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Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Both My Siblings Committed Suicide

Dear A.B. Curtiss,

Can you refer me to a good cognitive therapist in my area? I live in Northern CA, by San Jose. Although I have built a good life for myself I have had a lot of trauma in my life. I like your books. I bought your depression book and children's book Hallelujah, A Cat Comes Back, the one about Granny Cat's advice to her young grandson how to make it through life when life gets tough.
Thanks, K_______

Dear K________
I’m sorry I can't recommend any therapist to you in your area. However I will be glad to answer any specific question for you as you proceed in your journey to okayness. I do not charge for this. A. B. Curtiss

Dear A.B. Curtis,

Thank you for your offer of help. Any suggestions I would appreciate. I know that regardless of the trauma that some one has experienced, there are similar ways to deal with difficulties.

To get it off my chest I will explain what happened to me. I keep it secret because I feel ashamed although at the same time I know I shouldn't feel this way.Both of my siblings committed suicide. One became a paranoid schizophrenic. He was intelligent, but he ended up taking LSD. I think that is what started him on his downward spiral. He went missing when he was in his 20's in 1980. We think he jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge, but we are not sure what happened to him, so the uncertainty is stressful.

My other sibling had alcohol problems and died in 1999 from a self inflicted gun shot wound after being married only a month.. My husband and I believe that he didn't want to get married, but my mom
pressured him into marrying.

My dad was a very successful doctor he was a wonderful guy, but he expected my mom to raise us and she was busy entertaining, and traveling. I feel that my mom is the cause of the many of the problems in the family. Her kids were not that important to her, and my dad was to busy being a doctor.He died very slowly from ALS in 2004. My husband took care of him because my mom didn't want to.

The good news is that I am 52 and have never been suicidal. I have been happily married for twenty five years. I work part time. We have two beautiful kids. I would like to be feel better. My biggest problems are insomnia and depression. Fortunately most of my insomnia problems have been solved with melatonin. That has been a life saver. I can sleep at night, but some mornings I wake up feeling tired and hung over, this happened before I took melatonin. I was wondering if I should take an anti depression, but I am worried about becoming suicidal from the drug. I also thinking that since I wake up feeling bad that it may be a chemical imbalance.

I exercise, and also have spiritual beliefs that help me live life more fully. I would like to find a more satisfying career. I know am anxious about working. Right now my mom is taking a lot of my time. She is very wealthy and she has been fairly good to my kids and husband. Mostly she has been very jealous of me and doesn't wish the best for me. At other times she seems to care about me. On my birthdays she is particularly mean to me. She has mild dementia and is now in a board and care home. She had a drinking problem, and exhibits behavior like Jekyll and Mr Hyde. I love my mom, but also hate her. Since I am the only child, my husband and I are taking care of her.

I know this is a lot to get off my chest but I hope you can offer some helpful advice. Please email me or call if you want. Most of the time I am home in the mornings.

I love your cat book, I gave it to my daughter when she went away to college. She is a senior and is doing very well. I also gave a copy to my niece who was leaving for college as well.


Dear K___________

It sounds like you are doing much better than either of your parents did as far as having a successful life. Your father was probably traditional in bringing home the money and expecting your mother to do the rest- and take care of the home front. But it seems she didn't want to do that. Your relationship with your mother will naturally be limited because she probably never really achieved adulthood or at least never achieved a mature wisdom that a mother might be able to share with her child. Thus your brothers were not nurtured and couldn't save themselves.

But you saved yourself. So in a way you were your own mother. This is not unusual in this day and age when society encourages self-aggrandizement and self-individuation and discourages sacrifice and self-denial on the part of parents.

Especially this was bad after the 60s when all the traditions of a woman concentrating on her home and children were trivialized in favor of a woman seeking her own fulfillment without regard to her family. Your mother probably bought that idea and felt she was doing the right thing to seek her own happiness without regard for her husband or children... A poor decision on her part and one that many women made in the 1960's to their sadness in their later years. It was very seductive The mantra then was, your children won’t be happy unless you are happy so your first priority is to make yourself happy, and this will trickle down to the rest of the family. Of course, now we see that trickle down parenting doesn’t work.

Depression is quite possible to take care of with some education on how your brain works. For this you can read my book BRAINSWITCH OUT OF DEPRESSION. My book DEPRESSION IS A CHOICE is the philosophy of getting out of depression and the BRAINSWITCH book is the neuroscience of getting out of depression. As you read the books and apply the theory to your life, I will be glad to answer any questions you have by email.

You say you want a better career. What is it that you are doing now? What type of thing might you be interested in trying instead? If you mother has money that you will inherit perhaps your horizons will be quite wide from which you can make a choice.

As I go over your letter again, it seems to me that your family was one of the victims of the Great Culture Dump I wrote about in my book DEPRESSION IS A CHOICE. So many woman in the 1960s abandoned their homes, children and communities to seek fulfillment in the world at large instead. It was the biggest brain drain in the history of our country and, as a result, the strength of the American family as well as the school system and many community charity organizations, that used to count on dedication of enthusiastic and talented women, has not recovered.

Here is a snippet from the book that more fully explains what I mean.

"For years women had been able to move through life more slowly and deliberately, more in harmony with the secret heart of the world. Women had understood, almost on a cellular level, that there is something else other than happiness--understanding; that there is something else other than success--grace; that there is something else other than knowledge--knowing; and that these things, being sacred and priceless, cannot be exchanged for commensurate value.

But in order to compete for men’s jobs, women had to stop thinking and feeling like women. They ceased to be the caretakers of the enigmatic and intangible to opt for the pragmatic and material. Woman had to abandon their power base of moral and spiritual authority for a share of the men’s power base of economic and political authority. We forget how much time and effort were once expended by women to nourish the quality of life inside their homes. We don’t have the time or energy for those niceties anymore. For the extra touches. We must hurry things along. We used to light candles in the evening, for our family, in the dining room, for pleasure. Now we light them late at night, for ourselves, on the side of our tubs, for stress reduction.

A sense of mutual respect and cooperation among men and women used to be the mainstay of a stable Western society, wherein each gave up some autonomy in exchange for reciprocal benefit. “He is no true man who ever treats women with anything but the profoundest respect,” said 19th-century French poet Lamartine, “and she is no true woman who cannot inspire and does not take care to enforce this. Any real rivalry of the sexes is the sheerest folly and most unnatural nonsense."

This cooperative attitude died in the 1960's. The dominant mating regime used to be based on romantic courtship, leading to marriage. With marriage demoted from “goal” and “permanent” to “option” and “temporary,” “a new, more loosely structured, less emotionally and sexually cohesive, far more temporary set of arrangements” was born between men and women.

These new mating practices pit women and men against each other because they are both trying to hang on to their autonomy while getting the other person to “meet their needs.” This is the “principles” way to see the present state of men-women relationships. The “feelings” way to see the present state of men-women relationships is described by the title of the pop-psych book Do I have to give up being Me to be Loved by You?”

Today’s Culture Dump relationships are based upon feelings rather than principles and, since feelings are always changing, generally these relationships do not last, and end up in attitudes of hurt or revenge. Men get depressed and turn to violence, women get depressed and turn to deceit and dirty tricks. Too many families are now simply revolving doors to depression because they all tend to break up within a few years. Children are no longer able to leisurely sink down their roots in their own front yard, where they might soak up some real nourishment; they are having to drag their roots down the highway to visit Dad. Today only 26% of families are made up of two parents and their biological children.

Mom isn’t home much either. Culture Dump children began coming home from school to lonely, empty houses. Culture Dump girls sought the arms of their boyfriends as a substitute for their missing fathers. Culture Dump boys being raised by their mothers were not getting sufficient socializing by the curbs of a strong adult male authority over them. They began to be in trouble, “socially, emotionally, academically and–given the high rate of medicinal dosing–physically.A social worker in a wealthy suburb of Boston reports that the women most urgently seeking male mentors for their sons are well-educated single-mothers-by-choice whose darling baby boys have grown into rage-filled teenagers."

It seems that you have a lot going for you, you have made an investment in your husband, family, home and even in your own parents who were not properly making an investment in you. I see no reason why you shouldn't be quite successful in changing your life for the better. A. B. Curtiss

1 comment:

Ginger said...

K., I am moved by your letter and impressed by how you are working hard to create a good life. You have discipline to exercise, motivation to read, enthusiasm to pursue goals, and determination to make healthy choices!

I can imagine that your relationship with your mother is difficult. I know what it's like to love and not have it resiprocated. I know what it's like to treat someone with respect and tenderness, and in turn be treated with hostility and disdain. I know what you mean when you say you've lived with "Jekyll and Hyde."

A.B. has taught me a lot about the fact that I can't change another person, but I can work to change my response. Remind yourself in a difficult moment with your mother that you are honoring your commitments to her, you are working to be the best person you can be, and you are determined to be a loving person, no matter what!

You have the freedom to choose your own path, no matter what family memebers choose to do. Don't let others knock you off course or bring you down. I know it's hard. Just stay focused on being a person of integrity and love.