Trying to shake off this depression

New here...I'm 54, married for 19 years to my second husband (first one left me for someone else 27 years ago). We have one child, a daughter, who is 18 and starting her freshman year of college in two weeks. She chose a local school and will be commuting.

My husband makes an excellent salary and I've been a successful private piano teacher for 15 years teaching at home. We're happily married and our daughter has a close, loving relationship with us. She excelled academically through her entire public school career and is getting a free ride to college this year on a merit-based scholarship thanks to her grades. We have money in the bank and no debt except for our mortgage, which will be paid off in five years. On the outside we're the "perfect" family but I've been battling a deep depression for the past three years that's getting worse despite therapy.

Here's a synopsis of the past three years:

12/31/14 -- My father 94-year-old father died. He had been my 88-year-old mother's caregiver right up to the day he had the stroke that put him in the hospital for the final 26 days of his life. Mom was in the early stages of late-onset Alzheimer's and couldn't get out of bed without assistance. But she was still fairly lucid and could feed herself and use the bathroom. My 65-year-old brother is on the high functioning end of the autism spectrum and can take care of himself but my parents never encouraged independence, and as a result he never left home, nor married or had kids. He never even had a girlfriend. He has social anxieties and is afraid to leave the house. He has no friends. He was suicidal at age 19 and has been on medication since then. He admirably took over the physical caregiving of our mother while I managed their finances.

5/1/15 -- My husband and I moved my mom and brother into senior housing three blocks away from our house while I attempted to sell my parents' house. Getting the house sold was a nightmare; there was asbestos in the basement that had to be removed and the oil tank that was never removed from the property when my dad converted to gas heat had to be removed as well. The tank had leaked and contaminated the soil...the soil had to be remediated and we had to wait six weeks for a letter from the state confirming that no further action was needed. Six stressful months culminated in the sale of the house. We closed on 10/26/15. I mourned the loss of my childhood home.

5/23/16 -- My mom's Alzheimer's had been rapidly progressing...she was hallucinating and becoming verbally abusive to my brother and me. Although he had his own apartment in the senior building, he stayed with my mom in her apartment in the same building. I hired a private aide to help him take care of her 40 hours a week during the day while my brother and I split nighttime caregiving duties. During an assisted trip to the bathroom my mom fell and broke her hip. She had hip replacement surgery and was transferred to a nursing home for two weeks of rehab following a five-day hospital stay. We were warned that the anesthesia from the surgery would accelerate Mom's dementia but she would return to baseline in about a month. She never returned to baseline and was admitted into home hospice care when she went home.

12/31/16 -- Mom died peacefully at home two years to the day after my father died. Her final six months, particularly her final weeks, were traumatic for all of us and one of the most painful things I ever had to witness.

Three years of stress and loss...then this past June, shortly after her 18th birthday and right before her high school graduation, our daughter got her first boyfriend. She'd been too focused on school to date but now she's in love. She's been working all summer and saving up for extra college expenses. Between work, her friends and her boyfriend we never see her anymore. She comes home to take showers and sleep. She and I have always been very close and spent a lot of time together. We're still close, but now that she's never home I miss her terribly. I know I have to let go and let her spread her wings and fly but I feel abandoned, left behind and lonely. My friends have all scattered; only two of them remain nearby and both of them are too busy with their own families to get together. We text each other every day but I haven't seen either of them since my mother's funeral nearly eight months ago. My husband works long hours and doesn't understand why I'm so upset about the lack of our daughter's physical presence. I feel a tremendous sense of loss and can't pull myself together. I can function but I've been doing an awful lot of crying alone and feel as if I'll never be happy again. My therapist has been great about assuring me that our daughter's behavior is normal and has nothing to do with me. She still loves us both but it's natural that she wants to spend more time with people her age and her new love. She'll always need us in some capacity...I haven't lost her. Some days I truly believe that; most days I don't.

Words of wisdom, anyone? Will this eventually pass?

4 Replies

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  • Yes. This will pass. It may take some time but there are things you can do to help recovery.

    First of all the death of both parents is hard. Made worse by the care arranging etc and diminishment of your mum. Naturally I sense your worry over your brother. Dealing with grief is hard and takes time. We all deal with it differently.

    The last three years have been hellish so no wonder you are depressed. It sounds entirely reactive to life and perfectly understandable.

    Now you are feeling lost and unbalanced due to your daughter growing up. Again perfectly normal response. You've spent 18 years totally focused on her care so it will be hard to readjust.

    You sound as if family is a good support although hubby not fully understanding- this may be simply as a man his emotional responses are different - neither of you are wrong in how you deal with it. He has had a office based career whilst yours is home based so again that reflects an element of your deeper involvement with family.

    You have friends so maybe organise an event or day to meet up and reconnect.

    Given so much change in your life, maybe you can choose to do something that you've always wanted to but never had time for. A new hobby, more exercise or yoga. Go travelling! Anything. You've devoted so much time to others I think you deserve some real time for you. To reconnect with yourself - not as mom, wife or daughter but you. It doesn't have to be much - but maybe doing something different for an hour or two a week will make a huge difference to your confidence and well-being. Don't think why you shouldn't anyone but why not! Why not learn Italian? Why not do tai chi? Why not go on a bus trip to vegas? Why not make fruit wine?

  • Hello, and welcome. There are a few parts of your post that I can relate to. It's interesting how you begin by pointing out all the reasons why you shouldn't possibly be depressed - the good job, healthy salary, soon to be mortgage free status ...

    I have a very good job and I have a fair bit of money. I have physical health which I'm grateful for and two wonderful, bright and lovely children. I'm also in my second relationship with a lovely man who treats me like a princess. Does that free me from the daily battle with my mental health? Absolutely not!

    I empathise with your retell of your journey with your Mum. I regard my Mum's illness and death as significant factors in the demise of my mental health. She was alcohol dependent for as long as I can remember. It pickled her brain, impaired her judgement, and affected both her mood and her memory. She died a messy death, following surgery to remove various ulcerated body parts. After her funeral I experienced a serious grief reaction and ended up being referred to the mental health team. Two and a half years on and I still haven't fully come to terms with it.

    I also understand how you're feeling about your daughter. My two are aged 17 and 12. I get lots of holidays and for as long as I can remember they have been spent doing lots of things with them. Now they're getting older I'm finding myself on my own more and more. And sometimes it makes me feel really sad! People tell me to find new hobbies; enjoy catching up with friends; enjoy 'me' time, but what I actually miss most is having a little person to entertain for the day.

    I guess I haven't been too helpful in my response; I just wanted you to know that I get how you're feeling, and I'm a good listener if you need to chat!

    Lucy xx

  • Lucy,

    Thank you...your words are a true comfort. I miss my daughter's company. She and I were often more like sisters than mother and daughter, especially after she outgrew her brief sullen period at ages 11 - 12. She told me less than a year ago that I was her best friend. We made a simple grocery shopping trip fun. We went on girls' weekends when my husband had to leave town on fire department business (he's a volunteer firefighter in addition to his regular paid job with the town's street department). We're both avid readers and bought new books together just about every weekend. She introduced me to Neal Shusterman's "Unwind" book series and we spent hours discussing them. We baked together on cold winter weekend mornings. She used to binge-watch episodes of our favorite TV shows on DVR with both of us. And the talks...she and I had long, deep conversations about every topic imaginable. We really connected on an intellectual level.

    it's been months since she's suggested a book shopping trip, or any shopping trip, for that matter. She hasn't been home at night since June; she's out every night with her boyfriend. We haven't watched our TV shows. The most I've seen her since she started dating her boyfriend was when she suggested dinner one night last month when my husband was at a meeting, and that was only because her boyfriend had to work that night and wasn't available until later. She was quickly out the door when we got back from dinner.

    It's hard for me to admit this, but I'm jealous of the time and attention this boy has taken from me. He's a good kid; my husband and I have met him several times. He's also 18, also an only child and our daughter is his first girlfriend. He's polite and respectful to us as well as her. He's madly in love with her, treats her like a queen. He's the perfect boyfriend, but on my bad days (which still outnumber my good ones) I resent his presence in my daughter's life and feel he's taken her away from me.

    I've been practicing yoga every day for five years. While it's helped ease the anxiety while keeping me physically healthy, it's not enough. But my depression has killed any motivation to try something new.

  • Hi

    Sounds like you've been through a lot and it's totally understandable that you are struggling.

    Hopefully in time you will adjust to how things have changed in your relationship with your daughter. May be things will change again in the future and you will spend more time together at some point. But sounds like she needs to spread her wings just now. I understand a wee bit as my youngest has just started school and I am needing to adjust.

    Are you looking after yourself physically too? - this could help to ease your depression. Gentle exercise/ eating well. I use a mix of yoga/ mindfulness and a low sugar diet to help me.

    Hopefully sharing with others will help too (this is the thing I find the hardest!). This forum is a good start.

    You mention your friends. Is there any one of them that you can open up to?

    You are not alone in your depression. Be kind to your self.

    All the best

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