Interviews With People came from my 2013 New Years Resolution to ‘get to know everyone well’ which, for some reason, seems a tad ambitious to some people. There was even one woman who turned away and whispered impossible under her breath.
That won’t stop me from trying though. I want to know everyone. That desire won’t die.
Today I got to know Karen. It was a great privilege and an honour to hear her story ~ RD.
Getting To Know Karen
My name is Karen Reid. I’m forty years old.
I thought I would have travelled to far off places and had a torrid affair by now.
Bullying upsets me. I was bullied at school and by a parent and it’s awful. No one – young or grown up – should go through it.
My life changed for the better when my son was born. I had him late (38) and never new that kind of love existed.
The lowest point of my life was finding my husband, who has depression, in the shed setting up a rope so he could end it all. That was eight months ago and it's been a long slow frustrating process but hopefully he will one day be the happy man I fell in love with
That’s him, in the photo I’ve attached (see below), on holiday in Langkowi. It was before were we were married and parents. I have it on my bedside table to remind me of the happy funny man he used to be and hope he will be again.
Getting To Know Karen Well
RD: There are obvious benefits to monogamy. Let’s put them aside for a moment. How has monogamy limited your life experience?
Karen: I was 38 when I got married so I certainly have had my share of life experiences but one thing I always wanted to do & never got around to it was to travel the world on my own. Maybe it was reading too many trashy books when I was younger but the thought of being in an exotic locale & having a torrid affair with a handsome stranger always appealed to me. The reality would no doubt be far different though, I have seen the movie Hostel haha!
RD: Has being bullied strengthened you in any way? Would you be willing to give those strengths away right now if you could go back in time and erase your experiences of being bullied?
Karen: There are many things from my childhood that I would change but I made a decision early on that I wouldn’t be a victim. No matter what my Dad or stepmother (wicked witch of the west) did to me that it wouldn’t break me. I changed schools a couple times due to us moving. Being the new kid is always tough & when you’re ‘different’ it can be tougher. I was never allowed to have friends stay over & I wouldn’t have anyway. The teachers learnt that I couldn’t be kept back for detention so naturally the kids thought I was getting special treatment & acted accordingly. I think everything from my childhood has definitely made me a stronger person but at the same time I sometimes feel that maybe something has broke inside.
RD: You’ve just been called in to your son’s school to be told by the Principal that he has been bullying other children. What happens next?
Karen: Oh gosh, that is my biggest fear. I think about that a lot, whenever I bring it up with the family though it just gets dismissed as if it would never happen. But it could happen, that’s the reality. I would certainly be asking the teachers, principal & anyone else for help as I don’t think it’s something a parent can fix alone. I would want to get to the root of the problem - why is he being a bully? Does there have to be a reason or are some kids just mean? I think schools now have programs to help prevent & address bullying. I would be getting all the help I could.
RD: What is the most significant personal goal or dream that you haven given away, or put aside, to care for your husband and son?
Karen: Not so much a significant goal more like little every day things. I can't return to work just yet as 1) day care is expensive & 2) weekend work is out of the question as my husband's depression sometimes prevents him from being able to care for our son. William is 2. I am looking forward to going back to work when William starts school.
RD: Has your husband’s illness changed your relationship to him forever?
Karen: Yes. I don’t even know if our marriage will survive & that’s sad.
RD: What is your best piece of advice on caring for a family member with a mental illness?
Karen: You will need a support network. Sometimes you feel guilty needing help - you’re not the one with depression so why do you need help? You need help because living with that person will drive you crazy! Obviously they can't help how they feel most of the time but sometimes you just want to dong them on the head with a frying pan & scream. Or maybe that's just me.
If you'd like to be an RD Interviewee for 2013 read this post and follow the directions.