DEAR ABBY: During my teens, I was diagnosed with depression and institutionalized following a suicide attempt. Depression is something I live with daily. Unfortunately, my parents and siblings have a "don't ask, don't tell" policy when it comes to anything that may stir up emotions. I feel that it's detrimental to my well-being.
My doctor has suggested cutting my family out of my life. Dealing with them gives me great anxiety. My mother is a master manipulator who denies my suicide attempt ever happened, and I'm afraid she will tell my extended family members (many of whom I have relationships with) that I have "abandoned the family."
No one outside my immediate family knows about my depression or suicide attempt, and I feel I may be forced to reveal that very private part of my life in order to defend my actions. I don't know what to do.
- Reluctant to Reveal
DEAR RELUCTANT TO REVEAL: I think you should follow your doctor's advice and not be intimidated. You have an illness - depression - that, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is shared by about 9 percent of our population. It is nothing to be ashamed of.
Because you're afraid of what your mother will say, explain to those relatives you feel close to what you need to do and the reasons for it. I can't guarantee that some of them won't take sides, but I'm sure not all of them will. Sadly, not all families are functional. Not all parents are good parents, and some of them are toxic.
P.S. Because your struggle with depression is ongoing, I hope you are still under the care of a psychotherapist. If you're not, please consider it.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.