How I dealt with depression as a father

I'm just an average bloke, likes his beer, loves sport and of course my kid. I'm also the 1 in 10 new dads, who suffer from depression, especially trickier after the newest addition to your family arrives and changes everything.

You might find you have depression in numerous ways; there’s no straight line or standard formula for this. You could be feeling a bit numb about everything, having mood swings, not sleeping, not eating, having some self-destructive behaviour, which lets’ face it is no good for anyone. It could be even feeling sad a lot, and it’s not just because your footy team are continually being flogged, but let’s face it, it doesn’t help matters.

For me it was a combination of factors that made me seek help eventually. I was hardly taking care of myself, was putting on weight, experiencing mood swings, falling out with friends, arguing, getting frustrated with my kid when it wasn’t even her fault, even some cases neglecting my daughter’s and wife’s needs.

Dad of the year material I was not, my daughter would be going through these leaps and milestones, but it wasn’t even registering because of the constant fog that’s there.

It’s quite hard to still think about these moments of my kid’s first year as a constant fog, blur, and I regret it because I feel I missed out on a lot and will be forever making up for lost time.

Nappy changes were an ordeal, and left me questioning if I was cut out to be a Dad, would my daughter be better without me in her life?

Your baby feeds off these emotions, and I figured that out one day when it was just me and her having some floor time, that if I’m fun to be around, she’ll want to be around me. I didn’t want my issues to become her issues, and it was a great motivator.

It’s not usually that simple, and it can be hard to have a moment of clarity, but sometimes you need to hit these lows as they help you see what is right in front of you.

Here’s what I did

I’m mainly saying, it’s not a good place to be, but I’ve come through the other side to a point because it is a process, so here are a few tips I recommend to help you get through.

Acknowledgement

First point, is to accept there’s something wrong. It’s ok to admit it, like that time you had a 2nd snag at Bunnings on the way out. It’s fine; no one is perfect, if you admit to yourself that there’s an issue, it’ll give you great power in dealing with the issue of having depression.

Seeing your Doctor

No bones about it, seek professional advice, try to book in with a GP to discuss that things aren’t quite right, and ask what can be done to help. They can give you a mental health plan, which is a wonderful tool in aiding your recovery or prescribe medication to help you with the challenges you face.

Talking to your nearest and dearest

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Opening up to your partner or mates if you feel confident enough to do so will help as well, they may not know what to say initially, but they try to understand what you’re going through. It can help with explaining why you’ve been off recently, and they should be sympathetic to your troubles. It’s alright to speak up.

Seeing a counsellor/Psychologist

Big step this one, but you’ll be surprised how many people actually see a professional to seek advice. I know it can be hard enough talking to your mates, spouse but a total stranger can be off-putting for some, and that’s understandable. However, they come from a clinical background, they don’t know you, and there’s no judgement either. It can help release a lot of angst and emotions and even share stuff your partner/mates may not be even to able to comprehend. They can also give you coping skills and methods on how to learn to manage your depression.

Exercise

Now I’m not saying you must get up at the crack of dawn after a rough night with the little one and go for a run, but maybe factor a nap time with a walk or a jog with the little one in the pram. Exercise releases endorphins in your brain and makes you feel good; it’s a no brainer! I try and time one of my runs over the week with the kid in the pram with me, gets us both out, time together and gives mum a break as well.

 

Now I’m by no means an expert, and I’m not saying the above is the cure for depression, I view it as something you have to manage accordingly, but when you’re trying to raise a kid and be there for your partner, you do have to look after yourself as otherwise, your kid can suffer.

If you’re reading this wondering if you should do something if things aren’t quite right for you right now, which is understandable with everything going on, do something to help yourself, because you will benefit from it, and your kid will too in the long run.

Good luck, I’ve been where you are, and remember that your kid needs their dad, so don’t think otherwise.