Episode 369: Avoiding Depression Relapse & Questioning Parenthood

Episode 369: Navigating Personal Struggles & Motherhood

Hello, friends! I hope everyone is doing well.

In today’s episode, we delve into two deeply personal and powerful listener questions:

1. A 26-year-old woman shares her journey from the depths of a severe depression to her current stable and fulfilling life. Despite her progress, she grapples with anxiety about possibly regressing into her past depressive state. We explore the resilience of overcoming challenges, the changes that occur within us as we grow, and the power of reflection and gratitude in maintaining mental health.

2. A single mother of two confronts the painful reality of potentially repeating the patterns of her own tumultuous childhood. With raw honesty, she reveals her struggles with emotional, mental, and occasional physical abuse towards her children. In response, we discuss the profound challenges of motherhood, the potential for growth and change, and the importance of seeking resources and support.

Resources Mentioned:

For more detailed information and links, please visit the show notes for this episode at http://duffthepsych.com/episode369.

As always, if you have questions or topics you’d like discussed on the show, please send them to duffthepsych@gmail.com.

This episode is sponsored by BetterHelp. If you find yourself stuck in a rut, consider enlisting the help of a licensed therapist online. Head to http://betterhelp.com/duff for 10% off your first month!

Read more: Episode 369: Avoiding Depression Relapse & Questioning Parenthood

Question 1:

Hi, Thank you so much for your podcast and all you do – I’ve been listening on and off for years and it’s helped me through some hard times! Here’s my question: how do I manage the intense fear and anxiety around back peddling or falling back into bad habits and depression?

Context: I’m a 26 year old woman who is doing well – stable and successful career, healthy relationship, healthy lifestyle, going to therapy bi-weekly and no longer on any medications for my mental health. But 4 years ago I had come out of a near 2 year long deep, dark depression where I was suicidal, needed Xanax to get through the day, and was overall unwell. Now that I’ve been stable for a longer period of time and love where my life is at, I have awful anxiety and intrusive thoughts around falling back into a depression and being in that state again.


Hello! First off, thank you for sharing your experience and raising this concern. Your question underscores a sentiment that many people who’ve worked hard to overcome significant challenges often feel. It’s a testament to your resilience and tenacity.

We all have chapters in our lives that we never want to revisit, and for you, that chapter spanned two grueling years of depression. But here’s the silver lining: you clawed your way out of it. The stark transformation from where you were to where you are now serves as a beacon of hope for many. When you’re entrenched in the quagmire of depression, it feels unending. But your journey stands as proof that change and growth are possible. In the grand tapestry of life, those challenging years will eventually be just a fraction of your story.

It’s essential to remember the context in which you fought this battle. At 20, you were battling these demons when your brain, particularly the frontal lobe responsible for reasoning and decision-making, was still in its development phase. This means that, physiologically, you’re not the same person you were. You’ve evolved, both mentally and emotionally.

Your fear of regressing is entirely valid. The dark abyss of depression is daunting, and naturally, you never want to plunge into it again. But it’s crucial to realize that the person you were then and the person you are now are fundamentally different. The strategies you’ve built, the knowledge you’ve gained, and the self-awareness you’ve developed act as buffers against such a slide. You’re now more attuned to your mental state and can course-correct if things start going awry.

Preparedness is essential. Reflect on the past and identify early signs of your depression. Recognize the triggers and circumstances that may have exacerbated it. Create a mental or physical toolkit of strategies that have worked for you. Engage people you trust to be your mirror, reflecting any changes they observe. This external perspective, combined with insights from therapy, can provide a holistic view of your mental state.

Speaking of therapy, while it’s commendable that you’re already seeking it, delving deeper into the origins of your depression could be immensely beneficial. Understanding your familial patterns, past experiences, and underlying triggers can fortify your defenses against a relapse.

If, in the worst-case scenario, you sense a slide back into depression, remember you have options. Whether it’s adjusting workloads, considering medication, or seeking more intensive therapy, you’re not devoid of choices or resources. Your journey has equipped you with the tools and resilience to navigate these waters.

Your fears, though valid, shouldn’t overshadow the present. Engage in activities that allow you to express and process them, whether it’s journaling, therapy, or open conversations with friends. Another empowering approach is to transform these fears into gratitude. Every time a ‘what if’ crops up, pivot to a thought of gratitude. Celebrate your progress, cherish your current state, and use it as a foundation to build an even more robust mental framework.

In conclusion, your journey is both inspiring and powerful. Your fears are a testament to how much you value the life you’ve built. Embrace that gratitude, arm yourself with knowledge, and remember: you’ve faced the worst and emerged stronger. You’ve got this!

Question 2:

Single mom of two who didn’t have the best relationship with my mother growing up & father was absent- I feel like I’m repeating in more ways then one. I’m emotionally, mentally and sometimes physically abusive to my kids as my mother was to me. I never wanted to be her but I don’t know how to fix me. I feel like I don’t want to be a mom anymore because I am not a good one at all. I’m considering giving up my rights. I’m not sure if I’m fixable but I do need advice on what to do regarding my kids. Thank you for reading this…


Thank you so much for having the courage to share your personal struggles. Your question is a stark reminder of how deeply our past can shape our present. I want to commend you for your bravery in confronting this and seeking a better path forward.

Your feelings and concerns about motherhood resonate deeply. Motherhood isn’t just the idyllic scenes portrayed in media; it’s a complex, demanding, and, at times, overwhelming journey. Your contemplation about relinquishing your rights as a mother isn’t an act of selfishness. On the contrary, it’s a testament to your desire for the best possible life for your children, even if it means making painful decisions.

It’s evident that you’re doing your utmost given your current resources and support. Still, it seems like you’re in a cycle where your best isn’t quite enough to create the environment you envision for your kids. Giving up your rights is indeed an option, but there are other avenues available if you’re committed to transforming your current situation.

Foremost, therapy should be a priority if you’re not already engaged in it. Addressing and processing the trauma from your upbringing is critical. Your past has left indelible marks, and therapy can provide you with tools and insights to navigate and potentially rewrite the narrative. However, do be aware of the limits of confidentiality in therapy, especially when discussing matters that might necessitate mandatory reporting.

If you haven’t explored psychiatric treatments, they might offer additional support. Medications can sometimes temper explosive emotions and provide a more balanced mental state, enabling you to respond more constructively to stressors.

Your situation screams of a dire need for resources. There are numerous community resources to alleviate the relentless pressures you face daily. I’ve compiled a list of resources on the show notes for this episode at duffthepsych.com/episode369.

Childwelfare.gov is a comprehensive platform that offers an array of resources tailored for various needs, from adoption to strengthening families. The National Parent Helpline also provides a directory of parent resources by state. Support groups, especially online ones, can be immensely beneficial. They offer a platform to share, learn, and draw strength from others in similar situations.

Contrary to popular belief, Child Protective Services (CPS) is not an antagonist. Their primary goal isn’t to separate families but to ensure children’s welfare. Engaging with them might open doors to resources and support that can improve your family’s situation.

Introspection is key. Reflect on your aspirations as an individual and as a mother. Do you see a future where you evolve into the parent you wish to be? Or is your desire rooted in wanting a different life trajectory, devoid of parenting responsibilities? Therapy will be invaluable in helping you unpack these feelings.

It’s crucial to remember that your children need safety above all. While acknowledging your struggles and efforts is essential, it’s equally vital to prioritize their well-being. Show them resilience, growth, and the power of transformation. Sometimes, the most profound lessons come from our most challenging moments.

Begin by seeking help and taking it one step at a time. Engage with the resources, be candid about your challenges across all spectrums—be it financial, legal, or psychological. The journey might seem daunting, but remember that every step you take is a step towards a brighter future.

Your story is a testament to the complexities of parenthood and personal battles. Believe in the possibility of change and growth. Your courage in seeking a better path is already a sign of your immense strength. Thank you for sharing your story.


Certainly! Here are the links to the mentioned resources:

  1. Parent Support Group Programs:
  2. The Parent Support Network:
  3. Help for Abusive Partners:
  4. Parent Groups (forthechild.org):
  5. Parenting Support Groups in Connecticut (Psychology Today):
  6. Help for Parents of Troubled Teens (HelpGuide.org):

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