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Dear Dad:?How can I help?

June 19, 2011
By CATHY BROWNFIELD, Family Recovery Center , Salem News

Maria studied her father. He could retire this year, if he wanted to, but her mother insisted that, no, he was not ready to retire. He would sit in his recliner hour after hour, day after day, and grow frail and die. No, he wasn't retiring.

Dad's hair was white, and he was aging and frail in appearance. If 60 was the new 50

He'd had a difficult life, struggled through tough financial times, some long periods of unemployment and underemployment. Mom had watched him closely to keep him going during obvious bouts of depression that he had consistently denied. Maria recalled a day when Dad burst out, "It's the man's job to provide for his family. You aren't going to get a job."

Mom had reassured him he wasn't the reason he didn't have a job. It was the economy. There were a lot of other family providers in the same boat he was in.

For the past dozen or so years he'd worked a job he hated. He wouldn't risk the security of the job, though, to go back to the work he did enjoy. He was afraid it was too unstable and he'd land in the state of unemployment again. At his age, who was going to hire him, anyway?

Dad was a good employee. He did his job, rarely missed a day of work. But he wasn't happy, and she saw its effects on the entire family, especially Mom. He insisted he wasn't depressed, but

Sad, unhappy feelings.

Upsets over minor things. He could blow up in a fraction of an instant.

No pleasure in things he used to enjoylike hunting, fishing, enjoying family and friends.

Slow in thinking, speaking and movingWhat was the point of doing anything?

Easily distracted, difficulty concentrating, unable to make decisions. He insisted Mom didn't tell him anything, even though Maria had been there at times and knew that Mom kept him in the loop. He just didn't remember. That is another symptom of depression.

Unexplained backaches and headaches.

Thoughts of dying. He'd told Mom he didn't care if he lived or died.

Mom had sent him to the doctor because of the depression. He didn't tell the doctor anything about it. So, Mom had told the doctor about it. The two men still didn't talk about it. And Mom was angry because neither Dad nor the doctor was taking her seriously, which increased her burden of responsibility and her stress. Maria was concerned about the well being of both of her parents.

The effects of unemployment leave marks on mental and physical health.

Unemployed men with higher self-esteem appear to have more support from their families and friends. Was there anyone more supportive than Mom? Yet Dad's headaches came on without warning, for no apparent reason. He took more than the recommended dosage of pain medication because less didn't touch his headaches. When he had to go anywhere outside of his regular routine-even the grocery store-he had to run to the bathroom. Anxiety.

Dad needed help. But how do you help someone who won't admit there is a problem? Maria loved her dad. She wanted him to be happy. She wanted him and Mom to be happy.

Depression is NOT a normal part of getting older, but it does happen. The Mayo Clinic advises that:

Depression can go undetected because symptoms are similar to those of other illnesses.

Individuals who are depressed feel helpless, bored and worthless because they are unhappy with their lives.

Older adult men are at higher risk of suicide.

Depression is something that needs attention. Everyone gets the blues, but when the blues last too longIf you break a leg you go to the doctor to get it set so it will heal straight and well.

When you have a mental break, you need a doctor to help get back your perspectives and live well because life is too short to waste a moment of it.

Family Recovery Center promotes the well-being of individuals, the family and community. For more information about depression, contact FRC at 964 N. Market St., Lisbon; phone, 330-424-1468; or e-mail, info@familyrecovery.org. FRC is funded, in part, by United Way of Northern Columbiana County.

Today is Father's Day. If you are fortunate to have your dad, thank him. Without him, you would not have experienced the gift of life. Maybe he needs to hear that today.

 
 

 

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