General

Suffering in silence isn’t always your own depression

I’ve written here a number of times how depression runs in my family, proving to me that it can be a genetic issue. My dad has been suffering from depression since I was 16 years old, and many of my issues are similar to his. I’ve had issues for 10 years. My sister has her own issues, and so does my mom. We’re all on a rainbow of anti-depressants.

Of all of us, my father’s depression and anxiety issues are probably the worst, and I reported a few months ago how he’s been struggling.

But I’ve kept silent since then, and it’s not because Dad’s problems have cleared up and gone away. That’s far from what’s happened, and he’s still trying to get right. And it hasn’t been an easy road for him or any of the rest of us.

It’s been a roller coaster of a ride watching Dad, listening to my mom deal with it every day and trying to resolve with myself that I’m too far away to help as much as I’d like. Dad’s been extremely manic, and at one point he was taking medication that made him the worst we’ve seen him. He’s afraid to leave the house, and everything strikes fear into him and causes anxiety. Going to see his sister can cause anxiety. My sister having a headache worries him. The weather will bug him.

We get frustrated and yell at him to stop it at times. I’ve had panic attacks when he’s been at his worst, and so has my mom. We think my sister’s recent headaches have been from the stress. Mom and I have shared cries together at times.

And this is the first I’ve spoken or written about what’s happening openly. A group of my closest friends know what’s been happening, and they have been a great source of strength for me. But, for the most part, I say nothing except that my dad’s sick. Of course then I have to explain it’s not cancer or a disease that will kill him in his sleep, but I try to keep the details to myself.

I promised myself a long while ago I wouldn’t suffer with my own depression in silence any more. Suffering in silence can make things worse for yourself, but it’s also an opportunity for me to educate other people that mental illness doesn’t mean someone’s “crazy” and clear up a whole lot of misconceptions.

But when it’s someone else, I don’t feel it’s right for me to talk about their issues. I’ve always kept other people’s mental health status and issues to myself because they may not be as comfortable as me. That’s how I feel about what’s happening with my dad.

Unlike those other people who come to just talk, Dad’s situation is affecting me closer to my heart and my brain. I’m again suffering in silence, though it’s not my own illness that’s causing it.

The good news is that my dad is getting better, though it’s slowly and he doesn’t see it for himself often. His doctor is watching him closely and has seen great improvement. It’s just a matter of my dad accepting that he is indeed getting better — something we all remind him is happening every day.

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About Jen

Jen is a social media producer and a local journalist at heart. When not trying to take over the journalism world she writes, takes lots of photos and roots on her beloved New York Rangers and Mets.

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