I guess it has always been there to some degree since childhood. I would love to say that my childhood was happy and that everyone around me was loving and supportive. But who has that childhood? I have met a few who have been fortunate enough to at least have strength in their basic foundational relationships. parents, have a secure and safe environment, and a steady predictable routine. My upbringing was relatively stable in most respects but emotionally I would describe it as volatile.lucky few who are supported by both their
I don’t blame my parents, and at my age I would feel a bit silly putting any blame on them considering my circumstances. I wasn’t abandoned or left to starve and I wasn’t neglected or ridiculed. My parents got married young and had four children in five years. We didn’t grow up with much, and money was a constant source of stress and anxiety. Their marriage wasn’t perfect and they were not ideal parents but they always made their children their primary concern. So with all of their faults I knew the did the best they could consider the obstacles they were up against. I may not have had a father I could have tender moments with, but he worked overtime, marched on picket lines and lived with very little material wealth for the sake of his children. My mother was in over her head with four babies and a husband who worked all the time but she always made us the center of the universe. She constantly took us to trips to the library, bought us every educational toy or game we could afford and made sure we did our homework. She may have been too obsessed, but I would rather grow up with her than an indifferent mother.
School wasn’t much of a solace as I was awkward and socially withdrawn. I found children my age to be a bit of a mystery and found more enjoyment reading a book than playing with other kids. There is much more I could write about, but I won’t because I cherish relationships I have with certain family members. I don’t want to dredge up old traumas for the sake of this blog. Some things need to remain private, for the sake of my siblings and my immediate family. When things got bad I literally hid in a closet in our basement. I would shut the door and wait for my world to stop spinning out of control. To this day I don’t think anyone in my family knew I would go down there, I guess they might know now…if they read this blog.
Depression has always been there. The dread that will sometimes wash over me that I can’t shake. It causes me to overreact and panic and lose faith in others. My divorce made it much more pronounced but depression has been with me for as long as I can remember. I had no idea how bad it would get until post-divorce I became suicidal and nearly completely lost my sanity. Clinical depression is nothing to joke about or to shrug off as just the blues. I realize now that I suffered from a mental illness that is quite common but extremely frustrating to manage. But I fought back with traditional therapy, medication, cognitive behavioral therapy and eventually my situation greatly improved.
Although now, I can feel the seductive pull of the dark clouds sucking me back in from time to time. At first it feels comfortable to give in to the black moods and collapse in tears but they soon take over. And instead of having a quick therapeutic moment of release the dread wins out and starts to devour me. I find myself lying on my bed looking straight up trying to fight back a panic attack. I haven’t had one in over a year, and I am so proud that I have been able to stop them but when things get bad it is a constant struggle. At least now I know I have some control, I don’t have to huddle in a closet until it passes. And just knowing that I have some control has been paramount to my recovery. As a child I didn’t know what it was, I couldn’t understand why I wanted to retreat by myself, why I had difficulty dealing with other and why I constantly had crying fits that were nearly inconsolable. I couldn’t understand why things got so black in my head, and why hope was such a hard thing to imagine. My Catholic upbringing caused me to look for a supernatural source but now I know the real demons live inside my head. If it is brain chemistry or some genetic defect I don’t know, or if repeated trauma caused something in my brain to develop abnormally. The source of my depression doesn’t really matter, at least that is what therapy taught me. What matters is management, and trying to live with and fight against this affliction.
For the most part I do alright. I am so much better off than I was just a year ago, but I still struggle. And I know from the amazing feedback I have gotten from this blog and from fellow sufferers of depression that this disease is a tricky one. If you are reading this and you have struggled with depression since you were a child, don’t give up hope. You can and will beat it. Some of us aren’t as lucky in life as others, some of us are born with more obstacles that the average person, and some of us are born with the biology that causes depression. But it doesn’t mean that we can’t beat this disease and we can’t overcome it.
I wish I knew what I know now when I was six years old, if I could I would go back to that little girl with the ice blonde hair and the rosy cheeks and tell her that God isn’t punishing her when the gloom overtakes her mind. Whatever is going on in her head is not pay back for any sins she committed and it is not a battle between good and evil. The dark moods are just a slight flaw in her wiring, and that flaw is depression. And everyone has a flaw, no little girl is born perfect.
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