Dear Dr. Archer,
I'm a 31 year old female with two very young children, and I'm scared. I never finish anything I start, no matter how well things start out. I would love to have a normal life, go to work, come home, cook, clean and be an attentive mom. However, reality is much different.
I hate going out; I dread leaving my home. However, when I do go out I'm sociable, and can talk to anyone about almost anything. I have taken my children to more places than I can remember, but I never want to go and I never enjoy myself, mainly because I feel like everyone there thinks something is wrong with me.
I can't keep a job. I have had so many, but never for any length of time. I'd like to be independent, but I always put things off; now I'm 31 and have accomplished nothing. I'm very impulsive and get angry quickly, but I get over it just as quickly. I don't want this pattern of inconsistency to affect the way my children grow up; how they feel about me and about themselves.
I want what's best for them, and I try to find information that I'm not sure about, but the bottom line is that there's something wrong with the workings of my head. Eventually this is going to impact the mental health of my children. How can I bring consistency into their lives? I know I have depression issues, but the depression drugs simply have not worked.
I'm starting to think there's more to it than that. Thank you for any help or psychological advice you can share.
Awareness of how you feel and what you are doing is a huge key in having the ability to change. Low self esteem is the cause and this comes from, as you say yourself, depression.
There are many meds for depression and just because the ones you have tried have not worked, doesn’t mean that no med will work. But, let’s look at some things you can do to boost self-esteem first.
**The most powerful way to increase your self esteem is to revamp the way you think. If you go through your day thinking negative thought after negative thought, D.A., you're going to be a negative person. Correct this habit! Each time you start to think or say something negative, STOP, and replace it with something positive.
As an example, if you dread taking the children to the park, switch gears and start telling yourself how much they're going to enjoy the fresh air, meeting new children and playing. Tell yourself you're a good mom for giving them a good, structured life. Or if you look at yourself in the mirror and frown, change your hairstyle, revamp it. That can also revamp your mood tremendously. Life is too long to not enjoy.
** Exercise. Great not just for you but your children, too. Moving will increase the endorphins, which help you feel better, thus also helping your depression. You may not feel like it at first, but you must force yourself. Join a gym, walk 30 minutes a day, take an aerobics course.
**Get enough sleep. This is huge, because most of us don't get near the amount of sleep we should. Minimum, D.A., should be 7 hours each night. Eight is even better. You will wake up more refreshed and ready to tackle the day with energy.
**Eat right! Your mother was correct -- you are what you eat. Eat balanced meals consisting of fresh fruit, vegetables and whole grains. Limit the amount of sugar, starch and salt in the diet. This is good not only for yourself, but for your entire family. If you must eat meat, lean is best, and eliminate as much processed foods as possible.
**Keep positive people in your inner circle. When you surround yourself with negative people, you will naturally feel negative, as well. Get rid of anyone who drags you down and replace them with people who can lift you up.
**My favorite: Do for others. This is huge, because not only are there very desperate, needy people out there, when you reach out to help others, it can help you feel great. Not only that, but you teach your children the right way to live, and that we should be of service to others in need. So, look around for a charity to support by donating your time.
Back to meds, as I said, many times one medication may not help, but the next will work wonders. So if the above doesn’t work, go back and see a psychiatrist. Or, if you have not had a recent physical now is the time to do so. I'd like you to also read Your Depression Might Not Be Depression. I wish you the best.