The Forgotten Victims of Depression

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being a happy go lucky man, always chatting to the people on checkouts in shops for example, to becoming completely withdrawn and a shadow of himself.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.

14 comments on “The Forgotten Victims of Depression

      • Have been a bit quiet in the blogisphere with the move, kids on holidays and all that but finally got something posted today. I think perhaps I’m struggling with a bit of anxiety myself as I just can’t seem to organize myself that well.

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  1. I am fortunate as well, as you say. I am currently in the last phases of conquering neurotic depression (Dysthymia) and Social Anxiety and have a wife who is suffering of PTSD.

    Mental illnesses altogether are selfish illnesses. As they (for some more often than others) make you incapable of keeping others in mind when the dark clouds pull over you inside your head.

    I am happy that I’m almost pulling out of it, so I can support my wife. For some reason she was able (from time to time) to support me through my dark days, even though she had her own demons to fight. I was never that strong, at least now I can pay her back for everything she did for me.

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  2. This evening I sat at my laptop to write something close to this, and to thank my wife who has been a rock for me over the last six months. As a sufferer your right, selfishness seems to be a part of the illness, and like you say it’s not deliberate. This has been a great blog to read, thank you for posting it.

    Charlie

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  3. I’ve not cared for someone in the same sense as yourself but I do ‘care for’ (as a friend) someone who suffers from manic depression. When you fear that they’ve lost hope and they ask you that question (‘Should I?’), it is heart-breaking. I was physically shaking when I read that text but, with my reply, I managed to reassure her. But, that was just one evening and suffering goes on, which is always backed up by my own words of support and, sometimes, just listening.

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  4. This is a great point. Mental illness is selfish. This cost me my marriage. I was so wrapped up in panic and anxiety and the depression that accompanied this that I was unable to keep my wife in mind much. By the time I had gotten better, she had already had enough and was on her way out.
    The situation wasn’t fair to her and I still owe her tons of respect and gratitude for being there for me during the hard times.

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