Depression does not discriminate

Trigger warning: some details in this article may be distressing to some readers. Like many, I read the post headed

Trigger warning: some details in this article may be distressing to some readers.

Like many, I read the post headed ‘Could you forgive your son for this fatal choice?’ Apart from this tragic event, what distressed me most were some comments made. I’d like to share my understanding of mental illness.

I came home from school one afternoon to change and spend the rest of the afternoon with my boyfriend. It was my Mum’s 40th birthday. The year was 1969 and I was 14. I called out to Mum but there was no answer and I discovered her hanging from the bathroom towel rail. My first instinct was to find my younger sister and protect her from witnessing this discovery.

Mum had found it difficult to assimilate into life in a new country. We had emigrated to Australia from the UK in 1965. She had become unwell and irrespective of whatever ‘help’ my family could find for her; whatever treatment she received; her depression won out. The only emotion I felt and have continued to feel was ‘sadness’ – that we didn’t know how to help her.

Many years later, I discovered, for myself, the depths that depression can take you and I had some ‘understanding’ of what provoked my Mum to take her life. My ‘journey’ in dealing with depression has been enormously difficult but that’s not the purpose of writing this article.

The purpose of my article is to ‘inform’ so I will list below a number of facts:

  • Depression does not discriminate. Whether you are well educated, financially sound, don’t do drugs, physically healthy – you can suffer this illness;
  • Once depression takes a hold on your life it will have you doubting yourself, your thoughts, your actions – everything you knew yourself to be;
  • It is the most debilitating illness any individual can suffer (in the last two years I have had three operations – a tumour on my parotid gland; breast cancer twice; radiation, a mastectomy, a broken ankle not to mention that in regard to depression, I am ‘treatment resistant’ and I don’t respond to medication); yet my greatest fear is succumbing again to the depths I have been.

Rather than judge this young man, have a thought for those who loved him – his parents, the mother of his children, and all the questions they will ask of themselves in regard to what they could have done.

Share your thoughts below.

  1. Thank you Susan for being brave enough to bare your soul. I pray that anyone reading this insightful article will be able to understand more compassionately the depths and darkness this condition can take you! It may be difficult for anyone who has not experienced it to understand it,but that does not give you the right to judge anyone who suffers from it.

    • Sue Leighton  

      Thank you, Catherine for your compassionate response! Whilst mental illness no longer attracts as great a stigma as it did when my Mum died (We were told to say that Mum had died of a brain hemorrhage), what seems to have replaced that stigma is a level of ‘desensitisation’. Thanks to the media, we get to learn of the battles our ‘celebrities’ have encountered with this illness; we learn of tragedies such as Damien Little’s, and then we ‘criticise, judge, and label’.

  2. Susan, thank you. Your ability in verbalising is most likely assisting you in managing your illness. Seemingly this young man was to deep into his dark place to speak. May he be at peace now.

  3. Thank you for sharing your story. Yes depression is largely misunderstood and being told to snap out of it, or count your blessings can make you just not want to tell anyone. Thank God there is more help out there today and more public figures are sharing their own battle with the disease, because yes, just like diabetes or high blood pressure it is a disease

  4. Unfortunately nobody can cure you but yourself, the way to do it is by learning how to be your own best friend.

    • i can share a tad what it’s like to have your spouse of 17 years totally go off the rails, paranoia and psychotic episodes, trying to get him help which was scarce over 20 years ago and living a nightmare which didn’t end even after many psych ward visits, meds etc. Eventually he killed himself on the freeway in the middle of an episode, he believed he didn’t have a problem. for ppl who have never experienced mental illness i can tell you, you question your state of mind a lot, it’s a soul destroying dark pit. it still haunts our family as my 2 adult girls suffer the same as their dad. Basically you want to run and hide but hope and positivity triumph, for now, that is.

    • I am sorry to tell you that reading a book will not help someone suffering from Paranoid Psychotic Episodes. Only drugs can help them and sometimes the drugs don’t even work. You are very naive.

  5. My husband suffered PTSD 5 years ago after having a pacemaker defibrillator fitted and he was on a heart medication which attacked his thyroid which in turn attacked his heart.His defibrillator fire off 59 times in 40 minutes.Paramedics told me to get the family that he wouldn’t make it. He did make it but he is a changed man, he started having panic attacks and was so depressed that he sat all day in a chair in the loungeroom waiting to die.It was hard to watch.We eventually got help and he saw psychiatrists and psychologists for over two years.He still has bouts of depression every now and then and panic attacks which he can control with his exercises but it hasn’t gone away it is still lurking in the shadows. He will still say he wishes they had left him dead because he suffers a lot of physical pain. His bottom chamber of his heart is working at 18% and the top isn’t working at all, the pacemaker keeps him going. It is very sad to watch someone with depression because you feel so helpless yourself. I get mad when people say of someone with depression they look alright to me they are just after attention. So wrong.I would ask my husband how he felt and he would say ,i don’t know.Depression is like drowning, it is a silent killer.

    • Thank you very much Christina. We take one day at a time. We also have our children and grandchildren as support. There is a lot of love coming our way and it is beautiful.

    • Gloria I pray you find the strength to face each new day. I understand what you are going through.

    • Sad story but he doesn’t have long with less than 20% of his pump working.
      I hope he accepts to make it easier for you.

    • He was always fiddling doing things but he doesn’t have the strength or enough oxygen some days. He is not afraid of death because he said”i died and it was peaceful and painfree”.He has pretty good attitude in that respect.He has forgotten so many things that he could do with his eyes closed. He has forgotten his family and his taste in food has changed.It is sad but the family are enjoying being with him as much as possible. We live near a raaf base and loves watching the jets taking off and landing.The simple pleasures are the best for him. Thank you for your kind words and thoughts,very much appreciated.

    • My father was from way up.north and was driving with a bad heart…shocking denial.
      He almost expired at my house one day. I took him to ED where he had a test and his heart function was 15%.
      3 weeks later I was informed he had gone to hospital and passed away.
      I do understand.

    • I feel for you but hell children were murdered. Compassion for the mother surely. All the excuses can not bring these children back or erase the pain the mother will feel. Most probabley she also will suffer huge bouts of depression but none of your family members killed some one… he did.

  6. I do hope the many judgemental members of SAS read this, take note and reflect. Thank you Susan for sharing….

  7. Thank you Susan. Far too many “armchair experts”. Having a friend or family member with a mental illness makes you no more an authority on it than driving a car makes you a mechanic or having an operation makes you a surgeon. Just because you have an opinion, doesn’t mean you have to air it.

    • what makes you so special that you can have an opinion and others can’t at least they have real life experience..what have you had? listening to a few shock jocks

    • why are airing your opinion? you are a malicious woman and you doing Susan no favours because she is airing hers, that is what the article is about

  8. How long is the story of these children who were murdered going to be dragged on for? These men killed their children, you can dress it up however you want but 3 kids are dead and they are never coming back, We all have problems in life but the majority of us DON’T kill our kids

    • Exactly. No one is doubting the seriousness of depression. I can totally understand someone being depressed to the point of wanting to take their own life. But to murder your children???? Nope. That’s a whole different ball game.

    • I am so angry at that woman who the opportunity to take a pot shot at Lib sue erlengsen and she is not nice to the writer of the article either who is giving her views

    • I understand the depths of depression and why people could take their own lives but to murder their children and being premeditated too that I cannot understand

    • Susan Erlagsen, she is talking about Libbi, her only sister commited suicide and Libbi told everyone why she feel depression is not the cause

    • To be honest though I am a bit lost as to exactly what happened. I saw what Libbi wrote and agreed 100%.

    • thank you all I am fine but this has taken it out of me, I don’t like airing my family in public either. My sister took her own life but she never harmed another living soul in her whole life..I will show you a pic if I can find is of my myself and my niece and great niece and great great niece, they are her children and grandchildren..I have no grandchildren so I am grandma to them for her

    • Hugs Libbi Elliot, we have been here before and have both suffered but not as much as our loved ones 😓 I don’t visit very often anymore as all the keyboard warriors are getting worse! My son still suffers and public opinion makes it worse but some know everything in their bitter twisted little lives.
      By the way Happy New Year to you and Leanna Stephenson 😊

    • Exactly right Leanna…having depression does not make a person a killer…they are more likely to harm themself than others…this man shot his children…they were dead before he committed suicide…whatever was going on in his mind, it would seem the motivating force was to make sure his wife, who was leaving him, was punished by his actions…he could have been having a psychotic incident, but I don’t expect anyone will ever know the truth…its a pity we cant all share our thoughts on how this affects us without people becoming nasty 🌸

    • So, so sad Libbi when a person gets to that dark place and can’t see a way out. Going through a bit of trauma here myself :'( ……… sending you bigs hugs ()()()

  9. What’s to forgive. I don’t think taking your own life is something you would do lightly. Pretty sure they would choose life if they weren’t too far down to see the alternatives. Do we forgive people who succumb to other fatal illnesses.

  10. The article on Depression is very accurate. Unless you have Depression you have no understanding of how a person feels and what lengths they will go to to escape the pain. But I find it very difficult to understand why the innocent children had to die as well. One will never know.

    • Perhaps in his mind he thought they would be better off dead than living in the world as it is today. Who knows.? Though I would never have taken my children’s life, I know what it feels like to be in so much despair

    • If that was truly the case, then surely he would have taken his wife also. In the majority of cases where men kill their children it is to ‘get back’ at their spouse.

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