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My Mother Is So Depressed and Doesn’t Want Help

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From Greece: I’m an only child living with his mom. My mother has had a very harsh time. Mostly a bad husband who wasted 30 years of her life in verbal fights. My parents are divorced now, so since my father literally tossed us out, my grandmother is taking care of us, as my mother always took care of the household and no one hires her in her 50s.

Today she has put on too much weight, she never goes anywhere without car, she goes out (though very rarely she does) with my grandma and no one else, and she avoids seeing other people as much as possible, making me say cheap excuses as to why she won’t be at home. She barely sleeps 1 or 2 hours at night. I am totally devastated by the way my mother is ruining herself.

She has been through a lot of course, not just my father (who was a psychological nightmare during all our lives), breast cancer (almost sure created by the anxiety my father caused all the time) and psoriasis. I am glad she survived through cancer, but she is so not caring for herself. She eats cookies and chips almost every night, and the only thing she cares about is buying food from the super market. Also, she behaves in a way my father used to. If provoked a bit more, she starts shouting angrily, and she always says that she answers to no one, and no one will tell her what to do, as if we remind her of my father,

when my grandma and I tell her to stop eating at night, etc. She gets angry SO easily. She has closed herself inside the house and all she does is household stuff, cooking, eating and watching silly stuff and news on facebook.

I feel like dying every day I see her decline like this. She has promised me several times that she will start taking care of herself, but somehow my father always comes forth and she forgets every promise, going back into her vicious circle she calls life. I have asked her to visit a psychologist, but always says she won’t give money to crazy people when she is fine. But she has told me sometimes how useless she feels but that’s all.

I’m writing details to justify, but I’ve been incapable of helping her…I need some advice…

My Mother Is So Depressed and Doesn’t Want Help

Answered by on -

A.

This kind of situation is terribly difficult. However concerned you are, you can’t “make” your mother take care of herself. Although I can’t offer a diagnosis on the basis of a letter, it is probable that you are correct, that she is depressed.

What saddens me most is that she is letting her former husband “win”. She may think she is making him feel bad by behaving in this way, but she is incorrect. From what you shared in your letter, he probably doesn’t care.

There is a famous quote by a British poet named George Herbert. He said “Living well is the best revenge.” The way to recovery for your mom is to reclaim her self-esteem and to show her ex that she is fine. She can do that by taking care of herself, by finding something to do that gives her life meaning, and by generally moving forward in her life.

Even if your mother refuses to see a counselor, I encourage you to do so. You are a sensitive and loving son. You would probably benefit from getting some practical advice from someone who can hear more of the details as well as some on-going support in this difficult time.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

My Mother Is So Depressed and Doesn’t Want Help

Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

Dr. Marie is licensed as both a psychologist and marriage and family counselor. She specializes in couples and family therapy and parent education. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2018). My Mother Is So Depressed and Doesn’t Want Help. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 19, 2019, from https://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2016/06/10/my-mother-is-so-depressed-and-doesnt-want-help/
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 May 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018
Published on Psych Central.com. All rights reserved.