Part 7 – You are not alone and Community Support from Strangers

This is my diary and journal of recovery, tracking my progress as I take on the illness of depression and hopefully beat it! It tells my story of being in a long distance relationship with a man from another culture and all of the challenges that adds to a challenging situation and health condition.

While I have chosen to keep this blog anonymous I have shared it in a few online groups I am part of consisting of women who are also in intercultural relationships, many of them with Indian men.

It is a mix of emotions to discover – I am not alone in what I am going through! I’m happy as I have people who can truly empathise. I’m sad that there are others feeling as low as me. Whilst online groups will never give you unbiased opinions and balanced objective counselling like you will get from a health professional, sometimes all you want to hear is some true sympathy and no nonsense advice. There are only so many times you can play along with the therapist asking “so how does that make you feel?” when all you really want to hear is “that is such total bullshit and you should not have to put up with it!”

There is a beautiful sisterhood that women often form – united by common bonds and experiences, even if they are total strangers. If you are suffering from depression and anxiety it can sometimes be hard to reach out to those close to you for help. It can also be hard to reach out to health professionals, especially of you are scared of the consequences of having a mental health issue on your record. This could be because you have a fear of being sectioned (yep been there!) or having your children taken from you. I will talk about that further in a moment but first I would encourage you to join an online (or face to face) support group. Here you have a safe place to find empathy, sympathy and the distance to discount anything negative you don’t want to hear. You wouldn’t have this same distance if you were asking advice from a friend or family member. The voices that reach out to you however, giving you hope and love, will touch you deeply and can very much aid your recovery.

I have no idea if the same thing exists for guys – please let me know if it does! I don’t want any men reading this to feel left out!

Coming back to fear – I felt so sad recently hearing the story of a lady who was scared that her children may get taken from her if she went on medication for depression. I have included below some resources and links to inform anyone else with these worries. She asked if there were any natural remedies she could take as an alternative. I will talk about these in my next blog episode because yes! There are so many!

To quote a line from one of my favourite books- “fear is the mind killer.” If you are scared you will not get better. No one should be made to fear the medical system but it is a very real problem and indeed there are some terrible practices and doctors out there. Certainly in England there is a tendency to miss thyroid conditions, mis-diagnose and dish out prozac without treating the problem holistically. It is our responsibility to choose how we use western medicine and take control of our own treatment and not be scared of doctors and psychologists. A strong advocate of holistic and natural medicine myself, as well as having an actual real phobia of doctors, I have been pleasantly surprised at the help I have got from the good doctors – they do exist! You have a right to request a different one if you don’t like the one you have, so shop around until you have one you are comfortable with. Having a few friends who now work in mental health as nurses and councillors, I can vouch for the fact that there are some good ones who won’t judge and certainly don’t believe in separating families unnecessarily!

One very good reason to put fear aside is that depression can affect our children, especially the very young ones. It is our duty as parents to get treatment – whether natural or allopathic, for the sake of our children if not ourselves. Here is a medical article on the effects of depression in mothers on children:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2724169/

To try and put things in perspective, many prostitutes, drug addicts, women in violent environments, homeless and jobless women in hostels and so on still have custody of their children. Depression, anxiety and post-natal depression are very common illnesses in women and extremely unlikely to even provoke so much as a single visit from the social services unless you express feelings of hurting yourself or your children. If you are seeking help for an illness then surely you are showing responsibility, as an adult and a parent who doesn’t want their illness to affect their child? This has been shown in many court cases where a spouse has tried to use their partner’s depression against them in a custody case and lost – if you are getting help then this shows you to be a responsible parent – the same as if you had help for a physical disability.
You choose what terms you seek help under and how much you want to say and reveal to health professionals. Just remember – you are the one in control and find strength in that.

http://www.iwanyshyn.com/resources/Custody-and-Depression.html

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/carla-schiff-donnelly-/five-custody-myths-separa_b_5454592.html (see number two)

http://www.postpartumprogress.com/is-someone-holding-postpartum-depression-against-you

http://info.legalzoom.com/bipolar-illness-child-custody-26247.html

http://www.parents.com/baby/health/postpartum-depression/how-depression-affects-your-family/

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