How do you tell your child you have depression? How can you tell them that when you are wishing the whole world away - it’s nothing personal?
Yesterday morning I did my usual – I shouted at them both because I was tired and coming down with a cold and I wasn’t organised enough and I just wanted to delete the day before it had already started. And as soon as I uttered the words I immediately wanted to turn back time. Every day I wake up and I plead with God to help me be nice to my children.
“Give me strength not to shout at them, not to be mean. God help me get through the day and still let them love me.”
Once the shouting starts it is very difficult to stop although it rarely lasts very long before I put into action all the safety measures I use to protect them. I am furious with myself for doing it and then I strike out figuratively at those I love – but these ones are so vulnerable because they don’t understand. All they know is this is how Mummy behaves. The Boy at 5 I can tell not to talk to me, not to ask questions and to just get on with his breakfast in silence while I try to bring myself under control. The Littlest just watches, no smile playing at his lips. I ignore them both or else leave them to it. As soon as breakfast is over I will put them in front of the telly while I finish my breakfast in peace, calming myself down trying not to let the guilt overwhelm me.
It doesn’t happen everyday but certainly every week sometimes more especially if I am tired. I know everyone shouts at their children from time to time, but I feel I do it more than most and I find it terribly difficult to stop. I roar in my frustration, which must be terribly frightening.
Sometimes I have to escape before I explode but it never seems to go away not truly because all the while where it is safe to explode I can’t because they are there in the house on their own and I worry for their safety.
Well yesterday after I shouted and after I had calmed down. I apologised as I do every time. I explained Mummy was tired and that she found it difficult to be nice and that her behaviour was not good. I told them, as I hugged them both at the top of the stairs, how much I loved them and said that they must not ever behave like Mummy.
“Mummy is a bad person to do this and you should look to Daddy. Daddy doesn’t shout and rave like Mummy.”
I am terrified that my behaviour will colour theirs and so I warn that people don’t like people who shout and are nasty like Mummy and that nasty people don’t have many friends and are not loved.
In despair, I hang my head and aloud I wish that I were gone from here. What damage am I doing to them? Wouldn’t it be better if I left them? It sometimes feels the only way to protect them.
“I love you Mummy,” says the Boy “and The Littlest loves you and Daddy loves you. We all love you.” And he wraps his arms around me. And I feel so sad. He shouldn’t have to be doing this; he should never have to face this. I know he is worried that I will go away and never return, I’ve obviously said it far too much in fact once I just had to leave him in the house and hide as the enormity of everything descended upon me and for a time I could not cope.
It was terrifying enough for me. For him I cannot imagine. Luckily he was able to find J and J looked after him and stayed with him until I was able to return. I remember watching The Boy come out of the house looking for me and I stood silently by the moat hidden by the horse chestnuts. Thinking to myself that he was safe as long as I could see him. But I did not go to him even though he was crying hard. I could not trust myself. J heard and calmed him saying I had just gone out for a walk and would be back. I thought such faith! For I felt as if I could never go back. I stayed out for a couple of hours and I have a feeling that J knew where I was and he had enough belief in me that I would return. For I love my boys.
So back to how do you explain? Well I tell him that when the Black Dog is near Mummy gets sad, tired and then angry and that the Black Dog is difficult to see.
I tell him it’s the Black Dog that makes Mummy shout and that it’s not him or his brother. I tell them over and over again and I pray they believe me.
The Boy says he’ll kill the Black Dog. I say maybe when he’s grown up.
For any of you that read this - I hasten to say that when I feel it getting bad I call in the cavalry usually in the form of J, Dear Charlie and my Mum – mostly J deals with the immediate problems as he’s on the farm. I advise everyone with Black Dog to install a J. He is one very special person.
(This was first published in the Private Forums at Purplecoo - the folks there were incredibly supportive and continue to be so. I decided to put it up on the blog as it is part of my life - a big part and I wanted to come out as I hear too many stories of others who get in a mess with Black Dog. I did try to start a separate blog but it never really works. You can't pigeon hole your life! Today has been a good day as there has been no shouting and all is calm. I don't know what tomorrow will bring...)