental distress?

First of all, speaking as a mom who had very few “mom friends” until very recently, I can attest to the fact that stay at home parents feel higher levels of loneliness and isolation. Stay at home parents stay at home all day with these little people, but parent-child dynamics are much different than adult to adult relationship dynamics. And there have been days where I only get one hour with my husband before we’re both passed out.

Next, stay at home parents don’t get to “clock out” for the day. I again can attest to this. My days are longer now that I stay home with the kids. My day at the “office” isn’t 8-5 anymore because I’m on-call for 24 hours. If my son wakes up at 2 AM for a bottle or needs to be changed, it’s me that gets up with him. If my daughter has a nightmare at 1 AM and comes for comfort, it’s me that tucks her back in and lays with her or reads a quick story. There are no days off, even when you’re sick. So, I can easily see how this sometimes overwhelming and daunting job that doesn’t pay the bills can lead one down a dark road.

There’s also that stress around money and providing for the family. Don’t pretend like money isn’t everything, either. Because it is. We need money to pay for the roof over our heads and the food in our bellies. And the cost of living is only going up. But so is the cost of daycare.

What can You do?

I’ve written about some Self-Care tips for when you’re stressed (Click here). But, when it comes to battling depression, it can be a lot more complicated than just Self-Care.

First and foremost, take your “temperature”. I don’t mean physically; I mean check in with yourself every morning to gauge how you’re feeling. Some symptoms for depression are as follows:

  • Feeling hopeless
  • Fatigued
  • Anger and irritability
  • Change in sleep patterns
  • Changes in appetite
  • Self-loathing
  • Inability to focus or complete tasks
  • low energy
  • Feeling aches and pains

Now, it’s important to note here that these symptoms need to be recurring over several days or weeks for it to be considered depression. But if you wake up one morning and can’t remember when the last time was you felt like you, then you should do some more digging and maybe seek a therapist or doctor.

Take a mental health day. I used to have to do this (with increasing frequency) at my old job to try and recalibrate. If you’re a stay at home parent, this can be difficult to do. But if you have a spouse, enlist him/her to watch the kids for a day or evening while you physically leave the house and go do something for yourself. For me, it’s my yoga class every Sunday evening. I also used to escape for a few hours to go to Chapters, get a book and read several chapters at a coffee shop.

Meet with friends. Again, this can be difficult. However, if you make friends with other moms with children your kids’ age, then it makes it a little easier. The kids can have a play date while you can have some much needed adult time. Fulfil that human desire for human connection.

Take that nap! The dishes can wait. And so can the laundry. I’m guilty for doing stuff around the house instead of napping, even if I didn’t get much sleep the night before. Because I somehow feel guilty if I’m not being completely productive at home. But guess what? You’re productivity is going to suffer anyways if you’re exhausted and feeling depressed (lack of focus and Inability to complete tasks).

Medication is okay! As long as it’s prescribed by a doctor and being monitored by a doctor on a regular basis. Here are two things that I’ve seen go horribly wrong: 1. Someone gets prescribed medication by a doctor that they never see again so they get refills of the medication from other doctors without checking in about how it’s working. This has lead to overuse/abuse of the medication (and this my friend, is a slippery slope). And 2. Getting medication from their doctor, and it doesn’t work but instead of going back to adjust the dosage or a different medication entirely, someone quits the medication and suffers in silence. Don’t be that person. I’ve seen medication do amazing things for people who need it! And if you’re feeling ashamed or “weak” because of your need for medication, please please try to ease yourself of that. It’s not shameful! And medication for depression does NOT need to be a forever thing. It can get you through your toughest days while you work through the issues contributing to it.

In Conclusion…

Please don’t suffer in silence. Bug your spouse, friends, family, therapist with what you’re hurting with. It’s not shameful to be depressed. And it’s not shameful to be depressed because you’re at home with your children. Our children are important pieces to our lives but they are not the centre of our universe. Humans are very complex beings and so there are certain things we crave in our lives to feel fulfilled.

Enjoy the rest of your Monday, folks. And check in with your loved ones during this Mental Health Awareness Week to make sure they’re doing okay. You may just save a life.

Ciao for now!

What are your thoughts? Do you have anything to add that you think I might have missed? Please leave any thoughts you have in the comments!


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Posted by:Prairie Chick

Wife and a mother to two children living in the Canadian prairies. In constant pursuit of mental and physical health through diet, exercise and self-care.

7 replies on “Mental Health Awareness Week

  1. Hi Marcie – This is an informative article. Thanks for sharing! It’s interesting to read your perspective on mental health. What do you think is a common misconception that people may have about mental health?

    I see you’re in Canada (I’m in the US). Do you think different countries face unique challenges when it comes to mental health, or is it fairly universal?

    By the way, I’m working on an article for Mental Health Awareness Week. Mine is about “Mental Health and Men.”

    Like

    1. Hi Jason!
      From my experience working in the Criminal Justice System regarding Mental Health is that medication IS the answer (be all and end all) as well as that if someone is Depressed they’re just “sad” and they should just “get over it”.
      And absolutely I do! I think all countries can do better when it comes to education, prevention and treatment of mental illnesses but from what I know of the US is that Healthcare in general is very costly endeavour, so my *assumption* would be this would be a similar situation when it comes to Mental Health. I think that would be the biggest challenge for the US. I still think Canada has a long way to go, however. Although seeing a doctor and getting a prescription is covered and we don’t have to write a cheque, I’ve met with therapists who charge $100/hr or more. Often the only people covered are people with a super healthcare plan through their work or people who qualify for low-income subsidies. So I think both countries need to work on being able to provide affordable therapy!
      And honestly, Canadian schools (and I can’t speak to the US) fall short on properly educating kids on recognizing the symptoms of mental health and providing that support. Especially with the growing issues of online bullying, and suicide among teenagers.

      And that’s fantastic! Good luck with the article! I attempted to access your blog through clicking your profile the other day and it told me you deleted your content. So when you get it posted, can you please send me the link? 😊
      Thanks Jason!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks for your reply!

        I agree with those misconceptions – that medication fixes everything and just “get over” depression. There is not a “one size fits all” for mental health and treatment.

        Yes, health care in the US is expensive (and confusing) even with insurance – which is why many people who need treatment or medication can’t afford it. I think people are more likely to take care of their physical health first, and let their mental health take a lower priority.

        I think US schools fall short, too, on properly educating kids. When I was in school, mental health was never discussed.

        Hmm…not sure why you can’t access my site. That’s a bummer. =(
        But, thanks for telling me that. I think I fixed it, though. Could you please try again and let me know if it works? If not, check me out at JasonSSullivan.com. My article is coming soon.

        Like

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