Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Inner Struggle

 This is a paper I wrote for my college writing class in April.

Everyone I know sometimes feels sad or down or just not themselves. We all have days where we don’t feel great about ourselves or something didn’t turn out the way we had hoped. I have those kinds of days just like everyone else, but unlike everyone else, my sadness doesn’t go away after a day or two or even a week or two, mine has been with me most of my life. I remember the first time I realized how dangerous depression is for me, I was fourteen and lying in the emergency room with my eyes shut tight, sobbing, listening to the doctors and nurses telling me to try to relax as they told me everything I had eaten that day. They were pumping my stomach to keep the handful of anti-depressants I swallowed from getting into my system and stopping my heart. People around me kept throwing around words like suicide attempt and physiological observation and short- term committal. For the next five days I learned what real serious depression looked like and I saw what it did to people my age. I wish I could say my experience as a teenager made it so depression never reared its ugly head in my life again but I can’t. I struggle every day with keeping it at bay.
My childhood, as a whole, was pretty great. I got to do and see things as a child that some adults have never done, but it was scarred by things that even all the good things can’t over shadow. My parents divorced when I was about four or five and we moved away from my dad and his family which I realize now, fractured my
relationship with my father. Even now we struggle to communicate as adults, we both try but it’s work. Missing that most important male relationship in my life has caused me problems with romantic relationships as an adult.
My mom and I were on our own in an area where she didn’t know a lot of people, and was trying to raise me and work full time. She had met a nice couple who she thought she could trust and allowed them to watch me while she worked at night. I only remember bits and pieces but I can remember enough to know what went on was inappropriate and sexual in nature. Sometimes I wonder if the suppression of those memories and never fully dealing with that trauma was where my struggle with depression began.
These and other incidents from my childhood, I feel, have laid the groundwork for my depression and anxiety. My experiences as an adult have also added to my daily struggle, whether it be lack of confidence and low self esteem due to past failures and body image or my lack of trust for people in my life. I battle with my own self-doubt on daily basis.  I crave attention, praise and acceptance from others almost desperately. Sometimes I even base my own self worth on how I think others see me.
For someone that doesn’t suffer with depression a break up or an everyday failure are small obstacles for them to overcome, for me they are Mount Everest, and I have to navigate to the other side with no Sherpa and a broken compass, in a blizzard.  Like some, I go through the normal stages of grief during a loss or disappointment, but sometimes I tend to lean towards the extreme side of
emotions.  Secluding myself from others, sleeping too much, eating too much and overthinking myself into a deeper depression.  I also have a way of lashing out and misdirecting my anger at the wrong people. In some extreme cases I have suffered anxiety attacks that have been scary experiences, forcing all the emotions I try to keep internalized to the surface.
Not everything with how I cope and survive a low point is unhealthy. I do talk about it with my friends and really try to learn from things and listen to others advice. Writing letters that I don’t send really proves to be therapeutic for me as well, it allows me to express the emotions and pain I am feeling without causing more problems or dragging the other person into it. Sometimes I also write in a journal which is a good tool for reflection because being able to go back later and see helps me learn from past mistakes.
Time and life have helped me overcome a lot of obstacles and set backs in my life caused by depression. As a young adult I really let my depression take over my life, and while at times it still takes over, I have learned to live and cope much better as an adult. Medication helps and so does the understanding that a lot of this disorder is out of my control and I’m doing the best I can. While I struggle with sadness and the anxiety of life everyday I choose to not let it define who I am or what I can become.

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