So, I will be writing a series of posts about my depression journey where I talk about my experience of depression earlier in my life and how that relates to my experience now. I hope it both helps me find my way out again and helps bring peace and light and understanding to others on their own journeys. <3
I was diagnosed with clinical depression when I was 4 or 5. My mom said I just started to physically attack her and she didn't know why and that I was out of control. There had been some stress at that point- my dad had almost died (I vividly remember being sneaked into the hospital to visit him). My parents were having marital issues. Other than that, no one ever really gave me a reason why it happened. I was put in therapy. I'm pretty sure it was play therapy because I remember a doll house and some other toys. I think I found it a pleasant place, but I don't know how much I opened up to them. I guess the therapy helped make my depression manageable, or they just weren't ready to take the plunge into medication yet. But that was my mysterious, hazy move into this world called depression.
Once the emotional intensity was down, I was able to look at the initial diagnosis of clinical depression and understand how it came to be.
~I started out life as a very sensitive person who easily feels the emotions of others. As a child I'm sure I couldn't differentiate between what I was feeling and what others were feeling. And although my parents did the best they could, neither of them were brought up in emotionally literate homes (more like emotionally abusive) and they just didn't have the skills to help me learn to deal with my sensitivity. When they were having their own problems I took it on as my own.
~I believed that my dad almost dying was my fault.
~I felt rejected by my parents when he came back home (likely because he needed care and that took up a lot of their time and I was the oldest so there wasn't much energy or time left for me).
~When they were gone on a retreat I was raped by some boys. And when they came back, I don't think I could tell them. Or I tried, but I couldn't get past the overwhelming feelings to translate it into coherent words. That's where the physically attacking my mom came into play, I think. (Even as an adult, after all of that tapping, I had a difficult time telling them. I felt it was important to say it, but I didn't want to cause them any pain by telling them about something they could do nothing about. I was so used to carrying it all it seemed cruel to tell and cause others to suffer.)
So these things combined into a perfect storm that left me unable to cope. The intensity of the feelings buzzing around inside of me that I couldn't deal with led to a master shut down. The only things I felt much of were sadness, anger, shame, and a general feeling of helplessness and hopelessness. There was something wrong and I didn't know how to make it right. I needed to let it out, but I couldn't handle the extra pain it caused those around me so I tried to hold it in as best as I could.
Later, as an adult, a psychiatrist asked me what the depression felt like. I told him it was like being in a really deep, dark hole. I could see people up above walking and talking and living their lives in the light, but I couldn't get there. And what was more, I couldn't even interact with the people out there. I would try and no one would notice. Nothing I did seemed to matter, unless I got really angry and exploded or lashed out at them. Then they would see me and maybe come over to my hole and talk, but that was it. Nothing could get me out.
And so I imagine how life must have been with me as a child. I always knew it was really difficult for me, but now that I'm a parent I can see it was quite difficult for them as well. Unfortunately we as parents aren't magically perfect and balanced before our kids come into the world needing things from us. I can see how ill-equipped my parents were to help me. I don't think it's a matter of not doing what they could have done, it's a matter of not having the slightest clue or a bank of skills to pull from. We were all treading in the dark ocean together.
I can also see how things I did probably triggered pain from their own childhood and the abusive reactions they received. And I know they were not aware that that was what was happening so they were always in a place of reacting from their injured places themselves. Which frequently turned into a big explodey mess.
In some ways it is a relief having a clearer picture of what was happening at that time. When I was growing up I just thought I was inherently screwed up and imbalanced. Even though it was incredibly painful to have those memories surface, I'm glad to know what was going on. It makes it easier to move on.
So what is triggering the depression now? I'm starting to get a clearer picture of that as well. I will continue in My Depression Story Part 1.5. :)