As an estranged Father, as a parent who has been prevented from seeing his children by the ‘holy arms’ of the law and the bitter and twisted ways of an ex-wife and her interfering family, and as a depressive for 40 years or more, I sometimes wonder.
Is it worse for me to experience depression or worse for the people close to me, who have to watch me experience it?
Today, I had a series of texts messages from my teenage daughter after not hearing from her for many months (not for want of trying on my part, I hasten to add) to say she was feeling depressed, lonely, thinking of running away, had been drinking and smoking weed and trying not to ‘cut’ herself.
Also today, I had a serious chat with a friend and colleague whose wife is suffering terribly with depression right now. Along with dealing with a change in routine to their young son’s schooling, and experiencing first-hand the effect it was having on him as a person who loves someone who is in a dark depression caused mainly by anxiety.
I suppose the reality is that there are differences between men and women. As a man listening to a daughter in need, the knee jerk reaction may be to want to fix it. I completely resisted this … simply just asking questions to get her to verbalise in greater detail what she was going through and what was causing her such angst. The fact that I am many thousands of miles from my daughter to some degree is academic, for were I close by, she wouldn’t want to see me in any case (due, in part at least, to the poison they have been exposed to by their family abroad).
With my male colleague, I was able to offer some avenues of hope and facilitate possible help.
The last of many therapies that I underwent was delivered by a wonderful doctor of Psychology. It employed some CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) as well as some psychoanalysis. Whilst I still battle and suffer every day and have a very finite goal for the rest of my life, maybe that’s just the way it’s going to be for me, and more and more I am coming to accept that suffering for me is simply part of my path and I can accept that, in THIS moment, as I write.
If I die tomorrow, I don’t care … I truly don’t.
… what about the effect this is going to have on the folks that are close to me?
… what about my kids, even though I haven’t seen them for over two years and have no contact for months, then a series of texts like today.
… what about my sister and brother and best mates?
You see, I often think it would be better for them if I wasn’t here … and if that happened in a car crash or something out of my control, then that would be easier for them to handle than me committing suicide.
Depression and other mental illness can distort reality. It’s a bit like looking in one of those warped mirrors that we used to see at fairgrounds. Curiously for me, it can bring such stark reality that it can provoke me to write or take action. How that action manifests itself (other than writing) is a potentially dangerous place.
With this in mind, I wish you all love peace and hope and specifically to those of you who love someone with mental illness.
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