Also, try to arrange a walking partner for her (maybe one of your friend’s mothers). Since you mentioned that your mother is not responding to any of your ideas, tell her that she should walk to stay fit. When suggesting the mother of one of your friends, tell your mother that this woman needs a walking partner and that it would be an act of chesed for her to help this woman. By exercising, your mother will feel better because it will increase her endorphins. Endorphins are natural anti-depressants that our bodies produce and thus are the best form of “medicine” that we can take. It is also a great starting point, as you do not seem to be sure if your mother is clinically depressed since she is refusing to seek medical help for her symptoms.
While it is uncertain if your mother will respond to this kind of intervention, perhaps she is the type of person who does not know how to take care of herself, but likes to take care of everyone else. If she thinks she is helping someone else, i.e. her walking partner, maybe she will get the help she needs in the process. And once your mother starts being more active, she would gain further benefit by joining a group therapy session. Group therapy (perhaps with recently retired people), as opposed to individual therapy, may be better for her because she will see that she is not alone in her difficulties. And hopefully she’ll make some friends in the process.
If your mother is clinically depressed (she would need to be diagnosed by a professional to ascertain this), she might need medication prescribed by that professional. The right medication can make a positive difference. When feeling better, she can try some of your ideas and/or some of mine.
If none of these ideas work, simply stress to your mother how much you love her and how much you want to help her feel better. Tell her how much it hurts you when you see her feeling this way. Emphasize that you want her to enjoy her life and all the berachos that Hashem has given her – including her beautiful children and grandchildren. If your mother has never been a “glass is half full” kind of person, she will not likely change this facet of her personality. But hopefully you will be able to get her to come out of the depressed state in which she finds herself, hence decreasing her negative attitude.
If you think it will help, show this column to your mother. Maybe it will hit home, and she will try to turn over a new leaf in her life. I wish you hatzlachah in your challenging situation.Dr. Yael Respler
About the Author: Dr. Yael Respler is a psychotherapist in private practice who provides marital, dating and family counseling. Dr. Respler also deals with problems relating to marital intimacy. Letters may be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. To schedule an appointment, please call 917-751-4887. Dr. Orit Respler-Herman, a child psychologist, co-authors this column and is now in private practice providing complete pychological evaluations as well as child and adolescent therapy. She can be reached at 917-679-1612. Previous columns can be viewed at www.jewishpress.com and archives of Dr. Respler’s radio shows can be found at www.dryaelrespler.com.
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