21 Sep Empty Nest Syndrome and Depression
I was the wrong candidate to be a mother. To begin with, I didn’t like children; I didn’t want any added responsibility and I didn’t like sharing “my time” with anyone. So it came as a big surprise to me when I decided to put my daughter before my career. It was a tough decision and it became tougher since I refused to bask in the glow of motherhood and be over the moon every time my daughter did something perfectly normal and ordinary.
The extent of my involvement with her became apparent the day she started college in Bangalore and I saw her walk in through the gates of Christ University, looking back over her shoulder and waving – those two completely different feelings – one of pride and the other of the intense void within my heart – could co-exist, was something I experienced for the first time. For several days after that, I kept the door of her room shut and felt teary every time I spoke to her. In the following weeks and months, I felt more and more depressed.
Empty nest syndrome is not a clinical term but an intense feeling of sadness when children leave home. You feel depressed all the time.
How to deal with empty nest syndrome
- Prepare for the departure – instead of making it a sad affair, involve the whole family and treat it as an adventure. Go shopping, eat out, and generally spend quality time with your children before they leave for college.
- Get over the terrifying thought that you will be left alone- Think that you have done a good job of bringing up your children well. Do not rejoice at the fact that they are feeling miserable away from home and cannot do the household chores properly. They will make mistakes but they will also learn to lead a life without you. Treat it as a new beginning for both of you
- Keep in regular touch with your children- They are alone and they are missing you. They might not be saying or showing it because they are trying to be brave.
- Make sure they have a decent mobile phone, which connects easily
- Text or WhatsApp when you can’t make phone calls
- Don’t get upset if they don’t call or text. They are trying to act like grown-ups. Respect their privacy.
- Start looking to your own needs- As parents we all make sacrifices. We usually put our children’s needs before our own needs. This is normal but once children leave home, parents, especially non-working mothers start feeling that their life has lost meaning. This is the right time to indulge in your interests, start a new hobby, and if possible go back to work.
- Accept support– It is not a sign of weakness to ask for help. Acknowledge your grief. It is absolutely normal to feel sad and depressed after your children leave home. The emptiness within doesn’t go away by simply wishing. If you need professional counseling to cope, do not shy away from it.
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