I am very close to someone who struggles with extreme depression. I'll call her Molly. Over the past few days, this depression attack has been horrific. Like not getting out of bed I want to die kind of depression. After several days of this, Molly got out of bed, went outside in the heat and (predictably) feinted. I was part of an intervention that forced her into seeking psychiatric help. Who knows if Molly will follow through. It's up to her now. Depression is treatable but it takes time and commitment. It means individual and group therapy, medication, doctor's appointments, and work on her part. It means her family probably will also need therapy on how best to help her. But at least we have all done our moral duty-- we called her attention to it, got her medical help, and will be there to support her in any way we can.
Molly says that there really is no reason to live because life is tough. She listed several areas in her life that she wishes were different. But, really, everything could be "perfect" and she'd still struggle with depression. It's like alcoholism or drug addiction or over eating or you name it-- triggers are just excuses for the behavior. Period. The blame and the responsibility for the behavior and decisions are completely with the individual.
My friend Tom has a son who was a drug addict. By the time his addiction spiraled out of control he was 18 years old. He couldn't be just enrolled in a rehab facility against his will. So Tom and his ex wife staged an intervention. They hired an intervention specialist, the grandparents traveled for it, the siblings, and a few close friends were all in attendance and when the son arrived, he was told that he had two choices: go to rehab right then and now or walk out with nothing and do it alone-- no car, no money, no cell phone, no clothes. He went to rehab and he's doing much better.
My friend, William, has a daughter who was also a drug addict. She wasn't 18, though, so he and his wife put her in a lockup facility for teen drug addicts.
I can honestly say that if Morgan or Siena decide to do drugs and they're under 18, I'm putting them in a lockup facility. If they're over 18, I'll stage an intervention and they'll go away for help. Or, if they're still living with me and they refuse, they can pack up and move out. I will take that kind of behavior seriously and deal with it immediately and decisively because that is my moral obligation as a parent. Nothing else is more important. It doesn't mean that will be a cure and that everything will be perfect, but it will mean that I've done everything I can.
William asked me the other day if many people knew of the abuse and horror I was living with in my marriage. Yes, but only a few. The neighbors knew to some extent because they could hear the horrific screaming. My parents, Julie and Emmy knew. I told Aida about Bob's alcoholism and that I was on the verge of leaving. And Bob's family knew-- his daughters, his mom, his brother and sister in law. I don't know what his sister, Kathy, knew. I spoke with his mother several times and begged her to do an intervention. I told her that her son was sick, that he needed help. She would schedule meetings with Father Joe, though to my knowledge Bob never showed up for any of those meetings.
Which leaves me with the question: Is it a family's moral obligation to take a proactive role in helping the addict to the extent of an intervention? Is it a family's moral obligation to warn newcomers that the individual has an addiction or major mental illness? Tom's son has a girlfriend and she knows that her boyfriend is a recovering addict. If she didn't know, Tom said he would have pulled her aside and told her because that is critically important information for her to have. Instead of entering into a relationship without that knowledge and later down the line, hurting so many others if the relationship doesn't work out because of her partner's addiction, he would rather tell her himself. As it turns out, Tom's son told his girlfriend himself because, addiction aside, he's an honest kid. As for me, I entered into a relationship with my ex husband based on lies and deception. Was his family complicit in their silence? That is a good question.