Hax: Finding help for depressed mom

The Washington PostJanuary 23, 2014 

Hi, Carolyn: Over the past four years, I’ve watched my mom turn into someone I barely know. She’s always been a bit sensitive and emotional, and depression runs in our family. I treated my own depression with therapy and antidepressants in my 20s, so I know how valuable those two tools can be to help you deal.

My mom has become SO sensitive that you can barely talk to her — if you say one thing she doesn’t like, she goes into a major passive-aggressive snit or cries hysterically.

My dad, brother and I feel like we have to tiptoe around her, but if we bring up our concerns for her well-being, she says we blame her for everything and refuses to talk to us. It’s greatly affected our relationship. Where we were once really close, our conversations are now mostly superficial. She is just so angry and unhappy.

I’ve tried to talk to her about getting help, I’ve offered to research therapists for her, but she won’t budge. It’s affecting her marriage and her relationship with her children, and I don’t know what else to do. It makes me unbearably sad to think about how close we used to be, but I have to keep boundaries up now for my own sanity. Is there anything else I can do?

MISSING MY MOM

Talk to your dad, find out just how willing he is to take up the cause of getting her some help. Also try the NAMI Helpline, 1-800-950-NAMI. If you find it helpful, then you can not only apply their suggestions, but also urge your dad and brother to call.

The call to NAMI is about exploring possibilities and finding ways to help — including calls to doctors. The staff at NAMI will have experience at spotting common problems, will be able to hear the details of your mother’s age and behavior changes, and then will be able to suggest concrete approaches your family can take.

Just in general, the reason I suggest hotlines often is that they’re a step you can take that involves virtually no commitment — no money, little time, no obligation. Call. Learn something. Make that next step, whatever it is, with a little extra information from someone who very likely has dealt with your problem before.

Email tellme@washpost.com. Chat online at 10 a.m. Fridays at www.washingtonpost.com.

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