My wife and I went to work in another country for five years. In all that time, my girls were practically alone. As might be expected, they stopped going to church. This has caused me to sink into a depression that has lasted for years. I feel like I am not worth anything, and I haven’t done anything right.

I suffer from Tinnitis. The doctor told me that there is no cure, and that I should take care of myself or I could end up throwing myself off a three-story building.

I need to be able to lean on the shoulder of someone who can help me keep going.

Dear Friend,

We can see why you need a shoulder to lean on. We care about you and your situation and hope that we can help.

Did you take your doctor’s words seriously? The statement about throwing yourself off a building seems like a strong warning and not something to joke about. We would be surprised if the doctor didn’t accompany that statement with a specific recommendation that you consult with a psychologist or professional counselor who can help you learn to adapt to life with the constant ringing in your ears. There may also be support groups where you can meet with people who are suffering from the same illness.

Tinnitus has a similar effect as pain itself, in that a little of it is manageable. But as the intensity and frequency of pain increases, it can wear down the body’s emotional defenses, causing potentially severe side effects, such as clinical depression or even suicide. Persistent long-term and incurable tinnitus, especially when accompanied by other symptoms, can also have these severe side effects.

You start out by telling us about your regret concerning your daughters. You say that you feel like a complete failure. But we don’t know if your tinnitus developed before or after you began feeling so low, and it is extremely likely that your emotional responses have been affected by your illness. Paradoxically, it is also possible that your emotions and self-recrimination are contributing factors to your illness.

All parents make mistakes and wish that they could go back and do things differently. However, that is impossible. What is possible is for you to determine to do better in the future in whatever ways you can.

The primary way that you can help your daughters is by praying for them. You can’t change how they feel, but God can. He can work behind the scenes in their lives and give them more opportunities to realize how much He loves them. It is better for you to tell God about it and let Him take care of them. Trying to remedy things yourself will only lead to frustration and depression.

We urge you to seek professional help today. Follow up on what your doctor has told you to do. Don’t stop searching until you have found someone who can help you manage your emotions. Your life may depend on it.

We wish you well,