Wednesday, May 19, 2010

What do the women in this post all have in common? Read on and find out.....

December 2012: In an update to this post from 2009, can I just share that my marriage was falling apart when I wrote this - I chose to wear  the blame, and was surrounded by people who told me 'mental instability' was the cause of my problems.. In retrospect I now know this was not the case and any 'instability' was a symptom of the end of the marriage, not the cause. I have not had depression (other than normal 'bad times') since I left my marriage, have not taken anti depressants from 5 months after I left, and am back to the generally positive person I have always been (save for the months surrounding the death of my Nanna). Just needed the world to know that, although depression/mental illness is nothing to hide from, it is usually a BIG sign that something in your life needs to change or be addressed. Having done that, I now know freedom from it's debilitating effects, the words of the following article will enlighten you to my condition at the time........

In 1965 The Rolling Stones recorded one of their classic hits, Mothers Little Helper. (It was released in 1966.) This song always mystified me....what was it talking about? There was something in the song that I found quite compelling lyrically, even though I am not a huge Stones fan. It is only in the last couple of years that I researched the meaning behind the lyrics, and low and behold, I found that it was something I could identify with.....

This song is about a housewife who abuses prescription drugs to "get her through the day." It turns around the image of a suburban housewife, who is usually portrayed as cooking and caring for her family, by showing her as a drug abuser.
 Mick Jagger: "It's about drug dependence, but in a sort of like spoofy way. As a songwriter, I didn't really think about addressing things like that. It was just every day stuff that I'd observe and write about. It's what writing is for really. "

OK, so I am not saying that I am addicted to prescription drugs ! What I do note from the song was Mick Jaggars observation that housewives of the time were struggling - harried, frazzled, disillusioned and more than likely depressed - and so resorted to drugs (in this case vallium) to help them. Depression existed in the early 1960's, in much the same circumstances as it does today.

There were many noted cases of women who were struggling with various manifestations of depression and post natal depression in the early part of last century. Often times these unhappy, misunderstood women were committed to institutions, in some cases remaining there for life ! It was also prevalent in Hollywood - so many leading ladies suffered terribly with depression and mental illness. My adored Gene Tierney was one of them, Judy Garland, Francis Farmer, Vivien Leigh, Veronica Lake, and famously Marilyn Monroe are others. Depression does not discriminate between the famous, wealthy, middle class, working class, men, women, oppressed or successful, and it often manifests itself in different ways depending on the person, or circumstances.

Unfortunately, I am someone who is prone to the damn thing, and since having my children, I have really struggled. I can really understand the feelings of  those women in the 1960's who required a 'mothers little helper' to get through each day. It can really wear you down giving of yourself to other people 24 hours a day, particularly when you are an idealist like me !! Mother and idealist are not happy companions ! Children will never behave ideally, and my mothering - try though I might - will never be 'ideal' either ! So in writing this rather serious post, I simply want to share my own personal struggle, and let other sufferers know that whatever form of depression may they battle with, they are not alone !

One thing that has astounded me as I deal with depression - which has involved going on anti-depressants in recent times - is the huge amount of people with the same issues. One friend, who is head of nursing at a nearby large hospital, told me that every nurse there who had young children was on anti depressants !! Depression takes a number of forms - depression, anxiety, bipolar (formerly called manic depression - unexplainable and extreme  highs and lows) and postnatal depression being the main culprits.

When I lost my Nanna Alice on top of a number of other stress factors in my life, it tipped me into a depression that lasted a number of months, the symptoms of which were that I was unable to enjoy anything, found it difficult to get out of bed, and had no motivation for the things I had once enjoyed, and had thoughts of self harm.

Thankfully I recovered. However, when I had my children, because the symptoms of my second bought with depression were very different, I didn't recognise that I had the illness again. This time around the symptoms were an anxiousness/fear of connecting socially anywhere I might have to take my kids, feelings of isolation, withdrawing from friends and family, inability to hope or dream (something that has always been a BIG part of me), feeling sad or miserable, trapped, frustrated, inability to enjoy my children, no desire to participate in my children's lives any longer, blaming myself for everything that went wrong, and extreme over-activity to fill the 'emptiness'. I do have alot of inner strength, so for a number of years I simply 'braced up', put on a smile and carried on until I could no longer avoid the slide into darkness.

Fortunately for me, my husband, my sister Tanya and my dear friend Brooke have been an amazing source of understanding, forgiveness, support and love over the past 6 months. That said, for those who are caring for someone with depression, PLEASE take care of is a rotten job, make sure you are well supported yourself and surround yourself with people who can care for you, and take regular breaks and respite !

My 'support group' simply listened to my heartaches, continued to love me despite myself, and when the need became so great, helped me start on the little white serotonin pills that have made such an enormous difference to my outlook and perspective in the last 6 weeks. Couple that with counciling and allowing myself time to really search my soul, I have discovered alot of things about myself that I can begin to address to help me understand and recognise problems in the future. The future for me looks promising now !

n sharing this, I simply want my story to be a source of encouragement to others.....if you are struggling, you might like to take some time to have a look at the Beyond Blue website which is chock full of great advice and tips, encouraging stories, self analysis, contacts and information. I'd also like to encourage you to share your stories here if you feel like it...... writing is such tremendous therapy for me, you are more than welcome to 'purge' here too - you just never know whom it might bless in the long run.

Whatever you do, don't ignore it, and 'don't go running for the shelter of mothers little helper' - make sure you get proper medical help and advice, surround yourself with people who are compassionate, positive and understanding, and take time out for yourself and the things you once enjoyed. Left untreated, depression can destroy marriages, friendships, employment and careers, not to mention everything wonderful you were created to be ! It is very real and very debilitating, - may you be engulfed in waves of faith, hope and love enough to lift your heart to a place of freedom, peace and joy today and ever on.

Love to you all today.


  1. Thanks for the post - I'd agree that there are so many people out there suffering with depression, however its nice to hear someone speak openly about it.

    Thanks xxx

  2. Hey Kesenya,
    Thank you for being so honest! Mental health issues are still very taboo though, as you pointed out, are prevalent.
    As a teen I suffered from depression and was even hospitalized for a while. My husband suffered from panic disorder as well and most recently my eldest son began to suffer from anxiety. Thankfully panic disorder is very easily treatable and both my husband and son are doing very well.
    Striving to be the perfect mother is a constant battle with me as well. I have so many things on my plate (cook, clean, homeschool, exercise, write, church...)and I get so upset that I can't do everything 100%. But like you said, family support (and Gods grace) the truly important things get done.

  3. Honey - thanks so much for sharing that. I see alot of negetivity towards the struggles people have with mental health etc in online places like facebook etc......I think if people were more aware of just how prelevant it is, and that it is largely a chemical imbalance, then maybe there would be more sympathy, compassion and understanding. I really appreciate your openness about your own journey too. Hang in there with the perfect mother thing, I dont quite know what to say because it is a daily battle for me too....I think it all boils down to realising that I cannot control everything and I need to just give it over afresh each morning :o) Letting go is hard, but ofton such a relief ! Love to you beautiful doll ! XX

  4. I just came across your lovely blog! What a thought provoking and open post, thank you for your thoughts! I saw in one of your earlier posts that you are an INFJ, I'm also an INFJ - rather rare I'm told! Coming down hard on myself when I fail is something I struggle with too.

    I'm so glad to hear that you are feeling better - hang in there! I've fought with depression off and on through the years, my faith in God, that He has a plan and is there with me every step of the way, and my loving family, have been instrumental in getting me back on the right track. I pray you can and have found the same peace...


  5. Lauren, thanks for all that you have shared ! It is so lovely to meet you here ! I too am learning the lessons you have spoken of, and although it is not easy, I am sure that through it all I am growing. God bless you for your warm words - I look forward to getting to know you better !! XX


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