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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    Am I depressed? Some days, I feel like I am in a slump.

    Related Topic
    I am mum to an autistic boy and the past few years have been extremely stressful and traumatic. But I survived without a major breakdown. I thought I am doing okay but there is always a lingering grief that pulls down on some days. And some events do trigger the traumatic experiences and I will find myself in a slump and have to pull myself up again. It is like a vicious cycle. Like I am not going to be fully okay as long as my son has autism. I feel anger towards my family whom I blame for not being there when I needed them most. I have always put them on top of priority and yet they are the ones that passed the most insensitive remarks. I feel like I have lost faith in human kind. Sometimes, I do feel like my sole reason for living is for my son whom I love with all my life.
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    Dr Janine Clarke

    Clinical Psychologist, Psychologist

    Dr Janine Clarke is a Clinical Psychologist with experience working with individuals and couples. Janine has trained extensively in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) and … View Profile

    It must be really tough for you to feel so alone in caring for your son and so isolated in your struggle with the pain of his diagnosis, especially when others - your family in particular - seem so important to you.

    Remember that it is normal for us to feel down in the dumps from time-to-time, especially when we have a lot to deal with.  It certainly sounds as if the past few years have been challenging for you, so understandably there have been times when you have felt down.  However, when these feelings and the thoughts that go with them persist, they are generally signs that something needs to change.

    While most people talk of depression as something that we 'have', it can be helpful to think of it as something that we 'do'.  I say this because once we understand what we are doing that makes us feel worse (even if it's how we relate to our thoughts), we can begin to make the changes that are needed for us to live a vital life.

    Perhaps you would be willing to talk openly to your GP about how you are feeling, what is going on for you, and see whether you qualify for a Mental Health Care Plan.  If yes, you will be eligible for at least 6 rebateable sessions with a psychologist/clinical psychologist, and there are some practitioners who provide bulk-billing services to people in difficult financial circumstances (i.e., no out-of-pocket expenses).  

    At the same time, try to treat yourself kindly, and take good care of yourself.  Mothering is hard work at the best of times, and being the mother to a child with autism is as challenging as it is rewarding.  Make sure to find some 'you-time' in your day - it might be as simple as bringing your attention to your breath for 5 minutes, a few times a day.

    I hope this is helpful and wish you all the best.

  • I am a Melbourne Relationship Counsellor and Family Lawyer who is skilful in helping people get out of the pain of relationship distress and create … View Profile

    I am sorry to hear how hard it has been for you. It does sound like you could be depressed. But actually, even if you are not, you can still do the same things to get support. The diagnosis is useful but may not change what you do. It is crucial to get some support and to speak to a professional who can work with you to help with the anger and sense of isolation you feel. There are so many ways of working too with what you describe that it can be hard to find the right person. It may be that you can work somatically, that is with what your nervous system is holding so as to release accumulated stress. I hear too that you say you survived a traumatic situation and that you must be very resourceful to have got through it as you have. Recognising the cycles that you get caught in is a good first step and you are already noticing that. It's good that you have reached out and I wish you all the best. 

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