Moodscope's blog



Did your Mother Give You Depression? Wednesday October 29, 2014

Oh children, children; let me count the ways I embarrass thee...

I sing too loudly in church; I scuffle through the fallen leaves (when people can see); I dance in the kitchen to the radio; I kiss your father in front of you; I ride a 1957 Raleigh bike that should be in a museum; I turn up at the school gate in brightly coloured clothing and then talk to your teachers on equal terms because I am quite as well educated as they...

Oh yes, I know I am excruciatingly embarrassing for you and I fully intend to ask your future psychotherapists for commission.

Embarrassing our children is part of the job description of being a parent and, if you're like me, you enjoy every minute of it (evil chuckle)!

But what about depressing our children?

I'm not talking about when they've reached the age of reason (my kids now just accept that there are times when Mummy is "poorly" and can't do anything much and they now join Daddy in looking after me; and very salutary it is for me too!) but about when they were tiny babies?

Tim Lott in the Guardian postulates that his own depression may have been caused, in part, by the post natal depression experienced by his mother. I'm sure PND doesn't contribute positively to the development of baby; and in fact the friend who sent me the article now wonders if her own experiences in life were affected by the PND her mother experienced.

But, you know what: does a witch hunt or archaeological investigation really help matters now?

In my case I'm pretty sure my father was bipolar and schizophrenic (he committed suicide when I was four, so I can't know for sure), but knowing that doesn't get me much further with my own health.

What does contribute to my life is manning up (or womanning up in my case), accepting responsibility for my own well-being and 1) learning all I can about the condition 2) doing all I can to mitigate and manage that condition and 3) educate and help others in my position if I can.

Yes, PND is a dreadful thing (and if you're going through it now you have my complete sympathy) but please don't worry about passing it onto your child – and don't waste time wondering if the PND suffered by your own mother is a contributing factor in your own depression.

We are who and what we are right now and we need to go forward; looking back can cause even more anxiety and guilt. Do you really want more of that stuff in your life?
I certainly don't. And now, if you'll excuse me, I have some piles of leaves to scuffle through and a kitchen dance routine to choreograph.

A Moodscope member.

Permalink  |  Blog Home


Anonymous Wed, Oct 29th 2014 @ 5:50am

Hi Mary,
Interesting take on this generational influence idea. There's a practice for transgenerational healing called Family Constellations which would, politely, encourage the very examinations you would sidestep. But it does it in a way that breaks our internalized mirroring of any ancestors which frees us to more fully be ourselves.

It's at least an alternative when people feel shouldering all that responsibility for health and the here and now still doesn't get much traction.

Anonymous Wed, Oct 29th 2014 @ 7:38am

Thanks Mary, your post made me smile on my morning bus ride, your irreverence shines through ??. I think you have a point about digging around in the past. While a little digging can certainly illuminate aspects of ourselves we need to then move on with the knowledge we have and not spend our time mired in blame. I spent a good while blaming my parents for my various afflictions, but now I'm a parent I can see they did the absolute best they could with the best intentions, and the good far outweighs the bad. All the best to you, enjoy your soul celebrations x

heather Wed, Oct 29th 2014 @ 7:38am

I'm with you Mary. I think there comes a time when we have to accept that the past is just a memory that is no longer real and certainly cannot be changed. Today can be changed and so can our future. I am all for dancing in the kitchen and loved your last para which has brightened my day already. Love to all from Heather xx

Anonymous Wed, Oct 29th 2014 @ 7:46am

Oops sorry didn't mean irreverence, I'm getting my words confused! I meant your vitality and energy Mary, it really comes through. Thank you!

Di Murphey Wed, Oct 29th 2014 @ 7:47am

Oh! Our dear Mary-Mary! I find your post invigorating and inspiring, filled with humor, truth, and helpful. Your father's passing is quite a legacy for a 4 year-old ~ I am deeply sorry for your loss. And his for not staying to see what you have become in this world of wonderment.

I do have experience with my own bipolar parent and suicide attempts. Your 3-point remedy works well for my brain and I am going forward as best I can. More, please.

Can you hear me screaming with glee across the pond as you dance in the kitchen?
Lovingly with admiration & joy,
Di Murphey

Anonymous Wed, Oct 29th 2014 @ 7:55am

My Mum had manic depression throughout my childhood and as you say- we reach an age of understanding. However, it was how I felt as a child (understanding does not stop things from hurting) that made me seek help and get medicated when it became apparent that I was bipolar. I didn't want my children to feel responsible for me, or to be hurt by my illness. Some of my illness is nature, but I do believe that there is a nurture element and therefore it is my job to protect my children from it as much as I can. Understanding is vital, but managing my moods and medication as much as possible has an impact on their emotional development. So I don't agree that it doesn't matter how we got here- understanding oneself is the key to freedom.

Anonymous Wed, Oct 29th 2014 @ 8:17am

Thank you.

Ali Wed, Oct 29th 2014 @ 8:21am

Thank you so much for sharing this. I've had depression/anxiety/OCD for a long time now and my children have seen me at my best and at my worst. They love me for who I am and just understand that sometimes Mum is ill; I still love them to bits but can't always cope so need help. I take medication, am having CBT and also Human Givens therapy which is very helpful so I'm fighting it for all I'm worth.

Anonymous Wed, Oct 29th 2014 @ 8:35am

Hi Ali, well done, you will be an inspiration to your children. I don't blame my mum for my illness, I just wanted to limit the effects of mine. If it weren't for my kids, I don't think I would bother, but they give me a reason everyday.

Anonymous Wed, Oct 29th 2014 @ 8:52am

When my 3 babies were little they would not know I had depression, I was able to kiss their toes at nappy times, and play peekaboo at bath time...fake it til you make it. Now they are a little older, they do see my stresses and sometimes I feel huge guilt for it. Ok, most of the time. But I'm also trying to use it as a learning ground. They will undoubtedly have some experience of depression in their life whether it be themselves, a friend, partner or their own child and I believe arming them with tools is not just the best we can do but the best thing! I agree, playing the blame game on history brings nothing to the table.
Pass me your dance card Mary, slip me in somewhere please :-)
Love from the ratg x.

Melanie Lowndes Wed, Oct 29th 2014 @ 9:02am

Thank you Mary for making me smile. Lots of love, Melanie

Anonymous Wed, Oct 29th 2014 @ 10:29am

Yes Mary, you sure made me smile too, thank you...I shall dance in the leaves today- can't wait.
I always thought it was so sad how mothers the world over, and time imemorial have been blamed for many a mental health issue- we all have mothers- and the vast majority do the very best they can in their own curcumstances- my mum often lost it with us, I'm a mum of 2 teeanagers- it's not at all easy, you realise that when you have your own. It's a very stressful job. I know it was our own choice to have kids.
I do miss the innocence and laughter of little ones- so enjoy looking after others' now...
I digress- thanks Mary- Have fun ,

Anonymous Wed, Oct 29th 2014 @ 11:06am

Brilliant Mary. I have a history of depression and schizophrenia in my family too. I understand why I am the way I am, but I don't blame. I am who I am and like you, my responsibility is to figure out how to live the richest way I can. My daughter may one day have to learn to deal with it too. I hope that she doesn't but if she does I hope she sees how her mom handles it and goes on. I have a client who has terminal breast cancer. I am sure she doesn't waste time wondering who in her family gave it to her; she is just trying live her life as best she can. Great post.

Julia Wed, Oct 29th 2014 @ 11:30am

Your blog has thrown up some interesting things Mary. I'll never forget a consultant blaming my parents for my sister's anorexia. She was in hospital being treated for it and my parents, particularly my mother came home absolutely devastated. That Consultant did so much damage to my mother's self confidence and for the rest of her life she would try to work out what she could have done differently in raising my sister. My Father was able to shut it out and not dwell on these worries. Sadly my sister latched onto the fact that my mother might have caused her anorexia and never forgave her actually if the truth be told. Yes, this is an extreme case and nowadays so much more is known about anorexia and other mental diseases. As Anonymous 10.29 puts it so well, mothers usually do the best they can for their children and their love is the most important thing they can give their children. My mother loved us two girls and for this I will always love her back unconditionally.

Anonymous Wed, Oct 29th 2014 @ 12:34pm

Well that's it...there's The Military Wives Choir, X - Factor and Dancing on Ice..we need:
The Embarassing Mum's singing inThe Kitchen Choir with Dad-dancing!
Great blog Mary, thank you ?? Karen x

Anonymous Wed, Oct 29th 2014 @ 1:11pm

Now there is more understanding, information, less stigma, more support out there, perhaps this generational thing with begin to evaporate - as long as we keep a balance and avoid 'over labelling'. Gillx

Anonymous Wed, Oct 29th 2014 @ 1:46pm

Julia that is just awful for your mum. And quite damaging for your sister too, to blame it on your mum may mean she didn't even consider other aspects. How sad that the consultant probably has no idea how that rippled out.
I was able to make peace with my own relationship with my mum once I learned about the 'hot potato effect'...i.e. she didn't know how to deal with the hot potato she'd been given so she threw the hot potato on a generation. I'm trying to mash that potato for my crew :-) Hope your sister has recovered? Love ratg x.

Anonymous Wed, Oct 29th 2014 @ 1:50pm

Thanks Mary for your thoughts on our approach to life. Love the humour and the 'I will be me' attitude. I often find myself catastrophising about how my children are going to suffer mentally all because of me. All we need to know is that we are doing our best and the greatest gift to our children is to be content in our selves. Thank you for reminding me.

Anonymous Wed, Oct 29th 2014 @ 2:31pm

I came up with a saying I try to follow: Looking back causes depression and guilt Looking forward causes anxiety and do your best to live for today....

Hard to do but so very true DaveB

Steve Roche Wed, Oct 29th 2014 @ 2:44pm


vanessa Wed, Oct 29th 2014 @ 2:50pm

Thanks Mary. As a mother and a daughter, this has given me a bit of peace. You are a blessing. Vanessa x

Julia Wed, Oct 29th 2014 @ 3:50pm

I expect Consultants are better trained now to deal with families. My sister will say she is better now but I can still see it. I think when you have grown up with a sibling who has had anorexia for years, it's difficult to believe the sister is really recovered but she is certainly so much better thankfully. That's the first time I have heard about the hot potato effect. I love mashed potato though! Well done and thank you for your kind words ratg.

Anonymous Wed, Oct 29th 2014 @ 3:55pm

If you are suffering from depression, I recommend the system.
Written by a former sufferer of depression, it teaches a simple 7-step process to eliminate depression from your life.

Anonymous Wed, Oct 29th 2014 @ 6:35pm

Excellent article. I really do think that most parents do their best, and more allocation of 'blame' isn't helpful at all.

Anonymous Wed, Oct 29th 2014 @ 8:10pm

Hi Mary, thankyou for this blog, it struck a real cord with me. Family links are all too clear for me also, and whilst I am looking into the links to gain a greater understanding myself, I share the sentiment that its no use blaming. Accepting that I am where I am and accepting that I must be proactive in moving forward has been a key for me. Owning my recovery and journey is paramount.

Anonymous Wed, Oct 29th 2014 @ 10:38pm

Good to see you x.

heather Thu, Oct 30th 2014 @ 10:33am

Hi Julia, I wonder if you will read this ? I agree, so much damage has been done to families by blaming parents. My mother was not allowed to visit me the first time I was ill (yes she did get a bit neurotic, but who wouldn't with a daughter suddenly behaving so outrageously!). My father was also blamed because he was said to be disinterested in me - he was a quiet man but loving. Luckily two very outspoken and marvellous Aunties visited me and told me it was all "utter rubbish" and I had lovely parents and I believed them, and still do, but I could easily have been brainwashed at that point. Most parents do the very best they can in the circumstances and with the knowledge they have. My mother never had a mother from the age of 2, and my father fought in two world wars, bless him. They are both gone now and I love them both insanely (what other way is there?) and I now really know just how much they do love me because at times like this moment I can feel their love all around me.
I took Lithium to shield my children from the intense highs and lows and I have had a happy life and still enjoy my ups but not my downs as much ! Trouble is I am afraid to come off the drug now (after about 40 years) but more because I am afraid of scaring my partner of 30 years and maybe losing him. Love from Heather xx

Mary Thu, Oct 30th 2014 @ 12:21pm

Thank you Julia, for sharing, and all the other positive things that have been said here. Heather, your words are so touching. Sending you hugs.

Anonymous Tue, Nov 4th 2014 @ 8:15pm

Cannot belive Mr Lott thinks his mum caused his depression? Its always the mothers fault for everything right? wrong eye colour, not clever enough, this disease that disease all the mothers fault? What about a fathers 'faulty sperm' that is what causes all depression (joke).

When will people wake up and take responsibility for them selves, and stop blaming the mother for global warming, and all lifes and their ills? Had a narrsistic psychopath as a step father, a warning in how not to act in life, not the reason that I got Bi-polar, then again?


You must login to leave a comment.

What is Moodscope?

Moodscope members seek to support each other by sharing their experiences through this blog. If you’d like to receive these daily posts by email, just sign up to Moodscope now, completely free of charge.

Moodscope is an innovative way for people to treat their own low mood problems using an engaging online tool. Anyone in the world can accurately assess and track daily mood scores over a period of time. We have proved that the very act of measuring, tracking and sharing mood can actually lift it. Join now.

Blog Archive


Posts and comments on the Moodscope blog are the personal views of Moodscope members, they are for informational purposes only and do not constitute medical advice. Moodscope makes no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information on this blog or found by following any of the links.

Moodscope will not be liable for any errors or omissions in this information nor for the availability of this information. The owner will not be liable for any losses, injuries, or damages from the display or use of this information.

We exist to help people to positively manage their moods. You can contribute by taking the test, sharing your experience on the blog or contributing funds so we can keep it free for all who need it.

Moodscope® is © Moodscope Ltd 2018. Developed from scales which are © 1988 American Psychological Association. Cannot be reproduced without express written permission of APA.