Thursday, September 1, 2011

Broken Child: Deep Seeds of Depression - Were they planted from birth?

I've broken down my story into six parts. These excerpts point to the beginnings of my depression. From what I have gathered, I was in great need of enlightenment and guidance.


In my search to understand my depression, I needed to go back to when I first felt it. Like Freud would say, “Tell me about your childhood.”

But I can’t tell you when I first felt it. It was already a part of me before even sentience. It has always been there.

My childhood was not a pleasant one. When people say the “good ole days,” I cringe and think, “What good ole days? I never want to relive those days again.” They were agony for me so forgetting them seems so right. But revelations come every so often with age. I’ve come to understand how the confluence of events and circumstances created a ‘perfect storm’ leading to my distress, fear, and confusion of those “ole days”.

Conditions were just right for a clueless little girl to read all the wrong signs, to misunderstand so many meanings, to look inwardly for the problems that plagued her mind and heart. The most important element missing was guidance. As an adult, I cannot stress enough how important the impact of guidance can have in a young person’s life. I needed guidance to help me understand what was going on around me. My mom was way too busy with the other four babies to help me and my dad was too tired and worn out by work. My parents could not help me and my teachers couldn’t either. I couldn’t articulate my issues. No one could anticipate how I would interpret the things that were happening to me. I was in uncharted territory and on my own.

Was the Seed of Depression Planted – Is Crying a Learned Response?
As far as I can remember, I cried. I cried about everything. If someone looked at me and I didn’t like it, I cried. If someone admonished, teased me, giggled at me, pointed at me, looked mean, yelled at me, showed disgust or disdain, said something mean, stuck their tongue out at me, or called on me when I was unprepared, or worse, ignored me, I cried. Everything wounded me. My crying jags were monumental, legendary even. The more people tried to appease me the worse I got. Family, teachers and classmates soon knew me as the crybaby. I was teased by my siblings, exasperated friends and teachers, and ridiculed by classmates.

At my parents’ 50th wedding anniversary, many old family friends and neighbors told stories, reminiscing about the good times, the great parties, and about their lives together in the 1940’s and 1950’s. One family friend recounted the story of when my mom lost her first child, my brother when he was three years old. He died the same week my mother gave birth to me. The friend leaned over and whispered that all my mother’s friends were highly concerned for her sanity, her grief was so great and no one could console her. It took months and months before she was able to cope. This was a revelation to me.

My mother’s first child, a boy, the sweetest, gentle soul, I’ve been told by so many, died when my mother was in the hospital giving birth to me. I looked at my son, now sixteen, sitting across the table from me, and my heart broke for my mom. I did not want to imagine that kind of grief.

I asked my mother several days later about that time in her life. I asked her if when holding me, did she cry for her son. She told me she cried practically non-stop for a full year until my sister was born. She then realized herself that she cried whenever she held me, that all I heard for the first year of my life was her immeasurable grief.

Did the seed of my depression go that far back in my history? I don’t know. But I think if I had realized it sooner, I might have been able to put my crying jags into perspective instead of thinking I was crazy.

Next time, Part Two of Clueless and in Total Confusion – the Elementary Years - Too Young for School