A River in Egypt

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.

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5 comments on “A River in Egypt

  1. jen says:

    When someone has an expectation of you (“get a job/degree) that is pretty challenging do you think “I have depression its not that easy, I can’t and they dont get it” or do you think “they know I have depression and they believe I am still capable of doing this challengeing thing. They will help and support me so I can”
    Think about the mind set – I wonder if its enforcing some of your strong feeling about your situation (not your friends’). Also think about how it shapes your life and fsmily relationships. – you don’t need to answer, just something to think about.

  2. jen says:

    Said another way -i challenge you to use the CBT skills you learned at treatment. You might not be able to control someone’s action but you can control how you think about it. Controlling your thoughts can change your feelings and behavior. – this simply helps you feel better and better manage life regardless of the cattalist action.
    So a parent says “get a job” that’s all you have, those three words. — think “they’ dont understand my depression, this nagging doesn’t help” or “they have supported me through treatment this far and are trying to help me gain full independent living” ….. Changing the way you think will help YOU feel better and influence your behavior.
    You asked for me to remind you when I see opportunity for you to use your skill….this is one of those times.

    • jen says:

      Also I know this post was intended more about your friend and the larger principle than you. But it reminded me I wanted to bring youback to cbt so I put it here ….

  3. slesser1013 says:

    Going through some mental health issues myself and studying clinical psychology in school, depression is an abundance of pain brought on from childhood. it usually means that their voice, opinions, and autonomy were never respected and when that happens consistently it gets internalized as being felt they are unlovable. The important thing to overcome mental health issues is to find ways to grow as a person and learn to love yourself. When this happens, everything starts to fall into place.

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