Monday, November 21, 2011

Dad's depression

My dad has severe PTSD resulting from Vietnam. I hate to mention it because it has been something that is apart of the reason we have never been close. It has been scary at times living with him as a kid. There are several situations I can think of from the past that could go to demonstrate that.

My dad's PTSD has gotten worse in recent months, and one of the reasons is me. I found a letter where my dad wrote down notes that was rather depression and scathing that he wrote for his doctor's appointment that showed how upset he is with me that I'm never home and I don't pay attention to him. He wrote how he believed that he is the one who caused it because of the way he treated me in the past and I'm using my 20s to retaliate against him.

I overheard a phone call when my mom accidentally redialed my phone number a few months back. She was talking to someone and she said how I was telling her that I'd never be hard, and she understood that I was older, but it was taking a toll on my dad and he is in a depression over it. I held on and she just said how much it is paining her.

This afternoon I was sitting on the couch with my mom talking about Christmas gifts that I would like and she said that I would be lucky to get my dad out of the house. I asked why, and she said he is so depressed over me never being home that he hardly leaves the house. He has to be convinced by my sister to go to the grocery store on weekends. He has stopped calling me each day to ask if I'm going to be home for dinner because he can't stand the rejection. He only goes out when asked several times. Today when my mom and I went out shopping he didn't want to go and she said it was because he doesn't think I'm being genuine about wanting to be around him.

I don't know what to think about this, but I hate to think that this is the case...

I know it is probably a response to many things and he is probably displaying his frustration in the wrong way, but he has to understand I'm growing up... maybe we'll just have to schedule time for each other.


Aek said...


Sounds like you should call your dad and have a good long chat. Perhaps show up a little more often? He needs to know that you're there.

fan of casey said...

Mike: I think professional help is needed, either therapy or counseling because any advice we readers can give would be just mere speculation.

That said, so take this with a skeptical eye. Assuming things have been properly diagnosed and everyone's perception of the situation is accurate, and you are part of the cause of the depression (note: I'm not saying you are, just acknowledging what you have shared so far) -- what are your options? 1) Treat the depression medically and psychologically, 2) Sit down and have a family discussion to allay your father's fears that you are not acting out to get back at him, 3) Spend some quality time with your dad to demonstrate that your lack of interaction isn't malicious -- this would require an ongoing commitment by you, 4) Don't give in just to appease him, because it's emotional blackmail and all you are doing is delaying the inevitable blowup, 5 ) Some combo of actions.

The backdrop to this is eventually you will move away and have your own more independent life. It's a terrible feeling to be held hostage by a guilt situation which may or may not be your responsibility. Is this reaction to always being gone unusual? Does your father have expectations that as family you would always be close around?

It's been my understanding that mainland families have more of an independent streak and cultural expectations are also different. Living in Hawaii, essentially a big rock in the middle of no where means one really can't get away from extended family and culturally with me being Asian meant that family connections often take on a reciprocation function -- one doesn't do it because one really wants to, it's more like a family duty to have to interact with family. What that means is going thru the motions of interaction is for the sake of maintaining some impression of larger family harmony.

So asking you to subjugate your independence streak for a few moments a month for the sake of family would not be seen as capitulation but as a kind of shared sacrifice.

I would imagine finding out that you are the cause of the discord would be disturbing, when you don't think you are doing anything to contribute to it. Don't beat yourself over it but it's also clear that it's weighing you down, so you need to find some kind of resolution.

Mind Of Mine said...

When reading your blog this past year or so, I have never, not once picked up on the distance you feel between your dad. I think there is something there....

I am sorry your Dad is feeling this way, but thats not the main emotion I felt whilst reading this post.

No, the main thing I felt was jealous. I live in a different country than my parents, I probably haven't spoken to my Dad in 6 months and I only speak to my Mother when something has gone wrong.

Nicholas said...

Why is your dad treating you like his boyfriend? I'm not being snarky, I'm serious. That's a pretty odd relationship. My dad would go for days or even weeks without hearing from me and he'd be okay. And if either of us wanted to talk, we'd give each other a ring or I'd come down tot visit.

Your dad does need to see a therapist. But not about depression...