7 THINGS YOU CAN TRY IF YOU ARE DEPRESSED AND LACK SUPPORT

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Women are twice as likely than men to experience depression and they are twice as likely to be diagnosed with a depressive episode, according to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) and the World Health Organization (WHO). There could several biological factors that contribute to this; however, there are also many societal reasons that also contribute to this factor.

Women tend to feel more responsible for the good and the bad of raising the children.  They shoulder the demands of caring for their aging parents and sometimes the aging parents of their significant others.  Women tend to feel more responsbile for making their intimate relationships work.  They also must shoulder the responsibilites of their jobs and all that comes with the job.  They want to be accepted on their jobs, they want to appear to be a team player, get promotions, be hard workers, yet they want to be respected and liked by their peers.  Women have to shoulder all this; thus, when things begin to feel overwhelming, maybe not fare well in some areas of their life, or begin to feel things are no longer manageable, women are more likely to have feelings of guilt, anxiety, shame, discontentment, fear of criticism, which ultimately leads to feelings of depression and loneliness.

Women with chidren are more at risk because they have more risk factors for being depressed.  Women with children typically feel whey must sarifice their own happiness inorder to be good mothers.  They believe they must forgoe happiness, nice things, contentment, general self care to make sure their children are adquately provided for.

Being seen as strong, particularly for black women, can be a detriment to women. Black women are less likely to ask for help because there is an unspoken expectation they must bare the weight of the world on their shoulders alone. It keeps women from feeling like they can ask for help.  Asking for help can be perceived as counter-cultural expectations, a perception of being deemed weak.  Culturally, black women have been seen as holding their race together physically, metaphorically, anedoctally, literally, and ideally.  This perception is another pillar on the shoulders of what black women carry.  Black women are as less likely to report depression than their white counter parts. 

Can Women Ask for Help and Still be Perceived as Strong?

What are the messages women send to one antoher and do women have to change these messages.  Is there a message of “It takes a village” being sent to our sons, daughters, partners, siblings, spouses and to the community, or is this just lip service?  

If your daughter wants a babsitter to get her hair and nails done, does she get, “sure, what time?”, or does she get, “you need to take the baby with you”, “you wanted to be a mother”, “mothering is not suppose to be easy”, “I never got to do those things when I was raising my kids”, “I have my own kids”.  Do you take the time to nurture the women in your life so they will know how to nurture their children, so they will be able to nurture your, so they will be able to pay it forward, perhaps and later be able to nurture their aging parents?  

Women have to learn to care for themselves first. This does not mean women who do this are selfish.  It means they understand without first caring for themselves they will not be able to care for the other important people in their lives.  When you listen to the instructions on an airplane they tell you to first put the oxygen mask on yourself so you may be able to help your children.  It would serve women well to use this advice in life.  You must protect yourself, care for yourself, find opportunuties to be your true self, inorder to replenish yourself enough to care for others.

Things to Try if You Lack Adequate Support.

1. Start your own mom’s club.  This is not just for single moms.  You can be married, partnered, co-parenting, etc. The club is about supporting all women.  Take turns babysitting each other’s kids.  Plan outtings with the kids and without the kids.  Plan outings with the kids and your partners.  Start slow, maybe one event every other month and build upon that.  

2. Get as many family members as you can to commit to babysitting.  Ask them how long and how often.  If you get two hours a month, great. If you get 1 hour per month great.  If you get once every six months great.  Be grateful for the time you get.  The goal here is to get a schedule, get a commitment for a consistent time each month, with as many individuals as possible.  Remember the goal is getting “me time” and “special time” to replenish yourself emotionally, to put more quality time back into your kids.  It is not to get rid of your kids.

3. Try bartering or reciprocating in exchange for babysitting.  You have “to give a little to get a little”.  If your aunt is willing to commit time, tell “Auntie” you can take her shopping once a month or run some errands for her while you are out.  Make sure it is a fair exchange for both.

4. If you are married, partnered, or co-parenting make an agreement with your spouse, partner, or co-parent that you each should have “me time” or “special time”.  Make a schedule of what it would look like.  When you make a schedule, write it down, and give it out it; this holds everyone more accountable and people are more likely to adhere to it. Remember, you must equally hold up your part of the bargain, consistency is always best.  

Ex. every 1st Friday will be mom’s weekend without the kids, every 2nd Friday will dad’s weekend without the kids, every 3rd and 4th Friday will be family time (if co-parenting, continue to alternate) and every 5th Friday will be our time (mommy and daddy).  If you are co-parenting the 5th week can still be togetherness, a joining of both families, or you can alternate those weeks, if you don’t get  along enough for that.  

Learning to effectively co-parent is a good way for single moms to have time to replenish themselves.

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5. If you are single, learn to co-parent effectively so that both parents feel respected, have time to replenish, have appropriates amounts of time with the children, and appropriate amounts of time without the children. This could be time to travel or vacation with the children and another time without the children. If you struggle with co-parenting seek help.

6. If you are a little older (middle age and above) join clubs, senior centers, get a gym membership, take a class ( some examples, sewing or knitting class, kick boxing class, writing class, volunteer).  You can also do these things at any age if you don’t know what to do with your free time away from the kids.  Get creative.

7. If having friends is not your strong point force yourself to go out by yourself.  Sometimes just having someone to talk to at the bar can be really invigorating.  You don’t have to talk to people to date.  You can just talk to people about things that don’t involve your work, children, or the mundaness of your life.  If you don’t know how to conversate, start by listening.  When people see you out by yourself they will want to talk to you as long as you are open to it and appear friendly.  So if you don’t think you are friendly try smiling at people when they look in your direction.  A smile is a great way to entice someone who wants to talk to gravitate towards you. This is not meant for attracting an intimate partner; though, it can be helpful for that as well.  It is helpful just for getting people to talk to.  If you don’t like talking to them excuse yourself and change your seat or try another venue. 

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At the end of the day women have to change how they view self care and the request for help.  Self care is not selfish.  Asking for help is not weak.  Self care and asking for help is necessary to emotionally replenish yourself, which ultimately lessens the likelihood of becoming depressed.  It can assist in lifting your depression and it will allow you to invest emotionally into your children so they will one day be able to do the same for their own children.  Women need to support each other more and learn how to be in a good co-parenting relationship; instead, of believing you must carry the entire responsibility of child rearing on your shoulders.  You may not be able to change your work or other circumstances regarding your life. If  you are working with a co-parent who is not physically, mentally, or emotionally appropriate then try some of the other tips above. Women have to begin to believe if, “I am emotionally healthy I will be a better mom, spouse, lover, friend, and co-worker”. Rosemarie Reid, MHS, MSS, LSW  November 2, 2018 For Me Talk Therapy, llc, since August 2016