The Truth About Growing Up With A Depressed Parent

“I wish it would all pass by,”

She sighs as she tilts her head back towards the sky, looking amongst the clouds for an answer. My mother: the woman who nourished me and strung my cocoon until I was as developed as a butterfly, the wise one who had all the answers to my abundance of inquiries, the lady who once had it all and all together. Life began to throw hardballs at her that she couldn’t quite catch. They started coming too fast and too frequent, becoming extremely difficult to handle. Soon enough, she began to crumble.

My mother has been depressed for the past few years. I’m not sure exactly when this state of mind came about or what particularly triggered it, but I do know that following each bit of adversity that occurred in her life, she spun deeper and deeper into a downwards spiral. Growing up with a mom who has depression shaped how I went about life, how I viewed it, and how I saw myself as well as how I saw others.

I do not remember being a child for long. That is, someone with little or no responsibility because all matters were handled by parents or some sort of guardian. Life and its unfortunate circumstances, especially those concerning my mom, forced me to expedite adulthood. My mother’s depression paralyzed her, in a sense. It affected her life, her mentality, sometimes even her physical being; all was frozen. I had to play a maternal role and hold her hand, taking baby steps to exit paralysis.

“I can’t do it Chloe, I just don’t have the energy,” she would answer when I’d ask why she wasn’t making an effort to get back on her feet after the traumatic divorce. She wouldn’t seek employment after leaving her previous job no matter how many openings I tossed her way, yet money has always been a financial burden to her. “It’s hopeless to find a decent paying job for someone like me without a college degree,” she’d claim. My mom wouldn’t go to the gym with me when I offered in order to combat her body-image issues, yet she always complained about her weight and how horrible she felt both physically and mentally. The intimidating environment frightened her; she was self-conscious about performing any physical activity in the presence of others who she automatically assumed would judge her. With all the constant pushing and nagging, I truly felt like I was the parent, and she was the child.

Depressed people are fragile people. My mother was, and still is, as delicate as a glass vase. It’s extremely difficult to discuss her personal issues with her, such as her lack of motivation. I walk on eggshells every time I speak to her. I don’t want to say the wrong thing, call her the by the wrong adjective, nor have a harsh tone of voice; I don’t want my words hurting her delicate heart. I’ve almost mastered the particular approach to take when it comes to talking to my mom, primarily because I know what she suffers from and how it affects the way in which she interprets dialogue.

However, I’m only the minority. The remaining majority is often oblivious to her internal mentality. The angry driver tailing my mom’s van doesn’t realize the repercussions caused when he honks his horn and ferociously speeds up to pass her. The woman behind her in the delayed grocery store line huffing and puffing and rolling her eyes cannot fathom how embarrassed my mom feels when her food stamps card declines. My dad, her divorced spouse, fails to see the stormy cloud hanging over her head after an intense verbal argument about money and the kids. I always worry about these things, and it honestly sucks because I really can’t blame others for not knowing something they’re never told. There ought to be a handbook on how to cautiously approach a delicate being or a caution sign around her neck for all I know.

I worry for my mom and her well-being every single day. I worry when she calls me and I sense a sadness in her voice. I worry when she tells me she’s exhausted all job options. I worry that she’ll look in the mirror and cry because she hates who’s staring back at her. I worry when my Nana asks me how she is because she hasn’t heard from her daughter in days. I worry when she texts me “I love you” out of the blue. I worry when we both go to bed angry after a fight because I know she’s up all night long stressing over it. I worry when she sits in her room all day and wants nothing to do with anyone or anything at all. I worry that she doesn’t know how much I love her.

When you see someone as special as your own mother suffer, you immediately want to do anything and everything you possibly can do to lessen their pain. You are forced to displace the negativity with positivity. When the sky is dark, there’s always the moon to shine some light. I am the moon in my mother's night sky of depression. I relentlessly remind my mom how wonderful she is and what a beautiful soul she possesses. I want to be successful because she struggles. I want to motivate her and others because I know how a lack of it puts people at a disadvantage. I want to better myself as an individual so one day I can give her the world.

I can honestly say that I have never known a human with a more genuine or compassionate heart than her. She won’t kill an ant even if you paid her a million dollars to do it. She can emphasize with an alien; no person nor situation is too out of her comfort zone. She’s simply a fabulous human being who deserves the best.

Growing up with a parent who has depression really puts life into perspective. You take on roles you've never had to before, but you don't complain. You'll do anything it takes to relieve your mom of some hurt and make her happy, even if it's just for a moment.

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