I haven’t written anything for a while. This is partly because I’m exhausted. The effort required to take care of my sick child is starting to take its toll. Yes, she’s a lot better than she was. But we still have a long way to go and that can feel overwhelming sometimes.
The other reason for my silence is this: for a long time, I’d simply run out of things to say. In fact, I realised earlier this year that I had become a ‘one subject’ woman.
In every conversation, and everything I write, I am constantly trying to make sense of what’s happened to Nora. Her illness is all I talk about. I see it in people’s eyes – that flicker of dread when I start speaking. I don’t blame them for this; I have become a singularly boring person.
I don’t think I’ve always been boring. I’m pretty sure, not so long ago, I could hold my own in most social situations. I make friends easily; I’ve always had lots to say and plenty of opinions on plenty of things. Now… there’s one subject on my list of things to talk about: my daughter’s illness.
I suspect that one of the reasons I keep going over the same old ground, is because there’s so much still unsaid. The things I don’t talk about because they’re too personal, or too difficult, or because I simply want to move forward. I also know these things cannot be unique to me and my situation.
I’m in regular contact with parents of children with mental health problems. All of us share the same worries and concerns for our children. All of us get so used to dealing with horrible situations, they rapidly become our new normal.
So, in an attempt to draw a line under the last year and move forward with my life, here are some of the things that become routine for parents of children with clinical depression:
- Waking up in the middle of the night to find your child trying to stab themselves or hurt themselves in some other way
- Never being able to go to sleep until you know your child is asleep
- Setting your alarm for various times during the night so you can get up and check your child is still alive
- Watching your child’s terrifying descent into a dark and desperate place, and knowing you are helpless in the face of this illness
- Knowing your child wants to die – really, properly wants their life to end because the anguish caused by their illness is too much to bear
- Realising that no matter how completely shit this is for you, it’s worse for them
- Learning to physically restrain your child because you know if you can’t do this, they will try to kill themselves
In my family’s case, the other thing that has become part of our ‘new normal’ has been the immense, overwhelming support from our neighbours and friends. We’ve had a crap time recently, but we are getting through it. We know how very lucky we are.