Depression and grief recurring

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I'm a 17-year-old boy. I'd continue my old discussion but it has been locked up. However, in short, I sometimes feel extremely stressed out when at home. My parents separated when I was little and now my mother's current boyfriend is practically living with us. Suffice to say, I don't really get along well with him. When he's around the atmosphere feels quite tense. He has a short temper and often I find myself being quite wary and listening to them, trying to spot when the next argument sparks up. I also have a (half-)brother, whose short temper doesn't help the situation either. My anxiety level seems to grow abnormally high when I hear shouting, even if it's not me who is being shouted at.

I can just about cope with this, but a few days ago my mother decided to get a dog. I didn't have a problem with it but I was extremely worried that the atmosphere would tense up even more and a complete chaos would ensue. It's hard to say anything about that at this point, but I find myself grieving my old dog who died almost 10 years ago. The new and the old dog are the same breed and it just recently struck me how alike they look. I've been crying for the past few nights and I feel it's just getting worse. Even though it's been almost 10 years I feel like I'm understanding just about now how much he impacted my childhood and that he's not coming back -- I even feel a bit guilty for remembering him so little after his death. At the same time it freaks me out to notice that I'm this fragile emotionally. I didn't have the best childhood but during times like these my other problems, such as weak self-esteem, are highlighted. I don't know how I can cope with such a stressful environment any longer. Any insight into this would be greatly appreciated.

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  • Posted

    Hi a07167 - sorry to read that your are suffering. Death and loss are facts of life and can be difficult to deal with. Have you spoken to your mother about the current boyfriend? Has she had many relationships like that, bringing strangers into the home? Do you think she would tighten boundaries where the boyfriend is concerned if she knew you are uncomfortable with his intrusion and his lack of emotional control? Meanwhile, the loss of your dog 10 years ago when you were only seven is a huge blow for a kid. I'm thinking that perhaps your grief wasn't acknowledged and dealt with at the time, and the introduction of the new dog has brought back that loss. I also wonder why your mother bought this dog home now? Is it a form of appeasement for you, or are there other reasons do you think? Next to consider are the prospects for your future. You're 17, so I'm guessing school is near the end and you might be able to get work - an opportunity to save a bit and find a home for yourself. Is that on the cards? Also, are you in contact with your father at all? Can he help you through this? 

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  • Posted


    thanks for your reply. I did talk about the boyfriend with my mother about three years ago when she introduced him to us. She got pretty defensive and I haven't brought it up since. Mainly I'm just incredibly uncomfortable with the fact that his behaviour is just accepted and quickly dismissed with an apology. However, my mom really hasn't brought strangers home — I think she had been seeing him for quite a while before introducing him to us. Also at one point they broke up only to get back together after a couple of weeks. I remember feeling immensely relieved, ensuing by a period of great depression. Actually my mom has a history of this: after my parents divorced, she got in a relationship with a man. I remember them breaking up and getting back together close to ten times during the six year period. I haven't forgotten the intense anxiety I felt each time. Eventually the man hit her and they broke up for good. Prior to this my half brother was born.

    My mom had been thinking about getting a dog for at least a year. I wasn't particularly keen on the idea since I thought it would cause problems as my brother can be quite difficult. And perhaps I subconsciously knew it would cause problems for me, too. Actually the old dog died when I was 9, but of course I was still a child. I remember mourning him but starting to miss him now again just completely baffled me. I haven't felt this bad for a long time and I find it hard to cope with the loss. The thoughts keep circling in my head and I'm not sure if I should just try to distract myself or what.

    My father lives nearby and I visit him regularly. However, I'm not really comfortable talking about these things with my parents. Sometimes I feel like I've distanced from my parents lately. Often I feel quite awkward talking to them, somehow not connected on an emotional level. I'd like to trust them, but at times I seem to doubt my mom's intentions because of my childhood experiences.

    Thinking about my life overall it just seems like a big failure. For instance, I was very lonely in elementary school. When I finally made friends I felt I was truly happy. Then my mom introduced her boyfriend and it was downhill from that on. I became depressed and practically lost connection with my friends. Luckily I reconnected with them but I still miss that one summer. It's not just the fun I miss but also the lack of responsibilities.

    I've been thinking a lot about moving out. However, I'm really unsure about how I could ever be ready for that. I had delayed puberty and probably because of that I still look very young for my age. On top of that I feel like I'm miles behind in social development compared to my peers. While they're excited about moving out, I feel extremely anxious and stressed about all the new responsibilities. I don't think I would be taken seriously enough to even find a job — let alone how terrified I am about making mistakes. My OCD symptoms, which seem to worsen when in a stressful situation, don't help either.

    I do think about committing suicide often, too. However, I think I'm too afraid of death to actually do it. I might benefit from therapy but I fear I wouldn't be taken seriously: to others I appear to be fine and get excellent grades, for example. And to be frank, I'm not even sure if my situation is all that bad. I've thought if being sensitive to shouting just amplifies my anxiety. I do acknowledge that my childhood wasn't as good as it could have been, but I'm not sure about my current situation. Anyway I doubt if I can go on like this.

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    • Posted

      Hi again a07167 - thank you for responding. You certainly have have had a rough time of it. I would suggest that you definitely explore the therapy angle. See your doctor and describe what is happening and that you would like referral to a therapist/counsellor or psychologist to deal with these issues. They will not dismiss you and certainly will take you seriously. It's important you have someone on your side, someone who will not judge you, and a place where you can unburden in a safe environment. It's a first step, and as you learn about yourself you will find a wealth of possibilities to remedy your situation and an understanding of why and how you feel as you do. Medications may be prescribed - they will help balance your mood, making your interactions with the therapist and the world in general easier. If meds are not for you, there are alternatives - St Johns Wort, Camomile Tea, and Lavender are a few. Hands on action is what it takes, and you will feel better when you take that step. 

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    • Posted


      perhaps I indeed should give therapy a try. I've thought about it over the past few years, but I've always thought my situation wasn't bad enough — and the periods when things have been looking up have given me hope. I think one of the problems is that I don't know what to tell the doctor: I just don't know where to start. I think I've had had symptoms of depression and anxiety too, but of course I can't make the diagnoses. And since hardly any outward signs are shown, I'm afraid I'd end up belittling my own problem. Usually I'm most anxious at nights and on holidays since I'm not distracted by school etc. Secondly, I don't know how I could pay for the therapy. I'd have to ask my parents but I'm terrified of letting them know about my issues, mainly about those possibly stemming from my childhood.

      Luckily I have gotten a bit more accustomed to the new dog so seeing him won't cause such a strong emotional reaction anymore. I've been keeping a photo of my old dog nearby, I think it has helped a bit. However, it does provoke some anxiety at times, too, and I've noticed some feelings of guilt emerging during the times I feel happy (and have been petting the new dog, for example) and haven't been thinking about the old dog. I think it hit me just now how permanent death is.

      However, while writing here does help a bit, I do agree that I should talk to someone in real life too. I could talk to a friend, but I wouldn't want to burden him. I'd be willing to try therapy but in addition to the problems listed above, I'm really afraid of it not helping. I've thought about it primarily as a last resort and if I find it can't help me, I don't really have anything left to try. My state is still somewhat tolerable, but I feel a thousand times worse at nights.

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  • Posted


    Therapy won't hurt you - they are well trained. Just get a good therapist. If you can scrape the money together, it might be worth seeing a top psychiatrist first. You only need one appointment, and the benefit is they crystallise the picture so much more, and often even recommend a therapist they have confidence in. The downside is, therapists appointment costs do add up too! But can you put a price on your health and being able to move on in life.

    Well done for reaching out and writing such a mature post (I hope this isn't patronising, I mean it). Clearly you have had significant trauma in your life and, as is typical, you tend to belittle it and blame the inadequacy of yourself instead and think that you're not justified in feeling this way compared to others who appear to have had much worse circumstances / experiences than you. 

    Really it's a manly thing to do, to reach out to medical help available in its various forms. Just the fact of overcoming your fears and hesitancy to get the medication and therapy started that you need will give you a boost to think that you got outside your comfort zone and decided to do it - fears of failure and all!

    I wish you the very best. My own depression started as a 17-year old boy (that's over twenty-one years ago now, a scary thought), and I would have benefitted from therapy much, much sooner to avoid the depression becoming so entrenched. Still, I have hope at the end of the tunnel and so do you, with more time on your side.

    Take care, and also remember there is One - aside from all of us here - in the Heavens who loves you more than you can tell or believe, and who to is waiting for us to confide in him - for our lifelong and day-to-day cares (as well as for our sins that He wishes to freely forgive having paid the price Himself).

    Good luck!


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