“I was going through depression. It was years of depression. I would just sit there and stare, don’t do nothing. I didn’t even eat, and I get fine like a pointer,” the 40-year-old mother of four said. She believes the depression was triggered by the abuse she suffered at the hands of her husband.
I met this woman through the Child Care and Protection Agency and while initially she had agreed for her name to be published, at the end of our chat we both agreed that she should be anonymous. I feared identifying her could undermine her already fragile state, as public comments can sometimes be unkind or very cruel.
“I want to share my experience because a lot of people go through depression and they don’t know what it is and they don’t know how to get help,” she said. “I was one of those persons and if it was not for a relative, I don’t know where I would have been today.
“In 2008, I went with my husband to [name of country]. We separated before he went away because he used to abuse me but then we make up back. I went with him and [along with our] two children… over there we make two more children.
“And over there he used to hit me a lot and he used to work but it was not a steady job, so it was me who had to be working to try to do everything and it was hard.
“I went to the police once and I was advised to go to the family court, but I didn’t go through with it. I move out and leave him and he didn’t know where we was and he come back to Guyana,” she continued.
She spoke with little or no emotion. I felt sad because I tried and could not reach her even though we were having a conversation.
“I was down in depression and it was my mother who sent for us to come home and she took care of my three-month-old baby and she is 80 years old,” she said.
I asked her what she did when she returned home while her mother took care of the baby.
“I was just sitting all day, sitting all day and night. I stop eating, stop sleeping, didn’t even take a bath and if you see how I get fine,” she answered.
Her husband later found out that they had returned to Guyana and he initially removed two of the children from the home and ensured that they attended school.
“I didn’t even want to bathe, and it was [a relative] who use to come and bathe me. Somebody contacted child care and they come. It was Ms Liver-pool. And they had to lift me to carry me to the hospital and it is the doctor who said it was depression,” she continued.
“They used to come and carry me to clinic and the I use to get injection and tablets, but I stop taking the tablets because it just used to make sleep all the time and I used to feel very heavy.”
I asked her if she was feeling better.
“Yes, I much better, you know. I am not working or anything but my mother is still supporting us with grocery and so on and I just arrange with me husband to give $10,000 a week for the four children. It is not a lot but that is all he could afford,” she said.
Her eldest child is 19 and, according to the mother, she also suffers from depression.
“She was going through depression too. I don’t know if it was because of me and right now she is home with me,” she revealed.
Again, I was struck by the fact that there was no emotion in her voice; she was stoic in her demeanor. I was also concerned that at 19 her daughter was at home and not meaningfully involved in any activity.
“She said she is not ready to do anything. She just get well and I giving her time,” she answered to my query about her daughter’s lack of activity.
And what she is doing?
“I just waiting, waiting on betterment. I just get back well and I looking at how things will flow,” she told me.
She shared that she got married at the age of 20, and she is the youngest of her parents’ children.
“And you know when I was growing up, I remember I used to see my mother would be quiet sometimes, just quiet and then next time she would talk a lot,” she said, hinting that her mother may have also suffered from depression as well.
I expressed this view to her.
“I don’t know. But it could be though. You know, the doctor say that is not how my husband treat me make I become depressed,” she continued.
While she spoke of the abuse, she did not go into detail and I was not keen on questioning her, for fear that the questions triggered her. So, I just allowed her to speak even though the conversation was disjointed at times.
“You know I realise it [the depression] was something I had to go through and now I am getting better. Now I am cleaning the house, washing the clothes and taking care of the children, that is something I was not doing,” she said.
“And we don’t just sit at home. Sometimes we would visit family members or go to the mall, you know. We go as a family and my daughter has some friends but she don’t like going out and so,” she added.
“I am giving her a chance to make her own decisions. I don’t want to force her to do anything, you know just let it flow,” she further said.
And she had some advice for women who might be facing depression.
“I want to tell them to be strong, don’t give in and keep holding on to the boss, whether his name is Mohammed or Jesus or any other name, He gives direction.
“And stand, because if I didn’t stand, I could not be here today.
“And I want to thank the Child Care and Protection Agency, especially Ms Liverpool and my children and everybody else who has helped me,” she said.
We then parted company as she said she had to return home to take care of her children. As she left, I felt sad, but I was advised that the agency will continue to work with her and give her the support she needs until she gets to the point where she is functioning fully for her children and for herself.