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Your best friend wouldn't tell you. Saturday November 28, 2015

If somebody has body odour or bad breath do you tell them? Or subtly move away, change your desk or open a window?

If someone you know well becomes miserable for no apparent reason, is anyone going to move in and say 'Why not see the doctor, you may be depressed'. Mostly, because the 'cafard', black dog, grey cloud can be explained by something as simple as a bad hair day or a partnership break-down.

I spend too much time in hospitals with people in a desperate state, and too much time on my own, but reading the blogs with great care (particularly Mary's a few days' ago) I don't see depression everywhere, but look at close acquaintances in a new light.

When my husband's sight problems a few years ago caused him to stop driving and reading, he settled to a deep anger against the world. As he was happy (unlike most men) to be driven around by me – to outsiders our life seemed to go on without a hitch. But he would not avail himself of outside help, it was me or nothing.

He now has Alzheimers. I may be jumping to conclusions, but could he have gone in to a deep depression, which, if recognised, might have put the Alzheimers off for a while?

Another example, is a friend I have 'finished' with. His meanness and sponging had gone too far. For years he behaved oddly - he hated being 70 and was horrible to his wife. He was one of these real 'macho' guys - rally driving, shooting, always very competitive.

A few years ago he suddenly insisted on separate rooms, blamed his back. We believe he became impotent, but his pride would not let him seek help, and certainly not admit to depression.

So, who tells?

The Gardener
A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.

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Barbara Sat, Nov 28th 2015 @ 7:24am


LillyPet Sat, Nov 28th 2015 @ 7:40am

Morning TG,

It's an interesting point, that there may be depression underlying other illnesses. Mr TG losing the ability to drive and read must have knocked him for six. He so lucky to have you!

My father a lovely man was a traditional bread winner, handyman, chef, driver and always fit. His relationship with alcohol has resilted in a steady decline and it's a bit chicken and egg. Was he depressed so drank, or did the drinking cause him to lose those abilties he was so proud of? Probably a bit of both. He would never consider himself depressed though, one of those men ( sorry guys but there are alot out there! :)) that you have to literally drag to see a doctor! Ex husband pretty much the same! Also aware that alcohol is a struggle, aware that childhood circumstances have played a part, but hasn't seen himself as being depressed. Maybe because they're both quite jovial characters.

I have a friend who often has emotional struggles which have an impact on her relationships with her partner and children who are late teens and early twenties. There is always a huge drama!
I am there for her to listen, to reassure, to soothe, to calm, empathise, help rationalise, understand her point of view, suggest other possibilities and either lift her spirits or ways to take care of herself. I try not to judge, even though at times I dont agree with how she views things or her reactions.

I sometimes share about how my moods are affected by hormones and once asked whether she had seen her GP as doing that had helped me.
Most of all I give her what I would like, being on her side, but honest and caring feedback if it's really needed.

She's done the same for me too, been there through some rough times and always up for having fun, which I'm not always up to!

That's about as far as I go with the emotional equivalent to the bad breath dilemma! Thank you for bringing her into my thoughts I will get in touch and see how she's doing! Hugs LP xx

LillyPet Sat, Nov 28th 2015 @ 7:43am

Am resisting typo and spelling corrections! :))

Debs Sat, Nov 28th 2015 @ 8:52am

Great blog TG. A few weeks ago I went for lunch with some friends and was feeling very low. I tried to pretend I was ok but was fighting back tears and couldn't wait to get home. Nobody asked how I felt, nobody gave me a hug or reached out.

A couple of weeks later I mentioned to one of the friends that I hadn't felt good that day and she said 'yes, we noticed. We talked about it after you'd gone and wondered if you were ok'. And yet nobody picked up the phone and asked 'Are you ok?" I wanted to judge but I realised they were just scared of what might come up, that I might cry and they wouldn't know what to do or say.

How many times in our own lives do we wonder if someone is ok and don't ask? Every time we do that we are letting another member of our humanity down. I vow from now on to find the vulnerability and courage to reach out. It takes sitting with the person in their pain - which is something most people want to void - but I believe there is no greater gift we can give to each other. Thanks TG for bringing this subject up, its so important. xxx

Bearofliddlebrain Sat, Nov 28th 2015 @ 1:45pm

Oh, Debs, that is so sad and hard to take from friends. I cannot understand how they just didn't pick up the phone....even when I am scared of an outcome, I generally ask about someone and how they are just to give them the chance to offload. It is just being there sometimes. Come to us next time, sweet thing. Big Bear hug x x x

Debs Sat, Nov 28th 2015 @ 10:41pm

Bear my lovely that is so sweet of you, you are such a kind soul. I really do think people are incredibly scared of sitting in empathy with one another. I'm lucky I do have other friends who are amazing and I will go to them in future. In a way what I realised through the experience that I was out of integrity with myself - I don't connect with these people anymore, the conversation was just chit chat and gossip and I couldn't contribute. I will be more selective with my time in future and not waste it on things that lack meaning for me ;-)) xxx

Bearofliddlebrain Sat, Nov 28th 2015 @ 8:53am

Well, TG.....I am glad you have stood up to the mean sponge and have unfriended hope you are still able to be friends with his wife though, sounds like she still needs you.
Chicken and egg: Alzheimer's or depression? Alcoholism/depression; insomnia/depression..hard to know which is causing which, but none of them help each other.
Tired aching Bear x

The Gardener Sat, Nov 28th 2015 @ 9:10am

Debs sad remarks that nobody even gave the comfort of a hug or follow-up phone call begs the question -do people not care, not want to get involved, or just don't know what to say? When a young man in our employ was killed on his motor-bike my husband and I (this was over 30 years ago) debated whether or not to visit his parents. Would we be intruding on their grief? We went. They were of the generation (dare I say class?) who saw the 'boss' as a higher being. They were overwhelmed, offered us the usual tea, then just talked and talked about their son. We shut the firm (to us, a normal mark of respect) for the afternoon of his funeral - this, too, helped the parents, their admittedly tearaway son (though an excellent employee) had a 'send-off' they had not expected.

Mary Sat, Nov 28th 2015 @ 11:49am

Always best to visit - to sit and say nothing if nothing is all you can say. Those parents will have the comfort of your visit always.

Bearofliddlebrain Sat, Nov 28th 2015 @ 1:47pm

Here here...I think what the bereaved hate the worst is being ignored.

Holly Sat, Nov 28th 2015 @ 10:18am

Sorry to hear that your husband has Alzheimer's. Though Alzheimer's can cause depression and changes in emotions, I just wanted to point out that there is no known cause of Alzheimer's. I think if your husband's depression was recognised sooner, then the Alzheimer's would've been 'hidden' and that would've delayed the diagnosis of Alzheimer's. But it still would've been there all along.

I don't usually comment on blogs (though I've found the moodscope ones to be very thought provoking!) but I just feel like it today. It would've been my dad's 71st birthday today, but he passed away from Alzheimer's 2 years ago in December. During his illness, my 'best friend' not once asked how I was coping or anything. I'm not sure if it's because I'm young (turning 23 next month) and maybe she was ignorant about Alzheimer's, I don't know. Thankfully, I have a few other good friends who did care.

I would like to think that with my life experiences and the kindness that other people have shown me, that I would try to get a conversation going about mental health issues, if I suspected someone I cared about was going through a difficult time.

Bearofliddlebrain Sat, Nov 28th 2015 @ 1:53pm

Hi show great maturity in your reply above. I am sorry you have lost your father whilst you are so young. Also sad that a 'best friend' wasn't as grown-up as you. I take it she hasn't lost her parents or anyone close to her, or she may have acted differently toward you. I sometimes think that until we have been through such circumstances, we can never fully appreciate what others in that position go through. A difficult day, but I hope you have wonderful memories of your dear father you can draw on, to get you through the next few days...with a Bear hug too! x x x

Leah Sat, Nov 28th 2015 @ 10:20am

Your blog has me thinking.
I suppose I have been the person told and the person deciding whether to tell. It is a fine line between trying to help and interfering, between accepting help and feeling worthless.

Once after I separated from my husband, well meaning friends and family decided I was depressed, when I wasn't. I knew they meant well but I felt they were trying to control me and did not trust my judgment. I think they did not ask me how I was feeling they told me how I was feeling.

A few years ago a friend's daughter was struggling and I was caring and helpful but she was in denial and refused help.

Some people do not want to be helped whereas as others like Debs just want to someone to ask how they are going and show they care. I am not making excuses for people's behaviour but it can be hard knowing when help will be accepted and when it will be rejected.

Thanks again gardener.

The Gardener Sat, Nov 28th 2015 @ 11:17am

Quick response to Holly and Leah - yes, there are people who do not want help. I often refer to my time at the Samaritans. I left because the 'do-gooders' were thinking themselves more important than the professionals. They 'talked down' to people, pulled their 'middle class' rank, and if I had been in need of help I would not have asked them, their 'superiority' would have put my back up (and probably made me feel better straightaway!) It all comes down to how you go about it, and your sensitivity.

Mary Sat, Nov 28th 2015 @ 11:54am

You know - thinking about it - I am sure that my uncle must have suffered from depression after the car accident that sadly cost a young man his foot (another motorcyclist). Although my uncle was not held to be in the wrong he decided to relinquish his driving licence. The loss of independence and the worry and guilt he felt almost certainly hastened his death. But he was of the generation that didn't talk about feelings very much. Thank you for today's blog. It has made me think.

The Gardener Sat, Nov 28th 2015 @ 2:33pm

I got lucky today getting the blog, and you people got unlucky. I have a stinking cold, dare not go to hospital and risk the bug killing off half the frail elderly people there. So, time on my hands. I think Mary's story is very pertinent to the main points of my blog. I know of several cases of people involved in accidents where no blame could be attached to them, but they could not face it ever happening again, and gave up driving. This is a bitter wrench for most people - if driving is part of your job and the family's means of getting about then it becomes a disaster. And I am sure depression follows most cases. The same goes for train drivers - with throwing themselves under trains the choice of many suicides. People would need months of counselling to get over it - some, like Mary's uncle, never. My husband has never got over it - if he had been treated for depression probably would have had no influence on the Alzheimers - but oh, if he had shared that anger with someone I would have taken less of the brunt of his bitterness.

Mrs Jul A Non Sat, Nov 28th 2015 @ 3:04pm

Recently someone I knew of and have spoken to on a few occasions who lives in our small town threw himself in front of a train here. My husband heard the noise of the impact his body made on the train. I thought about the last time I spoke to this guy, how he didn't come across as particularly depressed even though I sort of knew he was regarded as a little odd. I didn't know him well but even so I wished I had said something to help him.However having thought about it for a while, I am sure he would have killed himself eventually however much support he had had. The driver of the train will not work again; he is traumatised. I have however learnt from this tragic tale to always smile at people, not to assume that everyone who seems jolly, is infact jolly. Little kind gestures make people feel wanted even if it's only for that single moment. I may not be in a position to help someone deeply or long term, they may not tell but I am in a position to smile at people and be kind.

Alice Sat, Nov 28th 2015 @ 5:19pm

That's a nice inspiration Jul. I shall try to remember that I give a gift with the effort and that makes it all worth while xx

Leah Sun, Nov 29th 2015 @ 12:29am

Mrs J Anon, What a sad story. It touched me as there has been a series on Television a modern version of Anna Karenina set in Melbourne, Australia. So I have been watching trains and tragedy. I find it hard to smile at others when I don't feel like smiling as it looks fake, so I admire your desire to smile at people and be kind.

The Gardener Sat, Nov 28th 2015 @ 5:48pm

The thread of offering help is very strong throughout today's blogs - and how difficult it can be - your own shyness, not wanting to 'interfere' fear of being rejected and yes, the risk that someone (again a Samaritans experience) will cling to you like a limpet because they must have a 'crutch'. I see I have mentioned 'class' twice. We farmed on the verge of what was called the 'gin and Jag' belt. The men were usually 'something in the city', or traveled a lot. The wives were often lonely and bored - living on large modern housing estates,(often round golf courses) the 'keep up with the Jones' syndrome very strong - so gardener and daily help 'de rigeur'. They lunched, shopped, went to the gym, walked the dog. A very large percentage were involved in charity work - fund raising (vital) now, as high streets empty, running charity shops. But, and these observations are not cynical, they were not 'hands on'. Working with Crisis at Christmas, helping with soup kitchens for the down and outs, reading to people in hospital who had no relatives. They became competitive even within the charitable organisations they worked with. And they were such snobs. Yesterday's blog was about emotions on losing parents. My mother-in-law was an arch snob, circle of friends chosen with care. I am now 30 years on from that world, and a country removed. My greatest joy? I gave what the French referred to as 'garden parties'. The hospital char would talk to the hospital director - my garden was the only place such a thing could happen - my mother-in-law would not have approved. I have just had a phone call from my 'deputy', sister Rosalie - I gave her a package of a rose, bananas and Kit Kat for my husband. She got him, and two other people he knew, in one of their rooms for communion together. She also had my job of the nightly reassurance - that they would not forget to take my husband to dinner, that the nurses were evident everywhere, what hospital he was in and that when his wife stopped streaming she would be back.

Bearofliddlebrain Sat, Nov 28th 2015 @ 9:25pm

TG...there are those who 'do' to help others, and there are those who 'do' to help themselves. Bear x

Mr A non Sat, Nov 28th 2015 @ 8:24pm

After The Gardener's fine initial blog we have been treated to a magnificent collection of stories,theories and ideas. When i read them from top to bottom,as i just have, i was amazed at the insight and sheer thoughtfulness of the moodscope members.We live in a crazy world, with multiple deaths and destruction on literally every news broodcast,but when it happens closer to home, or yourself, or family member then it becomes real.Sometimes, or most times as is usually the case,it is extremely difficult to think what to say to a bereaved person ,but as someone said just giving them you're time ,letting them talk and knowing you are there, for them is a great comfort .When you see someone in the street you dont know what troubles or problems they may have, and as Jul says you cannot assume every one who appears happy actually is. Sorry ive wittered on a bit and lost track of things

Bearofliddlebrain Sat, Nov 28th 2015 @ 9:24pm

Nah, not wittered...just honest and don't forget that sometimes, the peeps who read but don't contribute with a reply here on Moodscope just need to know we are here and we all go through the same stuff every day. There maybe a glimmer of hope in what we can share..a snippet of help from what we have been through. Hugs from Bear x

The Gardener Sun, Nov 29th 2015 @ 7:47am

End piece to thinking I might have been guilty of being 'superior' myself yesterday. But 60 years of helping with a wide variety of voluntary organisations a huge percentage of people who 'join' are unreliable. They will promise help - then, last minute, must have their hair done, pick kids up from dance class, husband needs the car - and you are down to self and a few who never fail, and swearing. If anybody who gathers that our move to France has been perfect, believe me, the French a propos voluntary work are much, much worse - and don't even bother to tell you they can't turn up. The most unreliable are those who help in the church.

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