Four down, one to go.

That’s a rather fatalistic view of my family and the likelihood of the presence of depression/anxiety-related illness. But it seems accurate.

I’ve just sent the second of our three out the door for a visit with a therapist. After months of creeping depression symptoms and distinct anxiety symptoms, it’s a necessary step.

I know depression and anxiety too well. They’ve been constant, intrusive partners in my marriage for over twenty years. They’ve both hit me at times. Our oldest was diagnosed with both this past winter. Now I feel fairly certain our middle child is struggling with them. How long will it be before our youngest goes down the same path?

To be quite honest, I’m sick to death of brain illnesses – or at least I’m sick of dealing with them in close family members. Tired of the constant vigilance, the watching for symptoms, the dealing with mood swings and dark clouds that sometimes hang over the household. As it becomes more and more apparent that this is what we’re seeing in daughter number two, I find myself thinking, “Not again. I don’t have it in me.”

But of course, I do have it in me. I have to. Thankfully, it’s an open subject in our home. The obvious family tendency has forced us to talk about symptoms to watch for and what to do when we see them.

And I refuse to hide it. As Bern and I have said over and over again, the best way to overcome the stigma associated with brain illnesses is to talk about them just as we would any other illnesses. No hiding, no embarrassment.

But that doesn’t mean I like it.

-Amy

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13 Responses

  1. Maybe that’s the best support you can provide for your kids at this point — “Yes this is difficult, but this is just another thing that we deal with like we did those other times.” Doesn’t mean managing isn’t hard though.

  2. We have mental illness in my side of the family and so I find myself looking for signs and wondering if there will be any. It’s not fun. I’m sure it’s even harder when you start to see them. It’s just plain hard. I’m sorry. :(

  3. I understand what you’re going through. I’ve suffered with depression for most of my life and two of my three children have also had problems with it. Our country needs to do a better job of recognizing mental illness as just that…..an illness. It’s not something that we should be ashamed of but, all too often, we are put in that position.

    Good for you for getting your kids help!

  4. I think that far more of us are affected by mental illness than realise or admit it, I worked in mental health services and my work drove me to a near breakdown and when I asked for help I was not given any support at all at work which was bizarre. I suffered from stress at first, which developed into anxiety, near agrophobia, extreme fatigue, suicidal thoughts and a total disassociation with normal life, I struggled through it all alone, I had no support or help other than from my children. My doctor laughed at me when I told him I was so depressed I couldn’t even remember my son’s name on one occasion and he said i needed to take a holiday. I’m healed now, I’ve healed myself with rest, food, exercise and a total rethink of my life but I know so many people who are struggling. it’s the lives we lead now, poor diets, lack of exercise, all of the pollutants, the stresses of being mothers and fathers (and I mean both for lots of us), coping with families who are scattered around the world, communities which are not communal anymore, over work, under pay… it’s all driving us nuts and it will blow and does blow time and again. But we don’t learn lessons from it we patch it up and let it carry on bleeding internally until it pops again like a poison filled abscess squirting poisonous rancid puss all over anyone who gets in the way. It needs dealing with systemically.

    • You’re absolutely right. And how appalling what poor support you received from your workplace AND your doctor. I hope you have more reasonable professionals in your life now!

  5. At least there is comfort in a diagnosis. At least for me I am happier knowing what the problem is and then I can deal with it. Sending you virtual moral support.

  6. I feel for you. It must be so tough having depression rip through the household. It is hard enough having one person ill but having several ill or tagteaming – I can understand that you are suffering. My depression caused my husband to almost go under at times – it’s never as simple as one person having it and the other looking on. Have you got a good network of friends or extended family? I think this is key in coping.

    • Thank you for your kind thoughts. I do have a good support network – especially my co-author, who has been through a lot of the same stuff. You’re absolutely right that spouses suffer right alongside. Hoping for the best for you.

      • So glad you have some people to chat to about all this. Must be so so hard. My spirit is soaring, even though I’ve been unwell and exhausted, due to the doctor having so much faith in my recovery and also the amazing bunch of people who have all sent kind wishes in response to me telling them the news. It does the soul good getting such encouragement and being told I am loved just as I am. Glad you found me on WordPress and I look forward to following and supporting you in your journey. If you have any tips about writing personal stories/ anecdotes for an online audience I’d be glad to hear :).

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