Depression is a four letter word.
By the spring of 2016 I had started to become really concerned about my mom’s mental state. I’m a true believer in mind over matter. When my aunt Sue had told me about the program at Sloan Kettering she informed me that mental counseling was a huge part of the program and her and I discussed how important it was and what role her depression played in her illness. My aunt Sue is educated and a very smart business woman and I really respected her opinion. Since my mom wasn’t ready for Sloan I wanted to see if there were a way she could get mental counseling on her own. She always used money as an excuse. She had one of those bullshit, high deductible insurance plans and so she avoided going to the doctor or anywhere else because she had to pay out of pocket until she hit a certain amount. This year she had spent her deductible and then some and so she would’ve been able to go to the counseling for free.
In the previous years while things were really bad with my brother and Satan I had offered to go to counseling with my mom. I had even gotten so far as to reach out to counselors and stuff but I think she was scared of facing herself and dealing with feelings she had buried for years.
I hadn’t really been communicating much with my family at that point. I took their advice. I was focusing on my mom and just doing what I had to do but as I saw my mom getting more and more depressed I decided to reach out to her two closest sisters one more time. I knew we couldn’t sure her cancer but we could improve what life she did have left. I wrote to them both separately in hopes that maybe we could all put our heads together and discuss our concerns for her and her mental wellbeing. Perhaps we could even have an intervention of sorts. I was just desperate to fix her in any way I could.
I wrote to Aunt Bea in a message on Facebook and told her I was really concerns. She replied by telling me that she didn’t think she needed a therapist and instead that she needed a good team of doctors to help her with her kidney function and stuff. That was something that was already in the works and I had explained that to her. I had text aunt Debbie and wrote her a similar message about getting my mom help and she responded to me, that she needed a doctor to save her kidney. Again, I knew that and had also explained to her that I was trying to find my mom a nephrologist who specialized caring for transplant patients.
At that point I kind of got fed up with everyone telling what my priorities should be and what my mom’s priorities should be. Her physical health came first ALWAYS. I knew that but I couldn’t understand the black and white train of thought. Why was it that they seemed to think you can only focus on one thing at a time? Hadn’t they ever heard of multitasking? I decided to write them both a message. It was mainly geared towards Aunt Bea who I thought maybe wasn’t seeing or understanding how depressed my mom was and that it was more than just being down or being blue, that I think she had crossed the line into clinical depression and so I sat down and wrote this letter to them:
I wrote to both of you guys separately last night because I know my mom talks to you guys the most. I’m writing because I was asking for your help with my mom. I have tried reaching out before and kind of gave up. I’m reaching out one last time in attempt to get you guys to help my mom, help herself. This is mainly in response to what aunt Barbara wrote to me but I’m copying aunt Diane too because I think you guys both need to understand that my moms depression is REAL (and it’s not just because she doesn’t feel good) and it plays an important role in her not taking care of herself. You guys can get mad at me for saying this or you can think I’m crazy or focusing on the “wrong things” and I’m sorry but at this point, I don’t care. It needs to be said. I’m only saying it because I am desperate to help my mom and save her and at this point I will do and say whatever it takes, even if it results in people thinking I’m an asshole. I don’t care anymore. So this is in response to what Aunt Barbara wrote…….
*please note that I edited out only identifying factors to conceal the identity of the parties involved.
Aunt Bea and Aunt Debbie,
Boy, depression is a four letter word in this family, lol! Well she IS depressed but no one wants to admit it. I think she needs help so she will start to care for herself. When you’re depressed you don’t take care of yourself. It’s that simple. Read up on it. I wrote to both you and aunt Debbie hoping you’d encourage her but no one wants to admit that she’s been depressed or seems to think it’s and important factor now. She’s not going to start taking care of herself if she is depressed. If that wasn’t the problem for YEARS, she probably wouldn’t even be in the situation she’s in because she would’ve been caring for herself, going for her yearly scans, eating right, etc. etc. Everyone keeps saying “I don’t know what’s wrong with her.”, “I don’t know why she’s not taking care of herself”. but I’m telling you guys she’s DEPRESSED and that is WHY she isn’t taking care of herself and then I get “well she is depressed because she doesn’t feel good.” NOOOOOOOO! Nooooooo! That’s not it! She HAS BEEN depressed for the last decade for a variety of reasons. Long before she “didn’t feel good.”. You guys need to realize that. She lost her husband. Does everyone forget that? That was the catalyst. She then went through many other changes, etc that lead to her becoming more and more depressed. Just because she got up and went to work everyday and smiled for you guys at family parties, and faked happy phone calls, doesn’t mean she wasn’t depressed. Again, read up on depression. It’s ups and downs. She’s a good actress, I will admit it but I’ve been dealing with it for the past ten years. My mom talks to me on a different level than you guys may talk to your daughters. We have a different relationship. She IS depressed whether anyone wants to admit it or not and HAS BEEN for the last decade. She needs help and if you guys won’t help, I will have to keep pushing her myself. For whatever reason, everyone in this family seems to think therapy is bad (????) but NO ONE ever went. Well, I did and honestly, STILL DO and I can tell you all that it helped me tremendously. You may not think so but I know it has.
As for the team of doctors, I told her several times that she needs to find a new doctor. While [my mom’s nephrologist] is nice, he’s not the best doctor. Her blood pressure was high for months and he didn’t put her on anything for it, which bothered me. She was Anemic……he did nothing about it. She wasn’t going for her yearly sonograms, he never questioned her. I asked around. A friend of mine has a son who just had a transplant. Got his doctor’s name and number. I told my mom she needs to see a nephrologist who specializes in transplant patients. She says she called the [local hospital’s] Transplant center. They gave her a list of doctors. I will make sure she follows up: Let’s hope she finds one. I also joined a Facebook group for transplant patients and recipients and asked there if anyone can suggest a good doctor. That’s already in the works.
As for her diet I know all about that. Her doctor had her speak with the nurse and tell her that they’d send over a nutritionist or dietician. She didn’t take take the help and didn’t even listen to what they said. She told me “I know what to eat.” I know she isn’t following any diet. She’s full of shit. (Denial….part of depression) When I ask about it, she yells at me. She’s getting nastier and nastier (Part of the depression). That was the same day the doctor told her she’s in stage 4 kidney failure (adds to depression). He failed to mention it to her before then, another reason I don’t like him. As for the cancer she WAS in stage 4. (Another reason to be depressed) She’s not anymore or at least I don’t think she is according to what I heard. Thank god. She needs to keep up with that as well. Right now I agree that her main priority should be saving her kidney, 10000000000% but she also needs to help. Depressing factors keep adding up and she’s getting worse and worse and she’s not taking care of herself or dealing with it. I’m trying to help her but I can’t do it alone. I keep reaching out and getting kicked back down because it’s a “taboo” topic and everyone is scared to discuss it or acknowledge its role in her illness and the way she cares (or doesn’t care) for herself.
Just to let you guys know, the doctors Aunt Sue suggested my mom go see in the city, part of their team and their program is THERAPY. Yes, it’s an important part. When people are diagnosed with serious, terminal, or any other type of illness, it is a hard pill to swallow. They suggest you talk to a therapist so you can learn how to care for yourself and the coping skills that are NEEDED for dealing with such a serious diagnosis. You can call her and ask her about it. I’ve discussed with her and she absolutely agrees it’s a necessity.
I’m sorry if this is coming off mean or pushy but you guys need to wake up and acknowledge this. I’m not telling you guys for MY health. I’m telling you for hers. When you are sick like this you start to become less of a person and more of a patient. Your life becomes, BEING A PATIENT. Imagine if that was YOUR life???? We all know my mom has a tendency to live in denial. I think it runs in the family. I really do. I’m sorry if you take offense to it. Get mad at me. I’m used to it. Used to being the “bad guy” because I say the things no one wants to hear and I won’t stop because I know where it’s coming from. I’m saying them because I care and want to help my mom. She has tons of issues Heath AND otherwise and she needs to wake up and start caring for herself. She also gets mad at me and avoids talking to me because she doesn’t want to deal with reality. Like I said, I’m used to it. The things I say aren’t favorable. They make people uncomfortable. I get it but please just think about it. Read about depression. It’s a real thing. While we still have the time to help her, we should be doing everything we could do to push her towards a better life and better health both mentally and physically. I’m tired of ignoring things because there uncomfortable things to talk about. Also, please understand that None of this is to say that I think this should be her TOP priority. It’s not but it should be A priority. She should be taking care of her kidney, first and foremost. AbsoFUCKINGlutely.
When I look back on this letter know, I don’t know why I was so apologetic for being an “asshole”. I was desperate to get my mom help. That was the sole purpose of this letter. I wasn’t writing it to tell them they were stupid or didn’t care about my mom. I was writing it because actually being physically present in someone’s day to day life is different than keeping a phone conversation with them. Maybe they weren’t seeing how depressed my really mom was. Maybe my mom put on a little bit of an act when she talked to them and was a little more real and vulnerable when she spoke to me. It’s a fact. I wasn’t saying it to hurt them. I was saying it to enlighten them and hope they’d see how badly she needed help. They both wrote back to me and to be honest I was completely shocked by the responses I got. Please see part 2 for their responses.