So shocking - ECT and Leucotomy

Discussion in 'After dementia — dealing with loss' started by Flake, Jun 3, 2017.

  1. Flake

    Flake Registered User

    Mar 9, 2015
    My Mum passed away early March and alot has been going on as some of you may have read in my previous posts. My Mum always suffered with depression throughout her early life and a comment from my cousin triggered me asking my Mums GP for some information. Well it was a shock to read the letters - My mum had acute peurperal depression after the birth of my Brother which resulted in ECT and a leucotomy. He was put into care for his own safety as per the way things were in the early 60's. I always knew she had had a brain operation as I remember it from my childhood and I was told by the Memory Clinic of a lobotomy but seeing it in writing has been awful. I wish she had told me about this and her history and not kept everything a huge secret as I was always told that she wasnt well and at times my childhood and growing up was quite difficult. Im sure we could all have been more understanding of her mental health had she just said something.

    I dont expect any advice or many comments - I just wanted to put it in writing to clear my head ! :(
  2. Lawson58

    Lawson58 Registered User

    I am so sorry for where you find yourself at the moment - not just losing your mum but discovering so much about her that you didn't previously know.

    Your mum comes from the the same generation as I do and I think I have some understanding of why she behaved as she did. The sixties was a time of great social change but that didn't mean that there was a sudden revolution for those of us who had been brought up in what had been a pretty conservative society. Before the pill, a pregnancy out of wedlock was a scandal and a mental illness was something so shameful that it was always kept secret.

    A few months ago I visited my sister to celebrate her 80th birthday. During one of our more private chats she told me that at one stage in her life she had suffered terrible depression. This was the first I ever knew of it and I was shocked as I would never have guessed. She had never told anyone else in the family. But I couldn't bring myself to tell her that I have also been undergoing treatment for the same condition. Indeed I have never told my children that I currently take antidepressants and have been seeing a psychologist and I know that they would be shocked if they knew.

    It sounds as if your mum had a really rough time and maybe she really never intended that you would be exposed to that knowledge, maybe she was trying to protect you in a way that these days might be difficult for you to understand.

    I also know that there are things in my life that I will never tell anyone let alone my children because they are so intensely private, personal and painful. My kids don't need to know these things and they will always remain untold and that remains my right to keep those things private.

    When you have depression, you get very good at putting up a facade so that no one guesses, that no one knows how miserable you are. Why would I want my children to know that? Especially when I know better than anyone that they can't help me with this and it is a burden they do not need.

    I have no doubt that your mum did her very best under the circumstances and perhaps there were many times where your life was impacted by her condition.

    But I hope that you can forgive your mum for how she handled things and realise that she wasn't being deceitful, but that she had a right to her privacy and a right to keep her pain hidden from you.
  3. Flake

    Flake Registered User

    Mar 9, 2015
    Thank you Lawson - I am slowly getting my head around this and things from my childhood now click into place. My Brother never went back 'home' and we never had the Brother/sister relationship that I would like to think might have been. I remember being called a liar at school by a teacher, as Id spoken of my Brother and made to stand at the front of the class. I do forgive her, of course, and know that in those days you did what social services/psychiatrists recommended and there was no benefit system to fall back on and so my Dad had to keep working. I just think how hard it must have been for them both.

    Thankfully times have moved on and there is much more help out there for mental health disorders. Strangely enough I do have involvement with mental health issues with my job - quite ironic really. Now Im wondering if the invasive treatment had an adverse effect on her brain and with the onset of vascular dementia.

    I do hope you keep well xx
  4. Tin

    Tin Registered User

    May 18, 2014
    And there is a little more insight about attitudes back then, the fact that a teacher made you stand in front of the class for supposedly telling lies. I suppose my mum's generation would simply think of Victorian asylums and who got packed off to one. Heart breaking to think of the shame that generation felt that they could not talk about mental illness for fear of other peoples attitudes and assumptions , even within their own families. My family certainly had their secrets, one or two came to light only a few years ago. Now my mum is the last surviving 'child' from her family and when she does pass away a lot of unknown secrets will go with her.

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