June 13th, 2017by SeeSmith

Over the years I watched my mother destroy every relationship she was in. She was depressed and couldn’t trust people. I always understood this about her but I never gave thought to how damaging this was for me.

I worked so hard to prop her up, to be her sounding board, to help her with her finances, and to fix her house. In effect, I was parenting her starting at 15 to 42. 27 years. Due to her mental illness she abdicated responsibility for being a parent and pushed that task onto me. So I ended up parenting myself and her as well. The damage that did to my psyche is deep.

I did learn to trust people. I wasn’t good at making friends but I wasn’t an isolationist! And I learned to maintain my friendships. Especially after my mom killed herself (15 years ago today), I knew I couldn’t let my depression push others away. Support networks can be the difference between life and death.

When lovers, friends, or relatives ask me why I’ve suddenly become abrasive or hard to find, I have a speech prepared. Eh, it’s more talking points than a script. It goes something like this:

I am depressed. When I’m depressed life feels hopeless and I feel like nobody cares about me. I become locked into trying to push people away and cutting off contact. I know it’s illogical but often I’m not strong enough to fight it. Please? Help?

And then they hug me, or lecture me explaining how great I am, or say they understand, or ask if I should not be left alone, or try to fix me, or do something vaguely or strongly helpful. Yes, sometimes they are simply saying that dreaded all-you-need-to-do-is-cheer-up bullshit. But whatever they do I know they are doing it because they care.

My lovers, friends, and family are so great that no matter how sad I am I can’t ignore them or disbelieve them. Believe me, I try.

So, thanks, Mom, for being a bad example. I learned from your madness and despair.


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