Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Black Hole

My mum and dad both suffered from depression!

Mum's probably started in her late teens when she discovered she was adopted. From that point she had severe self esteem issues that were compounded by huge weight gains. With both mum and dad Catholics and contraception discouraged, the Forster clan increased to 7 over 10 years. Mum was unable to rear one child let alone 5 and I often felt a great responsibility, being the eldest.

My lasting memory of my mum is her various medications she took to survive. Mum died at 53 from ovarian cancer.

Dad also suffered self esteem issues early and like mum could never please his dad. Living with mum was really difficult and dad often took the brunt of her vicious verbal and sometimes physical attacks. He had a break down in his late 50's. He is now in his 80's and keeps mainly good physical health though still suffers from depression, aided by medication.

Being subjected to regular fights and living in an often volatile environment, I believe has had a lasting negative impact on my ability to be in relationships. Thankfully I am living with a wonderful person who loves me more than I love myself.

Ten years after mum died I wrote a tribute to her called 'Peace in Sleep'. It was my way of saying goodbye as I was not there on her last day. Mercifully mum had a quick decline with reduced suffering and dad was there beside her. According to dad those last weeks were a wonderful reconciliation for them.

Click here to listen to Peace in Sleep 
Will give some further quotes on coping with depression from J K's book in a future post.

Thank you my regular followers who shared their own thoughts and experiences.


  1. Your mum sounds just like my mum. Before I was born she had 2 nervous breakdowns as they were described. She was a very volatile woman who was the 'mistress of put downs'. I broke the mould when I graduated from teachers' college. Thank you for being able to share your story Paul.

    1. Maria

      Appreciate your comment and sharing of your own experiences. My mum was a very unhappy person who struggled to cope with normal living. After many years I have now been able to forgive her and accept that she was a victim of genetics and her upbringing.


  2. I think we have all been touched by depression ,either personal suffering or watching someone we love suffer. It's a bugger of a disease.
    Jane x

    1. Jane

      It is a bugger because loved ones feel powerless to help and all they can do is love the sufferer. It sure is a dark place when you are desperate and deeply entrenched.


  3. ah wish my mother in law had had a quick decline...took 2 brutal hard losing mothers....nice song for her man...and i like the value you give the time you did have...

    1. Brian

      Losing loved ones is always painful whether slow or fast. I miss my mother-in-law, still alive who I have lost contact with due to my separation from my wife of last July. Hope I will one day find re-conciliation.

  4. 'Thankfully I am living with a wonderful person who loves me more than I love myself'

    Paul, through that love you will love yourself. That's a certainty.

    I am another one with a mum like yours. In my mother's case it was violence towards me and my Dad (no siblings) and many overdoses which were classed as attention seeking rather than suicide attempts. I have never fully recovered from that although I made every effort to hide it. But I gained much in later life from a wonderful husband and marvellous friends and can now hold my head high.

    1. Valerie

      My mum also had overdoses which I'm sure were also cries for help. Violence of parents is extremely damaging for the siblings as it creates emotional scars and future relationship issues which I personally am now dealing with!


  5. Paul,

    To me, depression is more dangerous than perhaps any other disease. People have many way to cope with it. Alcohol, drugs, overeating just to name a few. What I find so dangerous about depression is that the littlest thing will set it off. For instance, the past couple of days (and weeks) I've been having computer problems coupled with my upcoming medical procedure threatens to overtake me. To combat this bug I'm going to plant a dozen daffodil plants this morning. Whatever it takes. I'm glad you have someone who loves you more than you love yourself now. That is a big help.

    Retired in Delaware

    1. Ron

      Alcohol seems to be my coping device but of course in the long term it just disguises the illness. Intend to plant some daffodils as a result of your post!


  6. My brother has a similar problem with depression. He has a lot of anger due to it as well

    1. Adam

      Thanks for your comment. Anger is one understandable response because it doesn't make sense and it pervades your very existence.

  7. Hi Paul,
    I've been following your blog since I saw the story of your accident on Stuff (I hope you're recovering well!).

    I just want to say thank you for posting about this issue and sharing your experiences. It's something that affects so many people yet still seems to be a taboo subject.

    I'm in my early 20's and have been suffering from depression since I was about 11. I believe a series of events contributed to it, however - like you, I have no doubt that a significant family history of mental illness also played a part. I started a blog a couple of years ago to record some of my thoughts and feelings - I find writing about it to be quite therapeutic! I haven't made it public yet, I guess I'm afraid of stereotypes and judgements from other people my age.

    Do you know about the Nutter's Club? It's on Radiolive on a Sunday night and is a show presented by, and directed to, people with experience of mental illness. Someone posted this a while ago and I think it sums up depression in a nutshell. Obviously there are varying levels of depression and to me, this sums up the really dark times.

    Depression is feeling lonely, even in a room full of people.
    Depression is being constantly tired, yet never able to sleep.
    Depression is longing to be with others, yet not being able to cope with company.
    Depression makes every day dark, even though the sun may be shining.
    Depression makes you lose your appetite, yet eat yourself fat.
    Depression is constantly smiling, to hide the pain inside.
    Depression is when the soul dies, but the body keeps on living.
    Depression is forgetting who you used to be and loathing who you see in the mirror each day.
    Depression is not knowing if you could survive without it.
    Depression is being sad when nothing is wrong.
    Depression is not caring whether you live of die.
    Depression is having no interest in the things you used to love.
    Depression is lying awake for hours in bed and night contemplating....the best way to kill yourself only to realise you can't be bothered.

    Sorry for the long comment! Thanks again for sharing your experiences.

  8. My dad has been a life-long sufferer of depression. Thank you for this wonderful post.

  9. Gosh, your childhood sounds like my husband's....

    I hope that things won't get too dark for you during this period of enforced inactivity. Exercise does help so much to lighten the mood. Hang in there and plant as many daffodils as you need to.

  10. Dear Paul ~ I pray for you to find peace as you look for a way to cope with depression. Having someone who loves and cares for you deeply is a blessing. God is the one who sees me through my dark times.

    In reading about your folks and their bouts of depression, this bit here really touched my heart.

    **Mercifully mum had a quick decline with reduced suffering and dad was there beside her. According to dad those last weeks were a wonderful reconciliation for them.**

    I am so glad they had a wonderful reconciliation, that is just great. With my husband's 4 months of illness before he left this earth, we grew deeper in love and I continue to love him more with each new day, even though he's no longer physically with me. He is with God and that is wonderful and something to celebrate. No more pain, sorrow, etc., only youth, and perfectness. I look forward to our reunion whenever that is.

    Be well, in body, mind and spirit.


  11. Hello Paul,
    Sorry for your loss, it must be sad to talk about even after all these years. I think it is always really important to talk about everything, however hard it may be. I have friends and a family member who deal with depression and I know how impossible it it is to get through to them at times. I am sorry you have to deal with depression and I think people are starting to understand it more these days. Your wonderful songwriting is a brilliant way to communicate with the world.