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Adult daughter refuses to accept my mental health issues

Hi, I'm new here but I need advice if anybody can help? I'll try to be brief but it's complicated.

I'm 64. I was the 3rd of 4 children, and all through my childhood my mother always favoured my younger brother and continuously criticised the rest of us, especially me. I grew up in a very noisy, aggressive household, where there was constant conflict, fights, arguments and shouting. My mother brought us up on her own after our father left her for her best friend when I was 4. It was a relief to everybody when he left because he physically bullied everybody - except me, the only one of us to whom he showed any affection. I was only 4 years old but I clearly remember, on the day he left my mother stood over me and very angrily told me I was "nothing special and now I was about to find out what life was really like". So the dysfunctional family dynamics continued. From that day until she died in 2005 I tried so hard to please her and make her love me but nothing ever worked. She was proud of my achievements but otherwise never showed me any love. For me this led to a lifetime of depression, no self-confidence, the belief that I am unlikeable, that "I will be found out", uncontrollable jealousy of anybody who has or does anything better than me, and physical symptoms like overeating, leading to diabetes, however the diabetic meds are keeping that well under control. I also take Lisinopril for high BP and since 2004 I have taken antidepressants. I have recently been changed from Fluoxetine (which stopped being effective) to Sertraline, but this has caused me to have bad diarrhoea so I'm currently being weaned off that. I'm not sure what will happen next.

I do have a supportive husband, who has stuck by me through all the trials I've set him over the last 45+ years. I don't know how he has put up with me, but he has done so with love and unshakeable loyalty.

So, to bring this up to date. I have 2 daughters in their 40's, who are like chalk and cheese and hate each other despite all my efforts to calm the waters over the years. They go through long periods of not speaking to each other but at the moment are being "barely civil" - but at least they are in touch, just. I love them both and did my best throughout their childhood to be the loving mother I never had, but I still feel they don't really love me, so it seems I failed in that too. They both tend to shut me out of their lives and seem to regard any interest I show in them as "interfering". So our conversations tend to be short and infrequent. We mostly talk by phone these days as I live 500 miles away. (we moved here to escape my dysfunctional family several years ago.)

Now my 44 year old daughter is pregnant with her first child, something we never thought we'd ever see as she's never shown any maternal urges, but we're all thrilled about it.

But this daughter has never accepted my mental issues. She has a cold and detached demeanour and rarely shows her feelings. She believes that depression is something you should just "get over" and that doctors dole out tablets like sweets. She gets cross whenever it's mentioned either by me or my husband and tells me I should "stop taking all the tablets and pull myself together". I get defensive, she gets aggressive, so I avoid the subject whenever we talk.

So.... I am already feeling very anxious about visiting my daughter when the baby arrives. I hardly leave the house these days so I dread the 500 mile journey there and back, and the tense atmosphere that is bound to develop during our visit. I am beginning to feel it would be better for us not to go, but my husband is adamant that we must. I can't talk to my daughter for fear of causing an upset at this late stage of her pregnancy, but my husband told me last night that only last week she had a go at him for "humouring me with my so-called depression".

I'm at my wit's end. I sometimes think it would be better for everybody if I cut all ties with all my family except my husband. I love them but at best they barely tolerate me. Our first grandchild is about to arrive but I know in my heart I will not be allowed to be like a normal "granny" to them, as much as I want to be. I tried to tell my husband last night that I don't want to go for this visit but he reacted badly and I'm worried it could permanently damage our relationship.

I'm sorry for this long first post but I feel like I have nobody to turn to and I need some advice from people who understand mental issues. Thank you for reading this far.


31 Replies

Hey, I am sorry to hear what’s going on! Perhaps as her pregnancy progresses she will experience feelings and emotions and realise that some things can’t be easily snapped out of! It’s never easy when someone doesn’t understand especially family but sometimes it’s easier for a stranger to get it! I hope things can be better for you all and you can at least be civil - who knows in time it may get better! Can you write to her or chat to her about how you feel or would that not be the best thing ? Good luck and wish you well

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Thank you so much Starlight for your reply. If it wasn't for her pregnancy I probably would write to her but I just think it would be unkind of me to do that while she's preparing for the arrival of her baby. I've suggested to her dad that he phones and asks her gently if she and her partner would prefer us not to visit just as the baby's born but perhaps wait a few weeks or months to give them some space - and that we would not be offended if she asks us to hold off for a while. I just know that if we go so soon there is going to be a difficult atmosphere and one of us could end up saying something I regret later, so in many ways I hope she'd say yes, don't come at the moment.

It's getting so hard pretending to be somebody I'm not - well actually NOT being the person I am. I so wish I could speak openly to my family about my issues without them rolling their eyes or telling me it's "all in your mind" - well yes I KNOW that but it doesn't help! I just hope that becoming a mother herself brings out her softer and more understanding side, if she has one!


Hey, with me I stopped explaining mental health issues with those I knew wouldn’t get it. Could you perhaps just think “well I tried to explain to her about it, she chooses not to so that’s up to her”? And just focus on other stuff when see her? I’m not saying that’s the right way just asking :) you could always say about it and “if you want to ask me about it you know where I am but I won’t bring it up anymore”? As you don’t live together maybe have services and supportive people to help with your mental health and just be you when see your daughter, if she doesn’t understand then let her just be naive about it ? Just keep being you and doing the best you can (IMO) x


I think that's a good idea to try and get out of going straightaway after the baby is born. I would try that and then if they insist you will have to go through with it. In that case I would just suggest that you tell yourself to remain controlled. Members of my family do not understand my own distress and so I don't show it to them. It is a waste of time expecting people who don't understand to understand. They can't help it; we are all made differently and have different defences and coping mechanisms.

Maybe you are right that you both wearing your hearts on your sleeves sent your daughter the other way; cause and effect are always difficult to pinpoint but strange things like this can happen! Or indeed it could be she dislikes the idea of any "weakness " as this is the way she talks to herself and has been her coping mechanism in life.

It is never good to challenge people's coping mechanisms as they are all different. Yours appears to be to want to be completely open about everything and not control anything. Sometimes it's better to keep it under and not have to tell everyone everything. Only talk to other people who understand or it will just hurt you. I'm glad you have a supportive husband. That is wonderful. Be glad!!!

Gemmalouise XX


Thank you so much for your reassuring words. What you've said all makes perfect sense, especially about her dislike of dealing with weakness. She is having her 32 week scan tomorrow and no doubt she'll be letting us know how that goes, so we'll hopefully speak to her then about the possibility of postponing our visit.

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Hi lorraine nice to hear your story. I am so sorry that you have had such a difficult life. Your dysfunctional family sound just like mine did. I kept things together to my 50s when I divorced then depression and anxiety started. It’s been ok while I was on cipromil but took myself off them suddenly and had a breakdown. I understand completely how you feel as others will in this site. We are a community helping each other walk through valleys. Keep writing and expressing yourself. You don’t need your daughters permission to have depression it’s a Drs diagnosis not a daughters!!! Love and blessings x

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Hello Gilip and thank you too for your reply. I know what you mean about keeping things together. While I was younger that was possible by keeping busy, working hard and looking after my own family and my mother (ironic I know). In fact I was the one everybody turned to when they needed help, be it practical or a listening ear. Now it's like I don't exist.

I went through a long time of counselling in my thirties and that did help me in that I came to realise what had made me the person I was - and that enabled me to become self-aware and develop coping strategies to deal with stressful situations. But the problem is that the core issues, the ones that trigger the self-destructive feelings, never go away. They are always there ready to jump up and, in my case, if I am feeling fragile or stressed enough, cause me to lash out verbally and thereby destroy relationships over and over again. It's one of the reasons I have become isolated and mostly housebound as I just cannot trust my reactions to things.

But you make a very good point about not needing my daughter's permission to have depression! I shall store that away for the right moment.

Just writing all this down has helped me rationalise things a bit today so thank you and anybody else who feels like adding their point of view.


There are times I feel like facing the world and others not, so though I won’t let myself become housebound I do allow a day here and there to stay in and do the things I love like reading or watching a movie. I catch up on sleep on these days too if I need to as sometimes I am awake from 5am just cos I can’t sleep!! I too went through years of counseling which helped me see that the abuse wasn’t my fault but that others who were supposed to protect me let me down!! One day at a time

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Hi if you can face up to it I would go but not stay with your daughter. That way you will have more freedom to leave if she is being difficult.

I am sure your daughter loves you in her own way and the fact that she doesn't understand or won't admit that your depression exists doesn't mean she doesn't care. Maybe she is suffering from this herself and is in denial?

Don't try and explain or talk about it with your daughter any more as it clearly isn't helping you and you must put yourself first. Are you currently getting any treatment? x

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Hi Hypercat. The "other" granny has kindly offered to put us up and if we do go we will take her up on that offer.

I have no idea if my daughter is or has ever been suffering from depression herself as she never talks about emotional stuff, despite growing up with both me and her dad always wearing our hearts on our sleeves. Maybe it was too much for her, I don't know. For example, she never told us she was living in a miserable, loveless marriage until the day she walked out 10 years later. We were totally shocked as they'd always appeared to be so well-suited and very happy - and she seemed genuinely surprised when I expressed sympathy and support for whatever she wanted to do. She seems happy again now with her new partner, who is a gentle soul and they seem to have loads in common - but I'd have no clue if she wasn't happy! It makes me sad and guilty that she doesn't want to share her thoughts with me. I have honestly never interfered or judged her or her sister, only offered love and support, but this has been largely rejected since they became adults.

As far as treatment is concerned I have regular checkups with my GP and I'm currently taking Sertraline, but I'm gradually being weaned off that because my bowels are suffering badly with it. Otherwise I don't have counselling these days as that approach was more or less exhausted in the past and we were going round in circles, although I learned a lot and it was a lifesaver at the time.


As you tell it, the problem appears to be with your daughter and not with you. I would write to her saying you are there for her if she needs you, but you are not prepared to accept her judgemental behaviour any longer. I hope your husband supports you in this because your daughter is more likely to take notice if you stand united on this.


Thank you oyster for your input. I understand what you are saying but the last thing I want to do is confront her while she's pregnant. It could lead to permanent estrangement and that's not what I want. I dearly wish to heal our relationship, not end it. Especially with our first and only grandchild on the way. It's good to hear another perspective though so thank you.


As hard as it is (I too came from dysfunction) it’s best not to discuss your depression with your daughter because she doesn’t understand and it may make her feel uncomfortable coming from her mother (aren’t we supposed to look up to our parents?). Further, ask yourself why you want to share this with her? What do you want from her? It sounds like a sore spot with both of you.

I suffer from clinical depression (all my life, inherited from my mom). I found a long time ago that friends do not want to hear about it and tend to avoid me when I am in the dumps. Thank God for my therapist and three cats! I have learned to let go of the hurt from my parents/upbringing. I look at them as fallible human beings who did their best. My Dad died in 1988 and Mom in 2010. As long as you understand where your issues come from, you can look at/tackle them through adult eyes. The only person I hurt was myself for clinging on to the long-ago past.

BTW, you would be surprised at how many people grew up in similar circumstances. No one had a perfect childhood.

Good luck and enjoy your new grand baby- Getting out of oneself will do wonders for you! There’s a new life who will love and look up to you as Grandma.

PS - I am a no-longer-practicing-psychologist (as was my mother).

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Hi Annie and thank you so much for your reply, which makes perfect sense. I've decided not to discuss my mental health with my daughter again unless she brings it up. You're right, it doesn't concern her and only creates insecurities for both of us when we do talk about it.

You put your feelings about your own parents and upbringing so well. As a result of the counselling I had in my 30s and 40s I also came to forgive my own mother. She used to say that her mother hated her - but always followed that with "but I didn't care".......and she would never admit that must have left its mark on her. It's such a shame - she went through life with a very bitter attitude, being divisive, critical and judgemental on all who crossed her path. But underneath there was a very soft centre, even if I was hardly ever on the receiving end of it. It was a sad waste of a life really.

I feel so much more positive today, thanks to all the lovely people who took the trouble to reply to me here. Thank you all so much. xxx


I am so glad you feel better! Even though we understand the why’s - and sometimes forgive - that doesn’t take away the damage and pain. I have found in life that most people do not want to be around someone who isn’t happy and positive. Hard to imagine but that’s the way people can be - self-centered and only concerned with their lives. The past couple of years (since I moved 30 miles away) my “friends” have dwindled. These friends have been in my life anywhere from 20 to 40 years. Go figure. I guess they don’t want to “catch” what I have. It gets lonely at times. Oh, I hear from some of them if THEY have issues. It has helped taking a step backwards and looking at my life so far .

All the best - it won’t be easy - but you are doing this for the long run and will come out feeling better. Keep in touch - we’re here and we care.

Kind regards,


PS - I am a few years older than you, so don’t come from idealism anymore.

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Thank you Annie, I appreciate your comments and I hope things are good for you nowadays.


There are a lot of parallels here for me, so it has helped me to consider certain things...

Rather then listen to the words, focus on the emotion behind your daughters comments. What is the emotion?

I hear anger and hurt but I also hear that maybe knowing that you are so fragile she has never been able to feel protected by you?

That your mental health issues meant she was scared of asking for what she needed because Mum was the one that was vulnerable...and now she is angry that she cannot Just come home and curl up in that safe space that is Mum and home?

That she cannot talk to you about her stuff because it would only burden you further? And the child in her, like you feels hurt and angry.

Nothing like adding guilt to your woes eh😜😜 but feel the guilt and then chuck it in a cupboard somewhere. Because this is not about making you feel guilty it’s about looking at your daughters behaviour from a new perspective.

When we suffer as a child, we can have a tendency to overcompensate toprevent our children suffering our suffering. Then we create unwittingly different problems.

You don’t need permission from your daughter to be ill.

Neither do you need her to accept it and validate you. That is your job.

If she did accept it what difference would,it make? She would be more understanding? More supportive...essentially become the parent?

There is a difference between this and an adult child having no respect. Personally I don’t see this as anything other then her anger and hurt manifesting itself in this way.

She is crying out for Mum and dad to nurture her instead of her having to be considerate of your condition and therefore not asking for what she needs.

My advice, and all advice is only worn tuppence...

Visit her well before the baby is born. Put your condition and hurt to one side. You are the parent.

Spend some time with her preparing for the baby, shopping, decorating, etc.

It will be hard at first and maybe you need to have a conversation about the above beforehand. But this is what she needs, somebody to come and nurture and take care of her.

She will absolutely resist. She will throw lots of stuff in your face to test you. Be ready for it and understand where it comes from.

You have a wonderful husband behind you. Get on with the rest of your lives and stop wasting time

Much love coming your way xxxxx

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Foof, thank you so much for your reply. I admit it was not easy reading and some of it brought tears to my eyes, but what you've said was all so true. I've spoken to her since reading your reply and your words helped me so much.

Unfortunately visiting her before the event isn't an option for us. We are limited as to how much time we can spend away from home, mainly due to my husband's work commitments, but I've decided to phone her much more often in the weeks and days leading up to the birth, if only to let her know I'm there for her.

I'm so glad I joined this group and asked for advice. Thank you all so much. xxx


I’m very glad to hear that you have started the process. It is hard to hear truths and I commend you for being able to take it on board... not everyone can.

Keep and increase the dialogue and small cards and gifts are a lovely surprise that will make her feel valued. Not expensive, just thoughtful.

Maybe if things become easier you could venture over on your own?

Big step and well outside your comfort zone...but you’ve started it now xxxxxxx

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Awww thank you again Foof! What a lovely idea to send cards and gifts - I'm a crafter so I'll make something pretty for her today. She herself is an artist, so I know she'll appreciate it.


His there! I understand quite a few of your issues, I had a violent child hood and could never please anyone where as my sister was miss perfect. I am very damaged but tried my best to be a good caring mother, first child at 19, too young when you are a cotcase. My family acknowledge my mental illness but like to rev me up and then I get distressed. I think you should wait a few weeks and don’t stay in there Home. Don’t offer any advice when visiting just sit back and hold your beautiful grandchild.Enjoy. You might be surprised to see when life gets harder having a child your daughter might see things differently, even get depressed at times, the she will appreciate your situation a little.

Just enjoy your lovely grandchild. 💕💕💕💕

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Hi denvajade! Thank you for your reply and I'm sorry to hear about your own issues. I can't wait to hold our new grandbaby in my arms. We honestly never thought we'd ever see the day so it's such a special event for us. xxx


Update. My daughter phoned me yesterday to let me know how her latest scan went. There were a couple of issues with it that she was anxious about, and for once we had a long, caring conversation where I was able to offer her some reassurance and comfort. Annie and Foof - both of your replies made so much sense yesterday and helped me to think about things more from her perspective. So yesterday I made a conscious effort to offer some motherly nurturing, even if it was on the phone, and it worked so much better than before. There were a couple of moments when I felt maybe I was starting to overdo the "advice" so I stopped and let her ask for it instead.

Regarding our visit, my daughter brought up the subject. Her partner only has 2 weeks paternity leave with pay and she said she is a little scared of how she'll cope when he goes back to work, so would we mind leaving it until then so I can be around to help her. Of course I was delighted to have that option, so that is what we'll do. I said I'd be guided by her as to exactly when we go to see her, and we will be staying with the "other granny" while we're there.

She also told me that her sister came for a visit a couple of weeks ago (they live 200 miles apart so that was a nice gesture on my younger daughter's part), and their relationship seems to be on a more even keel at the moment - so that's really good. It's certainly a huge improvement on a few months back when she was saying she had no intention of telling her sister about her pregnancy. I told her then that I thought that was cruel and unnecessary and I told her sister myself. As a result her sister made the first move and since then they've been in touch by text and even exchanged Christmas gifts. Phew!

I'm now looking forward to our visit rather than dreading it. I'm not looking forward to the journey but it's a minor thing compared to what might be achieved. I'm not going to talk to her about my mental health issues at all if I can help it. I just need to stay strong during our visit and deal with that when we get back home. I want to thank you all for your very helpful advice. Some of it wasn't easy for me to read, but it did hit home and made me think about things in a different way. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

With much love, Lorraine xxx


So pleased it’s positive. There will be dips and dodgy moments. When the time is right and you are both communicating from a position of love as opposed to fear...you may be able to have a heart to heart.

She will tell you more painful things....let it happen and wash over you and accept it. Don’t justify, excuse or explain. Just accept and apologise.

We are all 100% responsible for our relationships.

Keep that in mind lovelyxxxxx

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Have you considered visiting with a qualified, certified therapist? I believe you need to do this...if you've 'tried one' and it 'didn't work'...there is someone out there who CAN help... we really cannot expect friends or family members help us 'get over' our problems, even though support is good and welcomed. I full well understand that things from our childhood can still affect us even when we are 'old' like me! :) but that doesn't mean that there aren't ways of learning to cope and LET GO and be free...I wish you all kinds of good luck!! Please see someone who can help you....and make no excuses (like I did for a long time) :) Take care!


Hi Betty and thank you for your reply. I had lengthy counselling with several fully qualified therapists over the years, and it DID work, as I mentioned above. I'm not sure why you get the impression it didn't? At the end of the most recent sessions, about 12 years ago, my therapist and I both agreed there wasn't much more to be gained from it. It had all been done to death and we were going round in circles. And that is NOT an excuse, just a fact.

I don't believe, and neither does my doctor, that clinical depression is always exclusively caused by childhood or other experiences. Sometimes your brain just needs a bit of chemical adjustment to help you cope with stress, and that is my situation now.

Yes I wish my relationship with my daughters was closer but I accept that is largely my own fault for being too strict a parent as they grew up. Their instinct now is to shut me out long before I start "interfering" or criticising - and it's my own fault. The other issue you might think I have is that I am rather reclusive. That is a result of a noisy childhood because ever since my late teens I have craved peace, quiet and solitude. I'm not somebody who feels lonely or deprived of friends. I do have a handful of those who accept me for what I am and don't make demands on me, and vice versa - so that works. Also if I am honest, I am very lazy and it's easier to spend time at home, where I have everything I need including a fantastic sewing room where I happily spend most of my time.

I asked for advice here on how to avoid confrontation during our visit to my daughter after she gives birth, and I am very happy to have had some wonderful and helpful replies. I now feel much more positive on that front. Maybe in the future I might feel like asking for more advice, and I will do my best to offer my own take on things when others ask for help.


Dear Clovis, please forgive me if I worded something in a way that was in any way that sounded 'critical'...I am very sorry and did not mean to do that. It sounds, in your reply, like you met up with a really good therapist. Good! Sometimes things just take time to work out. The very best to you.

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thank you for all your posts i am currently having some issues . in which my elderly mother isnt acceping of the fact that i am facing an illness she cut me off changes the subject and ive been left feeling hurt . its helped me to feel less isolated to read your posts and i hope you can work your way to finding a solution that is best for you . sometimes when we look a head to events we have all kind of mixed emotions including anticipatory anxiety and often it isnt until the event occurs that we really know what we want to do . i hope come the event of being a grandmother you will know which path to follow. even if you dont straight away go to visit your grand child maybe after a period of adaptation you will accept your feelings and will allow yourself to make choices based on what will be best for you. best wishes


Hi Peaches, thank you so much for your reply. I'm really sorry you're having problems with your mother accepting your illness. Some of the replies I've had helped me to realise that it's not really important that another person accepts or doesn't accept my mental issues. As Foof so wisely said, we are all 100% responsible for our actions and relationships. I've at last realised that I need to start concentrating on the mothering, nurturing side of my relationship with my own daughter - especially in this latter stage of her pregnancy - and stop expecting her understanding or acceptance of anything to do with my own issues. It's clear that she does not share my views on mental illness, so I'm not going to go there with her.

The amazing thing is, even in this short space of time since I first posted, she has phoned me 3 times and is actually asking for my opinions and sharing her own fears with me about the coming birth. I've consciously done my best to be that strong, nurturing mother she wants and needs, and totally resist the urge to fall back into the bossy mode she obviously hates, and she has responded to that. I now feel so optimistic about our visit - and any little niggles or issues I might feel during my time with her I am determined to bite my tongue and lock them away until I can share them with my husband later, that's if I feel the need to share them.

Maybe this approach might work with your mother? What I mean is, you might need to accept that she doesn't want to hear about your issues, and however much you want her to listen and understand, it's just not going to happen. So maybe you should keep completely clear of the subject with her and instead concentrate on what does work. Some might think that a fully honest relationship is the only one worth having - but when it comes to parent/child relationships surely it's better to have a good relationship, even if it means certain subjects are not discussed but saved for another time and another ear. I wish you all the best xxxx


Oh gosh, you sound like you have a huge weight on you shoulders, namely the actions and words of others. This is hard as you absorb them into yourself and feel they belong to you.

I hope that writing all you have has been in some way cathartic. You have gone through life still reeling from your Mother and then your daughter. I think she knows she can push the depression button. Perhaps it is time to stand up to her/hang up on her with "it's got nothing to do with you!!!"

I think you need to or could find a counsellor to talk through all of this with. Either through your GP or find one locally to you. If your GP refers you to one attached to the surgery there will be a wait.....probably.

You are about to be a grandmother and this is a new phase in your life that I hope will be positive. This makes it all the more poignant to deal with the "crap". It sounds as though you have a trouper of a husband and you have his support.

A good counsellor will help find a way with your daughter and maybe build a stronger relationship. But you first 💐

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I just wanted to let you all know that my daughter had her baby boy 3 weeks ago today and we travelled the 600 miles last week to meet him and stayed nearby for 5 days. The visit went very well, much better than I expected, and my ability to cope had a lot to do with all the helpful replies I got here, so I want to thank you all very much for helping me.

I was nervous about going and almost chickened out at the last moment, but I decided I was going to be strong and positive and face it with the support of my lovely husband. The couple of sticky moments we had over the week, that would normally have escalated, calmed down because I decided to ignore the button-pressing and change the subject. And for the first time in years I felt that my daughter not only accepted my support but sought it, and listened, and appreciated our company. I feel so much better now and I'm really pleased I found this group.

I will always have this tendency to suffer from melancholic depression but thankfully I am able to cope much better with it these days. I will stay on here and I hope I can be as much help to others as you've all been to me. xxxx

P.S. Our first and only grandson is totally beautiful. I had some wonderful cuddles, taught my daughter how to wind him after a feed (they don't seem to do that these days!), and we love and adore him already. <3


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