My dad has had depression issues since I was a teenager. My memories of my 16th birthday and the milestones that come with it are clouded with thoughts of my dad staying in the bedroom with the shades drawn. It was a tough time for him and it was a tough time for all of us.
Fast forward 10 years to the first time I saw a doctor about my own issues and my first venture into antidepressants. The things I’ve learned in the 10 years since then is that my dad and my depression issues are very similar. We get depressed, but there’s also a layer of anxiety. We also can have mood swings. We both have been on Zoloft at various times (I’m on it now and he’s been on it in the past), and neither of us have found talk therapy works for us.
When I am having trouble with my depression, he’s the one I want to talk to because he gets it. He understand how I’m feeling because he’s been there.
The roles, though, have been switched recently for us. My dad had his doctor change his medication back to Zoloft, which he has taken in the past. It set off a chain of events, though, that led to him going back on his original medication this week. The Zoloft wasn’t working for him this time around. He’ll be fine, but it’s a matter of time waiting for things to settle for him.
It was my turn to be the one to listen for my dad. He’s not going to call me. He never has and never will. In fact, when he does call me, I will worry that there’s something wrong because it’s unusual. So I try to call him and to see how he’s doing because I know he wants to hear from me. Plus it’s important for him to talk to me (he will tell you as much). I also know when I feel like he does I want someone to just say “how are you doing?”
Plus I know it gives my mom a break for a moment. She’s the one who is there all the time, and I know she gets worried. I also know it can be stressful for her. Dad doesn’t like to be alone when he gets depressed, so it means she needs to stick around more. And he can act like a needy teenager at times when he gets down.
Lots of families have to go through what mine is going through. We may be the one who is depressed and struggles to find clarity and balance. Or we can be the family member who tries to support the loved one who is struggling. Both can be tough, and it can be even tougher when you are on both sides of it.