Depression and Recovery from Mental Health StrugglesBy
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.