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My Mom Has Been Depressed and I Feel Guilty

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I’m 16 years old, and my mom has been depressed for at LEAST my lifetime, though I’m sure it has probably been much longer. Since I was little she has talked about suicide, saying she will only be alive until I am 18 – the earliest I can remember her saying that is when I was 7. Sometimes she is happy, goofy, and in the mood to enjoy life, and other times she is sitting on the floor, drunk and crying because her boyfriend is on a trip without her. She and my dad have been divorced since I was 3, and she blames him entirely for the divorce though I’m no longer sure that’s true. We have tried family therapy but I am scared to share my true feelings when she is in the room, and she constantly feels attacked or offended by everything that a therapist says. For example, when I was in individual therapy, she would yell at my therapist if she said that I might want to consider sessions more often, thinking that she was being called a bad parent. I would not consider her a particularly bad parent but I can see where my depression is being influenced by how she acts and what she says. Also, I almost feel guilty because I feel that my brother and I are the only reason that she has not killed herself yet, and she often acts very miserable and hopeless. I truly believe that if my twin and I had not been born that she would have committed suicide already. We do not talk about these things because she often just wants to cry and feels attacked if I bring anything up, and I strive to avoid confrontations with anybody. How can I make things work, at least until I leave for college in a couple of years?
Thanks!

My Mom Has Been Depressed and I Feel Guilty

Answered by on -

A.

Thank you for reaching out. I understand what you are saying and I am sorry that you have to deal with a depressed and emotionally harmful mother. Her saying she is waiting until you turn 18 to kill herself means that she isn’t making good judgements about your needs — and is trapped in the whirlpool of her depression. I would highly recommend you contact the family therapist and individual therapist on your own. Let them know that your mother’s threat makes your situation unbearable. I would also contact the child protective services in your state. They often have resources to help. You do not need to manage your mother’s depression all on your own.

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

My Mom Has Been Depressed and I Feel Guilty

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: http://www.dare2behappy.com/. He also writes for Psych Central's Ask the Therapist column and the Proof Positive blog.

APA Reference
Tomasulo, D. (2018). My Mom Has Been Depressed and I Feel Guilty. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 26, 2019, from https://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2016/05/24/my-mom-has-been-depressed-and-i-feel-guilty/
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 May 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018
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