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Life Hacks for Child of a Depressed Parent

De-hoarding my Life

Being the child of a parent with depression comes with some particular challenges. One such challenge is the difficulty separating socialized behavior from innate personality traits, particularly when it comes to depression and clutter! My mom was of a generation that shunned mental health therapy, though she had good reason as her mother was treated horribly by medical professionals.

Depression runs in the family, but how much of the depressed response is learned behavior? Coping strategies are passed down from one generation to the next. Are mine inborn or genetic neuro-chemical misfirings?

All the study and research I’ve done on this topic leads to the conclusion that familial depression is a product of both. The good news is it is possible to tease apart learned behavior from innate behavior.

Mom’s go-to coping strategy when depressed was to move in slow motion until the point of no motion at all. The world would pile up around her and she would sit in her chair, reading and drinking Ice Tea.

Move, like it or not. Want to or not. Get out of the chair, or up from the little napping palate. Lift and carry something, anything. Have I been 100% successful, oh hell no! But I am aware this is one behavior that was socialized, and I can learn a new behavior as a go-to reaction to depression.

Mom couldn’t throw anything away. If it was a gift, she kept it. Even the hideous blue plastic flower arrangement in the plastic white vase that she hid in the back of the buffet. I tried to throw it out numerous times, it was so beyond ugly, and so not my mother’s elegant tastes. One of my mother’s positive self-care habits was to have a fresh floral arrangement on the table. The centerpiece was a critical part of setting the table for her. She’d head out into the yard and come back with a beautiful arrangement of greens and wild flowers. She couldn’t throw away the ugly plastic flowers because the gift from her cousin was intended to “make mom’s life easier” so she wouldn’t have to “go huntin’ down weeds to pretty the table.”

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