I think Mom is depressed

A letter writer just wants her mom to get better.

Can our elder help her to ask for the support she needs?

Dear EWC

Hello. I’m a sophomore in high school, and I have begun to realize that my mom possibly has depression. She’s a single mom raising two kids, me and my older brother. My brother is already in college. My dad has a job as a CTO for a successful power company so he is more than able to provide the funds for education for the both of us. He’s mostly in Italy but I visit him on average every two weeks. Anyways, back to my mom. She works a 9-5 job and that stresses her. However, she has quit many jobs before her current one. I ask her why and she says, “It’s too stressful” or “My boss is crazy”. When I need her help with something she usually says “I’m too sick”. If she does do it, she says, “Be glad I’m doing this since I don’t feel well”. I’m sharp enough to know that 99 percent of the time she says she’s sick, it’s a lie.

We have been living on takeout for weeks, and our house is a mess. I try to help out but there’s only so little I can do. I genuinely want my mom to get better. She is one of the three only people I am real with and it pains me to see her in this state. I have addressed her about what I think, and she simply says, “A lot of single moms are like this” but I know it’s more than that. I would really appreciate advice from someone mature, since all of my friends are in high school as well and probably can’t give me any wise advice. Thank you.

OmaSue replies

I’m so glad that you have written to us. You have described some serious problems in your home life. But I believe there may be things that might help. Let’s break these issues down:

1. Your mom’s emotional state: this is not your responsibility.  This being said, you feel very close to your mom and she is one of only a few people that you feel safe with and trust fully. I can see that you love her very much and are concerned for her welfare. Here is some information regarding depression and possible resources:

It appears your mom is denying her emotional state by claiming that a lot of single moms are this way. This is simply not the case. It seems that she is in need of help. The best thing other than being loving and honest with her, is for you to take care of yourself.

2. Your mom’s mental and emotional state affect your living situation: you state that you are eating takeout food and that your house is a mess. It also seems that your mom is at least emotionally not available and attempts to make you feel badly for asking for help. You are a student and your mom is the parent. These problems must be addressed immediately. Again, I encourage you to seek counseling support. I would also like for you to discuss this with a trusted teacher at school. 

Is your dad aware of how things are at home? Would he be able to provide counseling for you? This may be a very sensitive area seeing that your folks are divorced. It may be worthwhile having an honest conversation with him. 

As much as we love our parents, your first responsibility is to yourself. I recommend that you gently and lovingly discuss with your mom your concerns regarding her emotional state. Lovingly relate the fact that living in a mess and eating take out are not indicators of a healthy life.  Let her know that you will be seeking counseling support for yourself and that you hope she does the same for herself.

None of this is your fault. You will get through this and you will know in your heart that you have lovingly tried to help your mom. You are facing issues that will make you a very mature young person. Additionally, you are demonstrating a high degree of empathy for your mom. This ability is incredibly important and perhaps an indicator of future career possibilities. 

Don’t wait one moment longer. Talk to a school counselor, your mom and possibly your dad. You are a special person! I’m wishing you all the best!

Letter #: 430132
Category: Family

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