I know I have mentioned time and time again that our family has been affected by depression on a grand scale, it is a daily part of our life and often dialogue within the house, and within the greater world. This has meant grand and small changes on a very consistent basis.
People have had varied reactions to our choice to homeschool (and have from the very beginning). This is a choice we made when we first married, something we discussed during our engagement in great detail and implemented from the birth of our twins in 2004. But anyway, we have had people laugh, think we are nuts, tell us we will ruin our children, support us with a smile on their face (sometimes this reaction is from the most unlikely of acquaintances), go out of their way to help us find resources and even ask us when we were going to come to our senses and put them in a proper school.
Ken’s therapist stands apart from all that, when he walked into therapy at a low point in his health, where his confidence in himself and his choices was tarnished (in fact, he had sided with some of the naysayers on things that past year simply to avoid arguments and complex situation which was devastating for yours truly) she said explain your family and your home. When he brought up homeschooling she lit up and embraced the situation.
How better to start bringing Ken back into the family and out of his self imposed isolation (seriously locked himself on the computer and in our bedroom while I ran the house like a single parent) than to bring him into our daily lives? Simply have him sit down and read a story, take that first step out the door and walk that nature walk with us while we enjoy Minnesota on a basic level.
Homeschooling is a 5 day a week process for us with a basic and consistent backbone of work and then the varied topics and processes we add as we go. Someone who is actively depressed often cannot slip into that process without resistance and resist Ken did. BUT we had him involved in simple things and through that he reconnected with his kids. Something that was crucial to our FAMILY’S well being.
That is not to say there wasn’t and isn’t hiccups. Part of the process is to give Ken a responsibility… like science, that he will captain. This is a two fold problem. He needs to take responsibility and finish what he starts, but at the same time I cannot allow the schooling to suffer. Give and take, a tug of war, but it is for a good reason. The kids need his involvement and I need the break. Thankfully there is a lovely ebb and flow to schooling. When a month simply does not go according to plan (not a unique thing to be sure), the next month or months compensates.
It is not all sunshine and roses, but that unique bond that is there with the teacher and student allows for interaction and a role Ken can take on and tailor and show the kids that this illness is not going to take him away from them permanently.
This is something I cannot stress enough… while you are depressed, actively depressed relationships ARE injured. You push people away, you put out that false front. Our kids are so much smarter than you think. (HERE) In the middle of your suffering they are suffering too. We all are, I have never felt so alone as when Ken was in full on depression (Capital D depression as we call it). I never signed up to be a single parent (for the most part who does), but there I was coping with everything but rides and minor disciplining, alone. That is hard for the entire family and one of our first steps in recovery and change was to repair those breeches. (not easy, I still have my moments of anger at the situation, guilt at not catching on and sadness for time lost)
Homeschool became the catalyst for that. And while not everyone homeschools (we ARE in the minority right now), there is most likely some activity in your life that would work wonderfully for instigating the regrowth of relationships and personal connections. This is something you should strive for. Contrary to some people’s beliefs we are not islands, we are built for interactions (maybe less so for some but total isolation is never healthy). Any sort of illness will damage or at the very least, affect these contacts. That is one of the joys of becoming healthy, it is a chance to make the repairs a part of your process.
Our entire lifestyle has been altered with the return of Ken’s depression. We are becoming more and more aware of how we need to be an inclusive unit. We cannot allow for someone to hide away in a room for long periods of non productive time (Ken IS a coder after all), to remove themselves from all of the hustle and bustle of a busy family of 7. We need to be inclusive and accepting that this is not an instant thing. Ken took ages to want or have the energy to be involved with us and even today fights procrastination tendencies. This is the reality of things, our reality and really all we can do is embrace it and move forward.
As always I want to thank everyone for their support as I find my voice in this life of ours. I want to extend love and support and acceptance to all that are finding their own path and thank each and every person who is a supporter. No one has to be alone and my family and myself are here!
As well, please feel free to suggest topics or ideas to cover. Many of my newer posts, like this one suggested by a good friend and fellow transplanted Canadian mom (Thanks lady!) are based on a suggestion or even a sentence that triggers a whole new pattern of thought.