Depression: A Legacy?

I am petrified that me having depression is having a negative impact on Squidge. I worry that my being sad upsets him, that he thinks he’s somehow the cause of my sadness or that he’s done something wrong.

This week I’ve really struggled with low mood, feeling of panic and bursting into tears at random times. Squidge has still had kisses and cuddles, I’ve still played with him and read him stories and made him laugh but things that I would normally be able to cope with have had me in bits. Getting him to bed has been really difficult this week because he’s teething but the combination of hearing him crying, having to choose between eating my dinner or bringing him downstairs and not having any time to unwind in the evenings has seen me attempting to comfort Squidge whilst sobbing.

I’ve held him and told him that my tears are not his fault, that nothing he does makes me sad, that the complete opposite is true.

That he brings joy into my life in ways that I’d forgotten were possible.

That just the sight of his beautiful, beaming smile can cause the sun to break through the clouds and banish the rain.

I try to reassure him but he’s far too small to understand.

Instead he sees my tears and hears the catch in my voice and he knows that something is wrong.

I want him to understand that depression is nothing to be ashamed of and that it can be talked about openly but at the same time I don’t want him to think that being sad is ‘normal.’ I want to be able to talk to him openly and honestly but at the same time I dread the day that he’s old enough to ask ‘why?’

Will he think less of me?

Will he understand the difference between physical and mental illness or will he worry that I’m sick and that I might die?

Will he think that I’m less capable to look after him than the Northern One?

Will he still feel secure in my love?

Will I still be his mummy?

Or will I transform into someone who is strange and frightening  and unpredictable?

Who can’t be relied upon or trusted to keep their emotions on an even keel?

Who will burst into tears and the slightest provocation or when their appears to be no reason at all?

As he gets older I worry that he won’t come to me with his problems because he thinks that I won’t be able to cope and that I can’t look after him properly. That my tears and sadness will make him feel rejected because he isn’t able to take them away with his love. That he will see me struggling and think that he too will be unable to cope with the difficulties and responsibilities of life as an adult.

Even more frightening is the thought that he might one day suffer from depression himself.

That somehow my being unwell will, either through nature or nurture start him on the same downward spiral.

He’s not exactly got a reassuring family history; me, my mum, my dad, my brother and a few other relatives have past or on-going battles with depression.

I try to tell myself that it’s not set in stone that Squidge will go on to develop depression, regardless of family history but as hard as I try it feels almost inevitable that he will suffer too.

The thought one day my beautiful baby boy, so happy and cheery, so full of smiles and giggles and joy, may one day experience the same force of self-hatred that I have done for the last ten years shatters my heart into a million pieces.

I would do anything to take away anything that tries to hurt him, regardless of the cost to me but as much as I want to be able to do that I can’t.

There’s nothing I can do to prevent bad things from happening to him and I will not be able to save him from depression.

I can teach him that depression is an illness like any other and that there’s no more shame or blame in it than if he had the flu.

I can show him that ultimately, depression has not stopped me from getting to where I want in life; that I have a brilliant job, a wonderful husband and people who do care about me.

I can help him to live well; to eat healthily, exercise frequently, sleep properly and live in a way that will help to stave off depression.

I can dry his tears, hold him close and try to banish his fears.

I can be there for him whenever he needs me; making sure that he knows that he never has to face anything that life throws at him on his own.

I can do all these things and more but I will be powerless to protect him from himself.

My little boy, what have I done to you?

What sort of start in life have I given you?

What sort of legacy?

People comment on how much Squidge looks like me and while I take joy and pride from people being able to see me in him I also hope that his appearance is one of the few things he takes from me.

I have so many things that he doesn’t need.

My self-depreciation

My lack of self-worth

My difficulty in making friends

The panic that I feel about the most innocuous of things

The stomach churning terror that strikes me at random moments and takes hours to leave.

The head spinning dizzinness that strikes me when I feel overwhelmed by life and everything in it.

He doesn’t need any of these things.

No one needs these things.

I know that as he grows up I’ll be watching him for any sign that he’s turning into anything other than a happy, well-rounded little boy.

I know that I’ll worry that he’s keeping things from me because he thinks I won’t understand or that I’ll react badly.

And I know that if he ever suffers in the way that I have, I will blame myself.

How can I not?

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12 thoughts on “Depression: A Legacy?

  1. You Baby Me Mummy (@YouBabyMeMummy) says:

    I am sure you have so many things he DOES need. I have PND and lots of body issues and I worry that my daughter will follow in my footsteps. I think it is natural to worry. However, you are so aware of it, that I know you will do everything in your power to make his path smoother than your own. Thanks for linking up to #TheList x

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  2. belledelettres says:

    I had clinical depression for about ten years while I was bringing up my daughter on my own and used to worry about the same things. I’m glad to report that she is now almost 25, beautiful, contented, talented and training for a vocational career. She is the most positive person I have ever come across! So try not to worry so much! And make sure you are getting the support you need.

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    • blopmamma2014 says:

      Thank you so much for your lovely, positive comment. My mum has suffered with depression and then I have so it feels almost inevitable that Squidge will as well so it wonderful to hear stories when this hasn’t happened.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. mayhemmuddles says:

    This is a beautiful piece! You love him so much and he will grown up in the safety of that love, I also think your honesty with him is brilliant too! Sometimes when I am having a bad moment and the boys ask what’s wrong i say i’m a bit tired etc and i try to do something calm like watch a film with them or read a story etc .. and it calms us all and reassures them that i am still obviously their mummy and whether i am crying with laughter or sadness i love them unconditionally . This is a bit rambly! i just wanted to say i think it sounds like you are doing a fabulous job ! xxx

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    • blopmamma2014 says:

      Thank you so much. My mum wasn’t honest about her mental health issues until I was much older and it would have been so much easier if I’d known what was going on. I’ll be explaining to Squidge as soon as I think he’s old enough to understand but I talk to him about things now even though he’s not quite one yet.

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  4. aliceyoung8 says:

    It’s hard to not put even more pressure on ourselves as mums but he will grow up being loved and being honest is probably the best thing. I’m sure I’ve got things Amelia doesn’t need but like has been said above you have lots of things he does need and try to focus on those! Thanks for linking up #MummyMonday x

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  5. Clare says:

    Thank you for this. You’ve written, so eloquently, everything that I’ve been thinking and feeling since the birth of my son just over a year ago.

    Try to keep the good days good – play, read, sing, laugh. If you have a bad day/week/month then that’s fine too, your little one will still know that you’re there for hugs and for all of those other things too.

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    • blopmamma2014 says:

      Thanks Clare, if I think about things properly I do realise that we have lots of fun, giggly, happy times to balance out the sad times. I just worry that it won’t be those that he remembers.

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  6. Fiona says:

    Think about reading “The Happiness Trap” by Russ Harris or seeking out a therapist trained in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy and/or look at Mindfulness Based Interventions. There’s a lot of self-blame here about being human. I had severe depression with my second. I understand your fears. However, those fears can create what you fear by virtue of your struggle against them, they’re part of the fall out of maternal depression and a sign you really need to work hard at self-compassion and accepting that all human beings suffer this dark side, it’s normal to have a mind that hurts us, it’s part of our everyday mental weather pattern, we just got caught in a particularly violent storm. If your son gets depression (as he may well do, it affects so many human beings) it won’t be your fault. Please continue to get treatment and to work out these worries and fears. It’s so dangerous to fall into the trap of watching for every little sign there’s something wrong, you’ll inadvertently end up creating the situation that terrifies you.

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  7. Susanne Remic (@Ghostwritermumm) says:

    Oh it must be so hard to hold your son and know that you love him, but know that your heart is breaking because you cannot hide your sadness. I am sure that if you are as open with him as you are on your blog, then you have nothing to worry about. Depressions should not be hidden away and it should be discussed openly. But I do understand your fears. I too have spent nights trying to settle the babies whilst sobbing my heart out. Motherhood is hard, and with depression can seem impossible sometimes.
    Thank you so much for linking up to #MaternityMatters x x

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    • blopmamma2014 says:

      When Squidge is old enough I’ll try and explain depression to him and how it’s an illness like any other. I’ll try and shield him from the worst but I won’t pretend that mental health issues don’t exist. Being a mummy is hard and the days when depression strikes can make it seem like the hardest job in the world but I wouldn’t change Squidge for the world.

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