Today I decided that it is time to talk. It’s time to tell the story of my off-and-on depression. To be honest, I feel rather sick as I type this and I’m sure I’ll have to stop a few times along the way, but I know it will be good for me to share this. I’ll try to make the story short, but I guess we’ll see how it goes.
It started after the death of my grandmother when I was 10 years old. Actually, it may have began sooner than that, but my memory isn’t quite that clear. She was diagnosed with cancer, the kind with a name that was hard to pronounce and for me, even harder to remember. All I knew was that it was cancer. I remember her going through chemo and losing her hair, having a nose bleed that seemed it would never end, and one seizure out of many. All of this I didn’t understand, but it terrified me nonetheless. I knew when she looked in my eyes, pills rendering her unable to speak, she was saying a desperate goodbye. This was the last time I saw my grandmother. This was Death’s entry into my life.
At the end of that summer, I entered grade 5. I seemed to be coping fine and I was back to waking up in the morning, going to school, trying to pay attention in class and being a kid with my friends at recess. That is until my friends turned to bullies. My routine changed to waking up in the morning, but wishing I hadn’t; walking to school as if walking to hell; trying to pay attention to the teacher, instead of the stomach that seemed to be crawling up my throat; and being cornered by my former friends at recess. This was the beginning of a string of doctor visits to find cures for ailments that never really existed. This was Anxiety’s entry into my life and when I first thought I’d be better off dead.
Time went on, things got better, my friends were friends again. Until they weren’t. And then they were again… and then they weren’t. And were again? I’m not sure how many times this repeated, but it went on for a couple of years.
Grade 7. I went to school on the first day and befriended the new girl who sat in front of me. She became my best friend, and even though we have since drifted apart, I am thankful to have met her (I genuinely think her friendship was crucial during those years). Soon enough we were all friends and no one was plotting to steal anyone away from anyone else. I remember it being a good year as far as school was concerned, definitely one of the best. But at the same time, it was one of the worst years of my life. It was the year my remaining grandparents (my favourite people) passed away within one month of each other. And even though my school life wasn’t bad, I found myself struggling to laugh or even just smile, but somehow I managed to fool a great deal of people. The next year was the same. Though laughing and smiling came easier, I found myself living two lives. I would wake up in the morning, go to school, try to pay attention in class and be a regular preteen with my friends at recess. But then I would go home and walk into a room that I didn’t just share with my little sister, but with Death as well. Like someone who lurked at my side, waiting for the go-ahead. At home it was always on my mind.
For years I lingered in that same routine. Even though I was changing as an individual, making new friends (some that would come and go and others that would become irreplaceable) and discovering who I wanted to be, the emptiness remained within me. I became more and more self aware and my home life certainly didn’t improve. Now I was a teenager, which meant that I was automatically up to no good (I was actually the opposite — someone at school once told me he thought I was a goody-goody… though I wasn’t that either). Most of the time I wanted to disappear and I felt like I was a coward for not being able to make it happen. At some point I heard of To Write Love on Her Arms through a friend and I had found my escape. By reading the the experiences of others, I realized that it is brave to live. And it was even more brave of these people to share their stories. Still, I couldn’t bring myself to tell mine. This was when I began seeing myself as a coward for keeping quiet.
Near the end of grade 12, I was back in a bad place. Suicide was back on my mind and I was dreaming of Death every night. But still I tried to pretend I was ok. Luckily, there was one person who saw through me and instead of asking me how I was feeling or if I was ok, he told me a story about himself that seemed to magically make me feel better. Even though I had read many stories of depression and I was aware I was not alone, I couldn’t fully relate to any of them. But this story I could relate to. I began thinking of ways I could help myself, and I tried to tell my mom there was something seriously wrong with me. I couldn’t handle stress and was failing a class that was undoubtedly contributing to my situation, so after consulting many times with the guidance counselor and getting a letter from my mom to the principal, I dropped it and made plans to come back the next year. I told myself the next step was to tell my close friends what was going on, except I left suicide out of it. One was understanding and the other two told me I was stupid. Surprisingly, I didn’t let that bother me much. I explained that I didn’t care that I’d have to go back the next year, they said nothing and that was that. Sometime during that summer, when I was feeling quite a bit better, I finally told a friend that I had thought of killing myself. I felt like she was uncomfortable and didn’t know what to say and I immediately regretted telling her. But only for a minute. After that minute of regret, I felt that it was ok that she didn’t know what to say. I didn’t know what I wanted to hear anyway.
I have been up and down ever since, but it has never gotten as bad as it was in the spring of 2007. I have only ever told a few people just how much I have hated myself, but at least I’ve been able to say it. I have never seen a doctor about it, even though I know I should and tell myself I will all the time. I have since been diagnosed with hypothyroidism (lazy thyroid) which does contribute to depression and mood swings, but I know my problem is worse than that.
Three years ago, my uncle who suffered from bipolar disorder, committed suicide. Soon after, the stress of being left behind made my mother sick with an auto-immune disease. Two years ago Love is Louder was started by Brittany Snow and I became even more passionate about suicide prevention. 18 months ago I held a tiny Odin and thought “I’m happy” with 100% sincerity for the first time in my life. And again in February when I first met tiny Haakon. Today I am sharing my story, also for the first time. Soon, I promise, I will tell my doctor.
So there you have it. It’s not as intense as some might expect depression stories to be, but it is real nonetheless. I guess it just goes to show that this can happen to anyone.
Thank you for reading,