I don't  know how to start a conversation about depression.  I just know that as a parent of a special
Danger sign with a picture of a man taking a header over a precipice.
Taking a header over the precipice
needs child, my baby bag not only came with diapers and binkies and bottles, but also a highly pressurized can of depression that could explode at any moment.  Granted, this was not the severe, chemical depression that runs through genetic lines, rends families apart, and leaves a trail of destruction, nor was this the kind of depression that may have killed Robin Williams.

I just know that our culture of "boot-strapping" and "type A personalities" and "have a nice day" has little tolerance for depression and those in its grip. We are stigmatized.  "What's the matter with you?  Just get over it," we are told.  We are encouraged to "buck up" or think about "the bright side," which is little consolation when you feel like you are about to take a header over the precipice.

I think about the mornings in which I woke up disappointed to still be alive.  The private thoughts of the depressive are dark and brooding, a no man's land of exhaustion, confusion, and sadness.  But I would get out of bed, knowing that the day awaiting me would be worse than the day before... and that the day after that would be worse still.

So, I ask of you (those who have stared over the precipice and those who have not): Do not say, "buck up," and do not shy away.  Depression is not in need of a pep talk nor is it a contagion that will pass to you if you engage.  Be a friend. Be patient. If you are told to buzz off, then buzz off. But if you are asked to show some kindness, then listen without judgment, and just be present. It is hard to be a friend to someone struggling with depression, but remember, it is even harder to be depressed.

#depression #disability #specialneeds #parenting #sadness #loss #grief #suicide


  1. I applaud your honesty and ability to stay terse and precise. And since we all know that applause cures depression you are now allowed to be happy!
    It's one of those things, that if you haven't experienced it yourself, it is nearly impossible to relate. But your points are right on the mark: patience and a non judgmental attitude will go a long to be as supportive as it is possible to be.

    Unfortunately, even experiencing it yourself does not make you an expert on how to 'solve' the situation for another. And that is another point which ties in well with how people relate to parents of extremely disabled children: there is such prevalence of the attitude of trying to 'fix it', and if it can't be fixed with some helpful advice then all interest fades. Perhaps you aren't trying hard enough or your just being antagonistic. Maybe you don't even really want help, content to wallow in self-pity, or so the thinking goes.
    If someone had told me that I would one day be diagnosed with depression I would have scoffed. Not me, never. Unfortunately extreme, long term sleep deprivation and the incessant worry over a medically fragile child will inevitably lead to depression. Perhaps the only cure is insanity. But to get by on a day to day basis, help is needed. Sometimes this can take the form of support from family or friends, a much needed break. But lacking those, chemicals may need to be consumed, be they natural or otherwise. Of course having to admit that you need that outside influence, just to be able to put one foot in front of the other, is a journey in and of itself.
    For me, recognizing the symptoms was the biggest hurdle. I never would have thought that it could affect our physical wellbeing, our physical ability. Out of breath just from moving to the living room, yet able to walk miles with no problem. Constant self doubt replaces a once positive attitude. Anxiety about going to check the mail. Preposterous! I would have said, yet sadly so true.

    Understanding and then admitting that this is a real problem that needs to be addressed took me years, literally. Then, good luck finding something which can help. The highs and lows come in rapid fire succession, leaving little to no room for recovery in between.

    Keeping your mind focused, being able to concentrate at all is a huge challenge. In the end, knowing the good that comes of your special relationship with the person in your charge is, for me, the saving grace.

    1. As always a thoughtful, insightful response. I am so glad the darkest days are over for me (knock on wood). Thank you.


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