I had to change my life in order to live with depression and anxiety. So my personal life is filled with runs of about 20km and 30km a week, and mindfulness: meditation and yoga giving me an awareness about my illness, my body and my feelings. I have also been given tools to see myself from the outside, and to accept and acknowledge the feelings and stupid thoughts that I may have, and can withstand them.
Most importantly of all, is that I have finally learnt to communicate clearly with my children, so they know what is going on.
children see and notice everything
Augusta, who at that time was just three years old, can’t remember anything but panic attacks and one particular incident, which was a very intense experience for her: I had heard a podcast about children and incest that suddenly broke an emotional floodgate for me, which I couldn’t contain. I completely fell apart. My psychiatrist was on holiday so I called my doctor and my husband who had to drive me to the doctor because I was scared and not in a fit state to drive.
Unfortunately, Augusta saw me in a state of breakdown at the doctor’s, and she was anxious while we hurried to the psychiatric emergency unit. Fortunately, I was consciously aware enough of what was happening to me that I could communicate clearly to my girls. Before I went in, I said to them; “Something has broken inside my head. Like when you break your leg and you need to go to the emergency room. That’s where I am going now, and then I’ll come home again.” Every time we drive past the hospital today, my 3-year-old says, “Mum, that’s where you went to have your head fixed.”
from the child’s perspective
All of our experiences as a family have become this picture book where the depression has been given a shape – here as a snake. It is completely coincidental that it is that animal.
For my husband, my children, and myself this book has meant we have a way to speak about it, a common language for the depression.
At our house, it’s just called ‘the Snake’.
‘Is the Snake with you mum?’, Isabella might ask if she finds me on the floor. Or she might say, ‘the Snake has been in its basket for a while now, huh mum?’ just to say that I’ve been in a ‘normal’ mood for a long time. Little Augusta might also ask ‘Where is the Snake mum?’
The book has also meant that I have finally been able to tell them properly about what it is like to be depressed. They have been given a frame of reference that gives them knowledge, and knowledge leads to a sense of security. My strange behaviour has been demystified. From a child’s perspective.
The book is free to download and share!
Any feedback is very welcome – and questions as well! Thank you!