Depression and Identity Crisis


Identity Crisis

I was stuck for so long believing that if my family could just see me for who I really am, that I could BE who I really am. This was a lie that kept me down for many years. Because “they” my family taught me who I was; because they had defined me and I my identity was grounded in the definition of “me” that they gave me, I did not realize that I could define myself. I felt like I HAD to get their agreement to be me, before I could be me. I felt like being someone that they didn’t think I was or didn’t want me to be was somehow a betrayal of everything they wanted. As though my life would have no meaning and I would be no one if I stood up to them. I felt like I HAD to be who they said I was, or I would be rejected. This was such a big part of the cause of my depressions and my struggle with depression and identity crisis.

 This was all tied in with my childhood belief that I could not live without my family. That I would die without them because I could not survive out on the street by myself. When we are children we have to believe that our family is right, because if we believe that it is them who are wrong, there is no hope for us. I could not find my own food, my own shelter. I was scared of rejection and rightly so. I knew that I would not be able to survive without them therefore I would surely die out there in the world by myself. I could not make them change, so I tried to change; I tried hard to be what they wanted me to be so that I would be loved. I wanted to be who (the identity) they wanted me to be but at the same time because I was not recognized as ME or valued for being me, I was no one. (Identity Crisis) That might just be my definition of depression or at least one of my definitions of depression. And that was where it got so confusing.

 Somehow I thought that their approval was actually love and I tried to live by their definition of love, which is about compliance, obedience, respect and acceptance of them however they are. I grew up and kept trying harder to be loved (approved of). Even as an adult I didn’t see that my family, and subsequent controllers and abusers did not love me according to their own definition of love; I never realized that they didn’t accept me, they didn’t approve of me the way that I had to approve of them. I never realized that they didn’t accept me, my decisions or my choices, the way that I was required to accept them and their decisions and choices ~ and without question I might add. See how confusing this is? Is it any wonder that I struggled with identity crisis, depression and mental health issues?

 At the age of 17 I moved out of the house and I took my childhood belief system with me and all of my damaged self esteem and I moved in with my boyfriend and now I was trying hard to be loved by yet another person who wanted me to love him out of his false definition of love, and wanted me to be who he dreamed the perfect girlfriend would be and I was STILL trying (longing, wishing, praying, hoping, and telling myself that I didn’t care) to get acceptance, approval and love from my family too.  And that is a great recipe for depression.

 I had grown up not knowing that I was enough, not knowing that I was lovable, that I deserved better then what they offered me then and what they offer me now. I did not trust myself to make good decisions, and everything I did, every choice I made I subconsciously put through a grid of “will this meet with approval from “them”? If the answer was no, I tried to hide my decision or I made some brave “rebellious” stand for myself, feeling so smart and smug, all the while dreading the eventual judgement.  

 I had been taught and conditioned to believe I needed their approval before I could approve of myself. Realizing this truth was the first step on the journey to self love, self acceptance and recovering my self esteem. I am no longer in any kind of identity crisis; I have discovered the ME that I am and I embrace that truth. Realizing this truth and re-wiring my belief system was how I found my way out of chronic depression and dissociative identity disorder.

As always I look forward to all your comments!

 You are the only you there is ~ do you know who you are?

 Darlene Ouimet

24 response to "Depression and Identity Crisis"

  1. By: Charles Browne Posted: 16th October

    “I included a note that basically read that I would like to get to know her better”

    The above should have been:

    “I included a note that basically read that I would like to get to know her”

    It wasn’t “get to know her better” because I didn’t even know her. I thought I had proofread the comment well enough, I didn’t.

  2. By: Charles Browne Posted: 16th October

    (Darlene the below comment is kind of long. It explains how I coped in my teenage years. It pretty much defined the rest of my life as far as relationships went. I avoided them. I didn’t know how to have them. I think I am all commented out now. Thank you very much.)

    If there was one main survival coping method in my teenage years of fourteen to eighteen the below tells of it, and I only figured out within the last year exactly what was going on with me during that period of time.

    When I was around thirteen or fourteen I was having infatuations with a different girl at school about every other week or two. Most of these girls were years older than me and some were seniors. And it was all very innocent boyhood stuff. I admired from a distance. I didn’t know about sex or anything like that. I was naive and I am glad I was.

    About the time that I had my “shocked into isolation” moment, that I told about in a comment on another of Darlene’s blog pages, I became infatuated with a girl at school who was about two grades lower than I was.

    When I initially became isolated when I was fourteen and withdrew, I don’t really remember exactly how I spendt my time in the beginning. I know I listened to music a lot but other than that I don’t remember. I had one other friend in the neighborhood I lived in, other than the boy that had told me the message that had sent me into isolation, but I never interacted with him after I withdrew, and he and his family eventually moved away from the neighborhood (I was actually looking out my bedroom window one day and saw his family’s station wagaon drive by, loaded up with stuff, and that is how I knew he had moved).

    When I came home from school I basically stayed in the house and my parents never noticed that something was wrong. I realize now that my parents were actually a part of my problem, too.

    The infatuation I had with the girl that was two grades below me at school endured for some reason. Again I need to state that I never had sexual thoughts about her and I also never thought about what our lives would be like when we finally got together. I didn’t fantasize about her and that I can honestly say. She would just come into my thoughts at intermittent times.

    I had no friends in my neighborhood. I lost the two friends I did have. There were people at school that I knew and had known for years, so when I came home from school I got in the habit of being a nuisance. I would call them. A friend of mine at school, another boy, I got in the habit of calling almost daily for a time, after school. That boy had a younger sister and an older brother, and their family could probably be considered well adjusted. In my desperation for connection with somebody I never considered how my calling every day might be viewed from his, or his family’s perspective. Kind of like me calling and them saying your boy friends on the phone crap. I don’t know that that did happen but I think it did. Eventually I did stop calling him after school, but that left me to find other things to occupy my time.

    At school during lunch time I would hide on a less busy side of the school until lunch time was over. The boy I mentioned above that I would call and two other boys were quite popular and I had known all three of them since at least first grade. So sometimes as students filtered out of the cafeteria into what was called the ‘courtyard’, I would walk over and sit with them.

    I had never told anyone about my infatuation with the girl. When I was sixteen and had my driver’s license I figured it was time to do something.

    I drove to a florist one day and had them send a dozen roses to the girl, at her home. I included a note that basically read that I would like to get to know her better, and I left the note unsigned. I also need to add that I had never spoken to the girl and I am sure she didn’t know I existed.

    A few days later when I felt enough days had passed and the flowers should have been delivered I wondered what I should do. At that time in school one of the teachers was having us keep personal journals and I got the bright idea to write of, basically, my admiration for the girl, and then I left that journal underneath my desk one day when class was over, knowing that someone would find the journal. And that’s the way it happened. Someone found my journal, read it and my secret was out, and I was scared to death, and I was scared to death to talk with the girl.

    One day I did call the girl at home and she started to talk but then I got nervous. I said something to her and then hung up the phone. Another time I did go over to her house in the evening and knocked on the door and her mother answered the door and said she didn’t let her daughter out at night.

    And not knowing when to quit I think I did end up sending her smallish flowers (not roses) two more times.

    Given what goes on with stalking now a days does the story above stink of stalking? It wasn’t. I never stalked her and I only called her that one time. And I never followed her.

    There was another girl at school that was in my grade and I used to go over to her house and she would listen to me tell of my woes regarding the other girl. Looking back at that now I kind of wish she had smacked me upside the head and told me to wake up. I really think my high school years were really the only years that I could say without a doubt that I really felt sorry for myself and had pity parties.

    One day at school I got a letter from the girl I was infatuated with (or so I thought). I didn’t know what to do. She was actually interested in me. A day or two later another girl at school that I knew told me that she had written the letter and she apologized and told me that the three guys I had known since first grade had asked her to write the letter. I told her that it was alright. I was actually somewhat relieved, because I didn’t know what to do next. But I didn’t tell the girl that had written the letter that.

    I told my dad one time about my having sent some girl flowers and his was basically a none response, that I remember. I never told my mother and she didn’t know about it until last year when I asked her if had known about it.

    During the time that I had left the journal under the desk another girl entered my life. I don’t know exactly how it happened but I found myself over at her house meeting her parents one evening. And after meeting her parents they let her go with me and we drove over to meet some people we both knew and she and I just sat together. I don’t think I said one sentence to her. I was that insecure. We weren’t ever boyfriend/girlfriend, and looking back at it now I think she might have been the kind of girl that liked caring for stray animals :).

    When I got out of bootcamp years later and was on leave before reporting to the ship I took her to a restaurant and when we were leaving I asked her if I could kiss her goodbye and she said yes and that was my first kiss, and it was a goodbye kiss.

    I met her one more time for lunch when I was around twenty-six and I don’t think I said more than a sentence that time either. I definitely didn’t have a voice.

    I found her on the Internet last year and sent her an e-mail where I basically just thanked her for being there in my teenage years, and how I wished I had talked more. I wasn’t looking to meet her. I just wanted to say thank you in that e-mail.

    As for the young lady I had the infatuation with that infatuation lasted pretty much up till my first few months in the navy and then I just forgot about it.

    I didn’t know why I had latched onto that infatuation during my later school years. Like I wrote above I wasn’t ever a stalker but I was a general nuisance most likely.

    It wasn’t until I saw the word “transference” in an Alice Miller book, or on her website, that I saw what I had been doing back in my teenage years. I don’t know if the way Alice Miller used the word fits with what I was doing but it seemed to come closest to explaining it to me.

    In my youth I was full of emotional turmoil that I didn’t understand, and I didn’t know where it was coming from, that I suppose I needed to give it a face. And I turned my already present emotional turmoil into a “longing” for the girl I had the infatuation for. Which might have been why I wanted to keep her at a distance, even though I did have an authentic insecurity around girls. As long as she remained a “longing” my emotional turmoil had a reason, that I could understand, for being.

    And that’s what I am wanting to do with my time now. Learning what emotions are, and about how to feel emotions, and how to have healthy emotions.

    I imagine my comment might be sending up red flags everywhere. If so I’m sorry. I wasn’t delusional during those teenage years. I was just very, very hurt.

  3. By: joanne Posted: 8th February

    hi Darlene, i have been going through the material submitted on your wonderful blog and i would like to ask,did you find that maladjusted people still came on to you even after you had realized the damage that had been done to you? This is still happening to me and it is SO FRUSTRATING because i want to attract only those who are well adjusted! And i do not know what i am doing wrong or what SIGNALS i am giving off to attract the wrong kind!Could it be that there is something i am yet to learn? How does one deal with something as sensitive as this? I do not want to tell anyone around me because i am embarrassed.I should be married by now but i do not want to choose a maladjusted man just for the sake of being known as MRS SOMEBODY…

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 8th February

      Hi Joanne
      This is a huge question actually. I found that suddenly I began to attract a different type of person when I was at a certain level of healing rather than just awareness. It was when I was strong enough (by changing a good percentage of my belief system about myself) to know that I would always stand up for myself, that I think the signals that I sent off actually changed. It really takes time and a lot of work but you can do it!
      Hugs, Darlene

  4. By: Jackie Posted: 31st August

    Bein “altered” is tough thing. I had therapy today and I wasn’t “myself” as usual. I went IN as me ya but I never “stay” me. First switch was due to a train, one likes trains and thinks their cool to watch, explore, and at times touch in motion so my body was mesmerised for a span while the train went by. In the therapy office things were strange, it was like for the first time I saw my therapist in a different way like….I don’t know hwo to explian it but I didn’t think I knew her. I know I’m not makin any sense here but um…Love is like an alter state with us….some know bout it, some accept it,some hate it, and yep even some thrive on it. Some also use it so what is love in actuality???? I know bout love or I’d like to think I do b/c I have a wonderful husband and 4 beautiful kids jplus many who “call” me “mom” so….I’d like to know that I KNOW what love is…but I’m not sure if it’s the right kind as it has many sides to it. I done lost train of thought here so I’m not sure where I’m goin with this sorry

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 31st August

      Hi Jackie,
      Therapy was the first place that I learned to stop dissociating and it was really cool. Hang in there with what you are doing!
      Hugs, Darlene

  5. By: Paulette Brown Posted: 30th August

    That’s exactly how I feel right now too Darlene … their loss, and I gain some level of normalcy in my life. I feel like I am back in the driver’s seat now, so-to-speak – its a good feeling!

  6. By: Paulette Brown Posted: 30th August

    I am reminded once again that, ‘I am not alone.’ Jackie, I thought that for years – that love was an earned thing, weighed on a balance scale. It was awful. I was 26 before I learned what real love is. I have people in my life now who do love me as I am – I just wish I knew who she was! 🙂

  7. By: Jackie Posted: 30th August

    To be loved for who I am is so far in a distance – I grew up thinkin bein loved/ and or gettin loved meant doin all things asked of ya even if you didn’t want to….Always bein the object of everyone’s play time became numb just as runnin away did. I would yearn for someone to love me in a GOOD way b/c all I knew were bad ways. I would never amount to nothin, never be anyone, never live a life I could be proud of….its a good feelin when ya make those “ideaties” others see you as….wrong 🙂

    I’m tryin to live in ways I’ll forget who they were to me

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 30th August

      Hi Jackie,
      Your post reminds me of how I used to feel too and I want to assure you that there is hope and it does take time. One of the key things for me was to begin to let go of the past and I did that by realizing in my heart how wrong it was, how wrong what happened to me was, and realizing that it was not ME that was wrong. Then I was able to make a slight beginning at trying to believe that that past made me no less valuable. What happened to me; even being devalued was not something that I deserved, and somehow as time and the process went on, I was able to begin to see myself as worthy of life, of way more life than I had ever had before. One day I began to feel good about myself, started to get to know myself, started to replace all the neglect, the oppression, the not good enough feelings with GOOD eneough feelings and when I saw the real me; when I started to emerg from the brokeness that was me, I liked me! I am a pretty cool woman. So, I just want to say that this can happen for you too. This can happen for anyone. I am free now, I am not stuck in that pain or darkness anymore. Hang in there, and please keep sharing!
      Love Darlene

      Paulette, You will find out who you are and you are going to love YOU. I feel sorry for my family because they lost me. I was so worth having for a daughter and a sister. But it is not my loss. I am free, I am whole and I am doing amazing things with my life! Love Darlene

  8. By: Paulette Brown Posted: 30th August

    Now to just really know who I am!! Working to strip off of ‘ugly’ me who my mother said I was and see myself as God sees me.

  9. By: Paulette Brown Posted: 30th August

    Yes, Darlene, its like literally entering into God’s rest … “God’s peace is joy resting; His joy is peace dancing.” ~ F.F. Bruce

    And Nikki ~ Psalms 27:10 … my all time favourite verse that reminds me of what God showed me once ten years ago … He said to me that He would be all the parent I would ever need … that He would never, ever, ever, ever, ever leave me, not ever, no matter what.” I love that I am a daughter of the perfect Parent, my Father in heaven! And He loves me perfectly. 🙂

  10. By: Nikki Posted: 30th August

    I totally agree with you Darlene about the lie we believed about “if they could only see me for who I really am, that I could BE who I really am.” I know I already said this on your post but I want to repeat it here … I had to realize that it was me that had to see me and not anyone else!

    I was afraid to be myself because I felt that I would be condemned. In my latest blog I talk about being able to applaud myself for achieving a goal, I realized that in the midst of being happy of achieving a goal that an old belief system thought crept back in that God would see me as being overly confident and take my ability away. Boy I had no idea how warped my belief system was but now I do and it is relieving to be out from under such lies.

    If we cant be who we are then we have already given up on our own life, we must live and the only way to do that is to be who we are no matter who approves or disapproves. Just as they have their life to live so do we ..

    Realizing that there are certain other people besides my family who I thought cared and loved me as well really didn’t love me for me but for what they wanted to believe of me or expected me to be has been devastating but thru the last experience of this I have really woke up and realized no longer will I ever subject myself to such insanity, I am not here to live up to other people’s exceptions or their whelms! I am here just like anyone else is here I was created to be a person with a life and that life is of my own choosing not someone elses promise to love me “if” I would comply to their demands of who they want me to be .. that kind of love is not love whatsoever! It is sadistic!

    I love what Psalms 27:10 says “Although my father and my mother have forsaken me, yet the Lord will take me up [adopt me as His child]”

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 30th August

      Hi Nikki

      I have had that experience too! The work wasn’t over when I realized what had been going on with my self esteem and self value ~ realizing the lies in there was just part of it. Then I had to live in the NEW mindset. That was when I really recognized the negative self talk. I found it really helpful to listen to that chatter, see what it had to say. I call that “confronting the old belief system” and it seemed like when I was in a new belief system, was when I consciously heard the old one calling me back. That was like the stage of putting a little more cement onto the new structure.

      Thanks for contributing to this post and congrats on your new website!
      Hugs, Darlene

      Love the meadows.. it is amazing how many of us have a vision of beautiful meadows or mountains on the ohter side of that door! I had that too ~ the brightest sunshine, the most beautiful sky, and freshest air!
      Thanks for sharing!
      Love Darlene

  11. By: Paulette Brown Posted: 29th August

    Darlene ~

    About Narcissism, I did hear that from reading other pages of different psychologists on the topic – some even saying it was incurable! It is so freeing to really, really, really know that how she treated me was no way ever my fault, but hers. It’s freeing to know that there is nothing I could have done to make reconciliation possible as well. Knowing about the characteristics of a narcissist doesn’t aid the situation at all – but it sure was enough to finally give me closure! I feel like I can move on now. {sigh} … I cannot get over how closure is so emancipating. Its like encountering a door I never saw before, that just opened up to me – and on the other side are rolling meadows scattered with wildflowers, inviting me to dance … I have more peace about all this now than I have had for years! I know I still have issues to deal with, but I know now I can move forward without feeling hindered or guilty (a false guilt) in any way.

    You are a treasure Darlene!

    Hugs & love, Paulette

  12. By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 29th August

    Hi Paulette,
    Yes, I am familiar with Narcissistic stuff, there are a few in my family ~ very tough yes. And did you know that it is that it is the hardest mental illness to cure?

    I am really happy for you that you are free from that bongage now!

    Just for sake of other readers though, knowing this about my mother didn’t help me at all. I had other abusers who did not fit that profile at all, and the way that they devalued me was no less harmful or hurtful. I can’t think of an abuser who thinks they are doing anything wrong. That is the nature of control. So sad.

    Thank you so much for your comment Paulette,
    Hugs and Love Darlene

  13. By: Paulette Brown Posted: 29th August

    Darlene ~ I love what you wrote to Shanyn … I could so relate- I too thought I had to understand my mother’s behavior before I could change, or even help her change. I realize now that neither are true. I have cut ties and feel so set free of that bondage – finally. And no one can change my mother. I truly believe she is narcissistic – everything I’ve read on it, screams it. It’s the worst kind of emotional abuse because the abuser doesn’t think they are doing anything wrong. The truth does indeed set us free! Woohoo!

  14. By: carol Posted: 29th August

    dont think my mother will ever change, went to a family christening today and my mother n step father were there. i dint speaqk to them and stayed out of their way, not because i felt guilty for not being in contact with my parent, but because her husband is a selfrighteous plick and i would not lower myself. anyway he went home with the hump n mother came to the do after where we played happy families. but i really cannot be doing with people who cannot respect others views on the same topic, even if they polar opposites, everyone sees different aspects in the same situation, how can we not as we each have our own take on the world, but some families are just so toxic.
    i get my mother thinks i caused all her problems, that i have been made into the bad child again by her n her husband to those who only see their saintly side, but they are not saints and i am not the bad child neglectin her sick parent. i am an adult survivor of childhood trauma at the hands of my parents, their parents and my brothers nah i done with all this false blame

  15. By: Shanyn Posted: 29th August

    How terrible is it that we wait for a disapproving hammer or ax to fall up on us for breaching, often without any prior knowledge, some secret rule or protocol?

    I cannot believe how I still have that knee jerk reaction to them – I want their interest, I’d like their consideration and yet I know that even with low expectations I’m likely to be disappointed, hurt and lately coldy angry. I’m done trying, I promise myself.

    Coming to realize that someone NOT wanting me in their life can be a GOOD thing is a revelation! I don’t need that obligatory thing they call ‘love’. I can have love in my life without it having a tally sheet, a price tag or a score keeper. Love doesn’t need those things, those things do not make love.

    I used to argue my stand, wanting them to see I was strong enough to rebel. I used to think if I TRIED HARD ENOUGH I could make them SEE ME. I was wrong, you cannot unblind someone who is so focussed on being blind. You cannot unmake their beliefs about you.

    Now, instead of worrying about anger I struggle with how to just say, “Stay away. I’m done talking.” and not have the world come unwound. In all likelihood it won’t because they don’t care enough to do it, but the flinching child still fears and the wounded woman still remembers her scars…and the Mama Wolf won’t let either stand in the way of taking care of her family.

    Thanks Darlene, be well and be brightly blessed. The light you shine on the path inspires me daily!

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 29th August

      It takes time. I knew the truth about my family way way before I took the “real stand”. I just could not understand why I didn’ matter so much. I realized that I wanted to understand it so badly, because I thought if I understood it, then I could change! I thought that if I understood it, it might make sense to me. It is very hard and very sad to be in this struggle. I remember being really really upset some friends of my husband, before we got married, didn’t like me and didn’t want to be my friend and publically made it clear… and I was so hurt. At first I wanted to get to the bottom of it, you know, fight and say HEY what the heck is so wrong with me? And then I realized HEY wait a minute, why the heck would I want to hang out with them anyway???????? I honestly didn’t care for them either. It was when one of the wives got so foul at a hockey party that she got arrested, that I realized ~ WOW ~ if that is who doesn’t like me then I guess I am lucky.
      It was harder with my family, but this little story helps me today to remember that it doesn’t have to make sense. The truth might be hard but it is also very liberating to know that I don’t understand them, but I am free anyway.

      Love Darlene

      Good for you being done with all the false blame! Understanding all this stuff about family will never set us free as I said above. OH MAN, my mother’s husband made me the “bad child” again ALL the time! He used to go to MY husband to see if he could/would rein me in! He said that I upset my mother! LOL It is funny to me now that I don’t live in all that anymore.
      You are doing great Carol!
      Hugs, Darlene

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