The Hardest Parts of Talking to My Mom About Depression
I've had depression for 5 years now, and have tried to hide it from my parents as best I could to prevent their worrying - that it was their fault, that I would hurt myself, or, gasp, that I would have to stay in state for college. After years of useless exams to explain away symptoms, tonight we addressed the elephant in the room: depression.
- •"Are you sad very often?"oh man this is gonna be rough
- •Watching my mom, a doctor, have to separate her mom-self from her doctor-self and very clinically stop herself from getting upset when I truthfully, finally, responded to her question of "do you ever think about suicide?""like when?" mom eyes wide, afraid, and then controlled again like a doctor's, stopping herself from pushing me when I gave her a generic answer.
- •Knowing that losing a child is her worst fear in life, and imagining her dreadfully worrying about the past 5 years after this conversation
- •"Is this why you don't call me more? Why don't you talk to me about this? Not wanting me to worry is not a good enough reason.": <
- •"You've always been such an upbeat and outgoing person, growing up. And so when we see you happy and upbeat, we're so optimistic and we just assume that means you're getting better and we overlook the whole picture - I'm sorry. We don't hear from you too much. But really the energy you're putting out to be your normal self must be so draining."But of course my mom would explain myself so much better and more succinctly than I could.
- •"I get angry and say that you're out of control when you don't regulate your sleep or fold your clothes well because I'm frustrated and worried."Watching her get sad as I told her that I avoid her anger, even though she doesn't know how else to respond. I compared it to if she hurt her foot and I got mad at her for not walking at my pace.
- •BONUS BEST PART of talking to my mom about depression: for years I feared her response would be crippling worry, asking me to transfer or spend my summers near home. I forgot that she's a doctor and sometimes could talk to me like a patient, encouraging and helping me to seek whatever professional and/or medical help I need.I forgot that, though she immigrated from a culture rife with mental health stigmas (strong even in my immediate family), my mom is a kind professional who talks to patients with depression everyday. She explained immediately how this was physically affecting me, how I would get better with help. I didn't have to explain much at all, I just got to nod my head. My mom is pretty damn cool.