Depression is debilitating. While I have Bipolar 1, my scale is certainly tipped generally on the negative side. I’m on antidepressants, but lithium, as a mood stabiliser, also helps to provide some insulation against depression as well the highs. Recently, when my lithium levels dropped, I realised how important this drug is for stabilising my mood.
Of course, drugs are only one side of the equation. Self-talk, how you respond to your emotions, are also vitally important.
How we are spoken to as children by our caregivers affects how we speak to ourselves as adults.
I try to remind myself of this as I raise Gracie – and sometimes seeing how much I struggle to shift my language itself makes me depressed. That’s why I am happy to have resources around me that gently remind me and help me. Mum bought a book that Gracie enjoys and I think it’s fantastic for me to read to her.
It’s called I am Yoga, by Susan Verde, art by Peter H. Reynolds. Gracie likes it because she has done some yoga at preschool and also likes anything physical.
The author argues that by doing yoga poses you become strong, centred and creative.
Without explicitly saying so Verde, with positive language, provides children with an activity they can gain competence and an activity that is also so useful for mental health.
Research that links the health benefits of yoga and mental health:
Harvard Health Publications, Harvard Medical School, Harvard Mental Health Letter, Yoga for anxiety and depression.
Deborah Khoshaba, Take a Stand for Yoga Today: Yoga’s positive benefits for mental health and well-being, Posted May 23, 2013, Psychology Today.
There is a series of books by Trace Moroney that I think are useful for Gracie to put words on her emotions, and to recognise what she is feeling. Having big emotions can be quite overwhelming. It can be quite a skill for adults to recognise their own emotions. With these books, I hope that Gracie will have the confidence to express and understand her emotions. The series includes discussing feeling scared, happy, loved, lonely, angry, jealous, sad and kind, as well as what you can do if these feelings are uncomfortable.
I’m not trying to bombard Gracie with these materials. She has a huge range of books I have collected from Vinnies, second-hand book shops, received as presents, and we also regularly visit the library.
But Gracie has a higher risk of mental illness because of my bipolar. I want her to be more resilient than me if she ever has to face that beast.
Anouska Jones, 2015, Kids’ Book Review: I am Yoga.
Goodreads, The Feelings Series, by Trace Moroney, for a range of parent reviews.