1. Charlie

    Charlie Registered User

    Apr 1, 2003
    Looking for a little help here regarding depression. I've seen so many messages about depression and how carers cope with depression, so thanks so much to those that post their experiences. My mum, a long term carer for my dad has been very depressed for a long time and is almost going through a bereavement process. Dad has been in a care home for a year and a half. The depression hit her the moment he went in, but she was in denial for that first year, dealing with it all her own way as she always does.

    Her GP diagnosed antidepressants a few months ago, but this is not really the answer as there are so many deep routed issues to deal with. Unfortunately some GPs hand out tablets too readily as it is obviously cheaper than the cost of therapy. My mother does not deserve to be so deeply unhappy in the last years of her life and although we are close and discuss dad a lot, she is becoming more and more detached from the situation and blocking more and more out. I'm worried that this is an unhealthy way of dealing with the situation. Basically, I'm out of my depth and not sure where to go from here.

    Would counseling help at this stage? or am I just living in dreamland thinking this is something mum will ever be able to deal with. After all, things are not going to get any better for her. What kind of counseling help is suitable and is it really helpful. Or should we just continue to ride the storm and just give her all the love and support we can. I should also add that mum is not a ‘sit on the couch and listen to someone being touchy and feely’ type of lady. So finding the right sort of help is going to be a challenge in itself.

    Sorry to post a difficult subject, but just getting nervous that this is something that needs addressing sooner than later and pills just aren’t enough.

  2. Skye

    Skye Registered User

    Aug 29, 2006
    SW Scotland
    Hi Charlie

    First of all, don't apologise. All problems are equally difficult, and equally desrving of support.

    Your mum is lucky to have you to care for her. You are right, she is going through a kind of bereavement process. We carers, and I'm including you, go through a bereavement that lasts for years as little bits of personality are gradually eroded.

    You're also right that she needs help. Counselling might well help. Her GP might be able to refer her to a counsellor who would give her some ideas on how to cultivate some new interests.

    Alternatively, she could contact one of the voluntary organisation. Their counsellors are trained to handle specific problems, without pushing her to do anything she doesn't want.

    Samaritans will talk to her at any time, night or day. They're not just for the suicidal, and would give her so much support.

    Cruse is also worth thinking about. Although your mum is not technically bereaved, I'm sure that would be prepared to support her in her present situation.

    Apart from that, you could encourage her to pursue any interests she has. Anything to get her out of the house, and to have people to talk to. Most churches have afternoon clubs she could join, she wouldn't have to be a member of the church.

    You are a good son, to try to help your mother, and I'm sure you'll find some solution. Other members will have other ideas.

    Let us know how you get on.

  3. Brucie

    Brucie Registered User

    Jan 31, 2004
    near London
    Hi Charlie

    I can only approach this from my own perspective, having been through many years of a depression born of seeing Jan in such a bad way.

    GP wanted me to have medication, or psychiatric help.

    I said no to both. On the grounds that my depression was not something that required investigation as I could say precisely why it was there.

    I told him I needed to come to terms with what has happened and that in my case I needed to do that, in my own time. I found my own ways to divert myself, and that is my solution.

    ...and I have, sort of come to terms, until the next dip Jan has, or the next obstacle that appears.

    Main thing is that I have learned to identify it, and live with it.

    Now, to your mum. She is probably not in a situation where she can do that. she is probably not with your dad, and she will have problems of her own.

    I'd be trying a diversion for her, and one that brings her position as a parent into focus. This may all sound crazy, but in effect, it is the loss of the past that affects us all in this. The loss of a spouse, a parent, a sibling, a friend - yet not the loss, because it is dementia.

    I would use the past and maybe say to her that you - and perhaps your child/ren - would love to know her past. What school was like, etc. Draw out the past - it is fascinating stuff anyway, and so easily lost to the younger generations.

    It may not work for you, but mums are mums and generally wish to help their children - no matter what age. Might she be willing to come out of her shell to tell her memories - perhaps of you, as a child?

    A Brucie story, totally unrelated.

    Before I moved home last year, I was involved in a project in my village to stage an exhibition of its past in pictures.

    We realised that there were some older people in the village who could still tell their experiences, so I recorded a few interviews with them.

    One old lady of 97 was amazed that we should be interested, but darn me, she spoke for 20 minutes without prompting or repetition. Part of it was a long poem from her school days, recited word for word, with no hesitation.

    She enjoyed it, we enjoyed it, and the village as a whole did too.

    Last week she passed away, unexpectedly. We still have her memories, in her own words, and she felt at the time that we were really interested - as we were.

    Maybe this is not unrelated.

    I so wish I had done the same for my grandmother, and my mum. I'd give anything to be able to do so now.

    ... and I wish I'd recorded Jan's voice too. I can't remember what it sounded like, and she has now dropped a couple of octaves and comes out in grunts.

    So perhaps try to kill two birds with a single stone. Try to distract mum, and at the same time learn things you may not ever be able to find out again.

    .. just my thoughts, over a rum and pineapple/coconut
  4. Tender Face

    Tender Face Account Closed

    Mar 14, 2006
    NW England
    A word of caution?

    Charlie admire you for your concern and think you may well have picked up yourself that your mum’s ‘depression’ is simply (?!) part of the ‘cycle of grief’ that loss and bereavement brings …. as such it could be (much as Brucie has said) reactive depression …. there is a definite cause or trigger …. and there are periods of denial - as part of our natural defences /coping mechanisms….

    However, your reference to ‘deep rooted’ issues makes me concerned for your mum that this is not simply reactive to the current circumstances you all sadly find yourself in ….

    I’ll disclose this if it helps. … many years ago I was diagnosed with an ‘episode’ of endogenous depression (i.e. no apparent specific trigger - I‘d argue against that now - there were many - just no-one would recognise them or I wouldn’t admit them but that‘s another story!) ….. In the last 20 or so years I have learnt to recognise that triggers do arise which threaten to spiral me down the dark hole …. so the reactive kicks in too quickly …. what I have to admit about myself is that there is some weakness there - rather like someone having a weakened immune system to guard against infections - someone not prone to depressive weakness would simply catch a cold - I get the ‘flu!

    I’ve ‘put myself through’ a lot of counselling to fight against depressive tendencies, understand my ‘triggers’ and my ’past’ …. and I can vouch - it’s hard …. there is a sense of actually having to be strong in some ironic way to deal with the counselling process itself …. or certainly needed a whole load of support …

    So (and now to add the word of caution about Brucie’s advice - which may well be right for your mum but wouldn’t be right for mine) when I have recognised my mum’s depressive tendencies over the years and have at times thought to encourage her to seek counselling I know that she is not and has never been strong enough to see that process through, nor I strong enough to support her… in fact, the kindest thing to do has been to allow her the denial and not to make her face the issues which I know trigger her depression and anxiety but to ‘nurse her’ thru those times it hits ……

    If I were to ask my mother to open up more about her past, would be for me to emotionally crucify her.

    Sometimes, things are best left (or simply 'managed').

    Just my experience and thoughts, if it helps.

    Love, Karen, x
  5. connie

    connie Registered User

    Mar 7, 2004
    Charlie, wish I could help. I have been through depression, both when I lost my husband, and now caring for Lionel. It is such an indivual thing, and I do believe it can be handled a tad easier by someone younger.

    Bruce's idea seems good. Something to really involve her, and make her feel useful again. I know how hard the feeling of being helpless can be.

    Please let us know how you get on. As Norman says : Day by day.
  6. Whiskas

    Whiskas Registered User

    Oct 17, 2006
    Hi Charlie I started caring for my parents(both with dementia )6 years ago when they came to live with me. Dad died 18 months ago and I'm Mum's fulltime carer now. I gave up work about 2 1/2 years ago because I couldn't handle caring and depression and an outside job. Depression was diagnosed 5 years ago. I was prescribed anti depressants and counselling. Counselling was the best thing I ever did. I didn't talk very much before I saw my counsellor and I wasn't sure if I would be able to talk to her but I did. I was lucky and found the right person first time and I have no doubt she contributed greatly to the fact that I'm still here, still struggling but still here. Obviously I can only talk from my own experience, I know some people who haven't been as lucky. I am actually going to see a new counsellor on Thursday as my GP wouldn't fund any more sessions and quite frankly I'm scared but I'm also scared of ending up in my black hole so it's worth a try.

    What I'm trying to say after all this rambling Charlie is that counselling may help your Mum. Family and friends are fine but sometimes you need someone who wont judge, wont get upset and will just give you time. My counsellor didn't tell me what to do she helped me decide for myself what was best for me and supported me all the way.

    Hope things work out for your Mum.

    Love Cathy
  7. Margarita

    Margarita Registered User

    Feb 17, 2006
    #7 Margarita, Mar 6, 2007
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2007
    I have for the last 27 yeras ( if truth be told ) straggled with depression I became a fitness Freak at the gym , aerobics, swimming to use my own endorphins to give me a natural high and hold back the depression while I was bring up my children yes I recognize , where it all began , but I am finding it harder , harder to cope as I can not get out to the gym so much .

    I’ve tried change the thought , change the feeling challenging my energy in to something positive , I ‘ve done all that and all I have done is drink more alcohol in the last 5 years and am going to give myself a drink problem , that I would not feel normal without a glass of wine a day and then its never one but two three , if I was a drinker before my father died and my mother got AZ . I would of not none any different in how I am feeling now. I don’t feel it’s a weakness in me taking anti depression or being depress none do I feel it admitting defeat . I am depress and I am still a strong person . I don't know that's how I see it anyway , We are all different in our perception of things :)

    The only way I want my grown up children to help me if they where, are worried that I am depress is and don't ike me taking medication is be normal , there normal happy self , hugs kisses , going for walk with them , help me with the shopping , help me with the cleaning , tell me what being going on with they friends , they life, what plans they have for the furture , don’t sit there and get depress themselves seeing me depress , undertand where I am comeing from .

    For me I know its all going to pass and mum going to die one day , the anti depression tablet our just making the pain full over welling emotion of tears that I am fed up of having more easily to control easing me forward , better then alcohol can .
  8. Lila13

    Lila13 Registered User

    Feb 24, 2006
    I wish my mother had had counselling for her depression long ago. Not that there's ever any guarantee that it would help.
  9. daughter

    daughter Registered User

    Mar 16, 2005
    Hi Charlie,
    Hazel, I agree, although my Mum did not really have many outside interests, most of her time was spent with Dad and the family. One thing I found was that I started to feel personally responsible for my Mum being happy and found it quite hard to allow her to feel really miserable sometimes, partly because of my own discomfort.
    Yes Bruce! As my Mum starting looking back at her own childhood memories, it was also a natural progression for her to start remembering, and talking about, the old times with my Dad and I think this all helped her to come to terms with his dementia/not loss/loss.

    Another spin off was that it helped me too because I found it all fascinating and something to pass onto the next generations. It may not be for everyone, as Karen points out, but perhaps it could help your Mum a little.

    Love, Hazel.
  10. Grannie G

    Grannie G Volunteer Moderator

    Apr 3, 2006
    Hi Charlie, I`m sorry you are so worried about your mother.

    Sometimes people can be helped but sometimes they can`t. That is stating the obvious I know, but first you need to want to be helped and secondly, believe there is help out there for you.

    Would it help if you went to see her GP. The GP will discuss your mother with you, without breaching confidentiality, as you are her next of kin. You might be able to find out what help is available and how the GP sees your mother`s condition.

    Please let us know how you get on. We are all at differing levels of anxiety and depression here and any information would be helpful.
  11. Charlie

    Charlie Registered User

    Apr 1, 2003
    Thanks everyone!

    I've read all your answer right through, and now I'm going to print them off and read them again, just to digest it all. Sorry you have all been through so much, but thanks for sharing. It is great to get such a plethora of advice in once place. I know there is not a simple answer to this issue, but little snippets from each from each of you ring true and will hopefully help me approach this in the right way.

    It is difficult to be objective when you are involved so deeply yourself, so that is why outside help seemed to make sense. But on the other hand, getting the right help is not easy and that is why it is always tempting to deal with these things yourself. It is the detachment from the situation and the past that actually worries me most and this subject is almost impossible to broach without causing upset. My concern is that other distractions could make things worse. As you can tell, out of my depth.

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