Family members also feel guilty about the situation and feelings of their depressed loved one. They somehow feel they have played a part in the melancholia and so are to blame. That is exactly what we don’t want to produce in the family member, more guilt and shame.
Walking a mile in another’s shoes is good advice today. Unless a family member has ever been depressed – then it won’t do to wish that their loved one would just think more happy thoughts or just pray more or just get out and get busy. All these suggestions fit someone who might be sad or unhappy –but they don’t apply to a person who has a mood disorder –like the deep immobilizing mood of depression.
When I was depressed I became overwhelmed by all the situations and circumstances surrounding me til I became consumed by them. They became all ever conscious, these thoughts that I could no longer keep at bay –like a lion tamer wielding chair and whip –poised for action against an angry lion.
Many times the stigma of a family member who is experiencing is often enough for a family to avoid the subject. They pretend it isn’t there. In a way it is like the behavior of those people who live within an abusive relationship, or with a practicing alcoholic, or a verbally abusive spouse. There is an elephant sitting in the living room and everyone quietly walks around it. Nobody wants to talk about the problem that lies in the center of the family.
Gradually a vicious cycle of negative feelings and behaviors manifest in the family members. They feel isolated, resentful, angry or despairing, and this complicates the sense of isolation, guilt or hopelessness.
I believe that DEP-ANON will be or can be a great resource of strength for those members of the family who live with the depressed day after day. They too must begin to work on the 12 Steps, one after another so they can begin, in a supportive group context, facing the fact that that their feelings about their loved one have resulted in them feeling hopeless and helpless. This is the first step for all of us in recovery, to admit that we are powerless over the behavior of a loved one depressed. Once the 12 spiritual principles of Depressed Anonymous are interiorized in our hearts and minds, and actively operating in our own daily lives, we will see progress. Not only will we change but so will all members of the family. The DEP-ANON group provides the whole family an opportunity to experience a new found peace and wellness.
Copyright(c) DEP-ANON family group manual: A 12 Step support group for families and friends of the depressed. (1999) Hugh Smith. Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. Ky.