Depression is a recognized mental affliction that affects roughly 300 million people worldwide. Through a multitude of symptomatic conditions, this dark passenger resides in our vulnerabilities rendering its sufferers marred by sadness, feeding upon life’s joys and drives. For many, it’s a personal prison fitted solely for its captive, utterly inescapable and ubiquitous, or so it can seem. In regards to parents, it’s an illness normally associated with mothers as postpartum depression can linger for years after childbirth. But, what about the fathers who to endure these low points? How do we dads cope once our demons circle closer?
Life as a Depressed Dad
I’ve dealt with varying degrees of depression throughout my life. From cripplingly desperate days when emerging from bed seemed arduous. To countless episodes of loneliness and a nagging sorrow, I narrowly shook. I’ve run the gamut of self-loathing. It’s through these struggles I can state, assuredly, that such melancholy doesn’t miraculously vanish once one becomes a dad. Contrarily, parenthood may trigger this irrational misery further. Being that, stereotypically, fathers are commonly viewed as the “emotional anchor” of a family unit. Often choosing not to disclose their anguish due to a misconceived rationalization, better known as “manning-up”.
A Bout of Hopelessness
A year after my son was born, I experienced a rather insufferable bout of hopelessness. Life had quickly changed and I began bludgeoning myself with questions of insurmountable doubt. “What future can I possibly provide a child?” “What am I doing with my own life?” “Have I made a colossal mistake in becoming a parent?”… There was no end to my insecurities. Each apprehension tumbled me farther down the rabbit hole. So deep in fact, that no light could pierce my increasingly clouded perspective. I was in pretty shitty shape. But, finally found solace from my despair through my child.
I’ve learned to leverage fatherhood as a means to combat the bleaker moments. It’s hard to wallow in gloom knowing there’s someone in need of my care. It feels irresponsible to focus on my shortcomings knowing my boy requires happiness. Miles pulls me from beneath the covers each morning because it’s necessary to live life for him. Although my anxieties resurface periodically, I now know, like with all things, it shall pass. My advice to any father who wrestles with depression, like myself, is to look to your children for strength. “Be the person your kids see in you”. You are not alone. You have every reason to persevere staring up at you, each day. Be strong. Find peace. You deserve it.