Anyone else grow up with a depressed parent?

posted 6 years ago in Family
Post # 3
8041 posts
Bumble Beekeeper
  • Wedding: December 2013

I think most of us have some issues we still are dealing with from our past. At least you’re aware of it and want to make a conscious effort to not repeat mistakes when you have kids.

No one is perfect and I think it’s good that you have a sort of understanding with your father now. I can imagine that especially the thing you read in the diary would haunt you, but I think you just need to put it out of your thoughts.

If you or your husband feel depressed for any length of time, it’s important to get help. Have you discussed this with your husband? Maybe some fears that you have of this happening to you as a couple?

I can’t say I grew up with a parent who had clinical depression or anything diagnosed, but my mom had a rough life, and an even tougher time when my father left. So I guess situational depression. She didn’t dwell on it, though… she basically sucked it up for my sister and I. Obviously we could tell she wasn’t exactly happy, though.

I think happiness is a weird concept… I don’t think it’s normal to be happy all the time, but in general I think we have a lot of control over our own happiness. I’m quite an anxious person so sometimes it’s hard. I guess I just try to focus on happy things and forget the crap from my past.

Post # 4
2178 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: November 2012

Yes.  My mother was hospitalized for bipolar disorder twice in my childhood.   Depression and anxiety is also very common on my maternal side.  My parents did a really good job of being honest with us and educating my sister and I about what was going on.  While I certainly was affected by some of my mom’s outbursts, I can’t say that I was deeply affected other than having a sense that I never want to experience the awful things my mother felt and went through as a result of her illness.

As for not falling into the same situation, it was always really important for me to learn as much as I could about mood disorders so I could recognize any issues in my self.  This eventually spilled over into my career– I have a degree in psychology and one in counseling.  

Everyone goes through moods and hard times.  I had a very rough period in college where I was so frustrated with not having a definitive path.  I had a few panic attacks and sought out help immediately.  I think had I not had the past experiences of my childhood, I might not have been so willing to seek treatment.

In my adult life, I am hypersensitive to my emotions and the emotions of those around me.  I try to be extremely aware of what’s going on mentally inside me so that I can ask for help when needed.  Education and openness really are the keys, IMO.

Post # 5
230 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: February 2012

Depression is a very tough subject to deal with.  I was diagnosed with depression 7 and a half years ago, and my mother was diagnosed in 2003.  My mom was never depressed when I was growing up; however, she became depressed when I left for college. 

In January of this year, my mom committed suicide, and I can’t help but think that me, my father and my brother had something to do with the decision she made to end her life.  You can read my story here:

I too do not understand the concept of therapy.  I truly do not understand how speaking to someone who has no idea what I’ve been through is going to help.  But certainly, that is one of the suggestions I have heard so many times in the last 9 months. 

Dealing with depression, whether it is you or a family member, is very difficult.  I would suggest trying to talk to your mom more about it (I know she shuts down, but someday, she will surely want to talk about this with you).  My father was never a very open person until my mom took her life.

Post # 7
2905 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: June 2013

I grew up with a depressed parent, and I know how difficult it can be at times. I don’t want to proselytize about therapy too much, but to offer a different perspective – I think therapy with a really good therapist can make incredible changes. A good therapist can help you see negative patterns in your behavior, help you find ways to change things that you don’t like and help you to draw connections between things in your past experiences and those that affect you in your present. A good therapist can be tough to find, but I’ve seen them make incredible changes for the better in the lives of my friends as well as myself. I know it can sound like it’s just lying on a couch complaining about your childhood, but therapy can be so much more than that! 

Anyway, for what it’s worth, you are definitely not alone. I also think being aware of your family’s history of depression is the first step in breaking the cycle, so you are already ahead of the game. 

Post # 8
2178 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: November 2012

@jellybeangreen246:  @StormCloud:  Talking to a stranger is oddly… lightening.  You don’t know what they have and haven’t been through, but they are trained to help work through situations like yours.  

It is liberating to sit down and let it all out to someone who has no preconceived notions about you, your lifestyle, upbringing, etc.  They are often able to see us at our most clear– without any filter or expectation.

As with most things in life, I say try it.  The worst thing that can happen is that you don’t like it and you never go back.  At least you gave it a shot!  Good luck.

Post # 10
1730 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: May 2016

Bipolar mom, manic depressed dad, both had at least one ‘confirmed’ suicide attempt, each, before I was 14.

the both fit the profile of Borderline Personality Disorder, with dad on the line to being full sociopath.  I was isolated by distance from any family as we live several states away from any (Army moving), and from having friends or neighbors over because of my parents disorders.  No Full siblings, and none I met before I was 15.

it was interesting to say the least, and at 39 I’ve learned its best to talk openly about it.  Hiding it just means others will live in sad silence, too.

i cant do real face to face therapy, but found a lot of solace at  It’s a lot like here. Posting when and what you want,meeting feedback from others who have been in similar shoes.  I find it more helpful than the times I tried face to face therapy.

Post # 11
1657 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: April 2017

As somebody with clinical depression, you’ve probably heard this a million times, but I feel the need to make it clear that you and your family would NOT make your father suicidal. You were not to blame for his depression.

My mum had postnatal depression with me, which obviously I didn’t experience from memory, but that and her general level of anxiety contributed to making her a highly anxious parent when I was young – which has been hinted at by various therapists I’ve seen as a contributing factor in my own mental illness (depression, anxiety and OCD). I don’t blame her in any way though – mental illness runs deep in my mum’s family and when it comes to mental illness I tend to believe in nature, not nurture. I’m the only one in my family with OCD but there are several of us with anxiety disorders and depression, and I’ve lost two cousins to suicide.

I really do think talking openly is a good idea – with a therapist, with friends, your spouse, whomever. 

Post # 12
936 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: May 2016

I grew up with my mom depressed my entire life. I never witnessed it until I was about 12 or 13 yrs old because it’d mainly been under control with medication/therapy.

Here’s a timeline of what I’ve been told/know and what I can remember as of age 12_+

birth-6 months: I think my birth spurred my mom’s post partum. At about age 6 months old my mom went in hospital for depression and/or stayed w/ my grandparents/her parents 8 hrs away. I stayed with a family friend for 6 weeks. I’m youngest of 5…two other siblings who were 4 years old stayed with other family friend. My oldest brothers were 10 and 11 yrs old and stayed with my dad and were in day camp

Think she was in hospital inpatient mental including a specific “crazy” severe mental health only hospital at one point….

age 7 years old – family did group therapy but I was young so I just played with dollshouse during their weekly session

age 10-13: mom has numerous health problems such as ovarian cancer (size of volleyball, surivived) as well as gall bladder, pancreas, etc and out of hospital

age 13 – mom spurs into depression. I recall my sister who was 17 years old coming and finding me out playing with friends and telling me I needed to stay home with my mom becaue she wanted to kill herself. I didn’t get it and didn’t go…..That summer she was in hospital mental health floor. Dr suggested electric shock therapy. We as a family had to agree on it and we did…so she had it but lost some good memories

Age 14-21 in and out of hospital for depressions, taking too many pills for various medical/health conditions. At age 19 I had an embarrassing moment where I had a new boyfriend over and my mom was literally off the wall..very scary.

She had various suidice attempts over the years…..She died when I was 21 due to respiratory illness. She had so many illnesses I can’t even keep track….

Somehow I have not spiraled into this….when I was 16 my mom took me to a pyschiatrist because we did not get along (what teen and their mom don’t have their moments?). He wanted to put me on medication and I refused. I didn’t see need and looking back I saw my mom on medicine after medicine and they stopped working or it took 6-8 weeks to figure out not right medicine….

After she died I went to counselor at my univesrity (she died my senior year of college) but the stigma of it kept me from going back…..Until I dated a terrible guy and was so stressed with work and family/sister about 8 years ago. I’ve been going to this guy conselor off and on as needed and it helps to have someone to talk to. First guy I’ve spoke to as a counselor and I think I like a man’s perspective vs a woman older sister has spiraled into my mom but much, much worse. She has had depressions since she was 16 or 17 and has had her momemnts but medication and therapy helped her. After her 1st child, she spiraled down, then almost 2 years later had a terrible divorce. She now has a terrible health issue which affects depressions. She’s addicted to pills. Has had a few suicie attempts incluing one w/ her 3 month old son….so that was an ordeal with DCFS. She was/is driinking but basically refuses help. She wants to talk/cry about it but won’t make motions to get better saying thigngs don’t work/she doesn’t have money (remarried but they’re terrible with money. She and him have always been bad with it, even before they knew each other).

Anyway, if you need help, don’t put it off. Talk with someone, it might take a few tries to find the right person. But it’s helped me as well as exercise. I try not to take any medicine as I see the effects of it on my sister and what happened to my mom (as well as my brother also having some pain pill addictions). It clearly runs in the family so I do my best to take proactive steps to be cautious and take measures that equivalent as medicine (i.e. exercise, eating/avoiding certain foods, having someone to talk to).

Anyway, sorry so long but that’s my dealing with depression…it’s very hard. Our whole family, especially my dad struggle with my sister. He has already been through it with my mom and he’s older. He was her caretaker while working, raising kids and worked 2.5 hours away for 10 years. 

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