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Depression and low mood (young people)

Parents and family

Here young people talk about their relationships with parents and family and how they felt depression or low mood had affected these relationships.

Complex relationships
Many young people described complex relationships within the family and some felt that these problems had triggered off or contributed to their depression and low mood in the first place. Some people had experienced emotional, physical or sexual abuse at home, been bullied, witnessed messy break ups between parents, and been bereaved. Others described otherwise unsettled and tense home lives or said they “had never got on” with their parent(s) or a stepparent. A few had experienced abandonment or rejection in childhood which had left them with difficulties trusting people later on:

“My dad walked out when I was three. And I never got over that ever. I don’t think I’ll ever properly get over it, but at least now I’ve dealt with it a bit.”
 
 

When her mum and step dad split up, Kirstie had to tell the Education Welfare Officer which...

When her mum and step dad split up, Kirstie had to tell the Education Welfare Officer which...

Age at interview: 16
Sex: Female
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So I told them [Education Welfare Office] that I wanted to live with him [dad], but then, I was a bit shy so when my Mum come to pick us up from school, she was like, “Who did you tell them you wanted to live with?” And my little sister went straight away, she went, “Oh I said I wanted to live with my Dad.” And she looked at me she went, “Who did you say you wanted to live with?” I was like, “I said I wanted to live with you.” She said, “Did you really?” I was like, “Yeah.” And I couldn’t tell her that I’d said I wanted to live with him. And then about a week later, the education welfare officer comes round again to check his house, and my Mum’s house, and they was like looking at them both, and then they sat down and we had a chat with my Mum and we had a chat with him, and the education, I remember to this day the Education Welfare Officer told my Mum that I’d said I wanted to live with him. And I literally ran upstairs crying and I pushed my bed in front of my door so she couldn’t come in. And she was just talking to me through the door for about half an hour, I was just like sobbing my heart out. She was like, “Kirstie it doesn’t matter, I understand why you’d say it, blah de blah blah,” ‘cos he promises we’ll go on holidays during school time like, and everything, and obviously compared to what my Mum’s saying, you will have to go to school, you will have to do your homework, living with him was gonna sound so much better.
 

When Kirstie saw her dad for the first time after her parents split up, she didn’t want to leave...

When Kirstie saw her dad for the first time after her parents split up, she didn’t want to leave...

Age at interview: 16
Sex: Female
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And we was there all through the summer holidays and then we got the house my Mum’s in at the moment. But when we were in the refuge he turned up, ‘cos we left to go to the shop, and my Mum went, “Everyone get back in now.” And obviously me and my sister were jumping around in puddles, it’s been raining, we’re a bit excited, and it’s like, “Everyone get back in now.” And I wouldn’t go back in, I was still jumping in puddles, and then I saw him, and literally ran, straight across the road to see him, see if he was alright and everything. And it took my Mum and three other support worker people that were working there to get me off him, ‘cos I would not let go. ‘Cos I didn’t want to leave him again. 

Some parents had struggled with their own problems; bereavement, relationship breakdowns and illness. A few said that depression or mental health problems ran in their family. For some this was a positive thing as their parents had firsthand experience of how best to help and young people also felt relieved to know that depression wasn’t something they had “brought on” themselves. One woman whose mother experienced severe mental health problems had been a fulltime carer for her mum from an early age. One man described the lack of attention and care he felt from his dad:

“Thinking back I’d think over time just because he was kind of a big control freak in our family and you know with that he couldn’t really see, he couldn’t really accept it, he couldn’t really open up obviously and say look, I’m proud of you son.”


Difficulties at home caused drifts and arguments between some young people and their families. One person describes how bad things had gotten in the family:
 
“It would end up probably fighting, things getting broken…police getting involved or one of us getting arrested, I’ve been arrested loads of times from criminal damage for the house.”
 
For some young people, problems at home had gotten so bad that they had completely “fallen out”, usually with one parent or one side of the family, and had decided to leave or been “kicked out”. Some lived in supported housing, one woman was placed in care and a few had been “bunking” with their friends. Some people preferred to have less contact with their parent(s) or some family members but most said that the one thing they hoped for was to “build bridges” with their parents and to be able to move back home again. They felt “alone” and unsupported without their family around:
 
“Even though it’s great having your own flat… I’d love to be back at home. So love it to be back at home. To go back to like when I was like 12, 13, not have the arguments, yeah you’d still have your mother and daughter arguments, but at the time, you’ll think right I know what’s going to happen now, so just shut up. Just walk away, instead of me arguing back, just walk out the door and that argument would have been done with.”
 
And another woman talked about her broken relationship with her mum:
 
“It’s like I get depressed as well when you just sit there and you just want your Mum there. You just want your Mum to be there by your side, ‘cos that’s like one person that knows you well and, you just want that bit of love.”
 

Sian says that being in care was 'like a big family' and helped her a lot.

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Sian says that being in care was 'like a big family' and helped her a lot.

Age at interview: 18
Sex: Female
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Well being in care was just like, it’s like a big family really, it’s just like, care did, care did give me so much, ‘cos it, it helped me loads and loads, I mean just like little bits, of like things that I hadn’t experienced and wouldn’t necessarily experience if I had lived at home all my life, I experienced due to being in care, and a lot, a lot of opportunities and things out of it. It was quite a good experience, but like everyone thinks that people in care are like quite naughty and have loads of issues and, generally reject us when you’re in care but, it’s not, it’s not always like that. Yeah.
 

Bala says it’s harder to live on his own and take care of everything by himself but he’s getting...

Bala says it’s harder to live on his own and take care of everything by himself but he’s getting...

Age at interview: 20
Sex: Male
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I’m sure if you’re living with your family, if you’re living with your mum and dad it’s everything is gonna be easier then, for you. Like you are on your own, I’m cooking, I’m washing the clothes for myself, I’m coming into my flat and like I need more time because I’m on my own so. For example I was living in my country my mum was helping me, my sisters was helping me for cooking, for cleaning, for cleaning clothes. Everything is coming to me now, that is why it’s, now that it’s hard for me, but difficult for me. But now I’m be okay because I stayed for about four years.
Understanding depression in the family
Several young people said their parents didn’t understand mental health problems or depression, especially in the beginning and some felt their parents had underestimated the seriousness of their problems. A couple said their parents put their mood down to “being a mopey teenager” or having “the teenage blues”. One woman describes how her mum was too ill to notice her mental health problems:
 
“She doesn’t seem to realise how much of a big effect she’s had on my life in a bad way… She didn’t even notice that I was depressed; I had to go to her and tell her that I was feeling bad. She didn’t even notice.”
One woman explained at length how mental health problems are “a taboo” in the South Asian community and how her parents couldn’t accept her depression or self-harm because in her culture “they don’t exist”. She found it difficult to find support and said she knew no one else in her community with a mental health problem.
 

Sara has found it difficult to talk to her parents about her problems because she says in South...

Sara has found it difficult to talk to her parents about her problems because she says in South...

Age at interview: 20
Sex: Female
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I think just generally anyway mental health is quite a taboo, a lot of people doesn’t matter what culture they’re from don’t really want to talk about. But it’s definitely within South Asian culture it’s kind of, it doesn’t even exist, there isn’t actually a kind of a concept of mental health, it really doesn’t exist. You’re either actually mad, and like you need to be in a mental home, or you’re just being silly. And it’s kind of, that’s definitely why like when I saw the opportunity to say something I was like good, because I know there’s a lot, it’s quite common apparently amongst so like Asian or like for example Muslim children, and like teenagers and even adults, but no-one talks about it because it’s, it’s quite because if it doesn’t exist you can’t talk about it if it doesn’t exist. And like I know a lot of parents will just kind of brush it aside so you’re just being a teenager, or you’re just being you, you know you’re being silly, everyone feels sad occasionally.
 
You can’t, because you can’t explain to them what it is, and you can’t get them to see what it, they just, they’re not willing to kind of change their view on it, it’s really hard to, you can’t ever talk about it with your parents because they don’t believe it exists. And it’s kind of, it’s hard to talk about something they don’t believe something exists. And then even if you do manage to convince them that you do have a problem, they will just you know it’s kind of like, “Okay, so you want to see a psychiatrist, what if someone finds out you’re seeing a psychiatrist? It’s going to be a bad, it’s gonna be like, it shows that we’re not great parents.”
 
And it’s kind of like, “It’s nothing to do you with you not being good parents,” it’s, you know, I have respect for my parents, and I don’t think that they ever did anything wrong in bringing me up, in the way they brought me up, but it’s kind of, it is a personal thing like, some people in my situation might never have been upset about it. My Dad grew up in a very busy household but he’s, I as far as, you know he’s rarely ever sad and it’s not because he’s faking it, he’s actually just, you know he, he loves having people round, he loved coming from a busy household, I didn’t like it because I was a really quiet kid anyway, and they kind of, they don’t really realise that people do have different kind of personalities and one situation will affect different people in different ways, and it, you know even if they don’t accept mental health as a topic, they really don’t understand low moods in general.
 

Sara says she won't go to see a psychiatrist 'out of respect' for her parents. (Read by an actor).

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Sara says she won't go to see a psychiatrist 'out of respect' for her parents. (Read by an actor).

Age at interview: 20
Sex: Female
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It’s quite, that kind of thing, they [South Asian culture] are quite close minded about it, they’re not, because they’re don’t believe it exists they’re not even open to the possibility that it might exist so it’s quite, yeah. I’m not sure but you know from my parents reactions if for example someone found out I was going to see psychiatrist, they’d, I know it probably would spread like wildfire amongst our local community that you know, “Oh, so and so’s daughter’s going to see a psychiatrist with mental health problems,” so it’s kind of, it’s kind of out of respect for my parents that I’m not doing it. So, just to save the hassle really. ‘Cos to me it’s just hassle.
 
 

Ruby’s parents knew she had a problem with eating and food but didn’t intervene.

Ruby’s parents knew she had a problem with eating and food but didn’t intervene.

Age at interview: 27
Sex: Female
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I came home once when I was about 16, I moved in with my Dad and there was a post-it note on the toilet seat saying, “You’ve blocked the fucking drains again.” And he’d gone off to live with his girlfriend ‘cos he couldn’t be bothered to get a plumber. My Mum once heard me being sick in the shower, and she was like, “Why do you keep doing that when you go in the bathroom?” And I’m like, “I swallowed some shampoo.” And she was like, “No you didn’t, you make yourself sick.” And I was just like really embarrassed, like a hot flush. That’s the only thing they ever said to me about it.
 
And they knew. They knew, they really knew. But didn’t do anything.
 
What did you think about that at the time? Do you remember?
 
Um, being glad that they didn’t know. But when you look in hindsight and you think actually they did, that doesn’t, well, that doesn’t make me angry it just makes me like, “Why?” Like, why, who wouldn’t worry about that in their own daughter, do you know what I mean? Like, to them they just thought it was this silly, I don’t know how they saw it actually, it’s never been raised, as an issue. Like, I’m not close to them anyway so but then it’s never been. Nothing’s ever been said about it, other than those two comments.

Some parents had been “upset” or “angry” when they found out that their children were self-harming. Many had found out unexpectedly and unintentionally which had added to their shock. Young people felt that “shouting” and “getting angry” only added to an already difficult situation. Some said this had led to their parents “checking up” on them which in turn had broken the trust on both sides. One woman said it was difficult that her dad couldn’t understand self-harm at all and thought it was “pathetic and selfish”.
 

Sara explains how her whole family found out she was self-harming. (Read by an actor).

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Sara explains how her whole family found out she was self-harming. (Read by an actor).

Age at interview: 20
Sex: Female
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Finding about the self harming’s quite, it was quite scary ‘cos I was quite young and was kind of, I was still at that age where I really want, did not want to get in trouble. And it was just it was , I think it was because, when she found out about it I said I’d stop because she got upset, I said I’d stop. But then because I never actually stopped she found out about it again, she didn’t like it, and then when I had I think my first, well one of the anxiety attacks that I had, ‘cos I passed out, and it wasn’t that I wasn’t conscious, I was conscious but I couldn’t, I was actually just blacked out. There is a medical term for it, I don’t know what it’s called, but it’s when you kind of, your mind switches off completely but you can still hear things. You can’t physically move, but you can still hear things. And it’s, and I remember that they went to check my blood pressure and like my Dad was, and there was quite a few family members in the room and they saw my arm and it was just like, my Mum had thought I’d stopped but I hadn’t and then my Dad found then as well and a lot of family members found out, it was quite horrible when that happened. Because I could hear them and I couldn’t move, it was just, when I did come round I just hid my face, it was just horrible. Then because my Dad got much more involved as well like.

Many young people described feeling “guilty” about how their low mood or depression affected family dynamics. They felt that their sadness or negativity “rubbed off” on others or brought others down. One man said:
“I’m sure if that is a universal thing, not being able to really connect with parents really just for fear of letting them down or anything.”
One woman described feeling “selfish” by having mental health problems and another felt “sorry” for her family for putting up with her depression and OCD. Some said they didn’t always tell their parents how they were feeling or covered up any problems out of the fear of upsetting them more. A couple felt they couldn’t talk about their problems at home because their parents had “bigger problems” to deal with. They also worried about their parents seeing themselves as “bad parents” and didn’t want their parents to blame themselves.
 

Dan says his family has “agonised” over him. He knows that if anything happened to him, it would...

Dan says his family has “agonised” over him. He knows that if anything happened to him, it would...

Age at interview: 22
Sex: Male
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But, yeah like I know they, they’ve found it quite difficult too, and I know they put a lot of time and thought into it and agonised over it quite a lot. So I know it does affect them as well and I mean that’s that’s part of what sort of keeps me going I guess is knowing that if I ever completely and utterly went to pieces, it, it’s not just me who would be affected, it would be all the people that I love as well, and it’s, and that kind of that realisation whilst I’m still going, there are people who would be devastated if, I don’t know if I was to die, or if I was just to completely go to pieces or turn into a vegetable or something, and I kind of realised that that means they probably do love me and do want to spend time with me. So, that certainly, yeah, I mean I think it’s been hard on them, but having that sort of, they’ve helped a lot and as a result have been amazing, so.
 

Erika-Maye describes why she thinks 'it's horrible having depression in the family situation'.

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Erika-Maye describes why she thinks 'it's horrible having depression in the family situation'.

Age at interview: 17
Sex: Female
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I think its horrible having depression and being in a family situation because some of the time I wanna just be by myself. Because either I can feel I’m in a bad mood but I need to cheer myself up, or I can feel I’m in a bad mood I know I’m gonna get easily annoyed by people, or I feel like I’m in a bad mood, everyone else is in a good mood, I don’t want to rub it off on other people. But if you spend a lot of time by yourself you isolate yourself, whether it’s intentionally or unintentionally. And that automatically creates friction within a family environment.
 
I didn’t realise up till recently how much it’s affecting my brother, and I feel very guilty, because it was, Mum told me the other day that he’d said a couple of weeks ago he was worried about coming home and just me being there, ‘cos he was worried that I was gonna hurt myself and he wouldn’t know what to do. That was unbelievably painful to hear. ‘Cos I love my brother. Drives me absolutely bonkers, but he’s my little brother.
Emotional and practical support
For many young people, their family and especially parents had been the biggest source of support in going through depression. Parents were often the first ones young people had talked to about depression. In some cases it was the parents who had noticed their changing mood and had brought it up themselves.
 

Beth felt really lucky her whole family supported her in their different ways.

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Beth felt really lucky her whole family supported her in their different ways.

Age at interview: 21
Sex: Female
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And I think that’s when I really understood what families are for and how lucky I am to have a family like that. Because I know a lot of people wouldn’t necessarily, but you don’t need a family, I didn’t need three people to do that.
 
If I only had my Mum, and that’d been it, for her to turn around and give me that support, that would have been enough. But I was so lucky that I had everyone else to do it. My Dad was great because he knew about it, so he knew not to say like the wrong things, but then he never mentioned it, which is the best thing with my Dad ‘cos sometimes you just want someone like that. And then my Mum was the one that was always making sure as well I was okay and my brother and sisters just want to know that I was okay now. And then they’d that whole great family thing, where you just start arguing about something, and you feel so normal, you know, no walking on eggshells, it was it was good.
 

Craig’s worked hard to “patch things up” with his parents and they can speak openly now.

Craig’s worked hard to “patch things up” with his parents and they can speak openly now.

Age at interview: 20
Sex: Male
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With Mum she’s kind of, she’s always, doesn’t matter how old I, how old I’ll be, I’ll always be a mummy’s boy. I know that sounds stupid, it sounds childish but, I mean well I’ll always look after my Mum ‘cos she’s looked after me.
 
You know, she’s my Mum, you only get one. Do you know what I mean? And I’ve worked really, really, really hard to patch things up over the past couple of years, and especially with my Dad going away for work, I’ve done you know, you know, I’ve had to kind of, “Oh do you need anything from shopping?” You know, yeah instead of going out and doing a weekly shop, a monthly shop with Dad in the car, there’s me going to Tesco’s doing a weekly shop and bringing about eight bags back on the bus, ‘cos I can’t drive because of the diabetes at the moment so, you know I’ve always tried to do, tried to be okay with them for that.
 
I mean it does affect a lot relationships at home. Because the pressure and the feeling in your head affects your mood and it affects your body and it wears off on others. So they know something's wrong, or because you’re not willing to talk about it, they’re not willing to talk about it, and it just gets worse so that happens, just work through it and openly speak.
Emotionally, young people found it most important to know that their parents were “always there for me”, being patient and supportive. Being available to talk things through was important too. Some preferred to talk to one of the parents only or a grandparent, for example. One woman said talking to her mum can sometimes be more helpful than to a therapist:
 
“When we talk I think even better than any, any therapist could, she really understands me because we get each other on the same wave length. Sometimes it feels like a waste of breath talking because she knows what I’m feeling and I know what she’s feeling, you know we’re so similar.”
A couple of people said how they felt their family supported them whichever route they wanted to take in life because:
 
“Yeah as they say, at the end of the day they just want me to be happy.”

Some young people pointed out that they appreciated the support from their parents, even though they weren’t always able to accept it at that time. They sometimes just preferred to be “given space” to think things through.

 

Tasha says her family is very supportive of her but she's not always able to receive their help.

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Tasha says her family is very supportive of her but she's not always able to receive their help.

Age at interview: 18
Sex: Female
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I sort of feel guilty because she [mother], she doesn’t need the stress of me. And what I did was a bit selfish and put a lot of worry on everyone. And it’s I think we’ve become closer because we’ve started to communicate more and they’re really good, they look after me.
 
And are you happy with that, are you kind of welcoming if they do look after you?
 
Not all the time [laugh]. I know they’re there for me, which is good but some, I can feel myself snapping when I just. It’s really horrible ‘cos I don’t want to be alone but I push people away and you feel terrible. And people try and make you feel better ‘cos they know you’re not happy, but anything they say you, you sort of, you’re a bit like, “that’s not true,” well “you, you won’t feel like this forever.” And at the time you’re like, “Things are never gonna get better.” You don’t want to listen to what they have to say, even though they’re just trying their best so. I’m not always the easiest to live with.

On a practical level, parents had helped them with transportation to clinics, attended their therapy sessions when appropriate or made appointments. Especially for those with social phobias, having help with public transport had been essential to get out and about.
 

Helena's mum and uncle have helped her with getting to her appointments and school when she didn...

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Helena's mum and uncle have helped her with getting to her appointments and school when she didn...

Age at interview: 19
Sex: Female
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I’ve had loads of support from my mum, grandparents, and uncle. They’ve all been really patient with me, as I understand how difficult it must be trying to help someone who’s terrified of everything and scared to leave the house.
 
My uncle would drive me places, and to school, when I was scared to use public transport. My mum would be there to talk to about anything, and, when I did build up the confidence to use public transport she would travel with me, go with me places. She would even take days off work to help me get to my counselling sessions. When I was still at school my mum would ring the school and try and sort things out, get work sent home for me etc.

Some said that going through depression had pulled their family “closer” together. They said they had never before realised how important family was for them. Going through tough times reassured them that they could always rely on parents. Many also described how dealing with depression had made them communicate more openly as a family. Some people felt that especially because they had good and happy family lives, they found it hard to not have “a reason” or a cause for depression and felt that they should not struggle with depression.
 

Loz's experiences have brought the whole family closer and made him realise 'they've always been...

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Loz's experiences have brought the whole family closer and made him realise 'they've always been...

Age at interview: 17
Sex: Male
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I think it’s brought us closer in a sense. I feel happy to talk to like Mum and Dad about most things, sometimes [sister’s name], [sister’s name] if they want, if there, if they’re even bothered. You now, I don’t mind, it’s as long as sort of like Mum and Dad are there for me, I’m happy for it so. Yeah I think we’re closer as a family unit. I mean it was sort of like really quite heated with the depression and self harming sort of thing, ‘cos Mum thought that I was drifting apart from everybody else, and I was sort of segregating myself off which it was what I was trying to do because I just didn’t want anyone to see me in that sort of state, I really didn’t, I just feel like I sort of hated everyone and everything and I didn’t wanna…
 
It sounds like you’re very close to your parents and you can talk, so they must be a big support through this?
 
I suppose they’ve always been there, but I only sort of recently really realised that they were, they actually were sort of there for me. 

Some parents had also been helpful in finding out information about depression and sourcing out counselling options and other forms of help for young people.

A few parents had sought help for themselves. One woman described her family’s long battle to get support and therapy for the whole family, to be able to cope. They felt there were very few services available aimed at helping the whole family.
 

Gemma's mum found out a lot of information about depression and got regular support from a...

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Gemma's mum found out a lot of information about depression and got regular support from a...

Age at interview: 19
Sex: Female
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My mum read a lot of books from the library on depression to try and get a better understanding of what I was going through, and even though there are so many causes and different types of depression, it did help. Not only was depression hard on me it was hard on my family and friends. My mum got in touch with a helpline and every 2 weeks they would ring her to see how she was coping and helped her and gave suggestions on what she could do for me, my mum found it probably the biggest help. Speaking to a professional once a fortnight, having someone to talk to gave her an outlet on how she was feeling.
 

Cat and her family want family support to cope with her parents suddenly becoming fulltime carers...

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Cat and her family want family support to cope with her parents suddenly becoming fulltime carers...

Age at interview: 23
Sex: Female
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And we have been fighting for the last four years for my family to have family counselling, family support to help our family come to terms with having a disabled child in the family. Because all of a sudden we’ve gone from having, whatever you class as normal, I don’t know what other word you would call it, an abled, like abled person family, it’s turned up all our lives upside down. Because at the time I was working, I was at college, possibly heading into university, going you know, studying journalism, everything. And all of a sudden my parents now find them full time carers, my sister’s now a full time carer, so it’s like now what? What are we supposed to do?
Siblings and wider family
Siblings also played a big part in young people experience of living with depression. They commonly said that their brothers and sisters had a different way of dealing with depression than parents; a bit more distant, light hearted or “jokey”. One man described how the fact that his relationship with his brothers has stayed the same throughout had been a big help:
 
“Sometimes you need that, semblance of normalcy, and it’s having a normal conversation with someone that doesn’t involve the questions as to “How are you feeling now?”

Some said their siblings had been “too young” to process things. They had felt protective over younger siblings and didn’t tell them everything at the time. A couple of people’s siblings had developed mental health problems later on and they said they were then better able to understand and support them.

For some, relations with siblings had been more difficult. They felt their siblings “worried” for them or were “angry”, for example if they had taken an overdose. A couple of people felt their siblings had been unsupportive or didn’t understand depression. A few people felt left out in the family and that their siblings were always at the centre of attention, sometimes because of a chronic illness, disability, or for being the “clever one”. One woman said it was really tough feeling like she was “the only one in the family with all these problems” and another said she never felt her parents “appreciated” her in the same way as her sister. One woman described how she felt her mum and sister would gang up against her which had made her feel “singled out” and “hypersensitive”.

 

Holly felt like 'the “black sheep in the family'”

Holly felt like 'the “black sheep in the family'”

Age at interview: 18
Sex: Female
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I think it’s [self-esteem] always been quite low, again because I mentioned my sister, and obviously since she’s you know, she’s very articulate and she’s very clever, I always felt, ‘cos our family is, it’s quite an intelligent family, and I didn’t know at the time because of the dyslexia I couldn’t reach the goals and so, whereas they were getting all the good grades, I wasn’t. And that, I think that initially started the self esteem problems ‘cos I felt I wasn’t as good as the rest of the family and I was sort of the black sheep, I was the one that, that wasn’t as able, sort of with GCSE’s I think my cousin got, was in the newspaper for six A stars and five A’s. And I got all D’s and things, so obviously there’s … The same, oh in fact on the same day where I finished, took my sixth form because they said obviously you can’t catch up, so you may as well leave, on the same day as I, I left that school, my sister got, at the college was awarded Learner of the Year for the whole of [county name], so obviously there’s, there’s a bit of a , you know, it’s not that difficult to notice there’s a difference between us.

People also talked about the role of other family members and the extended family. Grandparents had a particularly important role in young people’s lives. Many had experienced bereavement in the wider family and some identified losing close family members as one of the triggers of their depression and low mood. A few people said they felt “uncomfortable” around their extended family, or they didn’t want to talk to grandparents about low mood because they were “more traditional”.

 

B lost her Nan 10 years ago but it 'feels like yesterday' to her.

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B lost her Nan 10 years ago but it 'feels like yesterday' to her.

Age at interview: 19
Sex: Female
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I think if my Nan was here, if my sisters were here and you know,” all that just sort of comes out. And to think maybe if they were here things would have turned out differently. But also just the feeling of loss as well, and thinking oh my Nan would’ve seen me pass my GCSE’s and stuff like that. So it’s just sort of those little things that sort of make you think.
 
It [getting through bereavement] is very, very difficult, it’s very, very difficult. And everybody sort of, everyone like, it’s not like, there’s no like time limit like, or there’s a certain time where you have to get over bereavement, because I don’t think you actually ever do get through, you ever heal from that like from the loss of a loved one, I don’t think you ever heal. Because there are times when I’ll sit and think, “Oh why my Nan,” and I feel like crying, and sometimes I will cry. And but it’s been nearly 10 years since my Nan died but I still feel like it was just yesterday, so like it’s not easy but it’s just like I said before, it’s just up to you and to make that decision of wanting to make a difference in your life, and to move on. It doesn’t mean when you move on you forget other people in your life, because you’ll always carry them with you, so and you’ll always carry the memories you have with them, so yeah. But it’s not easy, I must say it’s not easy to get to that point.

We also talked to one woman who was a mum herself. She said more than anything she wanted to protect her child from being affected by her low mood and that;

“When you have a child, you have to function. It forces you to function… depression or no depression”

 

Blondel describes how she balances living with depression and being a mum.

Blondel describes how she balances living with depression and being a mum.

Age at interview: 21
Sex: Female
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Well, ever since I was, you know in quite young, well a teenager, I’ve always had this maternal instinct. I always knew I wanted to be a Mum. I mean I had ambitions, I knew I wanted to do certain things, I love writing and music and things like that but I think more than anything else I just wanted to be a Mum. I’m a home maker and you know I love to nurture and look after people. I fell pregnant quite unexpectedly and I was only 16 at the time. Which was quite scary, but I was adamant you know this is what I wanted, and I never had any doubt in my mind that I’d, you know, I was never really on the party scene or anything like that beforehand, so I didn’t really feel like I was giving anything up.
 
Because I’ve never been really outgoing, or you know I had friends, but I was never really that social so I wasn’t giving anything up. I knew I wanted to be a Mum. And, pregnancy was quite hard. I was really ill all through my pregnancy and, you know that’s quite draining. And you know being, being that young and going through, you know it was quite traumatic, well labour is anyway, but… I’m not very good with injections and hospitals, I tend to avoid that kind of thing. So it was traumatic but the end result was I had my beautiful little girl.
 
And, for the first time I think ever I wanted to be alive and I had this euphoria, it was you know, it was like being born again, it was love, you know, it was wonderful, it was such a high. You know it felt like a drug to me, she was, I couldn’t get enough of her. Just laid awake, I don’t think I slept anyway, I mean it wasn’t her, she wasn’t awake crying, she was asleep, I stayed awake to watch her, I didn’t want to be away from her.
 
And, it was, it was just a positive thing for me, she turned, I mean you know obviously I’ve had a bit of a dip now with the depression, but I mean it just felt like she turned my life around. And I think for a while I think the OCD was there to some extent and, but I didn’t feel, I didn’t feel sad anymore. I felt so happy and so alive and so you know glad to be alive and it was just wonderful. And you know to me as she’s getting older now, and you know, children they need so much of your attention, and having depression I do find that hard sometimes to fully commit myself to her, especially when you know, as I said, when I was a child and finding you know, other child to play quite irritating, and not wanting to join in, so I’ve had to learn how to you know, to role play with her and to you know, to find some youth in me again, to connect with my daughter. So that, that would probably be about the only part of motherhood I’ve found hard, it’s just, you know, learning how to play again you know, and to get involved with her, but, she’s certainly uplifted my spirits.

Last reviewed June 2017.
Last updated December 2013.

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