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Relationships counsellor CAROLINE WEST-MEADS answers your problems

Relationships counsellor CAROLINE WEST-MEADS answers your problems from a daughter with depression to dealing with a controlling partner

HOW CAN I HELP HER OVERCOME HER DEPRESSION? 

Q My daughter is 51, lives alone, has no family of her own and has been severely depressed for many years. Her life hasn’t panned out as she hoped. She lost a pregnancy nine years ago, just after my son – her beloved brother – died. It was devastating as she’d hoped a baby would help following the sudden tragedy. 

Her remaining siblings are married with children, so she feels very alone. She has a part-time job, but that’s all the socialising she does. She has very low self-esteem. I’m 72 and I’ve been there for her as much as I can, but it’s very draining for me as she sees no hope in her life. She hasn’t had a partner for years – she is so lost in a dark tunnel that she doesn’t attract anyone. How can I help her?

A I’m so sorry to hear about your daughter’s depression and loneliness and also about your son. Her distress must indeed be draining for you. There can be so much grief felt in losing a pregnancy, even many years on. Sadly, it’s something women often don’t talk about – even though many experience it. It is perhaps harder still to come to terms with for women who don’t go on to have children. In your daughter’s case, this has been compounded by losing her brother, too. 

When depression is that deep, often antidepressants are needed in order for the person to engage with counselling – neither treatment is usually enough on its own (File image)

However, it sounds as if depression has always played a part in her life, even beyond these tragedies. I don’t know if she has ever had any professional help, but it is important she sees her GP. When depression is that deep, often antidepressants are needed in order for the person to engage with counselling – neither treatment is usually enough on its own. Unfortunately, someone who is depressed can find it difficult to reach for help because they don’t believe they deserve to get better. Would her other siblings be supportive? 

Perhaps you could stage a family intervention where you all explain to her how much you love her, and urge her to seek help. Your daughter may have already tried treatments, but there are new approaches for ‘treatment-resistant’ depression. One is repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation, which is approved by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence. 

It is mostly only available privately but your daughter may qualify on the NHS. You could try to persuade her to ask her GP for a referral to a psychiatrist. The other thing that I think would help her – and you – is talking to those who have been through similar experiences. 

I’ve heard good reports of a charity called The Compassionate Friends (0345 123 2304, tcf.org.uk). The trained volunteers, who have all been bereaved themselves, support people who are suffering with grief – no matter how many years have passed.

I WANT TO ESCAPE MY CONTROLLING PARTNER 

Q I’ve been with my partner for 15 years and we have two children together. When I first moved in with him, he had just lost his father and he made me sign an agreement that if we did split up I wouldn’t have anything of his. We talked about marriage at the beginning, but he comes from a divorced background and was afraid of losing everything. 

I used to excuse his controlling behaviour because when his parents divorced, his mother took his younger sister with her, and he was left with his abusive alcoholic father. But I feel mentally drained by his behaviour. I’m always trying to please him but he is always angry. I want to leave, but he takes all my money and I have no way of getting in a better financial position in order to move out – or pay a solicitor.

'Your partner has you right where he wants you – powerless and dependent on him,' CAROLINE WEST-MEADS says (File image)

‘Your partner has you right where he wants you – powerless and dependent on him,’ CAROLINE WEST-MEADS says (File image)

A This is so hard for you. Unfortunately, your partner has you right where he wants you – powerless and dependent on him. I can see why you initially felt sorry for him – it must have been awful to have been left with his abusive, alcoholic father. This has caused him such damage that he now repeats the same patterns himself. 

But his tragedy cannot be an excuse for him to continue with this behaviour. He needs help, and I hope that one day he gets it. In the meantime, you and your children need to be safe and to escape his controlling ways. He is not your responsibility. 

Taking your money from you is, in fact, illegal. It is financial abuse and often co-exists alongside other domestic abuse. So for help please contact the Financial Support Line for Victims of Domestic Abuse (0808 196 8845) or go to survivingeconomicabuse.org.

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