Depression and Grief

Can you tell us what happened to your family?

I guess you can call us an ordinary family, the average 2.4 children. There are only 16 months between my two children and things at first were really difficult, I suffered from PND with my second child and it took roughly 2 years to fully recover.

Our family is in some ways lacking in support, we’ve always just been us, no Grandparents to help as my parents didn’t want to help and my husband’s parents are both unfortunately dead. I think that this lack of extra support was a factor of my depression, all my friends had support from their extended families and I found this really difficult.

We are a very close family and I’m a perfectionist, having not had the parental care that I should have had as a child, I desperately wanted to give it to my own children but it was this almost obsession that drove me to my limit both physically and mentally. It was quite a sudden change, I began to stop eating, I hated going out as before I’d always enjoyed others company, I found that I just couldn’t be bothered to get up most mornings as it was too much effort to wash and clean.

Having had postnatal depression it should have been easier to recognise but I think my poor husband couldn’t accept that I’d got depressed again, I think he thought it his own doing, especially as his first wife suffered badly from depression. Looking back I know I withdrew from everyone and everything, I felt inside that people hated me and saw me for who I was, a horrid and nasty person. I was fighting a huge battle inside, one that could have easily driven me to commit suicide.

How has your depression affected your children?

The children did suffer, but to be honest my husband did a fantastic job of holding everything together. I was falling apart mentally and I didn’t want them to see that. I forced myself to get them out of bed, make their lunch boxes and got them to school. It took enormous courage to meet people, I couldn’t go onto the playground after school and I couldn’t face church, which was the one place I felt that people wouldn’t understand. I felt that I was too horrible for God to love, that the person I’d become was not what God wanted.

The children were very clingy, they always wanted me, I had to force myself to still put them to bed, read them a story and play games with them. They are such lovely children and they just accepted me for who I was right at that time.

What things have you done to try and help them to understand and to cope?

I know myself that children do remember horrid things from childhood and I didn’t want them to look back on their childhood with hurt and sadness. I think that the willingness of myself and my husband to be totally committed to our children and wanting the house to be a loving place in which they could grow in total safety, this helped them both to carry on with their lives as best as they could.

We continued to pour out our love and do so now, we have discussed many times that even mums and dads sometimes make mistakes and that it doesn’t mean we love them any less, but that we’re human.

What have you learnt as a family through what you've been through?

As a family we are very open, we only have ourselves and although that really hurts me it is so nice to know that my children are receiving the kind of love and care that I didn’t receive as a child. Forgiveness has played a huge part of breaking free, I’ve had to offer my forgiveness and also accept that others have forgiven me. I love my children and they know they’re loved, I know that we are a very strong family even if it is just the four of us, that too is something that I am still accepting, that we have no extended family.

The death of my own mother this year has opened some old wounds for me, it’s been another learning curve for my little family again, but I know that God has really held us together before and he will do now. My children know that they are loved both by their parents and their creator and that is so wonderful! I thank God that I am blessed with such lovely children and I thank God that one day I, my children and my mum will be reunited in heaven and will enjoy the relationship that we all missed out on here on Earth.

How are things now?

Depression is something that I have lived with on and off for years, it doesn't follow any pattern, it just hits me at various times of the year. I think that with any kind of blackness you have in your life, whether it is deep depression or mild depression the thing is to remember to tell yourself it won’t always be like this, that this current feeling WILL lift. I know that the times when I’ve been really down it has been so hard to see a way out, but one thing I've done is kept a diary of how I feel during the good and bad days and then I have something written to show me that I have had happier and more free days. Just to see that written down can make all the difference and can even help ease the darkness of that time. It isn’t easy, I’m not saying it is, but with loving people around who you can trust to help you and also a will to get through, it can be beaten. I still have dreadfully dark days, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t, really bad and dark days when I think that this life is too much, that is when I tend to go for a walk and just be by myself with my own thoughts and talk to God and pour out my heart to him.

One final point, if you do find yourself suffering from depression then please don’t suffer on your own, there are help groups out there, ask a friend to phone them on your behalf if you can’t manage to do it, also email is a great invention as you don’t have to speak to anyone. Just don’t try and punish yourself anymore, get help, it’s out there, all you need to do is ask.

Can you suggest any resources for anyone else struggling with this issue?

Reading when you have depression is not pleasurable but I did read one book entitled: Beauty for Ashes by Joyce Meyer.

There are websites too for people suffering from depression, MIND is a registered charity and they offer free and confidential advice for sufferers and their families. HAVOCA is a website for people who have been abused in childhood, it offers loads of information and resources and even a counselling service for adults who are suffering.

Article written by DEL