THINGS MY MOM STILL DOESN'T UNDERSTAND ABOUT CHEMICAL DEPRESSION (& PROBABLY NEVER WILL)
I've suffered from chemical depression for at least as long as I can remember (around 4). I finally got on antidepressants when I was 21 after I became suicidal. But no matter how I explain it, my mom insists I haven't been suffering my whole life. "You were a happy child," she says. "You were happy." Here's what she doesn't understand:
- •It's not always obvious to outsidersHow many times have you heard someone say about a suicide victim, 'But we never would have guessed! They always seemed so happy!' You can be dying inside & still fake it around others, & you usually do because you're ashamed or scared they'll stop liking you or hope fooling them will eventually fool you too. Depression is your internal battle, not whatever attitude you portray to the people around you.
- •It's not about your circumstancesCircumstances can certainly exacerbate it. But you can have a wonderful, happy life (which as a child I certainly did) & still be miserable because your body is incapable of letting you be happy.
- •It's a self-perpetuating vicious cycleGrowing up, I always felt like there was something wrong with me because even though I logically SHOULD have been happy, I wasn't, & I assumed that must be my fault, that I must subconsciously not WANT to be happy. I didn't know I wasn't physically able to be happy. Instead, I felt like a failure, which in turn made me more depressed, which made me feel like a failure, which made me more depressed, & on & on & on.
- •It's not personalThe thing is, I do actually get why hearing that your child was internally miserable growing up would make you feel terrible, so I can't really blame my mom for not wanting to believe it. But what she fails to understand is that it's not a reflection on her. There's nothing she could have done differently or better (beyond getting me on meds that didn't exist at the time & we couldn't have afforded anyway). It's not about her or anyone else. Just me & my messed up body.