The Shameful Family Secret

The Shameful Family Secret

Yes depression, the secret no family anywhere in the world wants to acknowledge or admit to. Though when we dig a little, family history will generally introduce an Aunt or Uncle, Grandparent or cousin that “suffered with their nerves, poor thing”.

Like a large dark blanket it descends, unexpectedly, and engulfs us in its relentless grasp, maybe after a crises in life but often from nowhere. The smallest task becomes a major chore; our self-talk becomes increasingly negative. We know, it’s ridiculous, even while in the deepest pit; knowing and ‘being able’ are worlds apart from those depths.

>Depression is exhausting.

In its extreme form connecting with loved ones seems pointless, we tell ourselves we’re bad company, nobody would want to be with us at this time, we justify the need for isolation and burrow deeper, paralyzed, unable to reach out or ask for help. The blanket of sadness overwhelms us, sometimes we do enough to get by, the bare essentials, so other’s wont notice. It’s too shameful. Anything but the minimum is beyond comprehension, if we can even do the minimum. Thoughts of putting cornflakes in a bowl, having to add milk, get a spoon and then sit and chew – it’s all too much, needs too much effort, requires too much energy! We can’t sleep, or we can’t get enough sleep. And it goes on.

But, there’s good news -this IS a temporary illness, when the blanket descends it’s like the stopwatch has been switched on; we know it will switch off again, and the blanket will lift. We get better, and we relapse, we get better and we relapse and in time we hopefully will say very simply “I have depression”, because the more we ignore it, the deeper it grows. When we are brave enough to embrace depression, because the truth is, it’s our friend, when we’re brave, we become aware it’s flagging our need to take care, get help, start medication, and begin Psychotherapy.

Recent, evidence based studies (Stanford University) show the highest success rate for treating depression is a combination of medication, and Psychotherapy. Once we get a handle on it through medication and Psychotherapy, we are better able to make gentle (guided) strides ourselves to add to our recovery.

If you notice a loved one struggling, ask them about it, encourage them to go to their GP, take them yourself, if they agree to it. GP’s want to know about our emotional health, if they’re unsure if medication is needed, they’ll refer you to a Psychotherapist for assessment and a course of treatment will be designed between therapist and GP.

Author Andrew Solomon tells us “The opposite of depression is not happiness, but vitality” It’s vitality we lack when the blanket of depression, sneakily and destructively, drapes itself over us. Vitality is what your GP, Psychotherapist, and in time yourself, will work toward achieving. Take the chance, if you have experienced depression in the past, don’t wait for it to reappear, begin Psychotherapy now while you’re well, so when you’re unwell, it wont feel such an overwhelming task to find the right therapist for you. There are fantastic organizations that do great work, GROW and AWARE have wonderful programmes to support us through depression. Pieta House and Console provide invaluable support in the darkest moments, and all are only a phone call away.

Daily care of our emotional/mental health is as necessary as daily care of our physical health; GP’s expect to hear about both.

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