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I fell into a heavy depression

Heidi struggles with mental health issues, and tells us how she copes here.

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27% of American parents say their mental health has worsened since March ‘20.

“I fell into a pretty heavy depression in late March. I was really struggling. I wasn’t getting out of bed; I wasn’t taking care of my son, Ian. I was sleeping until 1 or 2 in the afternoon because I was so depressed. Ian was pulling his chair up to the cupboard and grabbing candy to eat for lunch. My husband, James helped as much as he could, but he was in a lot of Zoom meetings he couldn’t pull out of.

Part of my mental health challenge is that when I don’t have a consistent routine, everything else is thrown off. When COVID hit, all my routines went completely down the drain and I just didn’t know what to do. I used to go to the National Alliance for Mental Illness support group. I would go to art therapy groups. I’m also a working artist, so I would spend time at the studio. That all shut down.” 

“…But I started connecting with other women and building networks on Zoom. It was a very slow process — probably a good two months — for me to build enough support to be able to function at a comfortable level.

Ian noticed what was happening with me, but we talked about mommy not feeling so well, being sad. He really struggled with me not being able to do anything with him. He drew some pictures of me with a sad face and him trying to cheer me up and make me laugh. He couldn’t verbalize how he was feeling, so he drew it. I know he was processing what I was going through.

One good thing that changed for us is that we started to eat dinner together every night. In my hypo-manic state I was constantly going out. I used to prepare dinner for James and Ian and then go do something with my friends, but now we have dinner together every night. That’s a huge change and has really brought our family closer together. We’ll keep doing that for as long as we can.

Now I’m doing really well depression-wise. I want parents who struggle with mental health challenges to know you’re not alone. If you’re struggling with depression, there are ways to climb out of it. Build community, but in a different way. Use technology; it has benefits for this.

– Heidi in Boston, Massachusetts