Happiness and Depression

Hello again!

Today I would like to write about something that I know I’ve touched on before, but has sparked me to make some changes in my daily life. First let me begin by saying that I have battled depression for most of my life. I was 14 when I asked my mother if I could go to therapy because I was so unhappy, but by no means did it begin then. I think it started when I was 8 or 9 years old, largely in part to my parents splitting up. Prior to that, I was an excellent student, outgoing and participatory. I will add, that I was also bullied because I was extremely tall for my age and we were very poor, so I was picked on A LOT. I then became a bully, because, well, I wasn’t going to let someone get the jump on me.

Anyway, by the time my parents finally split up I immediately internalized it, believing that there was something that I could have done better to keep them together. They should have probably never BEEN together in the first place, but then I’d never be here to share my story either. So there’s that. I started to withdraw from things I once enjoyed and came very close to failing out of elementary school, though writing was probably what saved me because it came easy to me. I was in gifted programs and special classes, but I struggled to even care. I did everything I was supposed to because my family would accept nothing less and honestly, they could be scary.

My mother was largely absent due to working 80-100 hours a week, putting herself through nursing school and everything. My father had a new wife, so we were more of an obligation to them. So in the care of our babysitter, who was also our grandfather, my brother and I basically only had each other. My grandfather’s version of babysitting was not letting us out of his sight, which meant many, many days and weeks of watching TV game shows and the news.

When I got older and was able to care for myself, I began to be rebellious probably because I had rarely been let outside. I need do stretch my legs, so to speak. I drank alcohol, smoked cigarettes, did drugs, partied… you name it, all before I was out of high school. Granted, I was one of the most responsible people I knew (and still know), because I have spent the majority of my life taking responsibility for things that are not mine to internalize. But that’s what I do. I have to be honest here and say that since I was a kid suicide always seemed like a viable option, but my failed and ignorant attempts only made the depression I felt worse.

When I was 19, I did not drive a car because I could not afford one. I borrowed my friend’s car to take my driving test. I had driven her car once, maybe, before then and the transmission was failing. I’m surprised I passed, and so was the person administering the test. He said “given your equipment, you passed with flying colors”. Anyway, I was working two menial jobs on opposite ends of town, along basically the same road. I relied on the bus to get me places or walking, which I did a tremendous amount of. One day I was getting off my day job and had to time it perfectly so that I could catch my connecting bus later, and I failed. When I got to my connection, the bus was already driving away and I immediately started freaking out. I had my first full fledged panic attack that day, though I thought I was having a heart attack. When I stumbled into my apartment, sobbing uncontrollably, I called my mom who was a nurse. She could barely understand my inaudible words through the wheezing and hysteria. This was all because I missed the bus and I couldn’t get to my night job. I went to the hospital to make sure I wasn’t really having a heart attack, but that started the regular attacks.

For the next several months, I would wake up in such fear and dread that I would throw up before I went to work every day. I became more and more depressed, money was tight so I was even more worried. I was stuck in this cycle of dread and fear and depression and hopelessness. Since that time, I have had more freak outs, as I call them, than I could possibly count. I have been medicated, self-medicated, and worse to cope with the dread and sadness I have experienced.

So what does this have to do with happiness? I’m sure you’re asking by this point… I have determined that happiness is elusive, and I’ve kind of mentioned this before in previous blog posts. But beyond the elusiveness of this thing that we are trying so hard to find, is that even through all of the hardships, heartaches, struggles and worse, I am still looking for sources of happiness and I’ve also learned to manage my anxiety and depression to where I can still sort of function. I’m no longer sobbing uncontrollably on my bed in the dark with someone silently (or not so silently) judging me for being “weak” or “pathetic”. Instead, I wear my ability to endure like a badge of honor. Not only is the world against me, but so is my own brain, and I’ve still managed to make it this far. Some days, that’s all you’ve got. But I will say that even in my darkest days, which I’ve been experiencing a couple of lately, I still find sources of happiness everyday. It could be something so simple that will make me smile, like a picture of a baby hippo someone tagged me in on social media, or a text from my husband about nothing at all.

This is where we find our happiness on a daily basis. The simple things that make you smile in the darkest times and our ability to endure the storm of life.

Thanks for reading!

 

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~ by wendemachete on June 19, 2014.

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