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 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?