Thursday, February 2, 2012

saying thank you, letting go and moving on

Today was Andy's last day at work. For the last three years he has been working as a grounds keeper for a small rugby club. This was a part time position on a really great government scheme called Community Employment. The government basically facilitates community based organisation to employ people on a part time basis by supplementing their pay for a maximum of three years. The scheme is designed to help both the community projects but also people who are long term unemployed. Before Andy had this job he had been signed off work for years by his doctor.

We made a celebration for him


I wrote him a card expressing my thanks and pride in his work

Rebe made him a banner saying 'Happy last day of work'

and we had a really special dinner.

We took the time to say thank you. Thank you to Andy for going to work to support us, something I do not want to take for granted. We took the time to be thankful for the scheme and the job and the opportunities that it gave Andy.


You see Andy has suffered with chronic depression. (I won't go into the why or what treatments he has ~ these are obviously very personal, but I have his blessing to write about our experience of depression) When we first got together I really didn't know how to handle this and it took a long time to come to terms with it and know how to deal with it, with him. His blackest point was after Rebe was born, he would literally be in bed for months. He just couldn't cope with life. Being around us was difficult for him, getting out of bed was difficult for him, going to work was an impossibility.

I had no idea how to manage this. I felt so awful. It is so hard, to love someone so much who is just so unhappy in their lives, with themselves and there is absolutely nothing you can do to make them happy.

At the time I remember being feeling completely overwhelmed by his depression, at a loss how to handle him, it and myself. I had no one to turn to who was in this same position. I felt very alone. I remember the turning point for me was finding a really great support forum called Depression Fallout. Based on the idea of the book of the same name written by Anne Shepherd. I finally found a resource: a way to hear other people's stories, a place to vent my frustrations and fears and concerns and above all I got an incredible amount of really useful information and tools.

Firstly, I learnt that it was OK for me to be happy. I learned to allow myself to have a happy life, to feel and express happiness and to stop feeling guilty about having a life and not being depressed myself.

Secondly, I learnt that I needed to set clear boundaries for Andy within our relationship as to what is and what isn't acceptable behaviour regardless of the fact that he was depressed.

I also learnt that much of my behaviour was enabling him to repeat his depression cycles and patterns. By always stopping everything from toppling and smashing to the ground, by taking all responsibility from him that I was not allowing him to take the consequences for negative behaviours.

For me the very biggest impetus for change was being a mother. I realised that more than anything I could ever say to Rebe I have to live what I want to see her live. I thought, 'Would this be good enough for Rebe?' and I knew that if the answer is No, then it CAN'T be good enough for me either.
And that was it, I reached the point where I knew I had to be the strongest ever in my life and I told Andy that if he didn't get help I would have to leave him.

I remember that weekend so clearly, it was the turning point in all of our lives and on the Monday Andy went to the doctors and started his treatment.

He very slowly started to regain normality. We took baby steps and he had a lot of set backs and bouts of real darkness, but every week, every month he got stronger and healthier and ready to take on more. So I was delighted when he felt stable enough to start working again, when he felt he no longer need to class himself as 'disabled' by his depression. This was 3 years ago when he started his job.



Now the maximum of three years is over and so now we face a new chapter and I am facing a new challenge: that of letting go. I have been having some anxiety about this job finishing for Andy. I have been worried that he will get down, that he will stop doing and being and living, that I will loose him all over again. So I have been planning for him, in true Laura style, having each minute of each day from now until a he gets a new job planned out.
Actually this caused quite a row a couple of weeks ago until I saw what I was doing, and I realised why.
So I need to let go. I need to allow Andy to not be depressed. He isn't depressed anymore, he deals really well with life, he is keen and enthusiastic and happy. He starts projects and finishes them. He has an ever increasingly active role in the children's lives. He is my best friend and is supportive and loving and kind. He worked for 3 years straight and was a great employee. He is a wonderful neighbour who gets called on all the time for things. He has friends! I need to let him be who he is now and I need to let go of the man I had to care for for so many years. He isn't that person anymore.

So I am doing my very best to let go and we are moving on together, to the future and I think the future is looking pretty bright.

28 comments:

  1. I am crying as I write this.
    Thank you so much for sharing your story.
    That was very, very personal and written in such a heartfelt way.
    You sound like a very strong woman Laura. And Andy has accomplished so much. (Depression can be debilitating, and is not unknown to our family, so I think I speak with some understanding)
    Best of luck to you all as the newest chapter of your journey begins!ღ

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    1. Thank you:-) this is a topic that I feel needs to be talked about more, perhaps even more so for people who are suffering depression fallout, there is very little guidance and support out there and sometimes those people carry a very hard burden. and I wanted to let everyone know that it can get better and that it is really important to put yourself first as a carer. Thank you for your lovely reply x

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  2. What wonderful honesty, dear friend, wise woman, courageous soul - I honour you. Blessings to you all at this time of transition.xxx

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  3. Thank you, Laura, for sharing this part of your life with us. Your children truly are nestled under a rainbow - one that communicates hope and a mature love.

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    1. thank you sheila, I do so hope this is what my children have, hugs x

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  4. Laura,
    So many blessings to you and your family. May the future under that beautiful rainbow of yours continue to shine.

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    1. thanks Kelly, I have a really good feeling about our future. I think this may be 'our' time :-)

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  5. Oh dear Laura, I just wanted to say 'thank you' for sharing this very touching post about your wonderful family.I understand maybe a little of what you go through as my son is bipolar and I too suffer from depression. Sending you all lots of love and blessings.
    I love reading your beautiful 'rainbow' tales :)
    xx

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    1. Hi Sue, thanks for sharing. My older brother is bi-polar as was my grandmother so I know how hard it is! Look after yourself and I hope that you find ease and happiness in all corners of your life. love and hugs x

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  6. Thank you for sharing this, I think you are a very brave lady. Best of luck to you and Andy for the coming months :)

    Btw, I've been a long time reader, but rarely a 'commenter', so I'll take this moment to say a general 'thank you' for sharing your sweet, thoughtful lives here. I lived in Passage West for a while (before moving back to my native UK to start our family) so I love seeing the glimpses of County Cork through your eyes :)

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    1. Hi Deborah, lovely to hear from you, thanks for your lovely words of support. I know Passage West well, we lived in Cobh for six years before moving here. thanks for your comment, love and hugs x x

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  7. This post couldn't have been easy to write, though you wrote it so well.
    I can clearly see through your words and the pictures of your family with every post that you have the strength and love, and most of all the humor, to make it through anything!

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    1. Wow Carrie, thank you so much that is surely a great compliment. I do feel strong and I do know that we can get through just about anything. You're very lovely to leave such a supportive comment, thank you x x

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  8. This is such a beautiful, honest, grateful post. How lucky you and your dear husband are to have each other. I feel very moved. I read it last night with my own husband, who has struggled with depression all his life, and found it a beautiful and compelling post that brought so many issues up for me. As the wife of a depressed man I am proud of you! And think your husband's achievement is amazing!

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    1. Hi Lucy, thank you so much for sharing that of yourself! I am so glad that I found a way to express what we/I have been through and I am honored that it is touching people. If you ever need to talk or any support please do contact me laura.whalen@yahoo.ie. Know that it can get better and know that there is happiness in life, Andy's life is testament to this, he was dpressed for nearly 3 decades before finding a way to beat it, and boy am I proud of him! I hope that your husband's struggle will soon be over, he is lucky to have you by his side.
      love and hugs Laura x

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  9. Laura, thank you for being so open and honest. My Craig also struggles with depression. It was very bad when we were dating and he goes through cycles of it as the years pass- but thankfully I think his darkest days are over now. I will be thinking and praying for you and your Andy- that this ending of a job will be a door opening in your lives, versus a door closing. You're a wonderful wife and Mama. I applaud you for your strength- and Andy's as well.

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    1. Hi Nicole, thanks for your comment, I hope that Craig will continue to get better, he obviously gets a great deal of strength and support from you. I think it is so good for us to be open about this and I am always so suprised how many of us suffer the pain and weight of this in silence. I really feel that this is a beginning of a new chapter of our lives and I feel so strongly that this is going to be a GREAT chapter and I actually think that Andy is feeling quite excited too :-)

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  10. Oh Laura, thank you so much for sharing these heart felt words! This is something I hadn't known about Andy or you either, and I feel closer to you knowing it now.
    I have been thinking of you a lot lately, realizing it is February and I knew Andy would be finishing work.
    Here's to moving on to the next chapter!
    HUGE HUGS
    Mel

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    1. thanks sweetie, it's exciting really and I know good things are going to happen for us! x

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  11. Beautiful! And I wish you luck and joy in the months to come and Andy success in finding himself a job that excites him.

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  12. What a beautiful post. We dealt with a severe bout of depression in my husband three years ago and it was crushing to all of us. You are so right, it's so hard to be with someone going through that. I found myself questioning my sanity and it wasn't until I dealt with my own issues and was able to separate myself a bit emotionally from what was going on that I could live with it and then, in turn, be there for my husband the way that he needed me to be.
    I remember the worry every time something that would be stressful to him happened - I was a bit like a dog who had been kicked and I would cringe and try and protect him from everything difficult. It's taken me a while to relax and accept that he is better and he is coping. It helps that we have gone through some stressful times and he has come through with flying colours. It sounds like you are supporting Andy in a wonderful way and that he is moving forward with his life.
    My prayers are with you at this time of change!

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    1. HI, thank you for such an honest and mocing comment. You put your finger on it, one really has to distance oneself emotionally from his emotions, this is sort of quite against the grain of the closesness I was looking for in our relationship, but it had to be done and when I cold do that I was much more objective about his depression as an illness that needed to be and COULD ONLY be treated by Andy, out of his choice. I couldn't will him better, no matter how much of my own energy adn love and poured into him! It was very empowering to realise that I could love him without it costing me to deplete myself. Thanks again for your insight and I wish too that your husband keeps going forward, gathering stregth and love. Well done you x x

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  13. Thank you for sharing that issue that is so often hidden.
    I wish you all good steps ahead!

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  14. Laura, your honesty and openness is so inspiring, thank you so much for sharing this. I will be sending love and warm thoughts your way as you all enter this new stage together. Big hugs,
    Taisa

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