During this period of recovery David would notice that his wife would appear almost back to normal then would suddenly pull out of any involvement with family life again. This he discovered was caused by his wife storing medication then taking it all at one time. There was a real risk of overdosing and so David has had to resort to wearing a key around his neck to prevent his wife having access to the medicine cabinet.
On one side of the room stood a large pile of brightly coloured plastic toys which were at odds with the dark brown leather sofa on the other side of the room which was free from clutter, devoid of colour, lacking any personal touches. In the corner stood a guitar. James sat hunched at the edge of the sofa tightly clutching a cup of coffee and recalled his experiences. He often paused, taking a deep breath in to compose himself when memories became too vivid. He very rarely referred to his wife by name.
James s Story
His wife had a normal delivery but did not sleep well before the birth and afterwards she was breastfeeding and so was up through the night. She showed the usual signs of depression but everyone thought it was just baby-blues and that it would eventually go away. There appeared to be constant rows and tensions in the house. Two months down the line however she just walked out one day and took the baby with her to her parents home where she stayed for a number of months. James was devastated but he had a six year old son to look after and so had to try and carry on a life with as much normality as possible. He managed to keep working and rearranged his working hours to fit around school times. Life became a juggling act of looking after his son, working and trying to keep his marriage together. His young son seemed to be coping with the situation of his mother being away. He had not been witness to the arguments but the teachers picked up on the fact that he has stopped talking about his Mum and had effectively tried to block her out. He was encouraged from then on to bring her into the conversation as much as possible and to keep her within the family grouping. Luckily the baby would be too young to be directly affected.
I had sat behind the camera and just nodded encouragements from time to time during the filming of the piece. It was extremely difficult not to get involved and commiserate with him as his story unfurled. He came across as very sincere and articulate. He obviously loves his wife and family very much but he has been pushed to the very edge of despair. I do think that many men would have walked out on the situation long before reaching this point.
I was worried that James may have found the whole experience of recounting everything again too depressing but he actually said that it had been a very cathartic experience.
We arranged to meet the following week to do some more interviews and take some photographs to accompany this piece.
Picking Up the Pieces
Once the medication had stabilised his wife was persuaded to come back to the family home but things did not go back to normal by any manner of means. Family wise depression devastates families. Normal family life is put on hold. It was not possible for James to take the children out to the park for the afternoon or go for a jog. Someone had to be with his wife at all times. His wife wouldn't get out of bed for days on end as she just wanted to hide away from the world in a dark room. She often stayed in her pyjamas for weeks at a time. She became incredibly isolated and insular which had the rebound affect of isolating James and the children too. Post Natal Depression is a subject that is difficult enough for women to discuss but for men it was an even more taboo subject as most people just expected him to pick up the pieces and get on with things. He did not really have anyone that he could talk to about the situation and this again led to tremendous isolation for him.
Normal life had to be built up again very slowly. One day they would get in the car and drive for 5 minutes and eventually they would work up to her actually being able to go into a shop and ask for something. She had to be slowly rebuilt as a person.
During this period of recovery James would notice that his wife would appear almost back to normal then would suddenly pull out of any involvement with family life again. This he discovered was caused by his wife storing medication then taking it all at one time. There was a real risk of overdosing and so james has had to resort to wearing a key around his neck to prevent his wife having access to the medicine Relapse
I turned up as planned to find all the curtains in the house closed and no answer at the door. Unfortunately James s wife has had another major relapse 18 months after her first episode. She had had problems over the Christmas period, but they were resolved fairly quickly. This however is once again full blown depression and will take weeks of treatment if not months to resolve. My heart goes out to them all.
I had hoped to upload the video to the blog but I have found that I would have to upload the video first to youtube or vimeo. I think under the circumstances that James would not want this video to be advertised to such a massive audience due to the very sensitive nature of the recording. Getting the information to a wider audience is one thing but putting your family in the public arena is another . I have decided therefore to use the video in a flash context , more as a voiceover to the images. In this way James 'voice' will still be heard but his family will not be put in the spotlight.