My friend, Ami, sent me an email the other day asking if I would mind posting something here on my blog for her.
Quite frankly, it wouldn’t really matter what it was that Ami sent, because I love her writing and her own blog is one of my all time faves. But when I read what she had written, I really wanted to help her – and her family. When you read this, you’ll understand why she’s not comfortable posting it on her own blog, and why she really needs your advice.
I don't have depression. I'm not going to pretend I know what it's like to have irrational thoughts and I don't know what it's like to not want to get out of bed and take care of your children. But I do know what it's like to watch a person and their family go through a living hell.
Someone in our family is suffering. Suffering from anxiety and depression. It began about 4 years ago as postnatal depression. It got better. And then it all came crashing down again about 12 months ago. She has a loving husband. Two gorgeous children. A successful business. A wonderful life. A wonderful life, that is, from the outside looking in. But on the inside she's not coping. Her husband is struggling with the thought of mental illness. I sometimes wonder if he believes that mental illness exists at all. While he’s supportive, he is exhausted. Exhausted from essentially being a single parent, trying to run a business and look after his wife. Unfortunately he has said he has no faith in the mental health system. At the end of last year she spent over a month in hospital. She was in hospital for Christmas, which was devastating for all the family. Hospital doesn’t seem to have worked. She believes when she was in hospital she was "just a number".
Her psychologist wants her to go back to hospital. They are refusing. When asked why, he said if she goes back to hospital it won’t just be for a few weeks, it could be for months. And as horrible as that may be, a few months out of their lives now is nothing compared to having this continue for years to come.
So for nearly 12 months we've watched the situation deteriorate. We've had suggestions knocked back and we've had a number of family numbers on the phone crying. Grown men sobbing. We've spent hours and hours talking about it wishing something would improve.
They resisted for ages getting any type of professional involved and I think that was their biggest mistake. Her husband leaves making psychologist appointments etc up to her, and she told me last week she stopped making her doctor's appointments and then when she tried to get back into her psychologist she's booked out for a couple of months because she stopped making them in advance. It’s not for us to say, but clearly someone needs to be keeping on top of this, for her.
I've sat on her lounge room floor with her and cried. Cried because she doesn't want to go on. Cried because she wants her old life back where depression wasn't an ugly black cloud that was swallowing up her and her family.
But as upsetting as this is, it is equally as frustrating. That's very easy for me to say. I'm the outsider. An outsider looking in, not living in the reality of a life that has totally fallen to pieces. This family is in crisis. Our family is struggling to know how to support them. To watch your wife have a kicking and screaming fit on the floor saying she is going to kill herself is beyond heartbreaking. To hear their 4 year old daughter witnessed it and tried to comfort her sobbing mum... I, I just don't have the words to describe that kind of pain.
I desperately wish we could help. The whole family has offered numerous sensible suggestions like putting the kids in daycare to lighten the load on them so they can both go to work. (Yes, she’s still going to work). But the idea of daycare makes her feel like a failure as a mother. And I guess when you’re depressed you can only see the negative of everything. All we seem to be able to offer is a friendly ear. But it just isn't enough. We feel helpless. Because really, we are. We're not in the situation and we aren't mental health professionals. We might see things from a different perspective that they may not see, but getting that message through appears to be mission impossible.
They’ve recently visited a naturopath and some deficiencies have been identified. I truly hope it will be that simple to get her on the road to recovery. But pinning all their hopes on some supplements is risky.
Every night she goes to bed and prays for a miracle. I wish it were that simple. I wish the old her would come back. The one that loved socialising, chatting, catching up for afternoon tea. The old her that laughed. I wonder when the last time was that she laughed?
I wish they could get their lives back on track. I wish we could get her back. Our family just isn't the same.
I’ll be honest. I have no idea how to help Ami’s family. I really don’t. And I completely understand how Ami just can’t sit back and leave it up to this couple to sort this out. There’s just too much at risk.
If any of you - my lovely readers - have any suggestions as to what Ami could do to help ease her family's situation, I know Ami would appreciate your thoughts.
Image: We Heart It