Posts Tagged ‘understanding depression’

The way that my family and I have experienced depression and anxiety, that it all happens all at once. The depressed person is one big chaos that the partner, workplace, children, parents and siblings all get drawn into. The chaos takes up a lot of space, and there isn’t room for anything else. The partner and children are constantly walking a fine line between hell breaking loose, or nothing happening whatsoever. They live with constant emotional stress, and don’t understand what is going on. Children especially are taken as emotional hostages.

The elder children’s experience

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For Isabella – who at that time was 10 years old – the unknowingness has been frightening. I sense that she knew something was wrong with me. That I am ill. I have often wished for spots to appear so that she could see the disease, so it was apparent. Because children only know what we tell them. Seen through their eyes, you’re completely normal, but at the same time, they sense clearly that you’re acting strange and out of sorts.

You’ve probably heard children say that the worst an adult can do is shout at them; it feels like being hit. For Isabella, my aggressive behaviour has been the most frightening aspect of the depression. Because she experienced my shouting and unfair, aggressive behaviour as something that would come out of the blue. It made her incredibly sad. She lived in constant fear of setting even one foot wrong, because then maybe mum would get really mad.

The consequence for the child

For Isabella my disease has meant, among other things, that she has become toilet-trained late, and that she has lived in a fantasy world. She has had a hard time concentrating in school and hasn’t been able to share her problems with us. The disease has also meant that Isabella is incredibly good at reading others, such as the unsaid things that pass between people. Unfortunately, she doesn’t have the experience or age to handle what she observes.

In Isabella’s own words

“My mum’s illness is frightening in a strange way. It was scary when she shouted at me. I would get scared because it was like mum turning into a bear. It was strange that she would get angry so quickly. I was sad. I was always thinking about mum and about why she might be getting cross with me. I was scared that she would get angry. I would be more careful, because I was always worried that I’d do something wrong. I also felt bad that mum was feeling bad. I really liked the drawings in the book. Because they showed in a good way how I myself felt, how mum felt and how it was between mum, the Snake and me. Only then did I really understand wat was going on. Before then I didn’t understand anything.”

What have you experienced?

Do you recognize your child/children in above? Please share…

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