If you were raised by parents who were depressed, there may have been a reversal of roles. Rather than having the experience of being taken care of, you may have had to take care of your parent. Because children feel sorry for depressed parents, you may be unaware of what you missed in their unavailability.
If your parent was depressed, you may feel like something’s wrong with you, but you don’t know what. You can’t understand why you have a hard time finding satisfaction in your life or in your relationships. You don’t understand why you continually get involved in friendships and relationships where you give so much more than you get back or feel so unfulfilled by what you receive.
Thus, if your mother or father was constantly distracted when you were laughing, sad when you were happy, hurt when you were ecstatically lost in your own pleasure, or bored when you were mastering an important task, you likely concluded that there’s something not very interesting or worthwhile about you. You may carry this confusion about yourself into your life and it tainted your ability to love and to receive love. Without adequate mirroring, a child’s sense of self can get muted; it’s like trying to discover what you look like from a mirror covered with gauze.
When you became estranged, it may have confirmed your worst fears about yourself, and make it harder to believe that you have value or that life is worth living.