Jim: Family Challenges

Jim identified a familial pattern of living with mental illness. Several of Monica’s sisters and nieces take medication for depression. Also, Jim and Monica’s 20-year old son, Matt, was diagnosed with depression six years ago when he was a teenager.

As her symptoms increased, Monica took a leave from work as a teacher. The school district told her they did not want her to come back to work. Other than a short stint with a job at a bank, she has not worked in the past eight years. She stayed with the job at the bank for three months, but could not handle the long work days and demands of the job.

After her DUI, Monica spent more time at home and started to shop frequently online. Jim recalls finding two to three packages delivered at home on some days. After working at the bank, Monica took over managing the family budget and that responsibility has helped her to reduce the online shopping. Monica now does quite well with managing their budget.

Jim believes that he, Monica, and their son have become closer as they have worked to find stability for Monica. However, they have had challenges with relationships with extended family members and friends.

Her sisters and brothers-in-law kind of walk on egg shells around her. It has distanced us from some of our friends. A lot of our friends don’t understand. They feel like I thought before—it’s a copout. That part’s been kind of hard.

When Jim mentions to others that Monica receives social security disability, people respond that she is under 50, so she can work. He feels he has to be careful about what he shares with others, because they perceive things the wrong way. He observed, “Unless you’ve been through it, you have no clue.”

Monica is currently looking for part-time work. She spends her time with crafts and keeps busy with church activities, where she also participates in a support group. However, Jim is concerned about her ongoing anxiety and withdrawal. He revealed, “She broke down last night. She said she’s been feeling lonely for the last couple of weeks. I asked her why she didn’t say something.”

Their son, Matt, lives at home. Jim explained that Matt “still kind of walks around on pins and needles around mom a little bit.” When Matt experienced bullying at school, his parents realized that he was experiencing severe depression. He cried at home and did not want to go to school. At one point, his parents wondered if Matt would graduate from high school with missing so many days of school. Jim reflected on how Monica’s illness affected Matt during his growing up years.

When he was younger, mom was in the hospital, and he wasn’t sure how to take that. Mom wasn’t around at the time. Why am I running back and forth? I’m the one picking him up from school all the time. I think that took its toll on him. He got to the point where he was depressed with the mom situation, the bullying. He gained a lot of weight from eating and sitting around. I think it also affected him and his friends too because his friends didn’t always understand why his mom was home all the time while they had two working parents.

Matt and Monica currently get along well. Jim explained they understand one another. He would like to see Matt go on to school after high school but Matt wants to work full time. Jim hopes his son does not make the same mistakes he did in regard to education.

More of the Story: Coping Strategies