The blog post I never wanted to write

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A decision has been made and it’s a fair one and the right one but it’s the hardest thing that I’ve ever had to consider and deal with. Before I say what it is let me say this: I agree with this decision 100% and it was set out when my ex-wife and I separated. I know that you all know how much my children mean to me and I hope you understand just how tough this is for everyone. It all boils down to the fact that daddy isn’t well.

I’ve suffered from depression since I can remember, but was diagnosed with it when I was 17. I was a long-haired grumpy teen and being told I had depression felt a bit cool. Wow. I can actually say I’m depressed and mean it. Awesome.

But it’s not. When your brain wrings your body dry. When you shake with fear and uncertainty and when your rational thoughts disappear in a second and are replaced by terrible doubt and vomit-inducing self loathing, it ain’t cool. To be physically sick because you find yourself so utterly disgusting is not cool. It’s frightening. And it’s frightening for those around you. I have depression and that’s a mental illness, but as soon as the words ‘mental illness’ appear to those around you, those who don’t quite get it or are scared by this label, it all becomes a bit too much for them to handle. To buck up your ideas and get over it isn’t an option. To say ‘we didn’t have it in our day’ and ‘we just got on with life’ isn’t what you want to hear. You find yourself thinking ‘well, I must be even more of a failure if I can’t do that. Great. Pass the tablets.

And I’ve done that, thought that, and passed myself the tablets twice in my life. Both occasions I was so sick my overdose didn’t work. Kind of obvious me saying that really as I’m typing this now. Durr.

And I’ve been thinking like this recently. Two days ago I made a plan as I’d had enough. I told myself I’d return to London to see my family. I would explain to them my problems and then, once they knew, I would walk away and kill myself. I’d set that date for Sunday, today, and, up until yesterday, I still thought this would be the best solution.

I wrote about feeling suicidal last year, on my old blog and got lots of support and comments from people. Some shared stories of loved ones who made this decision, carried it out, and are missed every single day. Someone said something along the lines of ‘Don’t ever think they’ll be better off without you. I’m not and I will always want that person back in my life.’ Real people telling you how they feel and still I didn’t hear it. I still thought that I would brighten up everyone’s life by being dead.

But that’s not going to happen. I need to get on and I know that my children need me in their life. It would be unfair of me to put the words ‘Daddy killed himself’ into anyone’s mouths. And if I did that then my children would never know just how much I love them.

So. Knowing how hard it is to be around someone suffering from a terrible period of depression, the time has come to make this tough decision.We don’t want our children to see this. I don’t want to be around them and take their sunshine and joy, let it fill me for a while to distract me from my own irrational horrors, and leave them, and leave with a feeling of a crushing loss. I don’t want to beg my ex-wife to let me stay with them. I don’t want this for her, for them and I don’t want it for anyone. I thought for a while about walking away. I thought about saying goodbye to my children and simply never contacting them again, for the same reasons. But that’s what my father did and I’m not him. No way.

So. While I’m feeling like this I won’t be with my children and when my ex and I separated we talked about this. If I hit a low point then as much as it would be hard, it wouldn’t be good for them to be with me. It could frighten them, upset them, and could also cause my ex-wife anxieties she doesn’t need. She wants to be able to feel comfortable knowing the children will be fully cared for when they’re with me and, she’s seen first hand, that when I get low I can barely look after myself. We agreed this. I hoped we’d never have to consider it, obviously, but the time has come for us to do so.

So I won’t be spending time with them for a while and I’ll concentrate on getting well so that I can as soon as possible. I’ll Skype them. I’ll speak to them on the phone. I’ll hear their voices and talk to them and keep in touch that way. But that’ll be it for a while. And I don’t know how long that while will be. We decided that I could look after my children when my ex next goes away for work, and that’s in April. That should give me enough time to sort myself out and keep on the right path. I’ll have time to feel better for a stretch of time and then I’ll see them with all the bad things behind me and some coping mechanisms in place. I might see them with family before then, when my aunt goes to see them, a kind of supervised visit. I’m staying with my aunt at the moment as, simply, I can’t be alone. But I don’t know when we’ll make that trip or, even if she does, whether I ought to go along. I just don’t know. I don’t know much right now. I just know that I have to continue, and sometimes that feels a bit pointless, but I cannot lose sight of what this might mean for my children.

It’s not because of anything specific happening, this low feeling I have which is crippling me. I’m too tired. Right now the fact is this. I won’t be with my children for some time. I won’t be able to hold them or cuddle them. Read them a story while they sit on my lap or kiss them good night.

And those are the worst words I have ever seen written down.

Thanks for reading.

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102 responses to “The blog post I never wanted to write

  1. Wow. What a tough post to read, 100x more so to write, obviously. I think you’re a far better Dad than I expect you give yourself credit for. You’ve made a incredibly tough decision, & done it not for yourself but for the sake of your children, because of your great love for them. Great that you’re planning to keep in touch, I’m sure they’ll need that.

    Get well soon! I hope you feel free to keep in touch here or on twitter or wherever the hell you like whenever you want to. Hang in there Spencer! *manhug*

  2. Spencer I am so sorry to hear you so low but also think that you have made such a brave decision and I really admire you for it. Children can often cope with a lot more than we give them credit for but having some space to get better quicker sounds like a very good plan. I don’t think however they would cope, or be even the slightest bit better off without you in the world. You are a wonderful Father. I have no advice to offer but am thinking of you and if you need a shoulder to cry on or an ear to bend you know where I am. xxx

  3. Oh no 😦 So sorry to read this (followed your tweet). Depression is a truly horrendous and debilitating illness. Just writing that – it looks so cold, but I know how it feels because I had my first serious episode aged 16 and have had a few similar experiences with what you describe. I am so sorry that you are going through this again and that it is a wiring and not a circumstantial thing (i.e. nothing to work through). And I’m really sorry that you feel unable to see your kids whilst in the grip, I can’t imagine that and I really feel for you. I hope you soon find yourself well again and banish that suffocating black fog. x

  4. You are clearly one hell of a bloke and your children are lucky to have you. Remember that you aren’t so unusual, we’ve all replied because not only do we feel for you, but we have our own stories too. You have my best wishes for a speedy recovery and a million happy memories with your children and eventually their children.

  5. This is a frank and heartbreaking read but speaking from experience, you are totally doing the right thing for yourself, your ex and your beautiful children.

    When I was about 12, and after a family bereavement, my mum tried to take her own life with tablets. By the time I got in from school with my sister, my dad had already taken her to A&E. I won’t forget taking a call from our GP to tell me that my mum needs to go straight to hospital because she had taken too many tablets. It later turned out that In panic they had tried to contact GP but he was unavailable so rang as soon as he could with that news. My mum needed to go to hospital because she had taken tablets. So there I was at home with my younger sister and my mum was in hospital and could die.

    Well she didn’t. She had her stomach pumped. It was a cry for help and she got better. I carried on reliving it. At 12 I was anxious to leave my mum ‘just in case’.

    She didn’t think she could go on and didn’t think she was worth living. But she was. She continued to be and still is and I don’t think she could imagine she would now be nanny to 3 grandchildren.

    What I am trying to say is, you are choosing to not put your children through that and that is fantastic. They need you, now and forever and even when the dark cloud says otherwise, never, ever forget that.

    You are a very courageous man and I am rooting for you to beat this x

    • Thank you for sharing your story. Your honest is inspirational and I do hope I can beat this. With people like you around rooting for me I think I can.

  6. Wow what a real heartfelt post. What a difficult position you are in-you can only do what is best all round and it seems to me you have a sensible head on your shoulders. I suffer with depression on and off although thankfully my longest period has been weeks/months rather than longer but I do know that the worst thing to hear is ‘pull yourself together and will only be said by those who do not truly understand! My dad was also Bipolar and I lived with the pressure of knowing at times he really couldn’t go on ans suicide was his only answer. Thankfully that never happened but he did pass away many years later. I truly feel for you and hope this period does not last too long! Sorry for the long post 🙂

  7. I am so sorry that you have reached this point and hope that you get the time and help you need to get better. From experience, I trust you are getting help. Sometimes you can’t do it on your own, especially if you have reached a place so dark that the only way is to stay in the dark. I haven’t ever seen you ask for help on your blog or on twitter but I pray you have asked for help and are getting it. Much love and can’t wait to read that you have given your babies a huge hug x

  8. I remember the switch in the head saying the world will be a better place without me, it isn’t but you have made the toughest decision ever, your children need you, even if you don’t actually see you, they still have you, they will understand in the future and respect you for the choices you had to make to save them from heartache, god bless you and hope this is just a blip and things start moving upwards and positively soon.

    Hugs xxx

  9. Oh goodness what a frank and heartbreaking blog. First of all I think you are incredibly brave for writting this blog. I am sure it helps yourself for getting thoughts down and also helping others who are also suffering from this terrible illness.

    I have seen my Mum go through 2 terrible breakdowns which both saw her hospitilsed once when I was 15 and again when I was 34. Even at 34 being a fairly wise woman it was heartbreaking seeing her suffer so much and not being able to help and sometimes I still think about the terrible 7 weeks she was in a mental hospital (are we allowed to call them mental hospitals) ? I think your decision is incredibly brave to protect your children. I follow your tweets and I know how much your children mean to you. Stay strong Spencer xx

  10. Oh my darling man, I am sending you an enormous virtual hug across the ether. I know there aren’t words enough to make this (and you) better but if there were I (and a whole lot of other people I’m sure) would be sending them. Staying with your aunt is the first step and you have a goal of April, so take it one step at a time, focus on you and you alone and don’t give up. Depression is a cruel mistress and you’ll need all the strength you can muster but you’ll get there, for the sake of your beautiful children, you will. Suzie x

  11. Sounds like when it comes to your gorgeous kids, you have the fight left in you and that amazing paternal love to suffer for their happiness. What a difficult, and brave decision you have made. My mum has stuffed depression all her life, in a home at one point, and it was tough to see and take. But one thing was always steadfast; my sister and I loved her completely, no matter what she said or did and yours will too.
    Be strong and I hope April is a happy time.

  12. Spencer,
    I am so sorry you are going through this.
    No one can know exactly what you are feeling, but we can all understand pain, and you are clearly in pain. I think most people are unaware of the physical pain that comes along with the emotional and mental torment of depression. It is a terrible haunt to live with. I am so sorry you are living with it.
    I must say, though, that I applaud you for being strong enough in the midst of this to clearly see what is best for your children and to choose to take the harder, much more difficult path of what is best for them. I am proud of you for that.
    Hold tight to the triumph that putting your children’s best interests first is when you are thinking you have no value. You are their dad. Your value is so big that it is immeasurablel.
    As you said, “Daddy killed himself,” should not be something any child ever has to live. Hold onto that.
    And, remember, this will pass. You may not be able to see beyond it yet, but it will pass. Hold on. Show up. Fight for the sunshine. You will get back there. It might be a long, uphill battle, but you will get there. This will pass. The fog will lift. The black will fade.
    Hold on.
    -gina

  13. Not sure what to say Spencer. You are very brave. Keep writing. Keep going. Get well. Lots of people thinking of you. Much love xxxx

  14. Oh my, I only just caught up with this sad, sad post. I think you’re turning a corner just by acknowledging this dreaded thing, facing it head on, and tackling it the best way you can. My MIL has suffered with depression ever since she lost a child at the age of 2 due to hospital negligence. Refusing help, both physical and psychological, she battled on for so long, ignoring the creeping depression and then collapsed into a big black hole which she has never ever fully climbed out of. It has deeply affected my husband, who had to cope with looking after his younger brother as well as his mother, for most of his childhood. If only she had been as brave as you and faced up to it, their relationship and her life might be so much better now. Good luck mate, I think – hard as it must be – you are definitely doing the right thing. I wish you all the best x x x x

  15. Spencer your awesome, you may not accept that, feel it, or believe it right now but you are. Most people put their own feelings above their children and you aren’t doing that. I pray that you will get well in record time, and you will be able to enjoy the sunshine again soon. We will all be there for you, and I hope you will feel our presence and it will make you feel a little less alone. Keep fighting for happiness, it will be worth the battle! Zoe and Andy (and all at SG) xx

  16. Brave, brave, brave. That’s what I and so many others see shine through this post. I truly hope that this low period will pass soon and that you get the love and support that you need to see you through. I hope that your Skype visits with your children can give you the will to beat this thing and that you get to see them again as soon as you are well enough. I’m sure when they are older they will be immensely proud of you for the selfless choice you have made. X

  17. Reblogged this on Don't Panic Maureen! and commented:
    I ‘met’ Spencer on Twitter by complete accident. A third party mistook him for me, we swapped a couple of tweets, then followed each other. Fate, in this case good kind, otherwise I would never have found this blog and that would have been a great shame. This post had me in tears and has given me the utmost of respect for the man behind it.

  18. I found this through Merv’s reblog. A terible decision to make, but the right one for the people who matter to you. Now use that strength to get yourself better, you deserve to.

  19. Darling, darling Spencer. I wish I could meet you to just hold your hand and show you that you are not alone, because you are not. Never. You are a wonderful and courageous man who is dealing with some of the hardest things a human ever has to go through. Really, do you need to talk because if you do I am on the phone any time of the day or night. Any time, for you.

  20. You will get through this Spencer you will. You are worth something, a lot to your children and many others that are lucky enough to know you.
    I’m sorry you’re so low, your decision is incredibly selfless and thoughtful and I truly hope it proves to help you over these coming months, even though it’ll be hard some days.
    I hope your depression will one day be some dark little ball in the back of mind that you can control and tell to piss off. I’ve had eating disorders and depression and work at least a few days a week to push those dark thoughts away bit I can. You will too x

  21. Such a brave decision. You should be proud of yourself just for that. All the best for getting better again.

  22. Spen, I suffered with a breakdown in 2006/7. I came back from it. The people that really cared about me, still care about me. Those people will be your family. Although you feel so alone, you are definitely not alone.

    • I’m sorry you had to go through something similar, although everyone’s experience is different. I’m glad you had people around you to support you and I hope you’re feeling better now.
      Thanks for your comment and for sharing your story.

  23. What a tough post to write Spencer. Even tougher to live through. You are brave though, doing the right thing for your children. Well done. I’ve suffered from depression throughout my life and my son is very attuned to my moods which makes me feel like a bad parent at times.. but I do my best for him. If I thought I was going to seriously damage him, I would step away for a while. Depression runs in my family, my paternal grandmother killed herself in her late 40s. I don’t want that legacy for my children. X

    • Thanks for taking time to read it. I’m sorry you suffer from this illness too but know that your thoughts about what’s best for your son makes you a wonderful parent.

  24. As a mother I constantly get my strength from my two boys, from their hugs, smiles and tears. I think that you are an amazing father to understand that you need to get better from the sake of your children and to do that you need to stay away. Can I suggest writing to them? Maybe not to send now but to explain. Take care

    • Thanks for your comment. It’s been a tough time recently and I can’t inflict that on loved ones because I love them so very much. I hope they understand.

  25. Found your blog via twitter and had to post here! I think you have made a very selfless decision and your children will respect you 100% when they understand. I think childhood experiences can definatly effect you as an adult and your children will not think of you the way you are feeling now! I have had/(kind of do now) anxiety based pnd and its horrible but luckily I got better and will get better. It takes time and you know that so your one step ahead.

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