Aug
02

Depression and Recovery from Mental Health Struggles

By

depression, mental health, recovery

I have talked a lot about taking a look at the truth in order to realize how I arrived with repeated depression, broken, exhausted and ready to throw my life away in my early forties. I had to look at what happened to me through new lenses. I had to realize that I was innocent of blame for the mess in my childhood that resulted in my adult life still being a mess. There is a gap between childhood and adulthood that I discovered is a very common place where many of us get stuck. We reach a certain age in our early twenties and we are told that we are adults and we are responsible for our lives. Stop blaming others, get over it and get on with it. But no one helped me sort it out when I was a kid. I had been treated like I was less important than the adults in my life. SO how was I supposed to suddenly know my value, get over “it” and get on with it?  As a child I had this sense of having been abandoned ~ my feelings didn’t matter, I was not taken care of and I did not grow up “properly” as a result. No one helped me with this mess, a mess that I was innocent of creating, BUT nevertheless, it was still my mess. It was finally clear that no one was going to rescue me. It was clear that my family was not going to suddenly wake up and love me. No one was going to suddenly realize my value. It was up to me.

I did not realize that I was a victim. I didn’t like that word and didn’t really understand it. I thought it meant that I was a whiner. I thought a victim was someone who complained all the time about the world and it’s people and about what a tough hand of cards they had been dealt. I wasn’t a whiner. I grew up in a world where depression has a stigma. Deep down no matter how much I heard that depression was common, that many struggled, yada yada yada, there was a stigma surrounding it and I believed it was a weakness. I didn’t want to admit that I was on anti depressants; I would have been seen as weak, lacking in faith, and like everything else in my life, I must be doing something wrong.  I tried positive thinking, affirmation, bible study, self help books and seminars. They all worked for a while, but nothing had a lasting effect. I was exhausted. The depressions that I had dealt with since I was ten years old were getting worse and more frequent. I was losing the fight. I felt like I was being held under water, struggling to breathe, fighting to have a voice and a place in this world. And I was losing.

It was time to step back and take a look at my life. I put all the puzzle pieces on the table. The mess was overwhelming. I didn’t think I could face it, I didn’t think that I could sort it out. There was so much confusion, so many mixed messages, so much that I had accepted the blame for and I was so tired. I had to go back to beginning and realize where my emotional growth was stunted. I had to face one thing at a time and break that one thing down. There was abuse that resulted in destructive coping methods. I had been focusing on the destructive coping methods, even questioning WHY I had depression as though that too was my fault and beating myself up for the way that I dealt with everything. I saw myself as a failure because I looked at my life through the expectations of the very people who held me under that water. I had to make my beginning and at first it was only a decision to try. I started with one thing and was willing to look at one abusive situation in my childhood. My therapist chose my first memory of an abusive trauma to take a look at first. I laid it out on the table piece by piece and looked at it the way it happened, bit by bit. I revealed every thought I had that I remembered including the baggage of self blame. I had not even been conscious that I had self blame. I dumped all the thoughts about how I could have prevented it, how I must have done something to cause it onto the table as I focused on this one event. I talked about the adults’ expressions, the eye movement, the secrecy, all of which helped me understand that I was innocent. I recognized the beginning of my dissociative identity disorder. I felt the horror of what had happened to me and for the first time I realized that it happened “TO ME”. I faced the pain of child abuse, and came to understand that I had been wronged.

One event at a time, one small snapshot of truth, one little breakthrough, one new way of looking at it, one little realization and then another.  

This was the beginning of Emerging from Broken ~ I invite you to contribute to this post in any way that you wish.

Darlene Ouimet

Categories : Depression

23 Comments

1

I love this! It’s so powerful!!! It’s so true that we’re not only left with the negative messages of the abuse itself, but then the coping mechanisms have their own accusing messages. I wish I could just hit the ‘delete’ button. It’s amazing that we can survive, though as we know, it’s even possible to come out thriving once we deal with those darn messages.

2

oh my gosh,
darlene you have opened my eyes to so much in the kast few blogs that you have posted but this one is amazing.
not sure i could be as open as you were just yet but i am getting there with the understanding you have helped me achieve in the last few weeks. it must seem like i reply to everything but everything is touching a nerve at the mo, so everything seems relevant.
many thanks for your hard work then and the hard work you do now

3

Wow, this article is amazing, I can relate to so much in it

4

Thanks my friends, I had a bit of writers block so wasn’t sure that this post would resonate well with anyone!

Carol, Please feel free to reply to everything.. I consider this blog to be a bit of a growing community and everyone loves the comments.

Christina, I guess when we deal with each thing, it is kind of like hitting the delete button, just on issue at a time… nice image though, to just hit the delete the minute we become aware!

Fi
Glad that you can relate!
Hugs, to all, Darlene

5

I always thought that too about being a victim. Although, truthfully, by definition I am a victim of emotional abuse, I do however strive to not live like a stereotypical ‘victim’ – where one is living in a ‘poor me’ and ‘it’s all about me’ and ‘whine, whine, whine’ mentality. Something is to be said for overcoming and not wallowing in our victim-ness. :o)

6

Depression and Recovery from Mental Health Struggles…

I found your entry interesting do I’ve added a Trackback to it on my weblog :)…

7

Darlene, you laid this out so succinctly. It makes so much sense, and I can confirm that what you have shared here is real, because it’s exactly the way it happened for me as well. It is the truth …. it is our truth, it is has set us on a path to freedom.

8

Hi Paulette,
Sometimes when I am writing this blog I hear that little voice inside telling me that I am whineing about the past.. but I know I’m not. One of the big things for me was finally saying outloud that the things some people considered to be whineing, were really abusive things that they were doing. I had to call it abuse and control. I talk about the past today because it held the keys to my future. It is very hard, as you say, to set our sites on overcoming, and there cerainly is something to be said for that!
Hugs, Darlene

9

Hi Ron,
Thank you so much for sharing this part of your journey and esp. for telling me that this is how it happened for you too! This truth, OUR truth, is the only way that I ever found the path to freedom that I looked for a very long time.
Thanks for being here!
Hugs, Darlene

10

This is so in line with some thoughts that I was thinking just this morning. Thanks for posting. It wasn’t until I was ready to look at my past and deal with it that I began to be set free from the way I saw myself during those growing up years. With so much teaching that goes against examining the past – I was afraid to go back and explore it from the perspective of an adult. But God kept on nudging me and I’m so glad I listened. Now I can move on and live my life beyond what had happened to me as a child, and explore the future as a healthy adult from the perspective of a child of God who has survived the shame of abuse – knowing that I am never alone.

11

Hi Belinda and welcome!
I like how you put this ~ just slightly different than I put it, but even for me it sheds even more light on the path to freedom. There is a lot of teaching that says “don’t examine the past” and it really is the only way that I found my way out of the dark!
Thanks for posting! I hope you share again soon,
Hugs, Darlene

12

Dear Darlene,
I don’t have time to write what I really feel right now…but I want you to be reminded how much your “ministry” (of helping us work through our past) means to me. I could have written your post today…I lived it! Only, I have not yet been able to get past it. I think I got stuck on the “whining carousel” and could not find a way to get off. Your wisdom helped with that jump!

I am off now, thanks to you and some great and wise friends…but I am still dizzy from the ride and cannot seem to get the right footing that will help me move forward. I keep having chaos enter my world and have to stop and take care of it. This derails my intent on moving through the issues that have kept me in bondage. It is beyond frustrating.

I am determined to keep trying. At this moment, I just want to let you know that your blog is one of the few things that keeps me encouraged not to give up. I have come to love and appreciate you so much…as I am sure many others have as well.

I continue to pray for your gifts that you use so unselfishly. May you have clarity and peace of mind as you continue your endeavors to reach out and help those of us that are struggling to live life in the freedom God intended us to live.

Hugs and prayers,
Cindy Leigh

13

Hi Cindy Leigh!
It is so great to hear from you! Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your wonderful words of encouragement about my mission and passion ~ this blog. I was darn dizzy when I got of that ride of lies and distruction too, so I get that.
I am very glad to hear that you are going to keep trying. Everyday I write for 10 min. on gratitude and I don’t think I miss a day being grateful for my determination. I am free now, and that determination was a big part of how I got here.
Thank you also for your prayers; I believe that I am blessed with this gift and this message of healing and feel purpose driven to share it.
Hugs and love, Darlene

14

Wow, Darlene, what a powerful thing to read today. Thank you for sharing this with us. It resonates to the soul. Something you said rang true especially for me:

“I felt like I was being held under water, struggling to breathe, fighting to have a voice and a place in this world. And I was losing.”

I think that is so true for many survivors of abuse, and you put it into words so well. Further to that, as we finally start to try to pull ourselves up out of the water oftentimes it is those around us that are still standing there with their foot on our throats, holding us under water and asking us what’s wrong with us and why don’t we just get on with it. It’s those toxic influences that are holding us down, not allowing us the air we need to recover. When I first started therapy, I was still so blind to those type of people around me. I had told a therapist about those people, but didn’t really “get it” myself how toxic they were to me. I told him about how a sibling of mine didn’t ever come around the family. His deadpan response was “Why would he want to?” That was a powerful moment for me and caused me to begin to see how distorted my views of things had been built up over the decades.

Thanks again for sharing and helping those of us on the journey with you.

15

Hi Eddie,

I walked into therapy one day and just blurted out to my therapist that I was drowning. That I just felt like someone was holding me down, or pulling my leg everytime I got a breath. It was very real to me. So he asked me “who” was holding me down and sitting on my chest. And there were several people and YES they were holding me down and asking me what was wrong. (I can just see the evil sneer!)
I worked through that whole thing kind of on my own outside of therapy, and I realized that even though the abusers were sitting on me, and holding me under the water, I found out eventually that I had the power to get them off me and break free. I just needed someone else to help me; kind of like a hand up, someone to tell me that it wasn’t my fault, (like you say DECADES of a certain way of life all build up ~ takes some undoing and rebuilding) and I got stronger little by little.
I am so glad that there are people who GET me! My family never did! I am so glad that you and so many others are on this journey with me too!

Thanks so much!
Hugs, Darlene

16

oh wow
this blog has gooten some good posts hasnt it.
i always felt i had a spine for a reason, was never sure what that reason was, til i found people to help remove thier blinkers and see what i saw in their lives. i didnt push i just gave them different options n veiws on what we both saw in a given situation. yet now i find myslf thinking why carnt i move on lik ethey have, why carnt i get beyond the past. the answer, my defences, the thing that kept me safe n alive now hold me there inthe cess pit of bad emtions n hurtful times. i so want to break down my walls n have a few more sklights than i had a few years ago, but there seem to be some heavy boulders that you are helping me break down into more smashable bits. thank you for helping many of us find understanding even if we dont really get the idea

17

Carol,
I like how you say that I help break down some heavy boulders into more smashable bits Yes, that really is what I am trying to do. I call it fog busting. Chopping little holes through those beliefs that cloud our vision and prevent us from having our freedom. Chipping away in order to let a litttle light shine through. Thanks so much for your comments and for your participation in this blog. I appreciate you.
Hugs, Darlene

18

On the “DECADES” thing, one of the therapists I saw talked with me about this. He said that it took decades to build my way of thinking about myself, my perceptions of who was safe in my world, and believing the false ideas that had been planted long ago. Those lies and distortions took root and grew inside me, like ivy winding through every nook and cranny of my brain, putting down roots so that now, decades later, at times it seemed impossible to pull them back out. He said that it took decades to grow with that type of thinking, so it will take some time to undo it as well. We talked about this because I had become despondent and wondering would I ever really “heal” — be “normal” (yeah, I hate that word, too). He said something like “You will be better, you will recover, but no, you will never forget the past, that will be with you always. But you’ll learn to no longer let it control your every waking thought and moment.” And he was right. I don’t think about the past much any more, life is better, the creeps who s*xually abused me as a child no longer have control of my daily thoughts. Releasing that was a watershed moment. 🙂

19

Eddie,
This is pretty much how it was for me too and how I tell it to others. I like the imagery that you use to describe the process of recovery. That is how I feel; the false beliefs that were born out of situations and events, wound their way through everything and it was a bit of a chore to chop them out but it is doable, as you say here! It is so powerful for everyone to read that others also had success with the process in a world where hope can be scarce ~ so ~ thanks so much for sharing and I hope you visit and share with us often!
Hugs, Darlene

20

Darlene,
You have made lemonade from lemons. What can I say. You are inspiring to so many of us just by being candid about what happened to you. It gives us permission to do the same thus helping to set us free from our chains of guilt, shame, pain and suffering. Thank you for your courage which inspires others to have hope of recovering from their broken lives. Here people can assimilate what actually happened to them and why it happened. Then we get to the root of our problems and start the process of recovering our lives. Getting back the title to our own lives that others have stolen from us. As we get back these titles, we start sharing and find others here that have that that in common with us and this very fact brings us more relief from our anxieties and thoughts because we know that we are not alone. You have provided the stage for our recovery. Thank you, thank you, thank you. You are a wonderful person doing all in your power to help others in need. Your wonderful kind of compassion is what the world longs for and I for one am so blessed to know you. You’ve helped me in ways and on levels that you may not even be aware of. I’m a believer in God and I make no excuses for it, not here or anywhere else and I believe that God is truth and if we speak and live the truth then the truth will set us free. Here we have found truth and it is liberating – “freeing”. Thanks for being a true friend that speaks with the truth and is unafraid to do so.
Love, Manuel

21

Manuel, Thank you!
I love how you have summed this up. I love how you describe what I am doing as providing a “stage for recovery” and inspiring others. That is my passion, my mission, and I sincerely hope that I am doing just that! I am speaking the truth and I believe that this is how I personally was set free from the bondage of depression, abuse and low self esteem and I also believe that others can be set free by knowing some of their hidden truth.
Thanks so much and I am so glad that you are here with us and that we can all journey together!!
Love Darlene

22

Hi Darlene,

This post makes so much sense to me. I suffered depression and anxiety my entire life without realising why. I always thought I was the problem, because I was weak a mess, not beautiful enough,not good enough, bad. My family made me feel like the emotional loose cannon,who was constantly crying for no reason always looking for attention and drama. So I ignored my feelings,ignored the anxiety,ignored the depression and blamed myself even more. That maybe if I was like strong enough,or beautiful enough like my sisters than maybe things will be better. So I went out hung around with the wrong crowd, drank,went to raves partied day and night. As it helped me forget my situation I felt confident,and amazing. However once the party was over and I was sat alone, I was again left with my nightmares and barely able to cope.

Its only when a couple of years ago I finally faced my traumatic past, my abusive mother and violent alcholic father. That I finally realised the major damage that had been caused and how my past and childhood had a massive ripple affect in to my adulthood. How as long as I stayed in that state, I was reliving and creating the abuse of my past my attracting similar people and situations in to my life. That was the the start of a painful,heartbreaking journey. Than finally last year at the age of 37yrs old,finally accepting and coming to terms with the fact that my uncles and my own father sexually abused me as a child. And in order to heal I had to relive the horrifying ordeals ALL over again.

My family of course are all in denial. I sent letters to both my mother and father. Of course they went in to denial and of course I am looking for attention, or money,actually both. My mother called me a liar, said I was always looking for attention. In the same breath without admitting anything she also told me that around the incident she had a mental breakdown. And I will eventually get over this like she had.My brothers and sisters of course sided with my parents. As hard as this was for me to swallow, and as much as I grieved as for some reason I expected my mother to hug me,look after me and apologise, for my father to say sorry and in my fantasy world they were helping me there eldest daughter finally recover..haha..I accept this will never happen.I dont need my family in my life, they have never been there only in name and on paper. The reality is this is no massive loss.. I only feel a MASSIVE sense of relief and freedom that I no longer need to listen to there lies and pretend.

It makes me so mad, the years that I lost the fear and anxiety the self blame and abuse I carried.However on a positive note, once I stopped, acknowledged and accepted the horror of my past. My depression has gone, my anxiety has lessened. Some days are good, trigger days not so. Awareness is the first step. In the past I woudl have gone on a massive drinking binge to forget. Now I know how to look after myself and reparent myself.

My very own family pyshically,mentally,emotionally abused me and raped me.. So regardless of what society says “FAMILY” is not everything. I know as the days go by I wll become stronger and more vibrant. I haev my own supportive family, my friends who have helped and picked me when I needed it the most.Thats all you need is a strong support group .

Thanks Darlene this post makes so much sense to me. And I am so greatful for strong women like yourself who choose to speak openly and publicly about there experiences. As it makes a massive difference.

Even now as I type this there are children being abused and raped by there own family. However as a society we are taught not to ” wash out dirty laundry in public” …which makes me want to laugh and feel sick at the same time..

Love
Sanita

23

Hi Sanita
Welcome to Emerging from Broken
Thank you for sharing your story. The biggest reason that I do the work I do (and created this website) is because I too found out that when I faced the truth about my past that my depressions lifted. The truth actually DID set me free!
I am so glad that you are here!
Hugs, Darlene

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