Jayne, 61, provides support to her daughter Sophie, who has major depressive disorder (MDD). Sophie currently lives at home with her parents.
In 2018 Sophie hit rock bottom. She was living away from home, on her own and was in a terrible way. We’d speak on the phone almost every day and I would ask her how she was feeling and coping. It was so distressing knowing how unwell she was and eventually I insisted that she come home to live with us. Finally, after many years and to everyone’s relief, her GP diagnosed her with MDD.
When Sophie is in the midst of a depressive period, I’m there to provide mental support and physical support – at times, literally helping her out of bed. We’ve always had a close relationship but when she hits those troughs, she needs me to be there, sometimes just a presence, sometimes to talk, but other times just to sit together, silently.
It was always Sophie’s dream to travel and at the end of 2019 she went travelling for six months. Sophie was on her own in New Zealand when the first pandemic restrictions were announced and had to lock down in a house with other travellers. We were so worried about her. She couldn’t leave the house at all and it took weeks for the government to repatriate her back to the UK. I remember when she arrived back home with her suitcase, it was a great relief but also heart-breaking – she’d given up her job and home to go travelling, so this was a huge blow and she spiralled into another depressive episode.
I can see in her face and her demeanour when things aren’t right. We cling together and share the ups and downs. You have to look for the positives; Sophie is living with us; we have a great relationship and are able to talk. Maybe we wouldn’t have that without her depression.
I consider myself good at self-preservation. Supporting Sophie is sometimes very stressful, she doesn’t talk to her Dad about how she feels, and I don’t have a release. I’ve had no support from doctors. When I worked, I would take all these issues to my job. You don’t realise when you’re supporting someone else, the impact it has on you. The thing I need most is to talk to someone. By telling my story I’ve realised that I need support too.
My advice for someone looking after someone close with MDD would be to just talk it all through and be prepared to hear things you might not like or expect. The best thing you can do is just be there, you don’t have to say a lot. Silence can be good, and listening is even better.