How to navigate parents situation and depression

This week my father told us he is feeling very depressed and wants medical help. He mainly feels that my mother always complains and focusses on the negative, and he feels like everything he does is wrong or not good enough.

I don’t have a close relationship with my mother, she is a dominant figure, she indulges a lot in self-pity and she says I don’t want to speak about personal stuff, but really it is very hard to do that with her. She starts arguing and gets angry in an instant and only understands her own views (a lot of people have been experiencing this with her – so I guess it is a C).

Due to her upbringing she’s also very sensitive to ‘what will people think’ so looking good to the outside world (as a happy family), is something that has been dominating for years. I have people in my life to whom I can talk to about merely everything and don’t judge me of for being me, so after years of being hurt by my mother I have somewhat given up and moved on, and expected less from her. In that way, I sometimes stand up for myself, but care less what she will think of me.

Needless to say I understand a lot of the things my dad is feeling.

They work together, they both have a tendency to be rushed, stressed and busy.

The final straw seems to have been a familiar event: my father was discharged last week from the hospital after having a cardiac stent, my mother was picking him up. She was stressed because she did not find a good parking spot and was yelling to my father that he needed to hurry (after cardiac surgery…), so he was mad and sad by this reaction. I felt sad hearing this story from my dad, and also for my mother (that she could not overcome her stress in that moment).

Normally, they would retire next year, they have lost a lot of friends the last years due to cancer etc. So they do rely on each other a lot, but do lack emotional language. I can not remember one deep, constructive conversation with the four of us (with my sister) – on a vulnerable topic EVER.

I’m struggling how to navigate in this situation. I don’t want to ‘side’ with my father (this is how my mother will easily start seeing this). My father has now confided in me and told me this things. My mother tell us he’s mainly struggling with the stress of work and feeling depressed because of this. So I don’t know if she’s in denial or what’s going on. I imagine this is not easy for her.

These dynamics in our family have been present for decades now. I know the model helps me but as other aid workers are already stepping in, I feel like I should not try to lecture them (though the model would help).

In a way I’m also hopeful, that if both would decide to really commit – a warmer relationship between them and us could come out of this challenging situation. But first it’s going to feel like a mine field after years walking on egg shells I imagine. I know we should drop manuals on each other and I do feel like my father is currently doing a lot of blaming, but having been in that situation I do get it, ‘my mother is not easy or warm’

My father hopes the aid workers will help him bringing the message to my mother, so he also has a lot of things to work on.

How can I support myself and my family?