Listen to podcasts
If someone told me to listen to podcasts when my daughter was in crisis, I would have thought they were crazy. But hear me out. Podcasts are an incredibly easy and cheap form of self-care. And you really need to focus on self-care when your child’s depressed.
When my daughter was hospitalized for her depression, a social worker told me depression is like a whirlpool. It can turn and turn for ages before suddenly sucking someone under.
But as a parent, above the waterline, I found my child’s suicidal depression to be more akin to a tornado. It lifted the roof off my world and scattered my emotions and sense of self in a million directions.
All the while the storm was raging, I tried to stand still and steady. And when the flood waters rose, I tread furiously, struggling to keep us both afloat, not letting on that I was tired and worn out. Not sure I could save either one of us.
In the aftermath of that crisis, I started crying. Mostly in my car on the way to work.
I know uncontrollable crying is a sign of depression, but in lieu of spare change, time and emotional energy, I started to listen to podcasts. I needed a distraction. But more, I needed to learn how to be happy again. To make sense of my life and my choices. To reconcile working every day at one job, while I was failing at my most important job.
Here are the podcasts that saved me:
Cathy Heller: Don’t Keep Your Day Job
I’m not sure how I found out about Cathy Heller, but her podcast sent me down a rabbit hole and got me hooked on the medium and self-help in general.
The premise of her show is that you can make a living doing what you love. To prove it, she deconstructs the lives of those who’ve done it.
She interviews hugely successful women (and some men), like Caroline Miller, Tamara Melon, Jessica Huie, Bobbi Brown and Seth Godin. And though they lead vastly different lives, it’s clear they follow common guideposts through life, like:
- Happiness is a byproduct of helping others.
- Busyness is a choice.
- Done is better than perfect.
My favourite is clarity comes with action. Even when I can’t see the path ahead or the destination, I know that doing something other than stewing in my own inertia will take me closer to something else. For a while, that was enough.
American Public Radio: The Hilarious World of Depression
If you listen to nothing else, listen to this.
John Moe, the host of American Public Radio, interviews comedians and other creatives about their own experience with depression. His guests are superstars: Dick Cavett, Peter Sagal, Maria Bamford, Mike Brown, Jeff Tweedy, Rhett Miller, John Green, Wil Wheaton.
The conversations are funny, but also heart-wrenching. They’re raw, open and honest.
I’ve gained more insight into what it’s like to live with depression from this podcast than probably anything else I’ve heard or read. And John Moe (also living with depression) is the bomb. He’s brilliant at his job, funny and empathetic.
Drew Ackerman: Sleep with Me
Last is Sleep With Me. Ever since I had kids I’ve had trouble sleeping. As life got busier and work more stressful, it evolved into insomnia. The events of the last few years haven’t helped.
Thankfully, I have Drew Ackerman, aka Scooter. In a dream-like stream of consciousness he drones on and on. It knocks me out! I barely get through the sponsor credits. If I wake up, I just push play on the same episode and I’m out again. Unfortunately, I couldn’t tell you what he talks about — I’m never awake long enough to find out.
While none of these podcasts have relieved my daughter’s depression, they have helped me with my own. They have given me strength and focus. They’ve helped me to deconstruct my own thought patterns, to separate absolute truth from belief and how to put one foot in front of the other.
I think they’ve made me a better person, a better parent. At the very least, I’ve stopped crying in my car.