Each week, spiritual teacher Deepak Chopra responds to Oprah.com users' questions with enlightening advice to help them live their best lives.
Q: I read your article on depression on Oprah.com and related to everything you wrote. There was a reason I stumbled onto that article today—I have come to the resolution that I must do something to change my life before I destroy myself. I am in a bad place in my life, and I feel I have lost my will and am just going through the motions. Seventeen years ago, I had a beautiful daughter with birth defects. I felt as though I moved on and made peace, but I am afraid that maybe I just buried my pain. I was so busy raising three young kids and keeping up with the doctor visits, therapists and the house. I guess it was easy to keep my pain in check. But now, it seems each new missed milestone is unbearable.
I used to be resilient, but I just can't bounce back. I am overweight, my house is a mess and I just can't seem to claw my way out. In my daughter's younger years, there was much more hope of a "normal" future for her. Now, as high school graduation comes, I see there is never going to be a normal life for her. On top of her disabilities, she can be violent and abusive. She is in therapy, but it is getting worse, not better. There is so much guilt involved. I was generally a happy person and moved on during difficult times. I've had a dark, depressed side that needed to be kept in check, but I always could. I just don't have the strength to keep fighting anymore. If I do not find a way to move on, I will be swallowed up. I am a mere shell of the person I used to be. Much of the lesson I read had to do with getting rid of things that cause sadness and breaking free of the depression cycle. In this case, the toxic relationship is my child! It is not a relationship I can just get rid of. Do you have advice for people who are depressed over their disabled children? I have never seen solutions for situations when you genuinely can't end the relationship. Any advice you can give would be greatly appreciated. Thank you for your time.
— Audrey D., Mount Sinai, New York
There are solutions to your situation, but you must take them seriously. The basic tenet I have to offer is that happiness is built up by making your day happy. You have to think long term about your daughter, but you have made it an obsession. Situations as tough as the one you describe must be disentangled here and now. Here are the steps that will make your days increasingly happy.
Next question: Does everybody have a purpose?
Every week, Deepak will be answering questions from readers just like you—ask your question now!
Deepak Chopra is the author of more than 50 books on health, success, relationships and spirituality, including his current best-seller, Reinventing the Body, Resurrecting the Soul, and The Ultimate Happiness Prescription, which are available now. You can listen to his show on Saturdays every week on SiriusXM Channels 102 and 155.
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Published on April 28, 2010