Over the last 9 years, my daughter and I have had to work especially hard to find ways to connect when I’m completely disconnected. In any relationship, taking the time to bond with one another is obviously critical, but when you deal with chronic depression, you often can’t even find the motivation to get out of bed, let alone do something with someone else. We thought it might be nice to share what we’ve discovered to see if it helps anyone else!
Before I get into our list though, I wanted to take a second to point out that if you’re disconnecting due to depression or anxiety or anything like that, take care of yourself! Do what you can to get comfortable, and then work yourself into finding new ways to reconnect. Depression can change your life and you might find that the things you used to enjoy with friends are no longer enjoyable. That doesn’t mean you can’t build relationships. It just means you might have to go about it a little differently.
And now, our top 6 ways to bond!
Eileen and I discovered a long time ago that sleepovers were a great way to bond even when I’m not really in the mood for connecting. Just getting to spend the evening in Mommy’s room equals something special. Even better, now that she’s old enough she loves to make sleepover snacks and bring them upstairs with her, which means I get time with her and fed (something that’s a lot harder when I’m depressed)!
During our sleepover, we might do anything from watch a movie to play video games, but if I’m up to it, I’ll pull out the nail polish and we’ll do that too. It just depends on the day. There have been a few sleepovers where she spent the evening with her daddy and then came upstairs right before bed. Ultimately, it’s just the time together that matters.
Both Eileen and I are avid readers (check out some of my reviews here). This makes reading time an ideal bonding moment for us. I personally love that it’s a quiet activity and something we can share through recommendations or just being in each other’s company. Admittedly, I don’t spend as much time reading as I used to, but it’s still an old standby for us. In fact, if I’m feeling like hiding, she’ll usually ask to join me and just ready quietly in the same room. Again, it’s all about that time together.
Note: as I’m writing this, Eileen is laying on the floor next to me and reading the seventh Harry Potter.
Dates aren’t just for couples, in case you didn’t know! It might seem a little cheesy, but Eileen and I love to go out together when I have the energy to spare. It isn’t always a big event, but it’s special for us. Usually, we go get food, but if we have the time we might see a movie or go paint ceramics. When the weather is nice, it usually means a walk over to McDonald’s. What it always comes down to, again, is that time together.
Okay, so this is a big one. Eileen and I both love to craft, but I’m seriously never going to finish a project. Our middle ground? Creating craft projects. We both love dreaming up ideas and over the years, I’ve gained the experiences to teach her how to make things. So, I teach her the skill and she makes the thing… at least until she also gets distracted and wanders off.
…Yeah, I’ve got the attention span of a 9-year-old… Still, we’re bonding, right?
Sometimes we just skip the production phase and stay in the brainstorming stage though. We’ll dig through our craft supplies and dream of different things we could invent and how to put it together. It’s an exercise in imagination, a quick activity, and for us, that’s where the real magic is.
Fair warning: The last two are totally nerdy. I actually majored in computer science, and while I didn’t pursue it as a career (because, good lordy, can you say stress?), I do love it as a hobby. Needless to say, as soon as Eileen got old enough to start processing logic, we started programming together. To be fair, most of the work now is done by her, but it’s a fun activity to do together! It’s also a great thing for trips to the bookstore because we’re always looking for new coding books to test out.
Yeah, I know. Nerdy. But it’s something Eileen and I have done together since before her first birthday. No, I’m not suggesting she could even hold a controller then, but I’m a huge gamer and so there were many days where the only way I could handle her was if I was playing a video game. Mike would come in and catch us snuggling on the couch together, her watching me play, and as she got older, us playing together. We still, to this day, use it as a standby when we want some time together. In fact, if she catches me playing anything, she’ll stop and run over to watch. To be fair, I do the same.
Nerd bonding, at its best.
In the end… Everyone is different, obviously, which is part of what makes the world amazing. Unfortunately, depression can make it really hard to connect with the people most important in my life. It was a long process of trial and error to find the things that Eileen and I both loved, and now that I have Jamie, it’s a learning process all over again.
Sometimes it’s hard. Sometimes it’s frustrating. And honestly, some days are bad enough that none of these options work out. But overall, it’s always worth it.
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