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Stuck in the middle of my parent's depression/marriage issues

Community Member

Hi all, never posted before so here goes.

Got a call from my mum last night in tears after a fight with my dad. She said he started off just asking about her day but eventually told her that she does nothing around the house, that she is morbidly obese, doesn't look after herself, that he is embarrassed by her weight, that she works too much, that he isn't happy with her anymore and that he feels like they've gotten really good at putting on a façade to hide the unhappiness. He apologised later but he still said it?

My mum is overweight/obese, she works crazy hours from home running her own business, so all that is correct. She suffers from depression but most of the time has it under control, unless you start talking about exercise and losing weight. I moved out of home with my boyfriend 10 months ago and she took that really hard, which made me feel guilty. Her health is declining, she sometimes says she is sure she'll be dead by 65 (only 9 years away) because of hereditary heart conditions.

Dad is a shiftworker and suffers depression and anxiety. I often worry about whether he is okay when he goes for fishing trips for hours by himself. Don't think he has anyone to talk to. He is also overweight and not very active. He drinks too much.

I have depression myself and am really struggling with these issues between my parents. In a way, I'm glad I don't live at home at the moment but wish I could be there for my mum. I also feel uneasy about mum telling me about their fights because it makes me not want to talk to my dad. I know that money is a huge issue at the moment too. I feel like I am the counsellor and at the age of 22, I have no idea what to do.

They have both had Mental Health Care Plans in the past - should I make them go to the doctors and get another one? Marriage counselling too maybe? Willing to give up anything to help them pay for it.

In terms of being the person that mum turns to when her and dad have a fight - I am not coping. But I cant tell her not to tell me, it breaks my heart when I hear her sobbing over the phone.

I know for some, parents fighting may not be a big deal but I have always idolised my parents and their marriage and how they are best friends. Even my friends from broken homes look to my parents for support and admire their marriage, they've always been the perfect couple but depression and money are killing them.

Just need some advice, don't know what to do from here.

1 Reply 1

Community Champion
Community Champion

Hi Ash,

I am similar to you in idolising my parents. Heck, even my daughter (teen) a couple years ago said she felt a bit odd because we (parents) are still together when many of her friends are from broken homes. I digress. It might be worth while knowing that my dad is also on ADs, and has been for nearly 30 years. I have depression etc., but I also see a psychologist.

You said that you have depression in your post, do you speak with someone about it?

Do you also have any brothers or sisters who you might be able to talk to about your parents situation?

Anyway, here are some idea that you might be able to use...

  • there are some resources on the beyond blue website for support people or carers of people with depression that might be useful to you
  • I regularly speak with my parents or visit them. There are some things that I know not to tell them because it would make mum worry more than she needs to. How do I know this? She told me once that she didn't want to know certain details. So while your mum can give you a summary of what happened, getting all the details might not be helpful to you.
  • My dad went to hospital recently due to a fall. While in hospital they changed his medication (for the better) and spoke of getting professional help fotr his depression etc. Whether he does this or not I cannot be certain as there are other medical things to address at the moment. Before the fall however, he said that if he could not be happy, then better off dead. In the weeks prior to this, he was noticeably depressed, and I would subtly suggest talking to a professional. I also gave mum a copy of "the happiness trap" I owned as well. Mum would hear what dad said later in the day, and was then considering getting him help. She also installed "virtual hope box" onto his phone and tablet to use. This is an app my psychologist told me to get for myself in my first session.

So is it worthwhile you speaking honestly with your parents about how they are carrying on with each other, and the effect that it has on you. I would say "Yes". But it is also a conversation framed in care and compassion that you have for them.

(Run out of space *sigh*. Other things I could have said.) You are the being the person you can be by listening to your mum when she speaks with you. That is all you need to do. And when the time is right, you might have that other conversation?