Dear Dr. Brilliant Cliché,
I can admit that my grandmother had a difficult life- it was filled with losses and sacrifice. All of this is many years in the past; yet she remains an embittered and isolated person. My mom goes out of her way to try to be nice and help but grandma’s downright mean to her. I hate watching it. I don’t know why my mom doesn’t tell granny to just get f..cked. My guess is that it’s out of guilt. It seems Grandma goes out of her way to poison my mother’s outlook on life. She is constantly telling her how ungrateful people are, how everyone is trying to screw you.
My mom remembers a time when grandma was just the opposite- in her youth she was overtly cheerful and optimistic, probably even naïvely so. That was before all the bad stuff happened. I know there’s not anything I can really do but I just hate to see her effect on my mother. Why can’t grandma just let go and live for today?
Dear Miss Havisham
For some people, suffering is all they have. It is a tangible thing that they hold on to and in a warped way it provides them security, consistency, and comfort. The alternative is ambiguity and the unknown, which means fear.
The suffering you speak of is your grandmother’s suffering and who are you to take it away? It is how she defines herself. I call this “the martyr type.” For such people, it is all about them. They cast themselves as a sort of negative hero. It takes a higher level of internal maturity to see life, not from a what was done to you, but how you handled and survived it. It is possible to grow from tragic experience or to help someone else because of it. Unfortunately, most people never realize that shit makes the best fertilizer.
All of the above is why antidepressants are a mixed bag. They might move a person away from their suffering but in doing so they also potentially prevent them from learning from it. For this reason, I feel that antidepressants should never be prescribed without counseling.
I hope grandma learns to garden, it is never too late.
Dr. Brilliant Cliché
Granny says: holding on to bitterness is probably was one the worst things a person can do. Constant negative emotions impact both physical health and emotional quality of life. The big mistake that grandma is making is in isolating herself. This is probably one of the reasons why she can’t let go. She has completely lost perspective on anything she is feeling. If the only person she talks to is herself, the only feedback she will ever get is, “Yeah, life sucks and everyone is out to get you.” I don’t think your mother is tolerant towards granny because of guilt; if it was all about guilt, then your mother would be bickering and fighting with grandma, not tolerating. I am going to credit your mom with understanding that if she can hold on to her own positive energy in the face of bitterness, it makes the world a bit brighter. Good for mom. As to antidepressants- I am becoming ever more vehement against their use. They are prescribed by medical doctors who have no psychological experience whatsoever, and they are doled out by psychiatrists like M&Ms because they fit the requirements of those freaking’ insurance companies: slap a Band-Aid on the problem, send ‘em back to work, and spend as little time and money on it as possible.
The constant outbreaks of violence in our country are indicative of a people who can’t handle emotions. If the DSM5 has it’s way, none of us ever will.