school guide
assistive technologies


I Let Him In: When Depression Comes Knocking at a Special Needs Parents Door

Additional Info

  • Article summary:

    This special needs parent talks frankly about her depression.

Written by 
I Let Him In: When Depression Comes Knocking at a Special Needs Parents Door

 I’ve said before that depression is much like an old lover. One you’ve successfully managed to get out the door – along with all of his things – and begin a new life. A life in which laundry gets done, friends get visited, lists get checked off, balanced meals get cooked, and the things you enjoy get enjoyed. But something or a lot of things happen. Usually in succession and often involving sleep loss, grief, financial or marital stress, etc. — and, under the weight of exhaustion, your resolve weakens. That’s when he comes looking for you. Whispering in your ear. Telling you all your efforts is futile. Crooning the familiar songs he sang to you before. Knock, knock, knocking at your door. Until you open it and invite him to come inside — and his seduction is complete. And the next morning –every morning you wake beside him– you know you knew better. But now his clothes are in the closet, his toothbrush beside yours, and he is ingrained into your life once more.

If you read me, you may have noticed you haven’t been reading me much lately. I’ve noticed too. I’ve noticed lots of things. When I do, I race off to WordPress and create a post, give it a title, and even jot down some of the words that are clamouring to be released. But it isn’t long before he begins whispering to me. This post will take a lot of time. Of course, if you write it, you’ll likely infuriate someone and will feel the need to respond. Which will just upset you more than you already are. You’re tired. Tomorrow –you’ll write it tomorrow. Of course, I don’t. It doesn’t get written. Thoughts and emotions keep pounding, and everything just gets louder. From the dishes being unloaded to the dog’s incessant barking to my children — Bronwyn just being five and Callum being a verbal stimmer. It’s all so very loud. And all I want is to sit on a porch overlooking the mountains on a cool early morning and hear…nothing. Nothing but the wind blowing and perhaps a little rain or moving water. No voices. No screaming. No phone ringing. No cacophony of everything I need to take of. To sleep. To read. To write. To recharge. Because I am simply depleted. I attempt to get my head together and manage to accomplish a thing or two. But my constant companion draws me back in to myself. His incessant whispering for me to lighten my load and sit down for a spell. To put it off for another day. To pull the covers over my head and attempt to hold the world back. Yes, he knows how to talk to me.

My heart aches. My fears bully me. And even my bones feel tired.

I’m starting to see the things I feared and knew were coming. I see my sweet little boy, excited by the mere presence of other children — but oblivious to their activities and play. He jumps, laughs, and flaps away — and has no understanding that he isn’t a part of it all. Part of me is grateful he doesn’t yet understand– while the other part of me just hurts. Everywhere we go, we take two cars. There are few things that we can confidently plan as a family. It’s too crowded, too bright, too large, too hot, too long. Too everything. People not seeing the delightful child he really is hurts. His sister having an uneven share of our time and attention hurts. The looks we get hurt. His discomfort hurts the most.

Sometimes the view from this ride is beautiful. Sometimes, it’s fun. But right now it is making me sick. And I just want so very badly to be let off. I want the support of my father, my stepmother, and my grandmother. I want them to tell me it will be okay. But they’re dead. And, every time I get on the highway or have a strange pain, I fear dying myself. Not for me, but because who will take care of him? Who will fight for him? And how – how do I ensure that his sweet sister will understand that I love her equally though I cannot give of myself to her equally? Some days – or weeks – it’s too much.

And, in my darkest moments, I fear that I am not enough. That I’m doing this all wrong. Making the wrong decisions. Not doing enough. Doing too much.

Yes, I have been to see my doctor. I have taken antidepressants. They helped marginally, but my hair started falling out (a truly unfortunate side effect for a depressed person if ever there was one.) So the doctor and I are trying again with another antidepressant. Trying because there is no other choice. For the alternatives to managing this are unacceptable. My babies need all of me, therefore depression can be allowed none of me. There simply isn’t enough room for him in my house. I’ve told him he must leave. To pack his stuff and get out. Good riddance and all that. So far, he hasn’t budged and has turned into a squatter instead.

But I know something he doesn’t. I know the unconditional love and trust of two children who depend on me. I know the maternal bliss of snuggling against their sleeping forms in the wee hours of the night. And I know that, in this battle between him and me, who I’m really fighting for. In nature, whoever gets between a mother and her young is always at a disadvantage. He’d do well to remember that.

Leigh Merryday

Autism blogger, teacher, media specialist, and mother of two -- one with autism.




Tell a friend
Follow us   
meet the parents