Attachment Parenting and Depression

Posted by theartfulmama

Reposted from:

Having a supportive partner in parenting is the best ally when dealing with depression.

This has been one of the most difficult posts for me to write. Partly because I find it hard to define how I parent while I am working through depression and partly because depression makes it difficult for me to write anything. Most days I neither want to get up nor do I want to do much of anything once I am up. When I come home all I want to do is lay on the couch or in my bed and just exist within myself. If it weren’t for one very important and demanding area of my life that is probably where you would find me – but Little Man insists on being taken care of. There is also this little nagging physical condition that insists that I get up and eat or drink – pregnancy.

I have been back and forth with depression through various stages of my life – high school, college, after Little Man’s birth and now currently while pregnant with Little #2. This current go around with depression has been the most challenging and at the same time it has been the time that I really have tried to fight for control of myself. I can’t actually curl up into a ball and forget about everything because I have someone else who needs me. Our choice to “shift-parent” forces the role of sole caretaker on me daily from 6pm to 1am and there isn’t anything I can do to avoid it. My decision to raise our son in an attachment parenting model makes it even harder to ignore my responsibilities as a parent – because I choose to respond to his needs as they arise.

Right as we brought Little Man home I began to feel detached from the situation.. I was having difficulty breastfeeding, I felt like a failure as a parent and it was just easier to let other people take him and leave me to be alone with the pump. Pumping round the clock did not do my mental state any justice. I would hold my son only for the time that it took to give him his bottle and then put him back in his swing, wash the bottle and repeat the pumping process. I continued to sink lower and lower into myself and missing out on most of the joys of parenting in those early days. It was only by chance that I was introduced to an article on Breastfeeding Moms Unite that got me thinking this isn’t what parenting should be.

I made the decision to find help and to work to fix what I didn’t like about my parenting with Little Man. I finally found the resources I needed to fix my issues with breastfeeding and to bond properly with my then three month old. The more I learned about attachment parenting, the more I learned about myself as a parent. As I worked through those issues and realized that I had a purpose, I drifted out of my depression and into a productive relationship with my child.

Fast forward to August of this year when I found out that I was pregnant with Little #2, an addition that we desired as a family and back into depression I fell. At first I felt as if I couldn’t connect emotionally to my growing baby and the longer I let this feeling continue it began to encompass my relationship with Little Man as well. I was not giving him the same attention and authentic affection that had become the core of our relationship. This time I was more proactive in seeking help because I was already looking at my life and parenting through the lens of attachment parenting, I knew something was wrong earlier and sought help.

I’ve had to rethink my ability to be supermom and to do everything all the time. I chose not to start my treatment with medication and to try counselling first. I began weekly counselling sessions to discuss my feelings and to realize that I did need to take care of me as well as care for Little Man and the new life I was growing. My guilt over not being able to love my children in the way that I wanted to became the focus of our sessions. I knew the parent I wanted to be, I just needed to understand how to balance my life in order to become that parent.

Attachment parenting is a choice, I can either continue to parent this way and do my best to fight the depression or I can let depression win and stop parenting in this way. I do think that attachment parenting is about more than just a parenting method. It creates an awareness of self and others. I doubt I would have recognized my need for help if I didn’t have AP as a mirror to look at myself.