A guest post, from reader and friend of mine who would like to protect their anonymity. Let’s just say he’s a loving husband and a dad to two daughters who he adores.
Even on the shattered mirror shards…
It took a while for my Mum’s depression to develop, over a number of life events, and then for me to realise that she wasn’t just sensitive, but actually depressed, and quite severely. She’s been suicidal a few times, though one of those was a side-effect of the antidepressant medication she tried. It took longer still for me to really comprehend I couldn’t do a damn thing about it, could never make the world safe enough for her, could never give her enough love to overcome the chemicals in her brain. Luckily, thanks to finding the right sort of anti-depressants for her, and good counselling, the depression is being treated.
Alom Shaha writes:
‘As a result of her illness, my siblings and I had a part-time mother. I can’t speak for my brothers and sisters, but I resented her for this, even if I didn’t consciously realise it at the time. I was angry at her for leaving us, as things were always better when she was around. I was angry at her for making me miss her. And how I missed her; how awful it was to carry around that emptiness every day at school, pretending that nothing was wrong and nursing the hope that she’d be home when I got home from school. But I got used to it, and so did my siblings, because kids do get used to things.’
Whilst for the most part my Mum’s not been hospitalised, I certainly identify with that a lot. Probably worse than Mum being in hospital are the times, thankfully less often since she started getting treatment for it, when I talk to her and she sounds like a robot, devoid of emotion, or when she just takes everything the wrong way, or when everything gets sucked into this whirlpool of negativity that can suck me down if I’m not careful. There are times when I avoid contact because I have enough stress in my own non-depressed life without having to add, despite me wanting that motherly support. That’s the hardest part to deal with. I don’t think I’ll ever ‘get used to it’.
One of the frustrating things is not being able to talk about it, to carry on with life at work and with friends as if nothing is happening, so I thank Lori for the opportunity to at least blog anonymously on it, though I’ve still had to leave out a lot—personally I’m not ashamed to tell people when I’m down (which probably got close to being mild depression once), but my Mum feels ashamed. Partly it’s her worrying for nothing, but partly it’s that some people still wrongly attach a lot of stereotypes to it; that people with depression are weak, when they’re actually very strong to fight what is a disease, not just a down period you can try and ‘snap out of’, etc. Though I admit I struggle to comprehend that at times, too.
…a new scenery is reflected.
Probably the only good thing to come out of it all is the realisation that my Dad wasn’t to blame for everything, though he can still be a dick at times, but then so can we all. I admit, I started out as a bit of a mummy’s boy, and took her side on things, but as I grew up, and part of that through a relationship with an ex-girlfriend who had depression, I realised that my Dad was making the best of an increasingly difficult situation for him. So my relationship with my Dad has improved, and we talk more now, and I offer him support, because he needs it too.
One of the things that always annoys me when people talk about depression is the focus on the depressed/suicidal person, and very little if any discussion of the difficulties and challenges faced by family members and friends. So I hope this blog helps a little, as do these links to some resources and support groups.
If any overseas readers know of support groups outside of Australia, I’m sure Lori would be happy to add them here.
Thanks to Sapphyre for this link to GROW.
For carers, check out Partners In Depression.
And for teens, I personally think Reach Out is awesome.
Indeed I am- feel free to leave links in the comments, and I’ll add them to this post.