Dealing with depressed people

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by strantor, Feb 1, 2015.

  1. strantor

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    Oct 3, 2010
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    My mother has been "battling with depression" since before I was born. I was the one who cooked for, cleaned up after, and changed diapers for my younger siblings when she would decide to "punch out" and lock herself in her room all day, wallowing in self pity. She also claims to have "Borderline Personality Disorder" (not sure if that is deserving of title capitalization or not, considering it's a self-diagnosis, and only the latest in a series of self-diagnoses). Every few years she makes some overly drastic life change. When I was young she decided she wanted to be Amish; the Amish wouldn't take us, so she settled for Mennonite. Then some weird cult, then no religion. She has dragged me through 3 divorces, and my brother & sisters through one; and she almost added one more to the list a couple years ago. I picked up on the trend and have seen another divorce looming for some time now. For the past 6 months or so, she has shown little or no interest in visiting her kids or grandkids, who all live within a 3 mile radius. When I try to invite myself over, she declines with some lame excuse. Last month she tried to hook back up with my dad (again, like the 4th time now) while married to my stepfather. That pissed me off, because I know he still genuinely cares for her, and I know she doesn't genuinely care for anybody; he would just be a stepping stone.

    I blew all my gaskets and said every resentful thing I had bottled up in me from the past 20 years. It sent her a couple levels lower into the pit of despair. She has been talking about suicide again. In the past, every time she's shat in the family punch bowl, nobody has been able to fish the turd out and put it in her glass, because she starts talking about suicide. Her acts have gone unchallenged; nobody wants to be "that asshole" that made her kill herself. But I am not willing to stand idly by and let this life-long train wreck continue.

    My acceptance for her excuses is completely gone. She has convinced herself and everybody else (except me) that she is entirely a victim to her mental disorder and entirely incapable of change, or control of her own actions/inactions. She says she "simply can't" make herself get up in the morning, put on clothes, and come visit her grandkids. She says "it's like asking someone with no hands to catch a tennis ball; you just don't believe in my handicap because you can't see it." I guess she's right. That's the reason. I can't see it, therefore it must be all in her head, therefore she could be in control of it, if she believed that she was and wanted to be. It's not like she's got Downs Syndrome; that I could understand. I don't fully subscribe to the notion of all these psychological/personality/"mental" disorders. ADHD, Depression, Anxiety Disorder, Bipolar Disorder, Attachment Disorder, et. al; To me they seem more like rough "classifications" for observed categories of deviations in normal psychology than actual disorders, defined by an observable and repeatable physical cause. "Oh, you can't find any satisfaction in life? Well, let's stick you over here in group A7B65 (AKA Clinical Depression) with all the other sad bastards. Here's some medication, a member's only get-out-of-jail-free card, and a lifetime subscription to the "it's because of my handicap" club." IMO when you put a name on something and create a drug for it, you materialize some boogeyman to which the finger can be perpetually pointed. I wasn't around 100 years ago, but from what I have read about the time period preceding the invention of all these "disorders", I have formed the hypothesis that people simply dealt with their shit, or wrote melodramatic/nonsensical poetry about it. In the rarest of cases they would off themselves, or become cowboys.

    I don't know what to do. Am I wrong? Should I "let it slide" as everyone else in her life has? Should I coddle her like the rest do? Should I drop my resistance campaign and give her carte blanche to wreck another man's life and get out of visiting her grandkids? Should I fall at her feet and beg her not to kill herself? Or should I continue insisting that she can will herself into doing the right thing? Or is there some other better solution?
     
  2. nerdegutta

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    Dec 15, 2009
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    Hi, thanks for sharing.

    I don't think you should let it slide. In my experience* with depressed people, I found that it would be best to be gently confronting and the same time caring. Focus on the positive, no matter how small, say it out loud, and neglect the negative things. Structure and a daily routine would be building-blocks.

    I don't think there's a quick fix for this, since she's been in her bubble for a long time. I believe in the good in people, but sometimes, it takes time.

    *12 years with an ADHD/ bi-polar depressed GF, who had a manic depressed brother.

    Why are you not watching the super bowl? Isn't that now?
     
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  3. #12

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    Oh geeze! I could write about this for a week, starting with, "My mother was so miserable that I sang, 'Ding Dong the Witch is Dead' at her funeral." At one point, my answer to her was, "No wonder they had to drag you to the looney bin and plug your head into a light socket".

    Short version: Get yourself off the train tracks. You can't fix her. You can't wait long enough for her to change all by herself. You can't feel miserable enough to make her get better. When you visit, keep your car keys in your hand at all times and let her see them. When she starts singing the same old song, use them.

    I don't know why your mother is miserable, but I know that there is a limit to how much time you should spend on that ride.
     
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  4. tcmtech

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    Sorry to here. As with a few others I too deal with someone in my life that by my judgment doesn't have half her oars in the water most days either. My wife for those who don't already know.

    It frustrating to no end to have to deal with people who are forever the victim or have an endless supply of excuses for why they cant do something yet expect the whole world to drop everything and do it for them.

    As a coworker told me once. He has no patience for hurt people. Injured people heal. Hurt people don't. I thought about that for some time and I rather agree with him.

    I can name a dozen or more people I have met or know first hand that have all sorts of physical disabilities/permanent injuries and or mental limitations but I would not label one of the them hurt. Every one of them gets up and takes on the day to the best of their abilities and often times goes beyond their expected abilities.

    That said I know a pile of hurt people who have nothing going against them or their ability to accomplish anything but themselves. My wife is too often one of them where for her can't and don't want to are the same and that a disability I can not relate too.

    In a way I can relate to your frustrations. I full well know how tiring it its to be around someone who feels their happiness in life has to come from others. :(
     
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  5. Brownout

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    Its curious you ask about depression, then disregard the diagnosis, as well as many other emotional issues. Sort of takes away incentive to comment.
     
  6. tracecom

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    Emotional disorders are real, and terribly difficult to deal with. This is true whether you are the one with the disorder, or a close associate. Providing support has to be limited to that which helps the person with the disorder more than it hurts the person trying to help. If the emotional cost to you outweighs the benefit to your mother, walk away, but don't slam the door on your way out.

    I suspect most of the members of AAC are, by nature, problem solvers. Unfortunately, there are always things we can't fix.
     
  7. #12

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    I couldn't have said it better.
     
  8. strantor

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    Forgive me; I cannot remove my own emotion from the topic.
     
  9. strantor

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    Good words there. I will mull over this for a while and digest it.
     
  10. strantor

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    If I lived with her, I could provide more wholesome positive reinforcement. But when we live apart and she shuts me out, it limits my involvement. But I have had time to cool down in the past month since all this went down, and in the two times we've talked since then, I've been more positive. Said to her "I know you don't believe you are capable, but I DO believe you are capable, of doing better in life and doing better by those in your life."
    What, and miss Sofia the First on the big screen?
     
  11. djsfantasi

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    Apr 11, 2010
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    Sorry to hear about your difficulties. I want you to know I am in a position to understand situations similar to yours firsthand. Others have noted, do what you can without incurring harm to yourself. Just remember that in some ways, your Mom is incredibly strong, having to deal with her disabilities every waking moment. While it doesn't look like it to you or others, so far she is holding up.

    There are resources for you, often at little or no cost. It may be beneficial for you to investigate support groups or similar help.

    I wish you the best.
     
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2015
  12. cmartinez

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    I've read your post and found it quite compelling... I've suffered loss and have been really hurt in the past but I've learned how to deal with those things as I got older. I've got a few comments to make, but I want to meditate well on them before posting them here, probably tomorrow. In the meantime, I wish you and yours the best of the best.
     
  13. Brownout

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    Understandable. First thing you need to do is clear your head.

    FWIW, my mom hasn't spoken to me in two years over some perceived slight I'm supposed to have perp'ed.
     
  14. WBahn

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    I believe that many of these "disorders" are very real and that there are many people that genuinely suffer from them.

    I believe that there are many people that claim to be afflicted with many of these "disorders" and don't suffer from them in the slightest.

    I believe that telling which camp a person is actually in can sometimes be easy and other times be nearly impossible.

    I believe that many people in each camp are misdiagnosed as being in the other camp, even by "experts" in the field.

    Having said all that, warning bells go up when someone self-diagnoses their own mental afflictions -- especially when that diagnosis is a changing target over time.
     
  15. strantor

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    I just want to acknowledge that you have made an excellent point here. A point deserving of more than a blanket apology. Yesterday I wanted to reply with something more pertinent, but everything I wanted to say started out with "I didn't mean to imply..."; Looking back on what I wrote, I really left no room for interpretation or opportunity for clarification with regards to what I implied. I spelled out a hard-line stance in long rambling detail. So that leaves me with printing a retraction, but I had to think about how to word it. Thankfully WBahn came along and left much more eloquent and objective words laying around; I would like to put his words in my mouth:
    I do not wish to discredit all these conditions/ailments/disorders in blanket fashion as I previously did. More importantly I do not wish to discredit the pain experienced by people with these conditions or people close to them. My point is less that these "disorders" are pure fiction, and more that they [or more importantly their diagnosis] is more nebulous than it is scientific.

    When you have cancer, you go the doctor, he X-rays you, shows you a tumor, does a biopsy, tests the tissue, verifies it is cancerous, and issues you a diagnosis; "Here's your Xray; you have a tumor. Here's the biopsy results; it's cancer. Here's the remedy: a surgical removal of the tumor and chemotherapy." -That's science.

    When you have (or not) "Borderline Personality Disorder," you go to the doctor (or whatever the prescription-issuing agent may be; in my mom's case it's a nurse practitioner with a doctor's signature stamp), list off your symptoms, "Doc" says "Sounds like you're suffering from Borderline Personality Disorder," and that's that. BAM!, you're diagnosed, no science involved at all.

    Having witnessed my mother diagnose herself with half a dozen psychological disorders in the past couple decades, and go recite her symptoms to the doctor and put a diagnosis in his mouth, and even go so far as to (successfully) consult the doctor as to which prescription and even dosage is appropriate for her, I think my lack of faith in these diagnoses is understandably shaky. I have literally seen her go on WebMD and choose her disorder.

    The funny thing is, I can't really discredit any of her self diagnoses; She's done fairly thorough research and all of her diagnoses have seemed to describe her symptoms fairly accurately. I'm not sure the doctors could have done any better. Having come from her DNA, I have on multiple occasions wondered if I might have some hereditary "issues" of my own. I've done the WebMD thing myself, and gotten myself pretty worked up about some of the things on there. "Holy cow, this description sounds just like me! I might have this thing!"

    To summarize, I think that people like my mother are an adulteration of whatever science exists in the realm of psychological diagnosis, and they water down the meaning of word "diagnosis" to the point that people like me cannot even lend the word any credit at all.

    All that being said, I think that our scientific understanding of psychological disorders has been languishing in a stage of infancy for far too long. I think that our methods of diagnosis and treatment will be considered laughable by future generations. I think that future textbooks will read like this:
    "Whenever a person suffered from any of a myriad of physical ailments, from cholera, to indigestion, to premature baldness, they would consult the help of a barber [as if a barber were in any way qualified to practice medicine] who would perform the "art" of bloodletting on them, to drain their bodies of "impurities" in their blood"
    ...fast forward...
    "Whenever a person suffered from any of a myriad of psychological ailments, from sadness, to inappropriate self-touching in public, to inability to adhere to a fixed schedule, they would consult the help of a Medical Doctor (or nurse) [as if a Medical Doctor/Nurse were in any way qualified to practice psychological medicine] who would perform the "art" of prescription writing on them, to infuse their bodies with some perceived "deficiency" of supposed "chemicals" related to happiness, or to "block" some perceived "excess" of "chemicals" related to unhappiness."

    I think we are living in the dark ages of psychological medicine, and those with legitimate conditions are lost in the mix. I think their conditions are neither understood or treated effectively. I think that the only quantifiable thing in any of this medical mess is pain, and I cannot discredit the pain. I have witnessed it, and continue to witness it in my mother. I do not doubt that she experiences genuine pain and genuine remorse. But I question whether it is appropriate whether to allow her to continue to use her pain as a shield from accountability, a weapon, and a scapegoat. That is what everybody has been doing and it has not proven effective. I'm trying to break the cycle, and my query here on the forum is whether or not the outcome of my method is likely to be more helpful or more damaging than how it's been handled until now.

    Thank you for your input thus far, and I apologize if what I said at the outset has dissuaded anybody from contributing. I apologize for my forwardness, and I promise no retaliation for disagreeing with my assessment. I am here for help and will consider any input even if it contradicts my theories. My mind is open and non-combative.
     
  16. strantor

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    I suppose it's inevitable, someone will comment on my use of the word "psychological" in places where the word "psychiatric" would be more appropriate, such as "the practice of psychological medicine. "

    My mother throws that little nuance at me every time; I guess she thinks it sounds more official, more "medical," and lends greater credibility to her diagnosis of the week. But I find it hard to make a distinction. Seems the outcome is the same whether she sees a psychologist or a psychiatrist or a nurse.
     
  17. tracecom

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    I agree with much of what you say; psychiatry is a dark and imprecise science, and very subjective. Consider the battling doctors that are often called as expert witnesses during trials; one references the DSM-5 and reaches one conclusion, and the other references the same book and reaches the opposite conclusion. The irony is that a jury of non-professionals then makes the decision as to which expert is correct.

    With regard to your mother, aren't the very actions that you continue to witness her take, proof positive that she has a mental disorder that you cannot understand and have not been able to fix? Love her and help her when you can, but first, save yourself.
     
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  18. #12

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    What I wanted to convey to you in post #3 is, "Been there, done that". Then I spent 3 years studying it. The bottom line for me is that the two worst choices one can make is, 1) to wait for somebody else to change and, 2) being miserable about their behavior.

    How do I know? Been there, done that.

    Insanity is contagious, or as my nephew puts it, "Local reality is defined by the craziest person in the neighborhood." The more you feel connected to a miserable person, the more it rubs off on you. My advice is: post #3, paragraph #2.

    You do not have a moral obligation to, "suffer enough" about your mothers' condition.
     
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  19. WBahn

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    The best you can do is the best you can do. Whatever you do or don't do, her choices and decisions are hers to make (unless someone takes the step of having her committed, and even then there is a practical limit on what someone else can impose on her). Whatever she decides to do or don't do may or may not be a direct or indirect consequence of whatever you do or don't do. Accept it. As long as your efforts were honestly intended to be in her best interest (or at least honestly not intended to cause her harm), then your hands and conscience are (or at least should) be clean.

    I agree that, in many cases, coddling someone is not the right way to go -- it rewards them for self-destructive behavior and enables its continuance. But is that always the case, particularly with the mentally ill? I don't know. Just remember that when dealing with someone that is mentally unstable, for whatever reason, that there needs to be a limit on the amount of guilt you pile on yourself for their actions.
     
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  20. tcmtech

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    My rant here. :eek:

    The common issues I have seen in my life when dealing with mentally off people is that they more often than not have one or more chemical imbalances in their body that directly affect their perceptions of everything around them of which many of these people may have had them for most of their lifetime without knowing it.

    I have them and so does my wife. The issues for me is I know what my chemical deficiency comes from and have accepted that I have to take a mild antidepressant to counteract it. I know what my pills do for me and how my perceptions change when I don't take them, even though I really don't like the concept.

    For me I have accepted the fact that what I have is sort of like a person who has diabetes as in its easily treatable but unfortunately no matter what I do or how I live my life I am deficient in a critical neural chemical in my body.
    Sure I can change how I live and how I take care of myself and that will affect the amount of my doses of antidepressant I need to take but as with a person with diabetes I can not will it away 100% so I have to take a my pills.

    Now my wife on the other hand has multiple deficiencies and conditions from them, hypothyroidism, hypertension, vitamin deficiencies, out of shape and lazy, that directly affect her mood and perceptions of life around her yet she seems convinced that every quack treatment and BS homeopathic treatment is the cure for any and all, yet none have ever done anything but waste, money and try my patience, even those she knows full well what does work are her pills, supplements and getting more exercise. that does in fact fix her problems and multiple doctors of multiple expertises have said so multiple times.

    Given this thats where the biggest differences in my life and my wifes come to a head. I say take the damn pills eat and live healthier and get exercise being that is what makes me feel like my life is worth living. She however seems to find the ignore it and or bring everyone down to her level and make excuses concept to be her way.

    Another example is I have a bad spot in my back that has put me down for months at a time several times in life yet I heal up and get back to life when it happens.
    She has two joints in her upper back and lower neck that are out, causes arm pain/numbness and headaches, and the chiropractor we both go to has said that they are easily fixable with several adjustments followed by the correct exercise routines to keep the muscles built up. Unfortunately no way in hell is my wife going to get her back fixed being her back hurts or her head hurts are two of the top three excuse for not doing anything or not doing anything for very long.

    My point is if you fix too many things in a person's life they will run out of excuses and have to accept they are not what they perceive themselves as and thats a pain/reality some people simply can not live with apparently. o_O
     
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