Depressed and Out of Control

By Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

I have been to therapists. I have taken the medications prescribed. This is going on about 30 years, most of my adult life. It is sad to look back and realize that none of my dreams have come true and the future isn’t looking any better.

I’m 56 and have a high paying job but I have to work overseas to earn this money. I have been married for 21 years (third marriage). First wife committed suicide. Second marriage was probably just a stupid rebound. I have an 18 year old daughter and a 10 year old son from my current marriage. I have a few friends and not close to family (brother and mother). I have no one to talk to because no one really wants to hear what I have to say. On the outside it looks like I have a successful life but to me it is a disappointing and painful disaster.

Although I have brought it up and tired to fix it countless times, my house is a disaster. We have way, way too much stuff and storage lockers. I have tried to clean it up but no one else tries. My daughter went off to college recently and after hearing about her first weekend of partying and then the crying about homework due, I have my doubts that she will graduate. She is much more interested in the social aspects of college life than the academics 9as she was in high school). I predict she will become pregnant from a black guy because she seems to be attracted to them even though all of them so far have treated her like crap and I will end up raising this mixed-race kid. So, yes, I guess that means I am somewhat racist and I guess I’ll be crucified for that. I’m white raised on east coast near New York City.

My wife allowed herself to go to hell, physically, after she had our children. I’ve tried to keep in shape. I’m about 6 foot tall and 190 pounds. She keeps coming up with excuses as to why she doesn’t have time to exercise, yet she still wants me to be physically attractive to her. To be honest, I find the idea of sex with her repulsive.

All my money goes home except for a small allowance I keep for myself yet after 6 years of working overseas earning very good money, all I have to show for it are three used vehicles – one in very poor condition, and a house that probably needs $100,000 in renovation to make it salable.

I feel absolutely trapped in my life. I have to stay overseas to keep earning money to keep supporting my family. Contrary to what they say, companies do not hire 56 year old executives. Very hard to prove an age discrimination. With a 10 year old son, I’ll be working until I’m 70 to get him through college. I have no hobbies and due to my location, there isn’t much I can actually do.

Basically, I feel trapped with no way out. No one to talk to. No one that cares. I mean, how do you tell your family that they are your greatest disappointment. All that does is create a worse situation. I am not religious and find priests and ministers superficial and hypocritical. I can’t talk to therapist here due to my security clearance because then I would lose my security clearance and my job. Again, everyone talks about wanting to help people with “issues” but then they fire them anyway. It is better to bottle it up and never tell a soul because you only get punished for speaking the truth.

I have no intention of suicide but if I was diagnosed with a fast acting terminal disease, I would actually consider it a blessing.

People all count on me to make everything better, which I try to do but honestly, one seems to truly care about me and how I feel, especially my family. I am beginning to resent and hate them. I feel I am doomed to just continue to work until I am a burned out husk and then sit around watching daytime television because physically, I’ll be worn out. I have no hope of the future ever getting any better. Life just isn’t worth it, at least for me.

Due to my position, I am regularly tested for drugs so I can’t take any medications either. Besides, when I have taken medications all they did was make me numb. At this point, I am pretty much resigned to the fact that I will just continue to shoulder the burden of my responsibilities the end of my days without ever being happy. How do you tell your family that you wish you had never gotten married and never had children? My family says they care but no one does anything different. I really just hope to die in my sleep. yes, my wife even told me that if I did commit suicide, she would always tell my kids terrible things about me. that’s very supportive don’t you think? As for divorce, from what I’ve read, that is extremely traumatic on kids, especially when they think they have a stable household. It all comes back to trapped.

Thanks for listening.

A. I thank you for your long letter. As in therapy, the more information that is revealed to the therapist, the more the therapist can help. Though I am not acting as the therapist on the Internet, the information that you have provided me will allow me to give a more informed response.

When someone feels as if they are no longer in control of their life they often lose hope. Depression follows that loss of hope. You need to regain control of your life. It appears as if you have deferred living your life so that your family can fully live theirs. It is as if you have deferred your happiness for theirs.

One might say, “it is good for a family member to sacrifice their happiness for the happiness of others, in the family.” And you might say that you have done just that. I would agree that it is good for a family member to sacrifice their happiness for other members of the family but that is only true when every other family member is willing to sacrifice their personal happiness.

It appears that in your case, though you sacrifice for them they do not sacrifice for you. In essence what I’m saying is that your happiness is as valuable as theirs. Your daughters happiness is valuable but not more valuable than is yours. You need to properly value your own happiness. You cannot simply sacrifice your life for theirs without the resulting feelings of a loss of control and depression.

Carl Jung believed that depression was actually a good thing because it forced you, the conscious mind, to reconnect with the directives of the unconscious mind. In other words, it was helping you to be more you, or in the language of Abraham Maslow, to become more self-actualized.

I have had many clients with high government security clearances. I have known many therapists who have also treated persons with similarly high government clearances. As you know, many congressmen and senators have received counseling. Under the HIPPA laws, everything concerning your therapy would be completely secret. Many of our military leaders use psychoactive medications.

Depression is a fairly common disorder among the population. Sometimes depression can be serious enough that it requires hospitalization, but that is not the usual treatment prescribed for most people who suffer from depression. Depression in most people is most commonly treated in an outpatient setting, usually with a 50-minute psychotherapy session per week, and psychiatric medications.

Using the services of a therapist is no different than using the services of a dentist. You have heard of family counseling, couples counseling, etc. None of the individuals involved in that counseling would receive a diagnostic code for a mental illness. Think of counseling as an analysis of your life and the mistakes that you are making and the support that is necessary while you correct those mistakes.

Family members sacrifice for each other. It appears as if you are sacrificing more for your family than they are sacrificing for you. My guess would be that this is your nature. That you have always given more to others than they have given to you. For your life to be better and it should be better, your family must sacrifice some of their happiness so that you can receive more of the happiness that you need and deserve.

It could be that it was you who established the family dynamic. Perhaps your wife would have given more to you if she knew that it was necessary for your happiness. Perhaps your children were raised to be more self-centered because that was the way that you mistakenly raised them.

It is correctable. I have had much experience and success reestablishing proper family dynamics.

I hope that you will consider what I’ve written and I wish you the very best with your future.

Dr. Kristina Randle
Mental Health & Criminal Justice Blog

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 5 Oct 2013

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2013). Depressed and Out of Control. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 28, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2013/10/05/depressed-and-out-of-control/