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Mother Is Depressed

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My mother has had a terrible childhood. Her father was always drunk and she witnessed him beat her brothers because he was jealous that his wife (my mom’s mother) was paying too much attention to them. My mother also grew in intense poverty (she fixed her shoes with cardboard and got beaten when the cheap things could not longer be used. She has gone through laughter at school by boys bc she could not afford a bra. Her peers always laughed at her two sets of cloths, which she washed every night. She had to deal with her cycle in the same manner.

So then, my mother got pregnant with my older sister and soon me. The father of us left us for his sister. Therefore, since she wanted to overcome herself and really wanted us to do so she brought us illegally to America. She worked long and hard and the road to America included a lot of abuse by men (not physical as far as I know, but she was always on the watch). Then to get papers she married my stepfather. Turns out he’s in serous debt, but my mother has no other choice bc her jobs would never cut it for us, but now at least we have papers. However, my mom is tired of seeing other women cheat their way into getting gov money. She can’t do this until 5 years of being legal passes. She likes to be independent but can’t bc of this too (not that she’d accept gov help anyways).

We are 4 years into this. My mom cleans, cooks, works (2 jobs), and babysits our recent younger sibling who was in the hospital bc she was born wrong (now she is fine, but it was probably due to stress and a fire she caused and cried a lot over). I don’t think my dad is too bad though, he is tired himself (he is in debt bc his peers never pay him back…but he also manages money unwisely). We cannot get any gov help bc we are “rich in salary” but they don’t take into account child support (another surprise from my step-father). In any case, my mom is tired.

My dream is to go to Duke university (I had straight A’s my freshman year with honors), but am constantly discouraged by my mother. However, I know she doesn’t mean it. She is just frustrated by herself, so I keep going. She believes she is an idiot bc she cant handle her life perfectly and wants to be thin (she really wants me to be thinner too, but eat normally < —I could do this but I am busy w/debate and academics. but I plan on joining the dance team next year though that will only be possible if my mom can drive me early and we have the money, and we know a year beforehand. I don’t want 2 do anything else bc I am old an it’s probably too late to impress colleges with anything else. Anyways she always beats herself over not speaking English. She wants the household to be PERFECT (its an obsession, but every time I try to follow in on this she yells at me for moving her things. Also she quite her recent job (she had ben working over 13 hours a day so I can focus on my academics. But now she wants me 2 get out of debate bc we don’t have gas money or time though I think I could manage 4 time but I can’t convince her (she won’t let me talk). She is a stubborn woman, she puts a lot of pressure on herself. My older sis recently has been going out to have some fun (she’s in college) and my mother makes a big deal out of this (she has a tendency to blow things out of proportion). An hour ago, my younger sis got her foot stuck. We didn’t call medical help bc it cost money (she’s traumatized by money). However, it turned out she was fine. My mom is tired of pretending she is perfect and strong and tried to pull out her hair after my sister (she’s 2) got her foot stuck. Thankfully, I am a bit of a logical/positive thinker and so I didn’t make a big deal out of this accident (my baby sis was scared by our mothers reaction). I may be making a jump by assuming my mother is depressed, but I still need some guidance. I want to know what I can do that doesn’t involve money. Thank you in advance. Have a nice day.

Mother Is Depressed

Answered by on -


Thank you for your important letter. Two things need to happen. The first is for you to realize that you worry about your mom more than a 15-year-old student should have to. Second, your own goals and needs should become a central focus for you. Talk to your high school guidance counselor about what services are available for your mom and how you can start preparing for college. Recognize that there’s only so much you are going to do for your mom’s life and her situation by yourself. You can help, but your mom isn’t your project. The guidance counselor can give you the list of clinics for therapy / counseling and medicine. You can explain that your mom needs counseling but doesn’t have much money. The guidance counselor can give you contact information that your mom can follow up on — or not. However, the decision is hers. You have done your part.

As far as your future is concerned there are different grants and scholarships available for most colleges. Your high school counselor can help get you on the right track.

Wishing you patience and peace,
Dr. Dan
Proof Positive Blog @ PsychCentral

Mother Is Depressed

Therapists live, online right now, from BetterHelp:

Daniel J. Tomasulo, PhD, TEP, MFA, MAPP

Dan Tomasulo Ph.D., TEP, MFA, MAPP teaches Positive Psychology in the graduate program of Counseling and Clinical Psychology at Columbia University, Teachers College and works with Martin Seligman, the Father of Positive Psychology in the Masters of Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP) program at the University of Pennsylvania. He is Director of the New York Certification in Positive Psychology for the Open Center in New York City and on faculty at New Jersey City University. Sharecare has honored him as one of the top 10 online influencers on the topic of depression. For more information go to: He also writes for Psych Central's Ask the Therapist column and the Proof Positive blog.

APA Reference
Tomasulo, D. (2018). Mother Is Depressed. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 25, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 May 2018 (Originally: 9 Dec 2014)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.