My mother has Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and I’m ashamed to admit that most of my life I didn’t know it.
I was given a normal childhood, at the large expense of my mother’s silent suffering. But all of the ignorance, the blessed “unknowing”, ended when I started middle school.
I am a child of depression.
No middle school experience is “easy”. I have yet to hear from one person that middle school was “the best years of their life”. But for me, it had an added element of uncertainty. I remember coming home from school to my father in the living room, asking my siblings and me to talk. It was then that I noticed my mother was missing from this ominous conversation.
My father told us what, to some extent, my mother was going through. She had something called depression, and it made it difficult for her to see the light at the end of the tunnel, that her feelings came harder, stronger, more powerfully, with a strong root in sadness. I’m sad to say that my pre-teen mind only cared about the impact to myself – not what she was struggling with openly for the first time in her adult years. She had been admitted to West Hills Medical Center, and we weren’t sure when she was coming back.
I am a child of depression.
Years later, I was a Junior in high school. We had been granted a few years of reprieve through ECT, therapy, and medication. She was at home, it as almost Christmas, and thoughts of depression were slowly sinking to the bottom of my pool of priorities. It’s easy to forget the turmoil of depression when you are a child of depression, instead of the one experiencing it. How selfish I was.
It’s hard for me to admit, still, that my mother attempted suicide.
My first reaction wasn’t that of pity, sympathy, or fear. It was anger.
I wanted a normal high school experience. I wanted to think about boys, friends, grades. Not family health, security, and patience. I felt like I was robbed of my innocence.
If you’re a family member of depression, a child of depression, you’ll know these feelings. The regret, the frustration, the desire for the “normal”. You’ll know the thoughts of “I wish they just wouldn’t feel this way,” “how could they do this to me”, and “why can’t they just be better?”
You’ll know how hard it is to stay patient, to stay strong, to stay calm and reassuring. You’ll know that you feel broken, scared, like you’re drowning.
And boy, will you know the guilt.
I am guilty of each of those thoughts, the desire for things to return to normal, for my mother to not have depression. I’m guilty of being angry at her, losing my patience with her, wishing for a different situation. I’m guilty of not understanding.
I’m here to tell you that it’s okay. It’s okay that you feel those things (and more). It’s okay. You’re normal. Most importantly, you’re not alone.
Because I, too, am a child of depression.
The point of this post is not to ask for sympathy. Depression is real, and the person trying to get better, to heal from their depression has the hardest job. My mother is the strongest, most amazing person I know. Her perseverance, love, patience, and desire to get well have astounded me into becoming a better person. And pushed me into telling my story in the hopes that someone might relate, and take courage and strength.
The battle against depression is never ending. But there is relief, there is purpose, there is solution. And you’re never alone.