An Awkward Question. Wednesday November 18, 2015
"Mummy, can you die from depression?"
We were at the open evening at the school which my elder daughter attends and which we very much hope will offer a place to our little one. But I had only got as far as the first stop in the science labs before I had to sit down with an attack of the shakes and was escorted down to the library by a junior science teacher and sat down in the quiet with a plastic cup full of water.
I spent the whole evening there, fending off kind concern and gratefully accepting more cups of water and tea.
The open evening finally ended and the library staff solicitously escorted me to the reception foyer to wait for my family. My little one held my hand while Daddy and daughter no. 1 collected the car and brought it round so I had only a few yards to walk.
That's when the question was asked.
Thankfully she also supplied the context. "Because when Kylie at school shook like this she fell down and they had to call an ambulance and she nearly died."
Kylie has epilepsy. Grand Mal. My daughter was right beside her when she had an episode last school term. It was pretty tough on her. (But tougher on Kylie, obviously.)
What could I say? The truth is, "Yes darling. You can die from it. Your grandfather did. One of your great uncles did. More people in your family have died from depression than have from cancer."
But she doesn't want or need to know the rather depressing suicide statistics in our family. She needs reassurance. Which thankfully, I can give her.
"Well, yes darling; some people do die from this. But I'm not going to."
And I'm not.
Oh, the temptation is there. Every single bloody episode of depression it's there. Ironically the impulse grows stronger just before I'm able to leap out of the pit (or – for readers of previous blogs – just before the leviathan spits me out).
But I can't do it. I'm loved too much. Only today I got a present from my son and his girlfriend. It was a mug with the legend, "You are loved. Now and Always. And don't you forget it!" written in happy lettering.
And that reminds me how quickly things can change. This time last year I didn't have my son Tom (see You Can't Choose Your Family, 18th February 2015) and he didn't have his Jenny. Things can change in a heartbeat.
My husband loves and needs me. Tom, Jenny and my daughters love and need me. I couldn't ask my mother and siblings to go through the whole mess of suicide yet again.
So I have to hold on. For their sakes. For your sakes (because you guys would be upset too – wouldn't you?)
I'm not able to slip away unnoticed, unremembered, unforsaken.
So I'm staying for my family. I'm staying for you. Until I'm better and it seems worth staying for life itself. That will happen soon. I promise. It has before. It will again. It will. It will. It will.
A Moodscope member.
Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.