Larkin was right…
In the house of the depressives, the happy child is king. Or queen. Or something. It’s a crap misquote, but it’s sadly true. When the grown-ups are both under the cosh of depression and pain and hurt, the ruler of the house is the child who is the happy one. Oblivious to the pain going on inside the adult’s minds, unaware of the fact that what is going on around it ISN’T normal – hell if that’s all you’ve ever known…the madness and the crying and the arguing and the shouts and the over-reaction IS normal.
I feel sorry for my youngest daughter. Imagine growing up in a house where both your parents have depression. What message are we sending to her? What lessons are we teaching her, just ass her brain is soaking up all the messages we are giving out, consciously and subconsciously? When she is learning what and how to be herself and how to develop how she reacts and interacts with people the people who she is learning off are just the ones who shouldn’t be listening too.
And I see her reaction to things we say. I see that she is learning our bad ways. And then I blame her for sending me mental. Oh it’s the wrong way round. I am the one setting her up badly. I am the one to blame for her over-reactions and incorrect responses to things; because of the illness and the general fucked-up-ness of my brain (and god help her, my wife’s too), then my beautiful, clever, smart, fabulous, impressionable, blank slate of a daughter is being fucked-up too.
Philip Larkin was right. They fuck you up, your parents…they fill you with all their faults and add some extra just for you. God knows what the madnesses going round our brains are doing to her. But I feel for her. I feel for the way that she is learning all our mad, crazy, inappropriate responses to things and thinking that they are the right ways to deal with things, to deal with people and to deal with life.
It’s not fair what depression does to you. It’s not fair. It takes away your sense of self, your innate you-ness, and turns you into a uber-you, an alt-you, a you that you don’t even recognise, but you think is the real you when it’s not. And there is nothing you can do about it, until it’s too late…and then…and then you see all your mentalness appearing in the behaviour of one who know’s no difference…And it hurts all the more.
Not only is this fucking illness affecting you…it’s effecting the one person you want to keep it all from. Depression is not fair on the sufferer, but it’s even more unfair on the people who have to live with the sufferer. And it’s worse when that person is someone who doesn’t know, doesn’t understand, that it’s just an illness that is making you tackle the world in the wrong way. And it’s even worse when that person – a child – is thinking that your way is the right way, and is learning your madness as part of it’s sanity.
I’m sorry Lily. I am so sorry, but remember, it’s not your fault. It’s not even my fault. It’s years of misdirection, bad reaction, screwed-up bloody chemical imbalance that has left me this way, and I am sorry that you are growing up thinking that it’s right and normal. It isn’t. It isn’t. When I say I can’t cope with you; when your reaction to my directions and demands are not the ones I want – it’s not your fault. It’s my own. Who have you learnt them off? Me. And I know this. And the thing that makes it worse for me is that it’s not really you I can’t cope with.