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