Daddy, Why Are You Sad?

young-boy-and-depressed-dad

“Daddy, why are you sad?”

“Buddy…daddy is…broken.”

The question was innocent; without judgment. The answer however, was heavy; weighed down by years of self-judgment.

I’ve talked about my long battle with depression on many occasions. It’s something that has caused me a great deal of grief over my lifetime, almost bringing everything to a close at one point. But through all the trials; all the ups and downs, I’ve always been able to dig myself out of my hole. I’ve always been able to ride the waves, and right the ship. But something feels different this time; scarier.

My depression has always just been sadness based. I usually get down, on myself and on life. I feel tired and withdrawn, and even get cranky. But now…now I’m scared all the time. Depression is clearly tired of being ignored since I’ve been on medication, so it decided to invite a friend along this time, in the form of anxiety. I spend the majority of my day thinking, pondering, worrying.

The Wife and I are expecting our second child within the next 6-8 weeks. This time we’re having a girl. I think it’s finally setting in that I’m going to be responsible for a little girl, and it terrifies me. I know this may sound crazy, but what if she doesn’t like me…what if she doesn’t love me?

I’m not talking about the typical, what if she likes mom more than dad. I’m talking about, what if she views me the same way every other woman, who has been blood-related to me, has viewed me – as something not worth valuing? What if my daughter some day sees me as something to discard? And before you tell me that’s impossible, just look at my track record:

  • Mother – physically and mentally abusive, discarding me on many occasions
  • Maternal Grandmother – cut all ties to me and sided with my mother
  • Paternal Grandmother – cut all ties to me at age 12 and never told me why

I’m supposed to be the first example of what a man is supposed to be for my daughter; what if I fail? Or even worse, what if the Wife and I struggle again, and this time we really lose ourselves?

These are the things I worry about. And then there’s my son. As much shit as I give my kid on my Facebook page, he’s a sweet loving kid. Don’t get me wrong, he’s a dick, but he’s also a sweet kid. The kid has a laugh that is infectious. No matter how mad I am at him, when he laughs, I can’t not smile along. He cuddles with me every morning, and a million other times a day. The kid literally thinks I’m a super-hero, without knowing my kryptonite lives just inside me, and possibly in him too. Every time I go through a bout of depression, it weighs on me that he could be me one day. I fear that beautiful smile will fade away as he ages, and be replaced with bouts of worry and anxiety, and even more I fear he will blame me.

I know these are all irrational thoughts. I know my son loves me, and and I know my daughter will too. I know that neither of them will have to experience the childhood I did. They will never know an absent father, or abusive mother. If anything they will get sick of how much the Wife and I shower them with love.

Depression doesn’t care about rational thought. It doesn’t care about all the self-care and steps you’re taking. It just wants to see you broken. It wants you to doubt yourself. It wants to you give up.

I’m not going to end this with some redemption type statement, or some uplifting/motivational moment, because the truth is, depression is winning right now. But that doesn’t mean I’m going to quit. I just have to get back up and find a new way to deal with this. If I teach my children anything, I hope it’s this; depression is real, it’s not something to just get over. But no matter how down you are, you can get up, and you can move forward. It’s going to be hard, and it’s going to suck. But you won’t be alone, because your dad understands.

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40 thoughts on “Daddy, Why Are You Sad?

  1. Be strong for yourself and for your family, its alright if youre not strong all the time, just try hard. You seem like an amzing father, your daughter and son will not only be loving but even proud.

  2. If there is any upside to what you have lived through with depression, you will understand all of the ins and outs of it if your two darlings do happen to suffer from depression later in life. Then maybe you can offer then some help and guidance through it as well. Just a small prayer as God watches over you and your family.

  3. Your son loves you for who you are and wow – such a thoughtful and self reflective piece of writing – sounds to me he is one lucky little boy to have you as a dad.

  4. “what if she doesn’t like me…what if she doesn’t love me?”
    But what if she does? You will raise this little girl with so much love and devotion, she won’t be able to NOT like or love you.

  5. You are an AMAZING DAD, and MAN! You write your blog and inspire so many people you don’t even know. You touch lives. You have an incredible gift and are a MIRACLE! Try to see yourself through your son’s eyes. To him you’re his hero and he loves you unconditionally! Your daughter will feel the same way. As a mother of 2 boys 13 months apart, they are the only reason I get out of bed every day. They are 7 and 8 now. It feels like I blinked and I have these 2 amazing little men running around our house. They give me a reason to smile even when I don’t feel like it. Don’t get me wrong, they drive me absolutely batshit sometimes, especially my youngest. School gets out on June 17th and I have no idea what I’m gonna do with them, but some how I will get through it.
    I’ve been in “the pit” for years, tried too many meds to count. Last summer my anxiety was so bad I couldn’t leave the house, but I forced myself to…for them! Some days are better than others, but I’m still fighting and will NEVER give up! They know Mommy gets sad, is tired, and has worries. They know it’s not their fault, that it’s an illness. They know I’m doing my best, and I love them with all of my being. They get worried about things, and I have the same fears as you do about their future. I’ve already taught them techniques to manage their anxiety and will always be there to help. My Dad struggled with depression forever, and he is my hero. He is the one I go to when I really need to talk. He gets it. The guilt sucks cuz he blames himself for what I’m struggling with, but I remind him this is my journey…it’s not his fault! The past is gone and guilt is a waste of precious energy. I work very hard to stay in the moment. That’s what I need to do for them and me; to just be present and not off ruminating about crap I have no control over. My boys saved my life and continue to every day. Your children will save yours! Always remember your’re stronger than kryptonite superman!

  6. Unfortunately, you can’t choose your DNA, but you can choose your family. You and your wife chose one another – even through the hardships, you found a way back. Many couples would have thrown in the towel, you two chose to fight. The women in your life before her, that abused and abandoned you, taught you to make your relationship with your wife a stronger, more meaningful one – something to fight for.
    As a mother of 5, and now a grandmother, a woman that struggles with depression and anxiety, I have had to teach myself that it’s okay to give in and fall apart. My chosen family, my support system, my own will to overcome, brings me back from my darkest places. It’s never pretty, it’s never easy, but sometimes it’s necessary to fall apart so you can be you, again.
    Your children, as they grow older and know your struggles, battles you’ve fought, personal demons you’ve slayed, sometimes on a daily basis – will have been taught a greater respect for not only you as a man but your family as a whole.
    It’s okay to be broken – your wife and children will put you back together.
    Stay strong, Mike – you’re a great man, husband & father – even on the ugly days, you’re greater than you think. ❤️

  7. Thanks for writing this. This is EXACTLY what my husband has and is going through since our daughter was born. I’m sorry I can only repeat platitudes to you and to him: Depression is a liar. I will be sharing this with him.

  8. I’m sorry for your struggles right now. It’s good to have identified the depression (and anxiety) and have a strong circle around you. I will keep you in my prayers.

    One thing stuck out to me. You said your son has a terrific laugh and are afraid he may lose it. Do you remember having the same laugh at his age? From descriptions of your childhood, my guess is no. You and your wife are giving your son and (soon) your daughter a life filled with love so they can laugh. I suspect the laughter will continue throughout their lives and break the cycle of depression.

  9. ” Every time I go through a bout of depression, it weighs on me that he could be me one day. I fear that beautiful smile will fade away as he ages, and be replaced with bouts of worry and anxiety, and even more I fear he will blame me.”

    You’ve written my greatest fear in life. I can see me, my temperament and personality, most in my younger son, and I’m terrified for him…in a sense that i hope he never has to deal with the deamons that I live with each day. I hope that as he grows we are able to instill coping skills in him so that he is better prepared to deal with himself as he gets to be an adult.
    Thank you for writing this article. Being so lonely all the time, It’s nice for me to make a connection to someone that is fighting a similar battle.

  10. 1. It’s ok to not be ok.
    2. As long as you’re aware that the demon depression is trying to suck out your soul, you’re good.
    3. You know this is temporary.
    4. Dude! You will make an awesome Daddy for this little girl you and your wife are waiting for.
    5. Life is a helluva ride my friend, but it’s worth it. Especially as your children grow and get bigger.
    One thing I’ve learned from my own daughter is that no matter my depression or bipolar episodes, she loves me unconditionally. Your own kids will do the same. Just give it about a decade!

  11. So I suffer more from the anxiety side of things, but battle depression occasionally too. I live in constant fear that my kids will grow up and have issues with me. It also stems from emotional issues from childhood. I recently told my therapist I felt like the broken one in my house. So, my point is, yeah. I can relate. Parenting through depression and anxiety is one of the hardest things to do. But, I also believe that there are SO many lessons we can teach our kids early on that other parents that don’t struggle with these issues can’t. For one, we can teach them that we’re resilient, and that we don’t give up, and that it’s OK to feel emotions and not be perfect for them. Because one day, they will need that kind of strength themselves for issues they might face, and we’ll be able to honestly give advice on how to get through it. Big hug to you, friend.

  12. I love reading your words. I totally understand where you are coming from. (only I had boys…and grew up with 4 dads) You are a keeper. Completely and forever. Not only do we (I) want to keep you, but you keep us. In stitches, in tears, and in life. Thank you.

  13. ((((hugs))) I too struggle and I really do struggle with depression. My depression shows itself in anger and fatigue. I am a SAHM and I am blessed to be able to stay at home with my girls, but I am angry and exhausted ALL THE TIME! Depression has robbed me of my girls childhood. All I want to do is sleep. (But not at night) I drop my girls off at school at 8 and come home and sleep until I have to pick up my littlest little at 12:05. After I pick my biggest little up at 2:15 I come home get her started on her homework and lay down. It’s not just a tired it’s a soul sucking exhaustion. I am in meds and have been for about 10 years, but they don’t really make a positive difference. I too worry about my oldest little, I see so much anger in her. I pray that she will not wake up in a bad mood, that she will not think of things to be angry about, that she doesn’t let every single thing bother her. I pray that she does not have depression.

  14. Raw and insightful. I always appreciate your willingness to bear your soul. What a gift to give to your daughter who will be born into a world that fears emotions and always needs them tied with a tidy bow. Because of you, she will know strength in the midst of weakness and bravery in the midst of fear. She is beyond lucky to have you.

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