(Strollerderby put out a call for new writers last week and this was one of the pieces I submitted for review. It’s a little different from my usual style that involves references to venereal disease, oral sex, my incompetency as a father and a
self-deprecating self-defecating humor, but I thought it was a worthy effort.)
Parents are you feeling stressed out, anxious, or just good old fashioned psychologically imbalanced? Are you filling the candy dishes with Prozac and the sugar jar with Zoloft? Have you fashioned a makeshift padded room in the linen closet from stuffed animals, water wings and Pampers Cruisers? Well as it turns out that you may not be able to blame your depression, malaise or facial twitches on your kids anymore.
A recent survey published in the American Journal of Public Health identified lower levels of anxiety, depression, and other measures of psychological distress among parents than among non-parenting adults of the same age. (Obviously! Remember how stressful life was when we slept in on the weekends, went to the late showing of movies, and came and went as we pleased?) Isn’t this fantastic news fellow creators of life? We’re not crazy, and if we are it’s certainly not the fault of our precious offspring.
Those hallmark signs and symptoms of depression may just be indicators that there are little people living in your home with you. For instance:
• You may not have actually lost interest in the activities that you used to enjoy, you may just not have the time to enjoy them between play dates, soccer practice, naps, tantrums, and reading Blue Hat, Green Hat, Red Hat…. Oops 117 times in a row.
• Are you waking in the middle of the night or early in the morning and not able to get back to sleep? Think about it. Could it just be the 2am feedings, the cries of “I have to go Potty”, or the pre-dawn wake-up slaps in the face from unsympathetic toddlers?
• You say you feel weariness and lack of energy nearly every day? Well, I’d like to meet the person who can chase around a fearless self-destructive howler monkey on speed for 12 straight hours and not feel a lack of energy.
• Do you find yourself speaking in fragments or in a slow, monotonous tone? You mean like “Mama….Mama …Mama… Yes! Mama! …Dada…Dada…no, Dada….Baba…..Baba…. shoot me …I mean Baba….
• Have you lost interest in sex? Well, for that one you may just be married.
“Serious psychological distress is fairly common among all adults and people and [is] highly treatable,” says researcher Dr. Mindy Herman-Stahl. Treatable Dr. Herman-Stahl? With a broad spectrum of trust-worthy babysitters, vodka martinis, and Adult-Only Cruises and Vacation Resorts, perhaps.
The survey did also say that despite its findings there were still an estimated 5.7 million parents who experienced serious levels anxiety, depression, and psychological distress so I guess I don’t feel so bad then about throwing the hydrotherapy pedestal from the tub room through the front window the other day.