I’ve been dealing with this silent beast my whole life. While I didn’t experience depression until my teens, I remember being an extremely anxious child. I was always scared of something happening to me, and it definitely affected how I lived my life and enjoyed my childhood. I was extremely cautious and risk averse. I dealt with fears I never expressed to any adult in my life for fear of judgement. My parents, grandparents, aunts, and family friends were always full of love and acceptance, so I have no clue where my ideas of being ridiculed came from. But there they were, telling me to suffer in silence.
In my early elementary school years, my main fear was weather. I watched the clouds obsessively, worrying that the single fluffy cumulus in an otherwise blue sky was going to sprout a tornado. Thunderstorms terrified me. I did not want to play outside for recess for years. I was completely convinced that I would be swept up in a twister if I spent too much time outside.
Another fear in my early years of life was water. My dad’s side of the family introduced me to camping, which I did for most of my life. But this required swimming at the lake. I always had a life jacket on, but my dad and grandpa definitely forced me to do things in the water that I did not want to do. Not to mention the time I was finally feeling relaxed, floating on my back enjoying the sun, and my grandpa came up to me and shoved me underwater without warning. Of course this resulted in me inhaling a bunch of lake water, and as I came up sputtering and crying, he told me to “cowboy up!” Thanks, grandpa. That’s not exactly how to instill confidence in a kid about swimming.
I eventually became a teenager, and out came the anxiety. Around 16 years old was when it really became apparent to me, and I asked my mom if I could start seeing a therapist. She wasn’t all that helpful, and my guilt about my parents having to pay for this kept me from truly getting the benefits from it. Besides, she dismissed almost anything I told her as “normal teenage problems,” and she was definitely a little bit homophobic as I was talking about my then girlfriend. At 18 I asked my primary doctor for help, and I was prescribed Zoloft for the first time, thus starting my years long journey experimenting with different doses, different drugs, and never feeling much better.
If there was something I could tell to 16 year old me in this picture, it’s that it’s always going to be a struggle. Not just to be negative, but to help her. Let her know that this is our normal, let’s work on some coping mechanisms before you’re 24 and start having debilitating panic attacks (yay!)
I am now halfway through my twenties and still struggling every day. I have a truly awesome life with my fiance and step kids, I have amazing family and great in-laws, so what could I possibly be depressed about? Trust me, I wish I knew. I wish there was a magical solution to this. But there isn’t, so I talk to my therapist, I take my medication, I get help from my family when I need it. And I keep trucking on. Life is truly too precious to spend it moping in bed. I let myself have a few of those days a year, but what I have really found to be helpful is just getting up and dealing with my shit. I talk to my anxiety like it isn’t a part of me. Like it’s an annoying pest. “Look, anxiety, I know you’re desperate for attention right now but I don’t have the time. The kids are here and I have to help with schoolwork.” See how that works? Give it a try.
I hope that what anyone takes away from this post is, that you’re not alone. There are always people there to talk to, get advice from, or simply to vent to. I’m one of them! If I can be helpful or of any comfort to someone else who is struggling, I want to do that. I love you all.
Thanks for reading.