DEAR AMY: I am 40 and have dealt with depression my whole life. Depression runs in my family (father’s side). My father is an alcoholic. He was emotionally, verbally and physically abusive. He also sexually abused one of my sisters and another female family member. He and my mother are still married. I adore my mother, even though she has chosen to stay with him. So, being estranged from him means that I have very little contact with my mother, which is heartbreaking. I just know that after she passes I’m going to hate myself for not making more of an effort to keep in touch with her. I live in that gray world of depression. I hate myself. I have an internal mantra that is basically me telling myself how much I hate myself. The only shining spot in my life is my husband. I love him very much, and he returns that love to me. I am also somewhat dependent on alcohol. I don’t binge drink but I drink to be social, and also when I’m alone. It calls to me and I crave it. I have never seen a therapist or counselor. However, I have, in the past, been on antidepressants. I stopped taking them because I really didn’t think they helped (we tried several different medicines). I haven’t been on antidepressants for more than 10 years. My insurance covers 12 visits a year to a therapist. Would that be worth it? Would 12 visits a year really help me?
DEAR IN PAIN: Medications have changed in the past 10 years. Please revisit this as a way to medically manage your depression, which could make it easier to deal with your other significant and important issues.
Therapy is worth it. Your therapist can help you breach the gap between appointments by giving you reading materials and exercises to re-program that tape in your head. A therapist can also suggest nonmedical ways for you to cope with your depression. You are obviously extremely self-aware. A therapist can help you to use your self-awareness to gain more insight into ways to feel better.
I would highly recommend you attend a group for Adult Children of Alcoholics (adultchildren.org). Finding fellowship with others who have faced similar childhood challenges could help.
I hope you understand that your father’s depression and drinking have influenced your depression and drinking. Alcohol is a depressant. Your self-medication is actually making your depression worse.
You can wrestle with this beast and I want to encourage you to get professional help right away. You won’t feel instantly better, and you may continue to struggle with this, but therapy will help.
DEAR AMY: My neighbor just buried her second husband. The second husband was about two weeks’ gone and my neighbor didn’t know I was in the garage listening to her try to pick up my hubby as he was around the other side of the building. I told him what she was doing. Not that I’ve ever talked to this woman, but how does one stay comfortable as a neighbor after that?
Perplexed in Canada
DEAR PERPLEXED: Perhaps if you bothered to speak to this woman, expressing your condolences and getting to know her, you wouldn’t feel threatened when she speaks to your husband in the driveway.
In addition to you just deciding to be a decent person, the closer you are to your neighbor, the less likely she would be to try to snag your husband to be her Husband Number Three.
DEAR AMY: I had to write to thank you for your response to “Concerned Grandma,” who was worried that her granddaughters had not been notified that their birth was the result of egg donation. Thank you for stating that the twins’ “real mother” is the mother who is raising, loving and taking care of them. I am a grown adoptee, and many times during my early life people asked me, “Don’t you want to find your ‘real mom’?” I replied with the same answer you gave the Concerned Grandma. However, 12 years ago, when I was 56, I needed to locate my birth mother to discover my health history. After an on-again/off-again relationship, I am still convinced that my real mother is the woman who raised me, and sadly died when I was only 15.
Libby J. Atwater
DEAR LIBBY: I get a little riled when people refer to biological family as somehow more “real” than the family that raises you. All the same, these girls should be told the truth about their conception.