Mental Health Matters

Dear Patricia Marie, 

My husband has always been unsympathetic of the depression I have struggled with for years, which makes me feel tired and miserable. I don’t tell him how bad I have been feeling for fear of being mocked for my illness, which is causing us to become increasingly distant. My sister and brother have also been so unhelpful and my mother positively cruel. It came to a head last week when my mother said I was just like my dad, who died 30 years ago when I was 10. I always thought he'd had an accident, but from what she'd said, my beloved dad killed himself and she thinks I'm bound to do the same and would be stupid if I did. I don’t feel I have a family anymore. 

 Patricia Marie says...

Depression can be so draining. It's not just about sadness, but about feeling helpless, isolated, and having little, if any energy. It can run in families but whether that's genetic or because of shared experiences, experts can't be sure. Your father's tragic death and your family's negative attitude may well be linked to you feeling as bad as you do. I urge you to open up to your husband and let him know how his lack of compassion and understanding is seriously affecting your mental health, and that you deserve more from him. Keeping significant feelings to one’s self can cause huge resentment and may have serious consequences for any faltering relationship.

Friends and family support is crucial for the recovery and well-being of those suffering with the brutal illness of depression. Indeed, loneliness can make the sufferer more vulnerable. It seems to me that your mother's anger and lack of understanding demonstrates she hasn't fully been able to come to terms with the death of your father. It may not be easy, but you could try suggesting she gets some professional help, which would assist her in understanding depression better so as she can relate to your needs. If your father did kill himself, that doesn't mean you will follow suit, nor that suicide thoughts are stupid - certainly, they aren't uncommon in depression. What is a lot more silly and disappointing is your family's unhelpful behaviour. 

Contact mental health charity, Mind, for its excellent information and help in finding good support. This organisation can give you details of their group therapy sessions, where meeting other fellow sufferers may prove extremely helpful to you in feeling better understood. 

Mind (0300 123 3393)

Patricia Marie, our Agony Aunt, wants to hear your problems, dilemmas, and quarrels. Just email them to