I am fairly fortunate in the sense that I have been on both sides of the battle with depression.
Well maybe fortunate is not the right word to choose but I have been a carer for someone with depression as well as suffering myself.
My time spent looking after my Uncle Ron is common knowledge to long time readers of my blog or people who have purchased my book and his depression lasted for most of his adult life.
I wanted to speak this time as a carer not as a sufferer because those who have loved ones dealing with depression get a rough deal.
Depression is a selfish illness no two ways about it. Those who suffer are not intentionally selfish it is just the nature of the beast.
As a carer for my uncle I was at his beck and call because his depression had got so bad it caused him other health issues, the more worked up about the other problems the more his depression worsened in a vicious circle.
The hardest part of caring for him was watching how much having depression changed his personality from being a happy go lucky man, always chatting to the people on checkouts in shops for example, to becoming completely withdrawn and a shadow of himself.
Seeing the emotional turmoil he went through whilst trying to reassure him that things would be ok was so draining for me. It is devastating not really being able to offer any kind of support especially to someone who does not want it.
“Snap out of it” is so easy to say to someone in the heat of the moment when you are so frustrated but of course it does not help matters and only makes the person feel worse. It is not that they are purposely feeling this way either but some people just don’t have the fight in them on certain days.
I know all too well how the black clouds can overcome you and just fighting them off can take all your effort often with little effect other than increased tiredness.
As a carer for someone with depression you really are tied in terms of what you can actually do, often I wrestled with the choice of taking a step back and forcing my Uncle to do things by himself as a way of trying to break the cycle but it never worked. It is so hard because you do not want to make that person reliant on others but at the same time you don’t want them to suffer because they can’t do things for themselves.
Tough love does not work, it seems like a good idea but it just makes the person feel more inadequate than they do already.
Its not about being a carer though, the reality is your a partner or relative of someone battling depression as I was with my Uncle. It is such a frustrating role and all you can really offer is support and an ear when they feel like talking, which is not often.
I know from Sheryl’s experiences how frustrating she finds it when all I want to do is sleep and I am bloody lucky to have someone so understanding in my life. She has to cope with the kids AND ME and its a thankless task, seeing my sitting around on my backside all day while she runs around like a blue arsed fly keeping the house tidy.
If you care for someone with depression I wanted to say on behalf of depression sufferers everywhere THANK YOU!
You do a great job in tough circumstances and often your role gets overlooked – I know I sometimes take Sheryl for granted but on my good days I try and help out to make her life easier.
People do not understand how mentally draining it can be looking out for someone who seems to have given up, my Uncle was in his mid seventies and at times it appeared he had given up and it broke my heart. Of course each situation is different and people suffer in a variety of ways but the loved ones who help out also suffer and more often than not in silence.
The forgotten victims of depression are the loved ones trying to hold things together and if that is you then you have my respect and admiration.