Not so long ago I lost my father, my marriage, my job, my ability to survive financially… So many things collapsed that I felt I collapsed under the weight myself. Additionally, these are the times where a lot of friends and family members take their distance – let’s face it, a depressed and desperate person is not so very much fun to hang around.
Slowly (or maybe fast? there was no notion of time in that endlessness) yet surely I fell into deep exhaustion, a tiredness no words can reach. I won’t bother you with the details, you can all google depression. But very few google hits tell you how to address depression with your little children.
I realized that especially my oldest son knew something was up. He had no means to understand. But he was serious, all too serious, eyes welled up with unanswered questions. How do you talk to your child about depression? Every instinct in my head screamed NO! spare him from this, this is my pain not his, he’s just too little. But my heart whispered he already knows. And if I didn’t talk to him, he’d have to deal alone.
So, I told my Joel he must have noticed how tired I’d become… How much sleep I needed… And that I wasn’t smiling as much as before. Told him all this was all due to an illness called depression, it causes these things. Told him I was treated and helped by doctors and medicine – adults took care of this, he didn’t need to worry.
Interrupting me, he asked hastily “Maman are you going to die of it?”. Turned out he HAD processed it, all alone, equating my situation with my father’s illness that just recently had made my son’s beloved grandfather fade away from us. Knowing something was wrong with me, not understanding how serious it could be, he’d wanted to protect me from his questions and concerns. What a weight he had carried on his tender shoulders.
I promised him I would get well again. He knows I never ever promise if I can’t keep my word.
I apologized. For not having talked to him earlier, for sleeping too much, for always being exhausted. For everything, really.
And my child with tears in his eyes hugged me tight, saying something so wise, so kind, so compassionate that it rests in my heart forever.
“Maman I know you always do your very best. Remember, that is enough.”
My son, my hero.
Back in the day when I swore to always protect the love of my life. And already now, he protects me right back.