Fatherhood: Week 13-Depression

I’ve experienced some small but intense bouts of depression lately. 

Misery is a familiar feeling throughout my life. It debilitated me frequently through my twenties. It intensified after my mother passed away. Melancholy is at the root of many poor life choices I’ve made. As I’ve grown older, I’ve become more self-aware of those times when I find myself slipping into the darkness. We all get sad, but I would find myself in a funk for days or even weeks. Now it’s usually only for a number of hours.

I have found my doldrums are usually triggered by feelings of helplessness, insecurity or inferiority. It is ironic that I am able to talk to musicians about themselves and their output when you consider that I often find myself dreading social situations. I have an irrational fear that not hearing about a pitch means I am not a good writer. I believe that I give off feelings of weirdness and no one wants to hear me talk about music and pop culture facts, not realizing that most people actually like this about me. Everyone goes through situations like these, but people often feel they are alone in their suffering.

When I can’t put my son down for a nap, I worry that I am a bad father. Add to this the guilt I put myself through whenever I leave the house, talk about daycare, or spend a few hours writing an article. I wonder how I manage to avoid falling into a spiral of sadness. 

My son has an ability to intensify both my positive and negative feelings. His smile makes a bright day brighter. If he’s being fussy, I feel hopelessly frustrated. To make matters worse, it doesn’t seem right to feel these feelings when it’s my wife who does most of the legwork taking care of our child. She wakes up to feed him and takes him to daycare. 

If I were to talk about these feelings, I fear she would say with a laugh, “Awwww, you’re adorable.” She would be more than justified with that hypothetical response. It’s not like my son violently came out of me or relies on my mammary glands for sustenance. To be clear, my wife and I do communicate how we feel very well for the most part, so the above situation is an exaggeration of those emotions that come with my inferiority complex.

I’ve started to consider talking to someone professionally, but I have trust issues regarding therapy. Doctors I’ve encountered in the past seem to look for situations that are not there or feel a pill can cure intense feelings, but I do not want a vicious circle to emerge where I allow myself to endure the awful thoughts I project upon myself. What’s going to happen when my son is five and he tells me I’m a terrible father because I didn’t get him a Transformer for Christmas? While admiring him for loving Optimus Prime as much as I did when I was his age, I’d be making a mountain out of a molehill if I took his scorn to heart.

I’m not trying to give anyone the impression that I am some grown-ass version of Charlie Brown with a raincloud following me everywhere I go. Most of the time I’m doing ok, but will these uncertain feelings go away as my confidence as a father grows? 

I’m working out in an open way whether or not what I am feeling is normal. Most parents would have you believe that being a parent is 24 hours of happiness each day, but I want to know what they are leaving out when things get rough.