It really sucks when the people who are supposed to be closest to us don’t, can’t, or won’t understand us. This is likely true for everyone, but since this is a blog that mostly deals with mental illness and related topics, that’s where I’m going with this. Mental illnesses are really hard for loved ones to understand, and that can make life very difficult for everyone involved.
Personally, I know for a long time my parents – or at least my father – believed that depression was something I could just snap out of, if only I found the right trigger – get a job, finish a degree, something along those lines. While that can help with, say, situational depression, clinical depression is not something that can be snapped out of, or cured – it’s a permanent condition, as far as I know. So, of course, this didn’t go well; it made me feel even more depressed, because my father didn’t understand what I was going through, and it frustrated my father, who couldn’t figure out why I wasn’t doing what he clearly thought was so easy.
It took a couple suicide attempts to bring the point home that my depression wasn’t going to be fixed by a job or a degree. It can’t be fixed, only managed – which is what I’ve been doing for the past few months, after a lot of therapy. I was lucky enough to have had a chance to go to Menninger, and have treatment that worked for me, so that I can be in the place I am today. Hopefully, things will keep improving – but I will still always have to manage my depression, with medication, at least, if not therapy.
Watching someone else struggle with that – parents who refuse to believe that depression, or bipolar disorder, or mental trauma, are things that can’t simply be ‘gotten over’, who think that yelling at a son or daughter and shaming and guilt-tripping them is the way to try and fix things, who blame the child suffering from mental illness for bringing it on themselves in the first place – makes me both sad and angry. Sad, because I know what it is like to get that from your parents, the people who are supposed to love you most.
But also angry because they are not only not helping, but they seem to be actively making things worse. Often, this is because they also ignore the recommendations, warnings, and diagnoses of medical professionals simply because they are in the psychology/psychiatry field. Since mental illnesses are all literally in the head, then clearly parents know better than someone who has spent years studying subjects that are so clearly made up, right? They assume they know better, ignore the advice of professionals, and the one who is hurt the most isn’t them, or the professionals – it’s the child who has to see her parents treat her problems like they are imaginary, or just something made up to get attention and money.
I am tired of watching people I know descend deeper and deeper into their problems – whether depression, trauma, or schizophrenia – because their families refuse to believe that what is happening to them is real, and while it can’t be cured, it can be helped. It is painful, and it brings out emotions that I don’t particularly enjoy feeling this often. I wish I knew what I could do to help, or to make these parents, family members, and other loved ones see what they are doing.