Mental Illness and the Caregiver Double Standard

Two weeks ago, I went back on antidepressants. I say “back” because I took them during a protracted period of depression several years ago, but weaned myself off of them after about six months because I didn’t think they were doing much for me. But two weeks ago, after weeks of urging by my husband and a close friend, I went back to my psychiatrist and he felt I should try an antidepressant. I am beginning to feel better, I must admit, and if I’m being honest with myself, I white-knuckled it through the winter and early spring, knowing I was in depression, and refusing to do anything about it other than hide and eat (food is my self-medication of choice). But I felt defeated, walking into the doctor’s office, as if I was a failure. So after putting on 25 pounds and crying every day for a month, I gave in and got myself some help.

The Caregiver Double Standard

It’s a twisted type of irony that caregivers of persons with mental illness often have a double-standard when it comes to their own mental well-being. We encourage our loved ones to take their medication and attend therapy, but to suggest that we could benefit from the same is rejected as ludicrous. We must be strong. If we need help, we have failed ourselves and our family. For me, I feel that if I admit I have this “weakness,” I will be seen as less than, at work and at home. It’s not rational, and I wouldn’t let my friends or extended family languish in denial. So why do I do it to myself? Caregivers have an elevated risk of depression and anxiety, no matter what type of disability the person they care for has.

I agree. All caregivers are at high risk for depression. You can hurt watching the person you care for suffer.

There are times that taking care of me is a hard biz and my sis used to be open and honest about how she felt. She would say she feels low and drained. She would say she’s feeling depressed and her well of optimism is dry.

But then two of my brothers used to say she was just attention seeking and it’s not a mental illness competition. So she completely quit saying anything.

My father takes Ativan as needed and is on Zoloft - an antidepressant. My Mom is on Zoloft as well. They were predisposed to depression and anxiety to begin with

Yep. After my son was diagnosed, I had a meltdown. I have been on klonopin and zoloft ever since. It ain`t easy!

I wish that my Mom would go to therapy. I have tried to talk to her about it but she doesn’t seem to be able to understand that my illness can affect her like that too.
I’m pretty positive that she went through a period of depression. I think she’s better now, but I’m afraid that’s just till something happens to me next.
She’s always been a stay at home Mom and we live in a culture where mental illness it taboo. Your kid knocks some girl up? That sucks. Family member has depression? Shameful.