This one is very personal. My father, Silas Crawley, was diagnosed and has lived with depression for around 10 years. But we will never know how long it has been affecting the way he goes about life.
Much research indicates that there is a link between depression and the serotonin levels in the brain, making depression a chemical imbalance that can be treated. However, Silas can’t feel anything when he is on anti-depressants. There is still much progress to be made.
The anti-depressants Silas has been on for the last four years are very effective in leveling the ‘ups and downs’. Silas shared that being depressed made it hard to let people into his personal space. He would be the first to say how much it saddened him to not want to be around his five adoring children. Throughout all of these times he felt judged and condemned.
Silas and his wife Annie have decided that it is time to come off the anti-depressants so that he can feel again. To help with this change, Silas has been seeing a counsellor, who is beginning to uncover some of the roots of his behaviour. One of the areas that Silas is exploring with the counsellor is whether there is a link between his often feeling detached from people and a period of time when as a baby he was hospitalised and separated from his mother. As a result we can, as humans, develop coping mechanisms which then shape future behaviour patterns. As a baby, one is unaware of the separation time period and thus can feel abandoned, leading to a love deprivation. Silas and his counsellor are continuing to explore the coping mechanisms assumed as a result of this.
Mental illness effects 1 in 4 people today and most of us will know a sufferer- why then do we hold it at arms length and continue to agree with the stigma attached to it by society? My father’s battle with depression has given me an insight into the illness and, more importantly, has helped me to tear down my own misconceptions. He, just like anyone else suffering from mental illness, is a normal man.