Beating the Beast

 

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I have never actually been “professionally” diagnosed with having depression. I did a lot of reading and researching on the internet and visited many different sites to try and figure out what was “wrong” with me - but still haven't made my way to a doctor.

It was probably about 6 years ago that I noticed things were different. This intense sadness, an intense feeling of hopelessness, and the spontaneous crying just emerged out of nowhere. I was young and had no idea what was going on with me – I had never really even heard of depression before that.

I felt like I wasn’t normal. I felt like I didn’t belong. I felt so out of place. And I didn’t dare tell a soul. I was ashamed and hurt by what was happening, but most of all, I was plain old confused.

To this day, I am still not exactly sure how The Beast got a firm hold of my hand, but it got to the point where I felt like I was being strangled. I am not even sure whether my depression is genetic or situational - but from what I know, I would say that it is situational.

As a young child, I had been through a number of painful experiences. My father died when I was just an infant and even to this day, his name is not a topic of discussion in this home. Around the age when my depression hit was the age when I was just starting to wonder about myself – who I was, where I came from, why I was the way I was and other things like that. And not knowing about an entire half of it became very painful and confusing for me.

Throughout my childhood, up until I was about 17, I was “punished” by being physically hit by my mother. Some of the time she did it as a way to release her anger and frustrations, but other times she meant to hurt me. Thinking back, it was around the time that my depression surfaced that I realized that no, what she was doing was not okay and that it wasn’t ‘normal’. I could not stand coming home to her verbal and emotional abuse any longer, and it got to the point where I just wouldn’t come home at all.

My mother was remarried when I was 7 years old. I am an only child and I can still remember the fear, thinking that I was going to lose her love forever. I didn’t want to share her with anybody else – I didn’t know how. But of course, she managed to make me feel guilty somehow for not letting her be ‘happy’ and so she was married. I was forced to call him Daddy – something I still resent to this day. We never really formed a relationship, other than the fact that he helps pay the bills and we live under the same roof. Around the time that my depression came to a head, was right when I really felt like I was having to fight for my mother’s love. Anytime we argued, she sided with him. Anytime I talked back, she sided with him. He was ALWAYS there – and I began to hate him for that. Even now, our conversations last for about 5 minutes and we barely talk about anything more than the weather – how sad.

In my 19 years of life, I have had to deal with a lot of death. I have lost my father, both of my grandfathers, a grandmother, an uncle/god-father, and two of my aunts – and that’s just to name the most immediate relatives. I think part of my depression stemmed from the fact that I was never encouraged to talk about these people, I was never really given a safe outlet. It was as if as soon as they died I was supposed to somehow magically forget about them, and things would be okay. I still struggle tremendously in trying to deal with their deaths - but as I am slowly learning how to talk about it, the weight is beginning to lift from my shoulders.

I would have to say that, without a doubt, I hit my all-time low over the winter of last year. I started seeing a therapist, but only made about 8 visits with her - I felt that she wasn’t helping me at all. Looking back, it did help me see that all this stuff was there at the surface and was dying for a safe place to come out. I felt so hopeless. So lost and so confused and I was in so much pain. I was having chest pains, the weight felt so heavy and the burden was just too large… and I didn’t know what to do. I cried and cried, and lay in bed and thought about how I wanted to just give up – how I wanted to die – because living was simply too hard to do.

Then I found BtB. And it was the trust and support that I found here that truly saved me. Somewhere in me, I was able to find the courage to get a counselor at my university with whom I met on a weekly basis for a few months. She was great. She gave me the safe environment that I needed in order to start to talk… and really understand what was going on.

I stopped seeing her 7 months ago – and I’m doing good. I have started some sort of a healing process and I know now that I do not want to die. I want to live. I can appreciate the days, appreciate the people, and I feel content on most days. I have dreams again, I have hopes, and I have goals for my life.

By no means am I saying that I am magically cured of this depression – because I am not. The Beast still lurks here, breathing down my neck, tapping me on the shoulder… and sometimes when I am just too tired or too run down, he makes his way in. But I am learning how to defend myself and how to overcome the negative thoughts and feelings. I know that I can never forget that “the pit” is only a few steps away, but I also know that I DO have the strength in me, and the resources behind me, to pull myself out of there and rise above it.

If I have learned anything from the past 6 years of “hell”, I have learned that I am stronger than I ever gave myself credit for. I am learning that life is worth living and that happiness is possible. I am learning that I can do anything if I just put my mind to it. And that yes, it is okay to ask for help – because there IS help out there for everyone.

I am learning to never give up hope.

 
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Revised: 04/02/05.

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