Wednesday, July 16, 2008


Today's post is part of Blog Share, written by an anonymous blogger. Somewhere out there is an anonymous post by me. Links to all participant blogs are listed in the post below.

My mother is depressed. She was diagnosed with depression over 16 years ago and generally manages to stay on top of it with therapy and medication. I say she was diagnosed over 16 years ago because I can't remember when exactly, but I know that about 16 years ago she was suicidal.

I'm telling you this because it scares me.

My mother reminds me often that there is active and severe depression in many of my family members. We discuss the symptoms and ways that I can get help if I feel I am depressed. She tells me stories about staying in bed all day crying; about being unable to care for her children (undiagnosed post-partum depression); about feeling that she had nothing to offer the world.

I cannot pin point the time when I became aware that she was depressed, but I do vividly remember her driving to my school 16 years ago to say 'good bye'. She entered into an in-patient care treatment program. I'm not sure how long she was gone—at the time, I didn't even know where she went.

This is all coming to the forefront again because she was recently admitted to out-patient treatment for two weeks. Her version of a living hell is in-patient treatment, but she knew she needed something. I didn't know. I couldn't see it. But she knew. There is part of that that gives me comfort: she knows the signs, she's discussed this with her doctor, she knows when talk therapy and medication are not enough; but there is an entirely different part of me that just freaks out.

I freak out because I wonder if I suffer from depression. I have read up on it. I have told my husband about symptoms and signs to watch out for. I don't really think I'm depressed, but with all of the family history I can't help but wonder if I'm a ticking time bomb. I do not believe that I am depressed. I do believe that it could come on in the future.

I am certainly not trying to trivialize depression or those suffering from it. My mother leads a rather normal life—what I think of as a good life. It hurts me that sometimes she doesn't see it that way, but I know that I can't take it personally. I have to explain this to my husband and my brother time and time again—yes, she has a lot of good things happening to her and yes, she is aware of them and often pleased or excited by them, but she can't just make herself happy. I try to explain it while not fully grasping the disease. I try to explain it without minimizing the symptoms or raining on their parade. I try to explain it to them and I try to explain it to myself.

Our family is celebrating a lot right now. The joy is all around and I really hope that my mom can take care of herself so that in the near future she is capable of fully enjoying everything that her life has to offer. In the meantime, we're all here to support her.


At 9:18 PM, Blogger CityStreams said...

What a beautiful post. Depression sucks. The good news, is that if you have a hard time explaining it to your husband and brother, then you definitely don't have it yourself.

The best way I know of to describe it, would be like looking at a black and white TV. You don't even realized all the colors that are missing at first. When my meds kicked in, I could really see the difference. The world became colorful again.

At the really low points, I would get in the shower and turn it to scalding hot just to feel something. Anything. When I got out, my skin would be lobster red. Then I would crawl back in my dirty pajamas and go to sleep with wild wet hair. No one knew what I was going through except my husband. I put on a facade whenever I left the house.

Give your mom a hug for me. Tell her she's not alone. Neither are you.

At 10:45 PM, Anonymous Pants said...

Depression does suck.

I worry for my father, a lot. I know that he's been struggling lately...but he won't talk about it. At least your mother is willing to discuss what's going on? Though that's not very much of a reassurance.

Thank you for sharing.

At 11:21 PM, Anonymous alyndabear said...

I can't even begin to imagine what it must be like for you and your mum - but I feel for you. I have concerns about my family, as well.

At 12:24 AM, Anonymous heidikins said...

This is a powerful post; may I suggest you read the play "August: Osage County". It has some similar themes and incredible insights into depression, family history, and breaking out of those cycles.

Great post.

At 6:46 AM, Blogger nancypearlwannabe said...

Depression is such a hard thing to watch other people deal with. I hope everything continues to go well.

At 6:47 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've had a similar situation with my mother for the last 21 years, and it has been a difficult one when I really let myself think about it. I grappled with wondering if I was "crazy" or suffered from depression, and I've come to the conclusion that I am lucky and that I am fine, but worrying and wondering about it was enough to make me feel like I was going crazy. I think citystreams is right and that if you had a problem you would definitely know it. Thanks for the honest post.


At 6:59 AM, Anonymous Lara said...

Oh, honey.

I don't know which is worth - struggling with depression oneself or watching a loved one struggle with it. Having done both, I should know. But I don't.

The good news is that it sounds like you are very aware of the symptoms, and that you know first-hand that it helps to seek treatment. (Yay, medication!). It is also wonderful that your mom is self-aware enough to recognize when she needs help, and strong enough to go and get it.

At 7:42 AM, Blogger lizgwiz said...

My best friend has suffered from depression from years. So hard. I'm sending lots of good mojo to your mom and you and your family!

At 7:52 AM, Blogger Allie said...

It runs in my family too and I've had that ticking time bomb feeling before. But it's been explained to me (several times) that I'm not actually a ticking time bomb. Neither are you. It just doesn't work that way. And while it's important to be vigilant about your mental health, I think the fact that you made it through the turbulent teenage years in a family dealing with depression without have a serious episode of depression probably speaks volumes to the fact that depression isn't something lying in wait to hit you at the first chance it gets. That doesn't mean you or I won't ever worry about it though.

At 8:05 AM, Blogger Sauntering Soul said...

I've had to watch a loved one struggle with depression too. It sucks. I don't know who you are, but I send prayers and warm vibes out into the Universe for you and your family.

At 8:20 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

That is scary. You are strong for dealing with it as you do.

At 2:01 PM, Blogger Courtney said...

Brave post, anonyposter. I hope your mom gets the help she needs, and I'm glad you're able to face the possibilities for yourself rather than hiding from them.

At 4:28 PM, Blogger Noelle said...

That sounds extremely hard for you. Knowing the signs is a good thing, but I can imagine how it's also scary wondering if they apply to you. I hope you have nothing but good things!

At 4:59 PM, Blogger Ween said...

Thanks for sharing on my blog, anonyposter. The word depression is thrown around so much that sometimes it seems to have lost its meaning, and your post is a reminder of how real depression is for those dealing with it and their loved ones.

Thinking good thoughts for you and your family.

At 6:37 PM, Blogger Tracy Crowe Jones said...

Thanks for your post. It's comforting to hear from a family member who understand to some extent what a hell mental illness is for the person with the disease and all the people in that person's life.

I think it's great your mom is aware enough of her symptoms to know when she has to increase the level of treatment she is receiving.

I hope you can always assure yourself that her depression is NOT your fault.


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