Strategies for managing and finding support.
Has your doctor diagnosed you with mild or moderate depression? Getting out of bed may be hard enough, let alone caring for your children and handling all the other responsibilities. Here are some strategies to help you manage day to day and put you on the road to recovery.
Create a daily plan. When you are depressed, getting through the day can be a challenge. It helps to create a balanced plan for the day, says author Mary Ellen Copeland in her book The Depression Workbook: A Guide for Living with Depression and Manic Depression. Include in your day both the things you have to do and the things that you would normally enjoy doing. Copeland recommends pushing yourself gently to do the things you have enjoyed in the past even if you have no desire to do them now.
Ask for help. It’s easy to criticize yourself for needing support when you are depressed. However, when you accept or reach out for support from friends and family, you help to reduce the impact of depression on yourself and your loved ones. Call upon your support network to share the housework and childcare.
Limited support network? If you have children under six, contact the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit, Healthy Babies, Healthy Children program at 1-866-888-4577 and find out if you qualify for practical support at home once a week. Depression support groups are also available in your community and online.
Simplify your life. Pare down your responsibilities. Depression can be very draining so don’t let yourself be pulled in too many directions. Decide what you can comfortably handle and let the rest go.
Beds do not need to be made. Sandwiches are fine for dinner. Not all the laundry has to be done. Consider letting your employer know you are going through a challenging time to see if your work load can be lightened. If you need to take time off work for more than two weeks, you can apply for short term disability through your employer or sickness benefits through Service Canada. Find out more at www.servicecanada.gc.ca/eng/sc/ei/benefits/sickness.shtml.
Reassure your kids. Explain that you are not feeling well but hope to feel better soon. Children tend to blame themselves when things are in crisis at home. Reassure them that you are getting help and that how you feel is not their fault. Ask your friends or family to spend quality time with your children. This removes the onus on you to meet all of your kids’ needs while you are recovering.
Look at therapy options. Have a discussion with your doctor about medication and/or psychotherapy. If you and your doctor decide that medication is right for you, be patient with the process. Using an antidepressant is a trial and error process; the first one you try may not be effective. Find out what the side effects are and discuss ways to alleviate them with your doctor. If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, ensure the medication is safe for baby. Ask your doctor or call the Motherisk Helpline at 416 813-6780.
If you opt for psychotherapy as well as, or instead of, medication ask your doctor if he or she can refer you to a therapist or a mental health organization in your community. Most hospitals have mental health outreach programs. There are other options as well.
You can access free and confidential counseling through your employer’s Employee Assistance Program if available. You can also obtain counseling at Northumberland Community Counselling Centre at 1 866-748-5720.
Remember that you will not always feel like this. As you get the support you need to recover, you will start to feel more like your old self.