I didn’t know what depression was until I had to start dealing with it on my own doorstep. The depression must have started about 11 years ago but wasn’t recognised as such because of the different symptoms presented on a regular basis. Also coming from a society that does not believe such behaviour and always advises that it’s a passing phase and will soon go away. Only the depressed person knows what it’s like to tear your hair out every day!
And living with one is as hard if not harder. My story starts in mid 2004. My wife, had suffered A transient ischemic attack (TIA) or “mini stroke”. She was referred to her GP after having spent a few hours in a hospital waiting room and then in a cubicle,with no signs of urgency.We left dejected and elated at the same time as the hospital had said that this was not a major stroke and only a mini one which will clear itself up in 48 hours! Next morning we saw a locum GP , whose mirrored the views of the hospital and off we went back home with renewed hope and wishes.
However things were not going to be the way it was explained to us. As the days went past, we noticed a marked difference in my wife. Her memory was not as good. She had become increasingly dependant on us and also showed signs around her face and lips that she was still suffering the effects of a stroke. Off to the hospital we went. She was admitted with a poor prognosis and kept under observation in the stroke ward. And we were told time and again that she was having a stoke and then they would change their mind and say it was Bells Palsey. One of the neurologists suggested it was Bell’s Palsy(paralysis of the facial nerve causing muscular weakness in one side of the face.)and wanted to discharge her. Another doctor suggested she was watching too many TV shows about medical issues and suggested that she was pretending. !! Our life was in a turmoil. Daily she was getting worse. Her memory was so bad that we were even feeding her as had difficulty holding a spoon or fork and knife.! What were we to do. Getting her dressed and ready for outings or visits to hospital,was a task in it self. For someone who was a choreographer, held regular fashion shows for the community, ran a coffee shop and cooked and cleaned and took care of the kids,was reduced to this state. A person who was fully active everyday,was now relying on others for help. And the doctors were putting it down to Bell’s Palsy! As the months went and no help was forthcoming from the medical side, I decided to seek Private Consultation. Harsha was like a child, looking for assistance at every corner. We didn’t know how to deal with this. Even our minds were thrown into disarray with all sorts of negative thoughts popping up at every moment. How can a mini stroke cause such turmoil.?
After the consultation, we were told it was indeed a stroke which had left two lesions in the front temporal lobe.
When traumatic brain injury occurs to the frontal area, it is impacting the brain’s largest lobe. Located at the front of each cerebral hemisphere, this lobe is responsible for conscious thought, voluntary movement, and individual personality characteristics. When you are searching for just the right word to say, it is this section of the brain upon which you rely.
Damage to this vital lobe can cause impairments in judgement, attention span and organizational ability, as well as a loss of motivation. In addition, the frontal lobes are charged with the task of regulating mood and emotions. Consequently, when they are compromised, a patient may become impulsive, act rashly, and adopt risky behaviours such as substance abuse. However, once brain injuries occur, there is no cure. The goal of treatment and rehabilitation is to assist the patient in strengthening the skills he or she continues to possess, while helping to find compensatory strategies for adaptation of those that are lacking. My Wife had already had ten months of no treatment apart from stays in hospital regularly. The Consultant, told us she was suffering from partial complex epilepsy and memory loss. For this he prescribed medication to control the epilepsy and aid her recovery. However the ten months of misdiagnosis had had it’s toll and would be a difficult road ahead.It would take two years for the dose and correct medication to be prescribed after some trial and error.
So this is the basis of my looking after a person in depression. It started as minor issues but little did we know that the road ahead was paved with broken glass with a lot of learning curves along the way. The difficulties encountered by my wife would test us to the limits. When a person’s personality changes ,even partially, it is very difficult. And my wife’s depression started with the passing of her Mother in 2000. We were not aware that the downward spiral had already begun. The stroke was just going to add to the problem .
I can’t remember when I first noticed her depression, but I knew it was not a good sign. I already knew someone very close to who suffered from depression but did not show it.! Obsessive behaviour , obsessive habits and compulsion to do things in manner that is downright irritating were some of the issues facing us.I can’t remember how many times I had to reheat food, or redo the bed, Wash the sheets after being washed. Clothes ironed had to be re-ironed. The tines of a fork if not straight ,rejected in disdain. And many more minor things we take for granted became a point of issue.
Was this part of depression? Or just an area of OCD ( Obsessive Compulsive Disorder ).We were not so sure as her crying days were far too many. Every other day she said she wished she was dead so she wouldn’t be a problem for anyone.. The OCD was just one part that would form the future of her depression and the future for us. Now it’s a couple of years forward. Things haven’t been easy.I suffered a Severe Ventricular Tachycardia ( SVT ).
Very close to a major heart attack,but saved in the nick of time. And more to come with me suffering from Hodgkin’s Disease. A cancer of the lymph nodes.Mine was in the neck. I’m now faced with a dilemma. My wife hasn’t fully recovered from her troubles. I’m in so much of a quandary that I’m at a loss to what to do. All the help I am getting is not enough. Both my son and daughter are doing as much as they can in between studies and work. My wife’s depression is getting worse. She cries everyday. More about being dead. We were both in hospital at the same time in 2007. We hadn’t told her a thing but the doctor felt it was best to do so rather than finding out for herself. So we did. And the crying got worse. Now I’m going to die and leave her by herself. And all hell is going to befall her. Can you picture the situation. She can’t deal with her own problems and now she’s worried how she’s going to deal with mine !!
Here is a short scenario.My wife, a very active person, involved in all walks of life, working for a living,driving a car,looking after her children, cooking and feeding them, running a community group etc. etc., and now she’s house bound , not being able to anything without any assistance. Looking after money, medication, doing the shopping,everything we take for granted, now a distant dream,Was she going to help herself ? We’ll never know because she wasn’t ever going to agree was she? The mind is the most complex that cannot be conquered by anyone. Least the sufferer. The only outlet is therapy and drugs. Self education, support groups etc. So many different therapies available.Every different aspect of depression catered for. And believe me the person suffering has far more difficulties than can imagined or felt. I know because although I may not be the sufferer, I’m in it as much.A part life whether I like it or not. Maybe, just maybe, I may be suffering myself and not accepting it. !!
There will be many uphill struggles. The past 14 months have been hard. Diagnosed with lung cancer and then two weeks later changed to Tuberculosis. Treatment for TB started in 2014. A month and a half later, a tumour was found on the adrenalin gland causing havoc with her body. Back home for 1 day only to be re admitted with a minor heart attack which was then a heart failure. In November 2014 the tumour is out and good news that it’s not cancer. But that hill is still steep. Now I’m back in hospital on 22 December. Water retention to the tune of 24 litres. !! Heart is under strain. Suffering everyday until 16 January 2015 when she was out. Now six month later. No hospital admissions so far, thank god. But we’re taking each day as it comes. There’s a hospital bed in place of furniture downstairs. Medication list is up again.She’s been seen my the Heart Failure nurse and the Community Matron. She had her first session with a psychologist for the 2nd time in 11 years !! Why such a long wait. But hey lets be positive. At least a start has been made . As we climb this hill looking for a bit of flat land, I would like to add a line from a blog I’m following called “talkingthisandthat”
” I wasn’t always this way ”
And I hope that she can return to some of her old self. Her name means Laughing Princess but not very much at the moment !!!
You have both been through so much. She is lucky to have you to look after her. You will both get through this. God Bless.
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Thanks for your kind words and encouragement.