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Depression - how it affects the people you live with
My Experience of Depression
Member Name: bilbob20
My Experience of Depression
Date: 05/02/08, updated on 05/02/08 (203 review reads)
Advantages: There's very little advantageous about it
Disadvantages: It controls the lives of the sufferer and the people they live with
Most of the people who probably write in this topic are people who have gone through depression themselves. Fortunately, thusfar, I haven't had more than very short bouts of it due to life circumstances. Therefore, its not clinical depression, but purely just low periods that I think everybody must go through.
I have experienced the condition first hand though, having lived with it in somebody else. My mother was 43 when she committed suicide 5 years ago, having suffered from depression for 30 years - her first bout when she was a young teenager. Many people are lucky to find a balance in their lives, and cope admirably with this illness. Unfortunately, there are the unlucky ones - like mum.
The first time I was really aware of her depression was when I was around 9 years old. My mum had been divorced from my dad for approximately 2 years. She seemed to spend a lot of her nights falling asleep on the sofa, refusing to go to bed, and refusing to function in the way that you would expect a working mum to function. When I was 9, she attempted for the first time (that I know of) to overdose on painkillers. Fortunately, she had taught me to use 999, and I was able to get an ambulance with no lasting damage to her.
It got steadily worse over the years, with the death of her mother (her father died when she was 13) really ploughing her down. There were more suicide attempts - all of them foiled by us. Unfortunately, we would eventually grow up and move out. And you cant watch somebody 24 hours a day. Especially as she was mostly an independent person who loved her job, and who had many friends. The old cliche that "she seemed such a happy girl" from many at her funeral is unfortunately true of many people who suffer from clinical depression.
Then there were those good days that we dreaded so much. The bad days would result in her eventually going on medication. The medication balanced her out, and she functioned much more easily and for a while seemed happier. But as the good days become more often, she convinced herself that she didn't need the medication anymore. Now, like most medication, anti-depressants aren't just mentally addictive. They're quite often physical addictive as well. And when my mother took herself off them with no doctor advice, she suddenly found herself both mentally ill and physically vomiting.
There was also the long periods of teariness, staying in bed for days at a time which would result in losing jobs, and rages that seemed to come from another person. Those rages would sometimes fuel into violence which would then leave her feeling so guilty that she would sink further into despair.
Its horrifying to watch somebody go through this, even when you're too young to understand what it is they're experiencing. But I learned to live with it, and accept it as a part of her life, and ours. But no matter how long you live with it, and how familiar it becomes, its always soul-destroying to watch somebody fall apart again.
As I said at the beginning of this review - she died in 2002 from an overdose of anti-depressants and pain killers. Depression, in one way or another, can destroy the sufferer but also the people who live with it in somebody else.
Having not experienced it personally, I couldn't tell you what to look for in yourself, but there are many ways of detecting depression in a person close to you. Constant exhaustion with no physical explanation, Disrupted sleep and interupted sleep patterns, Bowing out of your usual activities, Feeling lazy and demotivated, Difficulty concentrating, Anxiousness and paranoia, and being emotional with no reason for it. These are just some of the symptoms of depression.
Unfortunately, people still feel that it is a taboo subject. It shouldn't be. Depression is every bit as valid an illness as a hernia or asthma or any other illness you can think of. But people with physical and mental ailments are still treated badly in some area's of society, due to ignorance and fear.
The website www.clinical-depression.co.uk is a great and simple site that helps you recognise signs of depression. But people should never self-diagnose. Its too easy to have an off day and label yourself depressed. It doesn't just happen because your dog died or because you had a rotten day at work. So be careful that you dont confuse the issue for yourself. Always consult your GP if you fear that you are genuinely depressed.
Contrary to belief now, its suggested that depression isn't a result of a chemical imbalance or a genetic thing. This is still open to dispute. What I will say though is that neither myself, nor my brothers and sisters suffer from depression, despite coming from a mother who battled it most of her adult life.
The search to uncover what causes depression is ongoing. Who knows where we'll be in 50 years. What I do know is that while anti-depressants can help, they're not always the solution. Doctors might well be too free about giving prescriptions for this illness, instead of getting to the route of the problem. How can you decide from a 6 minute meeting that somebody is clinical depressed.
Anyway, I dont know if what I have to say will help. I've tried to include tid-bits of information that I've discovered when looking it up, and my own experience of living second hand with it. But I'm no expert.
Summary: Depression - a sorry illness that doesn't get discussed enough or dealt with enough.