[An excerpt from Parenting with PTSD]
Be a Robot.
Do all of the things that you need to do, even if you don't want to do them. Do them mechanically. Push through.
It will keep you from sinking further into depression. If you can...imagine how mechanically you are doing
things. Exaggerate it. Actually pretend to be a robot.
What this does for you: It gets you moving. It keeps you participating in life.
What this does for your kiddos: If shows that you are still active in life. If you are able to mimic a robot,
they may perceive this as "make-believe" as a kind of game, in which your depressed mood will seem appropriate and
not as shocking.
Have a Staring Contest with your child.
What it does for you: The eye contact and closeness should help to produce dopamine and oxytocin production in your
brain and may kickstart an improvement in your mood. It also may get you laughing which would be an added bonus.
Laughter provides a significant oxytocin boost.
What it does for your kiddo: It provides a "re-connection" opportunity on days or at times when it is hard for us
to connect as we normally do. It shows our interest and focus is with them. And as it will be hard to not smile
at your child or attempt to touch them, it will lighten the mood and ease the tension for both of you.
Make a list of things in your life that represent your Worth, your Love, and your Happiness.
Make this list when you aren't depressed. But refer to it when you are feeling low. It is even better if you can
find visual representations of these things as well...photographs, your child's stuffed bear, an art or craft
project that you made together on a good day...It is BEST if you can find a way to involve all of your senses.
Make a box. Fill it with your favorite small candy or snack, a scented candle that either makes you feel comforted
or energized, something soft of your kiddos, photographs of happy times, and a mixed cd of your favorite upbeat
What it does for you: This physically invites your brain back into happier times.
What it does for your kiddo: A happier mama is beneficial to everyone.
What you can do Day to Day to lower anxiety and improve mood:
Healthy Self-Care: Eating a good, healthy diet, getting as much sleep as possible, showering/bathing regularly,
getting [even just a bit] of regular exercise, staying hydrated...All these basics of self-care are the appropriate
foundation on which to build a healthy mind and healthy attitude. When you can do nothing else, do these, even
when you don't feel like it.
Magnesium: Insufficient intake of magnesium can raise anxiety. So it is possible that at least some of your day
to day stress could be caused by that. In addition to a magnesium deficiency contributing to your stress problem,
raised intake of magnesium can lower stress levels overall. Try adding a magnesium supplement to your daily
Make [and stick to] a schedule: Make sure that you are taking care of yourself and your family's daily needs. Sign
up for a weekly activity or two to look forward to, to get around friendly people, and provide consistency for your
There is also ample evidence that meditation can lower overall stress and anxiety levels in sufferers of PTSD,
anxiety disorders, and psychologically healthy individuals. Take some times each day, even if it is just 5-10
minutes to meditate. If you are just starting out...pick an appropriate positive affirmation ["I am enough"], pay
attention to your breath and your chest rising and falling, and with every exhale, repeat your phrase in your head.
Enjoy the calm. You can also find a lot of good meditation techniques online.
Positive self-talk: This can be included in a daily meditation or independent of it. When I start to feel down, I
like to just repeat something positive about myself, or an example of growth over in my head a few times. When I
can't think of anything I fall back on "I am enough" or "My children need ME"
Re-focusing your attention on the positive. Make a gratitude list each night with a few things for which you are
grateful. Try not to dwell on the negative things; don't give them your attention. Try to minimize complaints and
criticisms, instead try to find something positive about every interaction. These things will take practice and
patience, but learning to recognize on what you are placing your focus will help to start the process.
Support: A good support system is crucial to coping well. Seek out friends, family, a therapist, a support group
to have a good support system locally. Commit to an activity in your community to get out around like-minded
people. And if you ever are considering suicide please contact a support person or call the suicide hotline.
Resources for Mental Health and Suicidal Thoughts
Suicide.org : Has lists of suicide hotlines in the United States and Internationally and information on suicide and depression
NAMI [National Alliance of Mental Illness] : The link goes to resources to assist in locating mental health providers, group forums, and other resources, but the site also has more information on mental health issues and recent research.
And, since it is common to turn to alcohol or drugs to try and cope with mental health issues, I am also providing
links to find help with substance abuse problems. It is possible to recover from addiction and learn to cope with
mental health problems and to really be happy and participate again in your life.