First off let me say that I am not medically trained in any way nor am I a therapist. I am just someone who has been dealing with my own mental illness for thirty three years. This post is hard for me to write because it is not really my story. It is my mother's story. It is her story and therefore it is her song. My mother had a very rough childhood. Why her childhood was rough is another post at another time. My mother is a beautiful soul. She loves with all of her heart. Gives with all of her ability. She is not just my mother but my best friend, and she has clinical depression. I don't like the world clinical. It sounds like a sterile version of a very dangerous affliction. To me, it some how lessens the tragedy of the term, making more safe sounding or neat and tidy. There is nothing safe or neat and tidy about depression. My first memory that not all was right with the world was when I was around seven. My mother cried. By cried I don't mean the occasional boohoo of something sad. She cried all of the time. She broke dishes and hid in closets. She stopped taking care of her personal needs. Once she was a woman who worked out, put on make up, and danced around the house. She no longer did that. Then around the age of eight, my mother tried to commit suicide. She took an overdose of pills. I do not know how my father found her but it was in time enough to get her to the hospital. Unbeknownst to her, the pills she took could not kill you if you overdosed on them. I was in the room when they pumped her stomach. I was told she "accidentally" took too much of her medication. I later figured out what really happened as an adolescent. When I asked her she admitted it. We have a rule. We do not lie to each other. After her attempt she made a promise to never leave me by her own hand. I am grateful for that choice. My life would have been hollow and empty without her. I would not have had the one person who understood my mental illness better than anyone. The person who kissed my scraped knees and held my hand when I cried. The person who taught me to be good,to be strong, to be kind. The person who would not let me belittle myself for my faults. I would not have had the support I needed to become the woman I am now. I would not have my best friend. Growing up with someone who has severe depression is hard to explain to one who has never experienced it. It was like watching the one person you love most in the world drown in a vat of tar. The more they struggle to be free the more exhausted they become. She suffered and there was nothing I could do to help her. And, yet she still would go on. For me, because she made me a promise. Because she is strong. She still goes on. She struggles through everyday. Some days are better than others. She is on medication and has had therapy. And, I am here. I am here for her phone calls. I can share in her grief. I am here to support her like all of the times she has supported me. I am here to hold her hand, if that is what she needs. I will never let her belittle herself because of her faults.I am here Mom.
Depression should not be belittled or sanitized. It is a dangerous mental illness. It is a killer. It is not a sign of weakness. It is not an imagined illness. It is not a cry for attention. If you know someone with depression, give them a hug. Give them your time. Give them your support and most of all get them professional help.They are worth it.