My younger brother has been suffering from depression for the past few years. Last year at Christmas time he was at an all-time low, talking about suicide.
My family and I were able to get him some help with a doctor we know, and with the help of anti-depressants he was doing well.
A couple of months ago he was injured in a sports accident and hasn't been able to work. He and his girlfriend moved into my parents’ house with us and there’s been a steady decline in his mental health - very withdrawn, sleeping a lot, short with us, low appetite, apathetic.
We’re trying to make him feel good again by getting him out of the house to do something fun, but he keeps turning us down.
My father recently made him come back to work, at his company. He was initially excited about this but when my father said he was starting right away, he became extremely upset as he didn't have time to prepare himself.
His girlfriend said he mentioned suicide again and now we are ALL on edge in the house.
How do we approach this topic with him in a sensitive way? We’re trying to get him to go see his doctor again.
Very Worried Sister
When a very depressed person’s mentioning suicide, the situation’s urgent to act upon. Your family isn’t equipped to handle this on your own. He needs to get to a mental health specialist immediately.
If he won’t or can’t get to see his doctor right away, get him to a hospital’s mental health clinic or emergency department.
Explain to his girlfriend and your family, that while your father means well, his sudden deadline is too much pressure on your brother at this time.
Then reassure your brother that getting help will ease his deep, internal pain. Between all of you who love him, you should be able to stay pro-active and get him a psychiatric assessment, diagnosis and treatment plan.
Example: In Toronto, the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) is a psychiatric teaching hospital with central facilities and community locations throughout the province.
FEEDBACK Regarding what parents in their 70s should’ve done when two adult children decided to host Christmas dinner together but refused to invite one sibling or accept that he/she host it (December 15).
I advised that they spend it in a meaningful way – perhaps helping out at a food bank, or with close friends to show their disapproval of the mean-spirited grown children.
Reader #1 – “Maybe arrange for everyone to dine at a local shelter dinner, to remind them that there’s much more misfortune, and much more goodwill from those less fortunate, than is envisioned in their squabbles.”
Reader #2 – “I believe that to not have Christmas, even with the excluded sibling, punishes him/her for having done nothing wrong.
“He/she clearly understands the importance of family coming together for a holiday and holds no grudges.”
Reader #3 – “I agree with you. The parents shouldn’t attend the elder children's Christmas dinner.
“Their exclusion is not only mean but is deeply hurtful and disrespectful to their parents. They certainly haven't learned by their parents’ example. The fact that they aren't inviting this sibling because they just "aren't close" is incomprehensible.
“The parents should go elsewhere where they’re appreciated. Those two older offspring should be ashamed of themselves for causing this unnecessary hurt to their sibling and their parents. I'm not sure I’d even send them a Christmas card.”
The daughter of my divorced friend and her ex-husband recently had an extravagant wedding organized by her mother and paid for by her father.
Nothing was said at the event about the parent’s split. Everyone acted like the bride’s family was a model of happiness.
For guests in the know, however, it was very uncomfortable because we’ve been aware of the couple’s coldness to each other and their living separate lives under the same roof for years, until they finally parted not so amicably.
Do you think that something should’ve been said about still being “a family,” and both parents staying closely involved with their daughter, etc. since their divorce is no secret?
The parents did demonstrate their equal devotion to their daughter and their desire to not make the event about them.
You and the other close friends only needed to follow the parents’ cues and enjoy the party as you would’ve any other, to be supportive.
Tip of the day:
When someone’s suicidal, seek professional help immediately.