What It’s Like Having A Mother With Depression

November 7, 2019  |  
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depressed family member

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As far back as I can remember, my mother has struggled with depression. I remember as a little girl there were days when my dad would tell us not to go on the side of the house our mother was on—that she “wasn’t feeling well”—but I could hear her crying, and sometimes yelling. We had one of those old landlines where you could pick up and listen in on someone’s call. I didn’t mean to, but I accidentally stumbled upon some of her calls with her therapist, and once I determined what her voice sounded like, I picked up on the fact that my mom spoke to her therapist a lot. There would even be full days when my dad would gently ask our nanny to take my sister and I out for several hours—to take us to do something fun—and I understood that he was trying to keep us away from our mother. At the time, I didn’t really understand what was going on, but as the years went on, I got it: my mom suffered from severe depression. As I get older, she doesn’t really hide it from me, and it’s certainly a factor in our relationship.

a depressed family member

Source: skynesher / Getty

A phone call can go either way

I know that every time I pick up the phone to call my mom to say hello, I’m playing a game of roulette. She may answer quite perky—or at least stable—and we will have a true catch-up session. But she may answer sounding absolutely numb and zombie-like, and I’m not really accessing my mom. I don’t know what to do in those times. It isn’t really a conversation. It’s just her lamenting about how dark everything is.

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