I recorded this episode with my oldest kiddo, my daughter Nina. Nina was diagnosed with depression a few years ago and we’e learned some things along the way that we thought we would share with you.
Interview with my daughter!
I have the most special guest, I’m so excited about this. I’ve been wanting her to come on the podcast for months, and it is my daughter.
Tell everyone a little bit about you, where you are in the world, what you’re doing at this point in your life.
“I am 19. I go to college in England at the University of Brighton. I just finished my first year yesterday which I’m super excited about. I come home in two and a half weeks”
What are you studying?
“I’m studying philosophy, politics, and art. My degree is kind of all wrapped up into one nice packet.”
How old are you? “19.” So Nina’s 19, she’s my oldest. She went away to college very far away because that’s how our relationship is.
I am really excited about this topic, which sounds funny because we’re talking about depression but I think we have kind of a unique perspective because Nina was diagnosed with depression a couple years ago. Do you still struggle, Nina? Tell them a little bit.
“It comes and goes. I think I was diagnosed when I was 14, 15 maybe so it’s been a while, but it comes and goes. There were really rough patches when I was 14, I think that was the first really bad one and again at 16. Since then there haven’t been really debilitating times but you do have bad days or bad weeks where you just wanna lay in bed and do nothing.”
So in this episode, we’re not going to go into the backstory about how I found out Nina was struggling or what was the cause of her struggle because that would be a whole other hour long conversation.
We’re gonna focus mostly on what to do, what not to do, and Nina and I have both kind of brainstormed and came up with a few things that we wanna share with you so we are gonna just dive into that.
Does that sound good?
Okay. So I’m coming from the perspective of the parent who loves their child, who wants what’s best for their child. We’re talking about the struggles of depression. So what that looked like from my end, and then you can tell us, Nina, what it looked like from your end.
Nina didn’t really wanna do anything. She didn’t wanna go out, she spent a lot of time in her room by herself on her phone and in general just wasn’t motivated. it seemed like she didn’t wanna be kind of be a part of the family, and to me it seemed more than just “This is a teenager who wants their space.” It seemed like she actually struggling.
In fact from birth, Nina has always been very happy, very, very smiley baby. Very upbeat, life of the party kind of personality. Maybe it’s because I’m an intuitive person but it just felt different. There was sluggishness and slowness with it that wasn’t normal.
Nina came to me eventually and said, “Mom, I want to go to therapy.” I felt that this was a little bit unusual for a teenager, especially around the ages of 14, 15 years old. Nina’s very self-aware, so she came to me and said, “I wanna go to therapy.”
I will just say, this is a little bit of a tangent, but since I’m a coach, I was a little offended that she wanted to go to a therapist and that her mom couldn’t just help her. So that’s the first thing. Trust your kid in what they think is the support they need.
Obviously if they’re like, “you know, mom, I need to go and take drugs” or whatever, then maybe question that, but she’s saying, I wanna go therapy and intially I was a little bit like, “okay, sure. All right, you think you need therapy?” And at that point, at the very beginning, she hadn’t really divulged to me what she was struggling with and why she wanted to go therapy. I could kind of sense she didn’t want to say it, so I didn’t push it too much.
That’s my first recommendation is trust your gut, but also trust your child on what kind of support they need.
“I think that’s a big one as well. I think a lot of times when your kid comes to you and they want to just talk, I think a lot of parents just want to be able to fix it. They want a solution that will help their child to not be in pain. However, I think from the perspective of a child, it’s really helpful to just have your parent listen and not say, oh, maybe you should go outside. Maybe you should like exercise. Just listen.”
“If they say, oh, I think that I would like some suggestions, or, I think I would like to try this. At that point, I think it’s helpful to then go into some things that you have opinions on, like what you think they should do or how you feel like you should show them your support, rather than just diving in and saying, I think you should do this and this and this and this, because it can feel very overwhelming and might not necessarily be what they need.”
Yeah exactly, so what I’m hearing you say is, listen first, fix later.
There’s a lot of listening that comes with depression and to be very clear, Nina was diagnosed with depression and not anxiety. So some of you out there might have a kid who is diagnosed with both anxiety and depression. That’s a little bit different.
In this situation, my experiences seeing Nina struggle with this is wanting to sleep more, not wanting or feeling motivated to do much. That particular diagnosis requires a lot of time and space and gentleness, which I don’t know that I was super good at at first because I was in my coach brain wanting to help, like how can I help? Why don’t you wanna come to me for help?
“I found it really helpful. I mean, I’ve been in therapy since before I came to college. I was in therapy for almost two years straight and then before that i was kind of off and on since I was around 13. However, especially with my last therapist, I found it really cathartic to have somebody who doesn’t have any preconceived notions. They are just there to listen.”
“It’s not that I don’t like talking to you, it’s just that in this kind of situation, It’s a bit more difficult because again, like you have strong feelings when it comes to me struggling emotionally or mentally, and you would just want to try and fix it, where that’s not necessarily something that I wanted.”
Some sort of way to think about it could be like this for example; Nina plays piano. She’s a really good gifted piano player. I don’t play piano, but if I did, I would never try to teach my own kids because they just don’t listen to their parent the same way they listen to a professional in that field that is totally removed from their life, right?
We have so much baggage. When you’re in relationship with someone, it’s really hard to separate all of that. It’s hard to listen and hold space for someone. When you have your own thoughts and feelings, which actually brings me to another point that I wanted to make, but I think you made a really good point about the merits of therapy and somebody that’s not your immediate family because they aren’t as emotionally involved.
One thing I found is that I had to do my own work. I think it was such a gift that I was already a coach when this came into our lives because I recognized that there were parts that were yours, like your depression, your mood, your motivation, your schoolwork, the state of your room, like all of those things. That was your stuff.
Then there was stuff that was mine as the parent, that was my thoughts and feelings about all of that. I really recommend, honestly, if you have the resources for your kid to be in therapy, but also the parent or parents to be in therapy as it can be a long, hard, heavy journey and you have to do your own work.
You have to learn how to separate who you are and what your thoughts and feelings are from what your kid is going through. And that is so healthy for everyone and it’s like a whole like system of dynamics. Any thoughts about that Nina?
“Definitely. I think, when I talk about my childhood I always say my mom became such a better mother when she did the work on herself and she found coaching. She became such a better mother. We butted heads for a lot of my childhood and I feel like now we’ve got a really good relationship.
“Part of that might be because I moved away, but I feel like even before that it was a lot better. I think that it’s a lot in part because you did the work on yourself and in regards to kind of like depression. It definitely has some holding because for me at least, I didn’t want you to feel like this was your fault, like something you did made me depressed. I think as a parent, just doing that work so that your kid knows that you don’t blame yourself or blame them for being the way they are, makes it a lot easier.”
“So that as like a kid with depression, you don’t have to worry about your mom feeling bad for you or bad because she thinks that this caused it. You can kind of just focus on what you’re going through instead of that.”
Well, if I’ve never said it before, I never felt like it was my fault or it was your fault. I think this is normal and I’m so glad we’re talking about it because I think it’s normal for the kid and you are older and more aware to kind of be aware of what is the impact on my parents. Right. But I think that’s the parent’s responsibility.
You are not in charge of how I feel, even though Yes. It’s sort of like a system. Never, never is the child in charge or responsible for that. I never want my kids to feel like they have to worry or manage my emotions or my reactions or my thoughts, and I actually think that that’s something that we need to be more explicit about as parents.
I actually remember having a conversation with my other daughter, Maya, and we were in the car. And she was trying to make a decision about something. I don’t remember what it was about. And I said, well, okay, it sounds like you want to do it and you don’t wanna do it, so tell me about the part that you wanna do.
So she talked about it saying “I wanna do it because blah, blah blah.” And then I said, okay, tell me about the part, you don’t wanna do. And the first thing she said was, “well, kind of cuz I know you don’t want me to.” And the mama bear me came out and I was like, “That is my job. That is not your job to take care of my emotions.”
This decision should not come from like how mom thinks or how mom feels, right? The truth is it does, we’re humans and we’re in relationship and we do do that but this is why I say you have to do your own work. You have to be, as the parent, you have to be the bigger, stronger, wiser, kinder being when your child is struggling, whether it’s depression or something else.
You can hear Nina talking about this, like, there was that part of her that thought about me. And like the impact on me and how. But I think when you’re going through depression or any mental health struggle, you should not have to think about that and, the parents should come to you and say, do not think about this. I got this. I got me, and I got you. Right?
“I feel very lucky in that regard that I did luck out in the parent department, but also kind of that you were already on your journey to like figuring out your own baggage and emotions. However, I feel like a lot of people don’t have that privilege.
While like their parents might not really know that they’re doing it, they do sort of allow their child to feel like it’s kind of their fault. Not necessarily like “it’s your fault that you have depression,” but it’s kind of like, “It’s your fault that it’s doing this. It’s your fault that we have to pay for therapy or like we have to drive you around to all these places,” that just like kind of making them feel guilty for something that they can’t help.
Yeah, and I’m sure we did that too because I know I’ve said therapy’s expensive, you can’t just cancel within 24 hours. We still have to pay for that, you know? but yes, the reality is we’re human and we have these kinds of feelings. And also I think it’s so helpful to be aware of them.
Maybe course correct if you notice yourself. If you’re like, “oh, I said that and that might have come across as like I was blaming you and I’m so sorry for that. ” you make those repairs along the way. I wanna tell the story. Do you remember when we were filling out the intake forms for therapy?
“Might have to refresh my memory.”
So I will never forget this, but after Nina had told me she wanted to go therapy and I asked her why a little bit, and she was just like, “I just feel like I have depression and you know, I just wanna get this, get it figured out.” Turns out there was like a whole lot of other stuff going on too, but i sort of just said “okay alright.”
I kind of consider myself a mental health professional, so I’m like, okay, I’ll figure it out. I’ll find some people. Which you mentioned you, you met with at least three therapists, right?
“Yeah. When I was 13, we went to one that was unrelated to mental health. It was just because I was being a brat. You stuck me in therapy as like a neutral third party kind of situation.”
“The second time I went to a church therapist, and then the third time was my therapist who I’ve had for two years and I love her.”
Yeah. So that’s one thing is, shop around. Don’t feel bad about going to a therapist one or two times and then being like, eh, I don’t feel like it clicks because once Nina found a therapist that she really liked and it clicked, that’s when I started noticing shifts. It was still a long process after that to kind of get to a point where you felt really stable but there were improvements.
We also did see a psychiatrist because you did get a medication, which you tried and didn’t like. I was super resistant to it, I did not want you to get on medication. I felt like at the time you weren’t trying all of the things like the classics, you don’t get enough sunlight, if you don’t get enough movement, you’re not gonna feel good. You’re gonna feel depressed. Everybody does. So my point of view was try these other things and then if they don’t work, let’s, then the last resort should be medication. But Nina was really like, “no, I wanna try medication.”
“You know me, I have to learn from experience”
Well, it helped that your therapist recommended it because I was like, okay, fine. If the therapist recommends it we can try it. It was during Covid, we did a online appointment. She asked you a whole bunch of questions and then she gave you a prescription that we filled.
Honestly, another side note here. As you were meeting with that psychiatrist and she was going through all of these questions like, “how often do you feel this and what about this?” I was like, oh yeah, I think I have depression, because I would’ve answered very similarly to all of the answers that you gave.
That speaks to the point that it runs in families. My mom for sure had depression and probably my dad.
“I mean, I was pretty much doomed from the beginning like Dads parents and grandparents”
Yeah, on her Dad’s side of the family, we have schizophrenia and bipolar, and once she got this diagnosis, I remember being in the session with you and the therapist saying, “yeah, it sounds like she checks all the boxes for depression, but not anxiety.” I remember thinking, how did I not expect this? Both of my parents had some kind of mental health, something going on, both of your other grandparents did, and aunts and uncles.
I was like, oh, I feel so naive and dumb for not even expecting that. Of course, at least one of my kids would struggle with mental health. So maybe expect it. I mean, when you have a kid, you don’t wanna think, oh, they’re probably gonna have something wrong with them. it’s not anybody’s fault for not expecting it. I think I just had a rosy outlook, like, I’m gonna be such a good parent that my kids won’t struggle with mental health.
“I mean, that’s not your fault. It’s genetically predisposed. There’s nothing wrong that you did raising us that made me like depressed.”
Oh, there’s plenty wrong that I did but it’s likely you would’ve probably already struggled with this even if I was a perfect parent.
What else did you have to mention? What to do? Why not to do?
“It’s just an extension of what we’ve been talking about, but I feel like when you very first find out that your child is struggling, I get that there’s like heat of the moment reactions, but something that was really helpful for me was that you didn’t get like angry or like, “oh, like why is this happening?”
“Specifically when you found out that I’d been self-harming, you didn’t say “that’s not what you do, you should have other coping skills and come talk to us.” You just said I’m sorry and gave me a big hug which was really nice.”
Speaking of when I filled out the intake forms for the second therapist, there were questions on there that I didn’t know the answer to and so I came to you. I remember you were laying in your bed and I said, “Hey, can I ask you a few questions?” And you were like, “sure.” One of the questions was, “do you have suicidal thoughts?” Of course, I knew what I wanted the answer to be, which wasn’t what the answer was.
The moment I found out that my kid was having suicidal thoughts, not just occasionally, but like pretty much every day. I freaked out on the inside. On the inside I started screaming and hyperventilating. I said, “would you like to talk about that?” And you said to me, “no, I wanna wait till therapy.” I said, “okay.” And we finished filling out the intake form, and then I left and I went to my closet and I cried.
“I think that’s another big thing though. I said, “no, I don’t wanna talk about it and you didn’t really push any further. I mean, I’m not a parent and I’m just nosy so I like knowing things, so I can’t imagine how much harder it is when you’re dealing with a child and something as serious as that.”
That goes back to like doing your own work and what I call being the jello, which is as the parent, it’s my job to kind of absorb everything that my kid gives me. You can react a little cuz you’re human and you will, but to not have a huge reaction.
I do remember when you were very little, probably not even a year, maybe a year old. Another parent said the child takes the cues from the parent. So if they’re on the playground and they fall and they hurt themselves, they’re gonna look at you to decide, am I hurt or not?
When you were very, very little. You were super rambunctious, very active. Started walking at eight and a half months old people! So she was very mobile and I was just behind her all the time, you know, trying to keep her from running into the street and such but I would wait and see after you would fall or get hurt, I would wait for your reaction. If you cried then i knew she was actually hurt.
There was one time you fell down the stairs and you had a big puffy winter jacket on and you rolled down the stairs and then you landed on your feet and in my brain i was like, “oh, no, no, no.” but I just kind of waited. And she goes, “Whoa. That was a good one.” I was shocked but then i said, “are you okay?” She goes “Yeah, yeah, mom, I’m okay.”
So I think maybe practicing that from when you were younger in this situation to when you’re older and it’s a much bigger owie. An internal owie. I had my reaction, my gut reaction, but I learned to be neutral on the outside for you and to wait for your signals.
When I did react, like I said, I went to my closet and I cried because no Mom wants to hear that their kid is thinking of killing themselves, I was still super curious and I wanted to know all the details, but it just intuitively didn’t feel like the right time or place. So I went and dealt with my own emotions and I talked to people who could equally support me without bearing it on my child.
I remember calling your young women’s leader and telling her because she actually had a brother that died by suicide. My initial thoughts were I have to tell everyone, it’s helpful for me, but it’s also helpful for them to know where you are. Even if maybe you didn’t want me to, I didn’t ask your permission, but there’s certain people that needed to know this and that can be a support to me as the parent can be a support to you.
I remember her saying, you sound so calm about this, and i said “I’m not calm. I am actually kind of freaking out. But I also know that this is just Nina’s journey” Of course as i said, as parents, we don’t wanna hear that our kid has something wrong with them but honestly my thought was that nothing has gone wrong.
This is a human journey and we’ll figure it out. We’ll just take it one day at a time, one week at a time etc. I really legitimately, I don’t want you to have depression. I don’t want you to feel that way, but I didn’t feel like it was like this big, terrible, something wrong thing happening. It was just that some people have depression and they need a little bit extra support and this is Nina’s journey and I’m here to support her.
“I really liked what you were saying about little kids, because since you’re a somatic coach, there are connections between physical and emotional responses, and it’s exactly the same as when little kids fall, they pause for a second and decide whether or not they’re gonna cry. A lot of that reaction comes from looking up at whoever’s there and deciding from their reaction.
“It’s the same with emotional things. I mean, a 15 year old doesn’t really fall and then wait for their parents to see if they’re hurt. But emotion wise, it is the same concept. They might look to their peers more or even their parents.
Also for example, I was in a car fire a couple months ago and I was calm for the most part, but the people I was with showed they were a little more freaked out than i was and having people surrounding me having heightened emotions kind of made me feel like I needed to also do that when it’s not always the case or the right time.
Yeah and then what did I say when you called me?
“Okay, can we do anything? We’re eating dinner.”
I think the first thing was, “are you okay?” and then you’re like,” Yeah, yeah, we’re fine. Everyone got out. It’s all good.” And so then I was like, “okay, well what can I do?” Instead of me freaking out like, “oh my gosh, my kid is in a car fire halfway around the world in the middle of the night.” I’m just like, you tell me what can I do? Mostly you were just needing to kind of talk about it and vent off some energy.
“That’s exactly applies to things like help with depression. I think I brought it up earlier a little bit of how a lot of it is just listening to your kid don’t just ask them what you can do because the response isn’t gonna be, “oh, tell me to go outside, get exercise.” It’s just gonna be sit here and listen and be supportive.”
I think we can encourage our kids, but we can’t force them. Healing from something like depression happens on its own timeline. It happens when there are the proper resources and support in place, and then it will naturally happen.
I think that’s a big part though, i know I definitely was like, “okay, let’s go for a walk or it’s beautiful outside. Go sit on the deck and get some vitamin D.” I would encourage you to go hang out with your friends or you know, things like that and you wouldn’t always do what I wanted you to do.
“You cannot force teenagers because unless you’ve got a really great teenager who listens to everything that you say, which I think is probably pretty rare. I definitely was not that, my siblings are not that.”
“But I think the nature of teenagers is to push back against whatever they’re told, whether or not it’s a good idea. So kind of let them tell you what they need, let them come to their own conclusions, and then offer your guidance.”
Yeah that’s true but as a parent, like, oh my gosh, so many times i was thinking like, “She needs to just like go for a walk or she needs to eat something that’s not sugar. Why won’t she just do it?” And so I would take that to dad, right? Vent that to dad or to my journal and not put that on you.
I’m sure you could tell from time to time that maybe I was frustrated or but I knew I couldn’t force you and that you had to come at it your own way. And all I can do is encourage support. What do you need?
So it takes a lot of patience if you’re the person supporting, I mean, you’re allowed to have feelings as the parent as well but I think you just have to remember, it’s not really about you. You are there for support and it’s not your problem. You’re there as the parent and you’re there for support, but ultimately, it’s their intimate emotions and they kind of know themselves best.
What would you say to someone who thinks that thinks mental health struggles are like a fad, like every teenager struggles with their mental health and because their kid doesn’t, they like kind of want to because they wanna fit in with their kids. Is that a thing?
“I’m not so sure it is the way you phrased it, but I get it. A lot of times where parents are like, oh, my kid is only struggling because they have friends who are struggling and they want to seem cool. Like this it’s the trend to have mental illness, but I 100% disagree with that. I think it’s kind of the same the fact that as a society we’ve seen an increase in people who identify as gay or non-binary, trans etc and there are a lot of people who oppose that and state that its simply a trend.”
“In reality in the fifties there weren’t any openly gay people because you were gonna be in prison, so obviously they weren’t gonna come out and it’s kind of the same thing now with mental health. There is so much more awareness and support systems so of course people are gonna feel like they can talk about it more because they feel like they will probably have a better chance at getting the help they need.”
So you don’t think people fake being depressed or anxious because all of their friends are?
“I don’t think the majority of people who claim to struggle with mental illness do that. I do think there are some people who want attention, which is probably just an underlying trauma. It’s probably something else going on at home that they maybe kind of milk it a little bit just so somebody says, “Hey, are you okay?”
I just don’t really think it’s a thing. I think there are healthy teenagers. They might be fairly rare because at least in American culture is very toxic. So it makes sense to me that pretty much all of everyone has some kind of mental health struggle and if they don’t, then they’re not listening to this podcast, right? I can’t see any kid who doesn’t struggle in that way, but they have friends that do, like, why wouldn’t they just wanna be the one that their friends could come to and could be a source of support versus, oh, I wanna be anxious too, so I’m gonna do it too. I just think it’s so rare that we could just dismiss it completely.
Any other thoughts about what parents should or should not do to support their child with depression?
“The main thing for me is just be there. Don’t be hover. Don’t ask, oh, are you okay? Like 50 times a day? Just make sure they know that you’re there if they need to talk to you or if they want anything. That you’re not gonna push them further than they want to and just be there and listen, I think is the main thing that I really benefited from.”
I do think sometimes we have to check in and just be like, how’s your depression? How’s your mental health right now? I’ve done that from time to time when I just feel inspired to do that.
“Yeah, I do appreciate that.”
At one point your dad and I had a conversation with you and we were like, “what should we be asking you?” And you gave us some stuff and I remember for a long time I had them in my notes in my phone and I’d be like, “oh, I should ask Nina that.” It was something like, “how is your mental health right now?” Or “What can we do to support you?”
“Mm-hmm. Yeah, because I feel like just the, “are you okay?” Or like, “how are you doing?” It’s so vague and open-ended, especially in American culture where I’ve grown up. People just say, “oh, I’m good.” Like when you say hi to somebody, you say “Hi, how are you doing? I’m good.” Like, it’s just the response. You don’t really have put any thought into it.”
I like to ask, how are you feeling today? Because then it is more specific. And I don’t know, to me it feels like a more genuine question of like, I actually want to know how are you feeling today? And then people can say, “well, today is a good day,” or, “yeah, today I’m feeling a little down,” or whatever the answer is.
“Yeah. And I completely forgot that you guys had asked me that, but I think that’s a really good idea for people to do. Just sit down with your kid and just ask like, because I think something that you shouldn’t do is just ask like every 20 minutes, like, how are you feeling? Are you okay? Like, and that just feels overbearing and just like suffocating.”
So ask them what they want to be asked in order for them to be able to give an accurate response of how they’re feeling or what they need. And how often, how often would you like me to ask this? Once a week, once a month, every day.
“I mean, it depends. So maybe check in like every couple months. Say like, are these questions still benefiting you? Is asking them every week good? Or are you feeling better? Should I ask you every month? Or are you feeling worse? Should I ask you once a day?”
Yeah. And yeah, I kind of, I got to a point where, you know, you’re becoming an adult. You weren’t quite an adult yet. And I recognized that I really am a resource center for you. And you know, I kind of, I struggle a little bit like, how much therapy do you really need? Do you still need to go every week? Can you know, do you need to go every month or every two weeks? Because for many, many people, the cost of therapy is a consideration, right?
So for me, I got to a point where, I can’t really do much except pay for therapy. Mm-hmm. So if all my love and all my resources are going to this, then this is what I can do. And so I got to a point where I was okay with that and that’s great.
“I appreciated that so much because I am, I was what, 17? I couldn’t pay $150 every week or every two weeks. Like that’s just not something that I could do. And therapy was so incredibly helpful for me. That even though I wasn’t necessarily talking to you guys about it, I was talking to someone and that like financial support was really, really helpful because without that I wouldn’t be able to go get the help that I need.”
Yeah. So we’re a bit privileged in that way. I recognize that not everybody has that, but if that is something you have to think about, like can we pay for this? I don’t know if it’s helpful for other parents out there to hear like, This is the way Nina said, this is how you can support me. And like if my kid is in a life or death situation, I’m not gonna be like, well, how much does it cost?
That’s just the truth of it. That’s how, what worked for me to think of it that way. To be like, this is how I can support her and I will do it as long as she needs. And that felt really good to me. Sometimes I was like, I wish she would talk to me more. I wanna know more about like what she’s struggling with really, honestly was more, I wanna know more like how I might be able to support her on my end.
I think that as parents, we just feel a little bit helpless sometimes and when people say like, just be there and just listen and be patient. It’s frustrating. It can feel a little frustrating. Like I wanna do more. Right? But the truth is we just can’t always do more. So if you know, if you’ve gotta get a part-time job so that you can pay a couple hundred dollars a week for your kid to go to therapy, then maybe that’s what you can do and it can make you feel like I’m doing something to be helpful.
Nervous System and Depression
One thing I wanted to mention since I’ve been learning about the nervous system and depression is kind of like a freeze response, if I could go back, I would really encourage you to use heating pads or sit in the hot tub, which you do like to do. We have a hot tub and Nina does like in the hot tub, so I might be like, Nina, I’m getting in the hot tub. Do you wanna come sit in the hot tub with me? Cause it’s always more fun when somebody’s with you. Heat is a really good resource for the body for supporting the body through something like depression. That’s why I think this is why lots of people with depression just wanna stay in bed because underneath those beautiful, fluffy covers is warmth, right?
And the cells in our bodies actually vibrate less when we’re in a freeze response, when we’re in a depression. And so we want to give those cells luxurious amounts of resources. And heat is a beautiful resource. You can drink hot drinks. Eat soups and stews and things like that. So heat on the inside and also heat on the outside.
“Yeah. And I think, I mean, I read, listen to your podcast every week because I post them. But I know you talk a lot about like going back to your infancy and thing of biological signs then, I mean, the womb must have been pretty warm. So it’s just the feeling of safeness and comfort.”
Yes, yes, yes. And when really, when we’re in that freeze response, which I think for most people, depression is a freeze response. It’s a form of the freeze response. There’s some active energy. There’s something that wasn’t allowed to finish and that we kind of boxed up and shut down. And so now I’m curious, and maybe we’ll have to do another episode about what you think that active response was that got boxed up and put away.
And like gentle movements like yoga or just going for walks, that can be really helpful for someone with depression. They’re never gonna wanna do it on their own, so you have to be there to kind of hold their hand and be like, Hey, let’s do this. You don’t have to go very far. Just whatever they can do. Meet them where they’re at.
“I mean, for me, I’m super extroverted. I can’t do anything by myself. I mean, even as a kid, like I would cry when you left the room to go make dinner. I just, I need somebody there. So, especially in times when I’m struggling with depression, I need someone to just be there. I cannot, like, if somebody’s like, oh, go for a walk, it’s not that simple. It does make it so much easier if somebody was like, come on, get up, come for a walk with me. Because then, especially because then I feel like I’m kind of accountable to somebody outside of myself. Like, This person wants me to come with them. It’s not just me wanting to go for a walk, but there’s no real consequence if I don’t.”
Yeah. And you know what, something that just occurred to me is I know what your love language is, like which, which one of those, you know, physical touch words of affirmation, those types of things. And when I learned that Nina is a physical touch, love language person, I started intentionally. Thinking about how long has it been since I gave Nina a hug and asking, do you need a hug?
Would you like a hug? And in my experience, my extroverted physical touch loving child never ever turned me down. Even my other kids who are less huggy, if I say, do you need a hug? Most of the time they will be like, yes. So, That might be another little tip here for parents is to find out what makes you feel loved.
Is it when I tell you, good job, I’m proud of you. You know those words of affirmation? Is it when we spend time together, do you love it? When I bring you like a little treat, like a gift, do you love it when I scratch your back or play with your hair? Give you a hug, right? Like, what are the two or three things that make you feel really loved?
And then make sure you’re doing them. Because on my end, physical touch is my lowest love language. I have to like, Put it in my calendar as a reminder. Ask Nina for a hug. Which sounds so funny, but that’s just how I grew up. My family was not very touchy feely.
We didn’t hug each other, which maybe explains some things, but I would be like, oh, when’s the last time I touched Nina? Like, did I have I put my hand on her shoulder? Grabbed her around the waist or something like that. Just very natural, normal ways. But I started doing that.
I started like consciously thinking about I once a day, I wanna give Nina a hug. Obviously now I can’t do that cuz you live super far away. But I think that’s something that can help parents feel like, okay, I’m doing a thing. I’m not totally helpless, I can do this. Asking what makes you feel loved? Okay, I’m gonna make sure I do that every day.
“And it’s not just something for the parents to be like, oh, I’m, I’m not helpless. It does help your kid. Like for my love language, I think we both read the same study about like the eight second hug every day. And how if you hug somebody for eight consecutive seconds, stuff happens and they feel better. Yeah. Hormones, whatever. You started doing that and I can’t really recall like a correlation, I think by the time you started doing that, I was already in a relatively better place, but I do love that.”
Awesome. Well, any final thoughts for anyone listening?
No, I think we covered all our bases.”
All right. Well this has been lovely. Thank you so much for coming on the podcast finally.
“I had some reservations, but it was really fun.”
Yes. You don’t have to have any reservations.
If you want to connect with me, you can schedule a chat. We can just talk. I can answer any questions for you or you can schedule an actual free session with me. But I think this has been an amazing conversation. I hope that it’s been helpful for anyone listening. That’s enough for now, and so are you. Thank you for listening, sharing, and leaving ratings and reviews. If you’re ready to address your own trauma with my support, go to denitabremer.com to schedule a free trauma assessment call.
Until next time, go be yourself and follow the spirit.