Depressed and Need Help

By Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

I am depressed, lonely and feel unable to reach out for friends. I have a history of depression from my teenage years that was treated with medication. I am 23 and have quickly sunk into a depression. My mother has been dealing for a few months with cancer and she has always been my rock, but now she has no attention to give to me and naturally everybody else in my family is focusing on her as well.

I had lost my job and dropped out of this semester of grad school because i felt too overwhelmed to handle class and work and my mother… I also have been living 60 miles away from my friends and have no friends where i live.

So I am lonely as can be, far from the few people that might offer me love. I have not told my parents that I lost my job or that I am so sad, all because i feel guilty taking attention way form my mother or making her feel bad. Last week I was so sad that I just started crying on the sidewalk as my roommate was talking to me.

I have had nobody to share my pain with and it’s so hard to reach out. I have been staying in bed till noon and watching TV all day, just trying to hide from the world.
I am so depressed. I need help. What do I do?

A. I’m sorry you’re dealing with a difficult situation. Having a close relative with cancer has to be difficult, especially when that person served as your main support. I know that you don’t want to ask for help and support but that is exactly what you need at this time.

You assume that you’d be a burden on your family but I doubt that would be the case. It’s not uncommon for people with depression to feel like they are a bother to other people. If you reached out to your family and told them about your depression there is a good chance they’d respond in a supportive way. You may even find that they are also having a tough time trying to cope with your mother’s diagnosis. You could lean on each other.

Even though there is a good chance your family would be supportive of you if they knew about your depression I think it would be helpful if you sought additional supports outside the family. The additional support could either be a support group or an individual counselor. Both might be necessary. The reason I am suggesting that you find support outside of your immediate family and friends is that it may be difficult for them to give you the full attention that you may need at this time. Also you described having fairly serious symptoms of depression. Your friends and family may be able to offer you some support and that is good. But given the extent of your depression (i.e. you’ve already quit school, are struggling with work and spend half the day in bed) there support alone may not be enough. Your depression symptoms may require professional treatment.

There are many great support groups for individuals who have family members with cancer. Some of the support groups are web-based. There are also many in-person support groups that allow you to interact with others who have relatives with cancer. Both may be helpful to you. A list of possible online and group supports can be found here.

It makes sense that you would be having difficulty at this point in time. Your mother was diagnosed with cancer. You lost your main support system and in turn, you’re finding it difficult to function day to day. I know it is a challenge but try to reach out for help from support groups and/or a mental health professional. You need to do this not only for yourself but for your mother who most likely needs you to be her “rock” while she is battling cancer. Be there for yourself and be there for your mother. You can’t appropriately assist your mother until you help yourself. Don’t give up and please consider outside help for this very difficult life circumstance. You need and deserve the help.

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 2 Mar 2009

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2009). Depressed and Need Help. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 16, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2009/03/02/depressed-and-need-help/