Jennifer's husband of 12 years lost his job. He fell into a deep depression that caused him to be hospitalized. He wouldn't look for a job and he wouldn't talk to anyone. He just sat in his living room chair day after day.
Jennifer had a hard time explaining to her three girls, ages eight, six and two, what had happened to their father. They tiptoed around him. He wouldn't respond to Jennifer's entreaties. It was as if he were living one life and she and the girls another one.
Eventually, Jennifer needed support while her husband worked through his depression. She sought understanding for what her husband and family were experiencing from her friends and extended family.
They had none to give.
They brushed the major depressive episode and resulting family impact aside. Even doctors didn't always get it. Jennifer felt increasingly isolated.
Then, she received an email from her brother-in-law. In the email, her brother-in-law included a link to the Families for Depression Awareness (FFDA) moderated online support group. Jennifer joined the group.
Jennifer discovered online support that she could access 24/7. She could post messages, questions or just chat.
The moderator made sure the group served as a place where people could express their feelings and needs without being diminished.
Jennifer bonded with six other group members. They became close and very supportive of one another. For Jennifer, she discovered she and her family weren’t the only ones. Other families lived "parallel lives" as she called it. The sense of relief Jennifer felt at this discovery became almost palpable. She was not alone!
The group of seven logged in on a regular basis for about a year. They discussed their depressed family members, how to help other family members cope and how to express themselves to make doctors and others feel for their situation.