Sunday, January 31, 2010

I Got The Blues

Winston Churchill used to call it his Black Dog.
When I was a child, people used to refer to it as "nerves".
These days we call it depression and I'm on first name terms with it.
It's pretty well controlled thanks to my GP, some good meds and some regular(ish) exercise.

Now and again I have a dip though, when the black thoughts come swirling back and circle in my head in an unstoppable  loop.
I want to unplug the phone, pull the duvet over my head and curl in a small, tight ball until sleep gives me some temporary quiet.

I am very wary of coming out (there is still a huge stigma about mental illness, no matter what century we live in), partly because it seems to embarrass other people, but mostly because I fear that people will automatically assume that it's a reaction to Bob's autism.

Now, dealing with the usual  madness that makes up a typical autie day would tip the strongest, most optimistic, person into wells of despair. But people on the "outside" often don't see the hugs, kisses and sheer joy that Bob brings into our lives. And while depression can be reactive, in my case (as my GP said) I just don't produce enough serotonin.
So I take a tablet to correct the imbalance. 
Job done.

I had my first bout of depression at the age of 14, in a time when the answer to every ailment was a dose of Andrews Liver Salts. It was assumed that I was just in a Really Bad Mood.
Needless to say it was ignored, but unfortunately depression doesn't Do Ostrich for very long.

Depression came back, unannounced and uninvited, at various intervals throughout my life.  It squatted like an unwelcome family member until it would quietly slip away..... until next time.

As I grew older and stronger, and a little more caring of myself, I got help and haven't looked back.  It just isn't always easy to talk about.

There are many of us out there. 
Even when I am buried underneath my duvet, it is so important to know there are other people I can reach out to, even though, like Contrary Mary I really don't want to.
That's why it's called mental illness.


  1. ah jean, i know how hard it is to admit out loud to your family so strangers is harder again

    i hope you have a quick recovery as i am also in same boat at present, but i just think of the little things, take one look at my happy kids and rememeber it will pass if i take it slow

    big hugs xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

  2. thank you so much for sharing your life and opening your heart, i too am in the same boat, its only recently though, and even though i know that im not alone, it sure can hell feel like that sometimes so thank you for standing up and bringing it up. Hope you have a fast recovery xxx ((((hugs)))

  3. Thank you for sharing how your feeling your openess will help so many of us as when we read what your going through and feeling we also feel part of it too I am in and out of depression so much it tries to get a gripp over me and I try my hardest to stop it but its always creeping back and forth I hope by sharing so much with us it will help you back to a quick recovery and always know their is always someone you can talk to I admire and aspire to you so so much your such a fantastic person and I wish I could blog so openly like you well done always Sher xxx

  4. Hugs hun....theres a lot of us about;)

  5. Thankgod someone has mentioned the elephant in the room, I also suffer from depression, for me it started after my first child and I was promptly marched to the doctor and magic pills were produced and lifted the haze I was living in. I am currently again on meds due to stress and receiving counselling to boot but its a long slow battle and one I hope in time I will overcome. Thankyou for being so brave and writing about your experience, I hope it will encourage others to not just be brave but to seek help if they need too and know that we are all right behind each other. You are a wonderful woman and mum Jean never forget that hun xxxxx

  6. Thank you so much for all your comments. It's crazy (pun completely intended) how difficult it is to talk about, given that it's so common. Maybe it's due to our reluctance to be perceived as not being able to "cope".
    I whole-hearedly encourage people to go to your GP and get help, pharmaceutical or otherwise, coz life is just too damn short to waste it in a murky fog.
    Thanks again ladies XXX

  7. A very honest and hearfelt blog Jean, It must be very hard to be so open.
    Thank you and big hugs xxx

  8. I didn't realise, that is a difficulty with 'online' friends, we don't always know what goes on behind the scenes. I have a very similiar history to you and it runs in our family. Its only when one person is brave enough to say it that everyone else says 'well actually, me too'. The stigma is reducing, no doubt about it, especially with events like depression awareness and ads on TV. Big hugs to you hun. Jen xxx

  9. It must be the lack of light, something in the water, the general gloom 'cause I'm really struggling too. DH is on a knife edge. If I could I would bring my duvet to work and howl at the moon. However that's a bit frowned upon here in cubicle land so I wait until I get home. Drugs for all. Hurrah.

  10. Like yourself Jeanie, I've been on and off "Mommys little helpers" most of my adult life. Diagnosed with clinical depression in my early twenties and can keep the dog at bay for a good while, then something happens in my life and the seratonin levels plummit. When your body isn't very good at replenshing those levels, sometimes you need to get a little help. I personally have no problem telling people about depression but yes, there is a stigma attached to it with certain generations xxx

  11. This must have been a difficult post for you Jean so I take my multitude of hats off to you! It amazes me to hear how many suffer silently with this.

    Depression is a very difficult thing to admit to having because you're right, there's still a stigma attached and mental health facilities in this country are appalling. The best advice you give is to get help....NOW! Far better off getting medical intervention sooner rather than later.

    "Mammys little helpers" are far better than ending up in one of our mental hospitals. If they want to get rid of the stigma then forget the ads.... they really need to finally shut those God-awful places down. They should be co-located with Acute that Mentally ill patients with a medical problem can receive the medical intervention they require. That intervention can sometimes be as simple as an IV but won't be done in a mental hospital.

    Grr....sorry for the rant...but this makes me mad!! Well done Jean...excellent post! xx Jazzy

  12. Jean I cant believe u wrote this at this time. I was only asking a friend about anti depressants yesterday. I can feel myself getting lower and lower but every time iv gotten help from gp iv never taken them, but i dont know why.
    I think your very brave to come out and say it in black and white like you have and I admire your strength for that.
    Well done jean, great blog as always

  13. hi jean, brilliant post and so well written!! your right everyone wants to blame depression on having autism in the family, truth is in our house, depression came before the child was here! I had post natal depression many years ago, and winston churchill's description is about right, i would say. I love reading your blog Jean, you have a great way with words xx

  14. Kudos to you Jean! I am Bipolar and there is plenty of stigma attached to that as well. It is so important that we talk about it and let people know that it is common, as common as as cold. Mental illness is one of the most under diagnosed illnesses in the world! For example, my father and my sister are both bipolar and refuse to go to the doctor to get a diagnosis, they simply refuse to admit that they exhibit every symptom. Mental illness runs in the family, on both sides actually.

    In fact, Griffin takes meds for bipolar symptoms, he has severe mood swings. Some docs say that it is just part of autism but some say that it is a separate diagnosis.

    Good for you Jean and anytime you need support or someone who understands....I am always here for you! Big Hugs!!!!

  15. Hi Jean, congratulations on tackling this topic. I had post-natal depression after my first child and was very lucky to have a great GP who put me on the meds and sorted me out quickly. I had no idea however just how many people suffer from depression. It wasn't until I was feeling a lot better and mentioned it to some people that they then confided that they also had suffered from depression. No one wants to seem like they're not coping because everyone one else seems to be coping. So we put on the war paint and our best smile and look like we're coping. For all we know the woman we are smiling and nodding at outside the school gate is suffering just the same. Madness. It's good to talk and feel you're not the only one. Thanks for speaking out and hope you feel better soon Jean.

  16. This is a very brave post, well done you, depression is so common yet seems to be a subject people don't tackle. I read recently on Marian Keyes website that she is also a sufferer and she outlines her most recent bout on her website. Famous people in the public eye have a duty to inform I think, as through acknowledging they too have problems they can reach a wider audience and make those who suffer in silence understand they are not alone.

  17. well written Jeanie as always chick...reflecting & mirroring myself & my close friends...I fell into the cycle when my 3rd child was born & had`nt understood it until then. Here for you as always xxx

  18. Thank you all so much for all your comments...I had a suspicion that I wouldn't be alone!! if nothing else, it's important to "normalise" depression as it's so mainstream. You're a great bunch of mummies XXX

  19. Hi Jean! Hang in there! I suffer from depression, too. It's a long hard road. Having a special needs child sometimes make it just a little bit harder to deal with. But we will all get through it!

    Thanks for the friend request on MBC!! I'm now following your blog, too!

    Hope you have a wonderful weekend!



  20. Hi Jeanie - just catching up with all my blog reading this morning so sorry for not commenting sooner.

    I too am now on "Mommys little helpers" or our happy pills as they are called in my house - the dreaded D word took its first visit to my house last yr - but unlike others it did not manifest itself in me wanting to hide under the duvet but being incredibly irritable and short temptered - everyone that I love and cared for where getting their heads bitten off at the slightest transgression. I was also totally and completely exhausted - so I finally sought help.

    It was hard & still is for me to admit that it is depression, but I am coming to terms with it and perhaps by outing myself here it will make it a bit easier. I agree there is still a stigma attached and I guess I am even one of those who would have thought that way! In my case they say its reactive - or maybe its just the case of trying to be all things to all men - I guess I'll never really know! But 3mths off work, some pharmaceutical intervention and a bit of counselling and life has begun to return to normal.

    There are a lot of us out there and I suppose talking about it is they only way for people to realised that they are mostly certainly not alone.

    Thank you for your frank & honest post and I hope that the sun starting shining for you again soon. xxxx

  21. What was I doing that I missed this the first time?
    Everyone has said well done for being honest about this - well me too.
    The more people can admit to depression, the more others will follow and then seek the help they need.
    And by help I don't mean someone saying "sure you'll be grand" or "God Help ye"
    But counseling, meds if that is what it takes to treat the chemical imbalance and practical help for the circumstances that make them feel that way.

    As you know Jeannie I have whatever is the opposite of chemical depression. I am prone to anxiety, but hyperactivity is my "thing" and while it can be quite giddying to be riding the peaks of the rollercoaster- I would do anything to pull my friends out of the lows.

    keep talking girl, keep talking. xx