It can be a frightening thing when you slip down into the abyss of a deep depression. But when it’s happened time after time in your life, in a strange way it becomes a familiar cave or lair in which to retreat when the threats outside in the world become too much to bear.
For me my experience has been pretty much a lifelong ‘pulling’ towards the labyrinth of subterranean tunnels and caves of my depression. Ever since I was one month old I have felt that pull as my own. My mum had Post-Natal Depression come on when I was just a few weeks old, an age when I would not be able distinguish much between my own and my mum’s feelings. She had it bad again about nine months after my brother was born, around the time I was coming up for 2 years old. Mum’s depression has come and gone throughout my infancy, childhood, adolescence and adulthood. Dad’s also had his own experiences with depression too.
Mum and I have learned how to talk together now, as adult to adult, mother with daughter and now learning to talk as mother and son. We had a deep conversation today about the difficulties she faced as a young pregnant teenager in 1966. How she never told anyone she might be pregnant with me, even though she knew she was, until she was confronted by my gran and granddad one afternoon in June 1966 who suspected and were upset and angry with their unwed 18-year-old daughter. By that time mum was 5 months pregnant. She was told to get to the doctors that evening to get the pregnancy confirmed so she got on her bike and pedaled to first one village, where the doctors was shut, and then to the next village where she was examined and told she was indeed definitely pregnant – coincidentally by a doctor who was my dad’s GP. Mum described being shell-shocked although secretly happy because she wanted to be a mum more than anything. Just then wasn’t the best time…
Mum cycled her way back home to tell her parents. She said that her dad, my granddad, went out to the phone box in the village (they never had a phone for many years) and rang my dad’s parents. Mum has never known what was said but by the next day dad was brought over to gran and granddad’s house by his parents and they all decided that it was best mum and dad got married. They married on 20 July 1966 a month later. No-one else was at their wedding other than their parents and my dad’s sister, Janis, and her husband, Silas,who we would all go to live with until mum and dad could get somewhere to rent.
I was born in November that year, at my auntie’s house where my mum and dad were living with her, Silas and her three young kids – my cousins. My mum described how excited and happy she was after I was born – my auntie Janis there as was my dad, aged 18, who helped deliver me. It wasn’t long though before she noticed how changeable Silas was. How his moods fluctuated between being OK and being incredibly nasty and vindictive. All was fine with Silas until I was born, and even then he had met my granddad after his night shift and had gone and collected my gran and granddad (mum’s parents) so they could see us the day after I was born.
Mum felt pretty quickly that Silas had issues with them being there. It felt like he was jealous of them having the youngest grandchild (me) then as prior to that it had been their daughter – my cousin – who had been youngest. Whatever the reasons behind Silas’s change of moods the long and short of it was Silas picking arguments, behaving possessively and in a highly controlling way. But his mood turned on a sixpence when mum and dad moved from the Old Nurses Home flat they lived for 3 month and into a council house on the same street as them and he helped dad decorate the new place as though nothing had happened previously.
Silas stopped speaking to mum and dad for a while. Mum felt for Janis as they were as close as sisters and Janis had always looked out for her younger brother (my dad) and my mum and me. Silas was sleeping around, a familiar pattern for him. When Auntie Janis was in hospital nervously waiting to give birth to her fourth child, and there were worries as Janis had nearly died with haemorrhaging with her third child about a year before I was born…and Silas was shagging a girl who worked in their shop at the time too. Mum told me that she was getting the house ready for Janis to come home from hospital, cleaning round, changing the beds etc, when Silas came and sexually propositioned her. Mum was raging about it and told him where to get off. Apparently he also tried it on with my nana too. Mum never told dad…though she says she doesn’t remember if she did or not. I do wonder if he does remember that. I’ve always had a feeling that there was some bad energy around Uncle Silas….and I know from what mum has said that she felt a huge rage towards him. Once she had to actively engage her conscious brain away from totalling his car she felt such a cold rage towards him for what he had done to Janis. When my mum and dad got away, mum was left feeling guilty for leaving Janis to deal with Silas and his Jeykyl and Hyde personality alone.
After we moved house to another town when I was five years old, mum got depressed again, being so far away from her mum and dad (remember this was when all you had if you’re lucky was a letter posted once a week) and with three young kids of five and under. At some point things got so bad that dad took mum to the doctors and he advised dad to ‘take away anything harmful’ from mum. I don’t remember any of this happening at the time but I do remember mum being really down and dad being stressed.
At around 10 years old I had my own depression precipitated by feeling excluded kids at school. I began banging my head on brick walls located around the school grounds. I’d stand further and further away from the wall on each occasion and fall rigid with my forehead crashing into the brickwork. I’d get a bit of a crowd at breaktimes sometimes. At least other kids thought I was hard…
What had led to that thought of being different was an innocent game of kiss chase where I’d had a grand old time chasing the girls at playtime to try and kiss them. Oh how they squealed lol! But usually I’d be off playing tennis ball footie with the boys…and when they came back from playing to find me having my pick of the girls, well the ‘lezzie’ stuff began. I didn’t know what to do with it other than bang my head in frustration.
Well….it’s late now and I could write all night. But I have work to go to tomorrow morning and I need my sleep. This post will have to continue tomorrow when I’m conscious enough to make sense.