In a week where the spotlight shines on mental health, I wanted to share the story of my beautiful and brave mammy Sheena. My mum is a fierce, proud and an incredibly smart woman. She has fought poverty, social stigmas and cancer in her life time. She raised two girls and took on her nephew as her own. Ever selfless. Ever loving. Ever fighting.
My mum would tell me to this day that there is no battle fiercer than that of depression. After her mother died a few years before I was born, my mum started to struggle with perpetual sadness. After my birth, she got worse and was prescribed an array of drugs designed to numb the pain. Tamazepam, lorazepam and anything else which would shut out the darkness. Sadly, these drugs also shut out the light. She was a great wee mammy and I was loved deeply, but the outside world was a hard place for her. She would feed the birds outside the glass doors of our home and I would watch them, it was all she could do to make me smile when she was in her darkest hours. To this day, seeing a robin is one of my faveourite things. She wasn’t able to go to some parents nights or school sports days, she was ill. Unwell. Poorly. She was a wonderful mother.
Then came along a CPN called Veronica, ever so patiently she helped my mum ween off the crippling drugs. My poor wee mum would cry and scream with the withdrawals and I would wonder “why is my mummy sad?” You see, children of depressed people are often the forgotten carers. Yes their mummy can wash herself and make dinner, but these kids often spend hours reassuring and loving someone who often cannot even register their own self worth. I remember my mum cared for her friend who had cancer ever so diligently and a relative asked her “why are you depressed? You have it all. Nice house. Nice life.” She was ill. Give yourself a shake, we heard this all the time. Us kids would think but our mammy isn’t well; Would we ask someone who has a broken leg to run? I think not.
Through her whole life my mum has been open about her mental health. When she had cancer she noted all the flowers and cards that surrounded her; a few years later during her period of electro convulsive therapy, a very different story. Yet my wee mum would tell you that there is no fight worse than that of mental illness. And fight she does.
She has tried everything, therapy, counselling, medicine, shocking her body to oblivion. She fights every day to face a world which is extraordinarily bleak in her eyes but she continues to try anything to help a little sunshine penetrate her dark walls. She is heroic.
I’ve had depression so I now know what it was like. I know why my mummy cried. I know why the battle is hard and I know I could be more understanding. I often wonder how many people around me have been touched by this evil illness but are too afraid to ask for help incase they are told to give themselves a shake. I love my mum and I love my girls, I love that in my family if you struggle someone will catch you. Someone will drag you to a doctor. However, not every family is like mine but there will always be someone who can help you. Sadly the stigma is huge but don’t be afraid. If the mammy Sheena can fight then so can you.
I lost one of my most beautiful friends in he world to suicide and I will learn from him and from my mammy. You can too. My mum has always got time for others and she never ever ever ever gives up. Find time and don’t forget the little children who ask why is my mummy sad.