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December 27, 1999
5:04 pm
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JLA
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I am currently being treated for chronic depression, have been for a couple years, and am taking Prozac. It really is helping but what really keeps bringing me way down is dealing with my aging (79 years old) mother. At her request I call her every day to see if she is okay. The problem for me is that these discussions are almost entirely negative on her part, even a bright sunny day has something wrong with it in her opinion. I'm beginning to dread these discussions and usually spend the evening in tears afterwards. What am I doing wrong?

December 27, 1999
11:47 pm
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EssEmm
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Okay, first of all, is there anybody else in the family who can help call your mother...brothers, sisters, nephews, nieces, family friends, anybody?? If so, you should enlist their help. It's tough taking care of an aging parent. My dad is going through the same thing right now and it takes a toll on him mentally. When you combine that with your pre existing depression, I'm not at all surprised that you end up in tears sometimes.
You have to stop thinking in terms of what you're doing wrong. It's never wrong to feel sad. It's a perfectly normal response. When you call your mother, what do you talk to her about? Do you get a sense of who controls the conversation? Try to see if you can subtly introduce more positive topics...

Anyway, good luck to you. Write back and let me know how you're doing...

EssEmm

December 28, 1999
11:45 am
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eve
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JLA, sorry to hear about your suffering. It's certainly not only you who's doing something wrong, but you are the only one involved where you can go and change something.
I had and sometimes have a similiar situation with my grandmother (who educated me because my mom died early), only that my grandma has more people to spread all her negativity on (her daughter, her son, and her three granddaughters.
It helped me a lot, when I told myself that I'm a grown woman now, and that I really would like to get encouragement and acceptance from her, but I don't need it to get on with my life. I can stand on my own, and gladly so. And I found out that no matter what happens, I'd sooner start growing a third leg before I could stop loving my grandma. And that is true for her, too. All this negative talk is just a (very inadequate) way of her trying to reasure herself of love and acceptance. She does all that negative thinking and talking, because in her generation this was the only way allowed to women to acchieve something. A woman wasn't supposed to say what she wants (that would be too unfeminine), so she had to resort to complaining, and hoping that somebody would get the hint.
And you don't need to take all that negative crap from your mom. It won't really help her when she brings you down, and it surely makes you feel awful. Just hang up the telephone when she starts it, or go away. And tell her why you do that, and tell her that you do love her, and that you will be there for her, when she has a problem where you can really help.
And EssEmm is right: get somebody else to help with it, too.
Best wishes for you, I hope I made some sense, Eve

January 3, 2000
12:47 pm
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site coordinator
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JLA,

EssEmm and Eve have given some good feedback.

Many times the most noticeable reaction from others that "proves" that someone cares, are feelings of guilt and sympathy...your mom is likely trying hard to "prove" that you love and care for her by invoking these feelings in you (and maybe even at times consciously).

This is an un-healthy and non-helpful way to "prove" someone's love and devotion...please remember to keep these things separate in your mind and heart-keep a "grounded-state" when talking with your mom.

Please keep us updated.

- SC

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