The Depression Series - I was born depressed
I was born depressed.
No, I don’t mean I’ve been unhappy since birth, but I have struggled with inexplicable sadness since I can remember. Very early in life I recognized that I processed and responded to emotional events differently than the people around me. When others felt sadness, I felt despair. When friends and family experienced disappointment, I felt trauma. When they felt nothing at all, I was on the brink of a breakdown. It wasn’t conditional. It wasn’t temporary. It wasn’t a production of my environment. As a happy five-year-old I would experience moments so wrapped up in trying to process my emotions all I could do was cry.
Unfortunately, much of what I dealt with was attributed to immaturity, hardships, and plain dramatics. I get it. How could my family comprehend what was going on in my brain when I couldn’t explain it? I don’t blame them for not understanding, but I suffered alone because they also could not accept it. They labeled me as emotional and called me difficult instead of recognizing that my emotions made it difficult to be me. That difference in their perception and my reality both shaped and suffocated me. I would force happiness until I crashed, then hide my crash and hate myself for not being happy.
Looking back, it is so easy for me to say I have genetic depression that is exacerbated by situational depression. I carry the weight of both internal and external triggers. However, I didn’t surrender to that diagnosis until I was in my 20s. I spent most of my adolescence convinced that I was uniquely cursed. I believed my sole purpose was to serve as a litmus test to others to compare their lives and to be happy that they were not me. By 16, I jokingly told people this with tears in my eyes and a smile on my lips. I said this at 19 while putting on makeup to go to a party to drink my thoughts away. I cried this on my therapist’s couch right before turning 21 and reaching my physical limit with my emotional restrictions.
Had I experienced things in my life that I shouldn’t have?
Things most people would consider problematic, harrowing, and distressing? Yes. But that’s not why I couldn’t navigate life. I had close friends with similar life experiences that did not struggle to wake up in the morning because of them. I had family that grew up in the same environment that coped completely differently. There was something that I lacked, or had too much of, that made, and still makes, life a battle for me.
Throughout this series you will meet and experience my depression. I have spent the last decade healing and remaining dedicated to giving myself my best. This is accomplished through calculated steps and a deep understanding of myself. While depression and anxiety look different on everyone, the weight is universal and the affects from it are common.
Hopefully walking down the road with me will help lighten your own path. You may know someone who suffers like me and this can help you connect with them. Possibly you’re just interested in mental health. Or maybe, you know me and are curious to find out how I fooled you into believing I was healthy. I don’t know why you’re here. But I know the community that we can build to support one another is valuable. I know the benefit of wearing my heart on my sleeve outweighs any discomfort from being so exposed.
Not everyone can, or will, announce to the world:
“I’m broken, and this is how broken I am.”
Fortunately, for all the mental roadblocks I have, shame is not one of them. What I’ve come to appreciate is I was not created to prove to everyone that their life can be worse. I did not exist to give you a benchmark of how bad it can be. I was born to prove there is life beyond what you are living and there is hope if you look for it.
I was born with depression. I will likely die with depression. But I know how to live through it.
And I will not spend the rest of my life dying from it.