After a year and a half of living with clinical depression, and 6 months of treatment, I finally told my Mum last night.
Say what? I hear you say…don’t you write about it all the time on your blog….? Uh huh. I do. But you see, my Mum doesn’t really read. She can read of course, she just doesn’t read the internet. Unless you count facebook posts. No-one in my family does. It’s actually a glorious thing for me, that I can confess or unload mostly to strangers without alarming or hurting the ones I love the most. I guess this is the premise of any [insert affliction] anonymous group.
Now, it’s not just altruism, that I hadn’t yet told my mother. No, it’s self-preservation. You see, my mother’s current husband also suffers severe depression and she can.not.under.stand.it. “Why can’t he just snap out of it?” she has said countless times. “He just needs to adjust his attitude”….she has said countless other times. And of course, for those who have been reading for a while, you know my Dad, her ex-husband, has suffered from depression and other mental illnesses, and she could and did not understand that either (and to be fair, neither did I).
I hadn’t planned on telling her. The situation just kind of arose…and I thought now was as good a time as any. Her reaction?
“What the hell have you got to be depressed about?”. Bingo.
I answered.” Honestly Mum, nothing” and that was and is the truth. I don’t have anything to be depressed about. But I do have depression.
And then I explained the history and diagnosis of generalised anxiety disorder I have been living with since probably birth, and the recent co-morbidity (awful word isn’t it) of depression. I explained the treatment, and the side affects. Oh, and, I did this all in front of her husband. Because I thought it might help him, too.
Then my Mum said “Well, I think what you really need is a husband, you wouldn’t work so hard then”
“Well, Mum that’s the thing, I probably would. Because I love what I do. My work isn’t responsible for my depression. My lack of husband isn’t responsible for my depression. In fact, both of those situations I think actually makes it easier for me to manage my depression”
And while that sounds selfish (and actually probably is selfish) that’s the truth. Having a significant other, or a family, would impose obligations that I believe would only heighten my already out of control anxiety. I would constantly feel like I was letting them down and I couldn’t have my alone days when I really needed them. And having my work, where I feel like I’m making a contribution and genuinely good at what I do gives me a sense of purpose and makes me feel less like a fail.
We then finished up dinner with idle chit chat, pretending like I hadn’t just dropped a bomb on them, went home and went to bed.
In the morning, as I was just about to turn my phone off for the flight back home, I get a text “Love you sweetie”.
And all is OK.