Seeing as we're sharing.
I've suffered depression since my mid-teenage years. Of course I didn't know that's what it was at the time, not until I was formally diagnosed in my mid-20's, which was a bit like a bright light suddenly turning on as far as recognition of my behaviour up until then and discovering there were actually ways to alleviate it, both medical and therapeutic.
What spurred me to go to the GP at that point was my inability to walk without bumping into something. Navigating a footpath downtown became a nightmare. A consistent struggle to avoid objects both moving and inanimate. I had to see the family doc to ask him what was wrong with me. Unexpectedly he asked me questions about how I felt. I told him I was sad nearly all the time. That I had no place I wanted to be, and an innate sense of emptiness, like a hollow container. He told me there and then that I had serious depression and arranged for me to see a therapist from the NZ Mental Health Service immediately. This was the early 90s and I knew absolutely nothing about depression, but as he rattled that list of symptoms off it became clear to me that it hadn’t begun the moment I started bumping into trashcans.
So I got treatment and then I lived happily ever after.
No. Not remotely.
Since then I’ve spent a small fortune on psychiatrists, therapists, psychologists and medicine. I’ve been escorted from my home under police guard for presenting a danger to myself. I’ve had long multiple stays in the secure wing of the local mental hospital, sometimes voluntarily, often under protest. Most antidepressants I’ve taken over the last 25 years have failed however Lovan seems to be able to moderate my brain the best of all of them.
The last time I was checked in to the mental hospital was about 2 years ago. It was during that stay that for the first time I was diagnosed with having a form of PTSD. I had a violent upbringing from about age 6 onwards. My Dad (actually my stepdad but that’s irrelevant to me) was a disciplinarian whose first recourse for meting out punishment was either the first hard object at hand or (usually) his fist.
Do you know how much it hurts to get punched in your 6 year old head by the clamped fist of a physically strong 28 year old man? Let alone what it does to the brain of a child that age.
It didn’t take anything at all to incur punishment. A broken cup, a bad report, a misplaced response. It’s the point that I learned that lying to get out of a situation was the first course of action rather than be beaten for losing one cent from the change on the way home from the shop. Up until then I was as innocently honest as the sky is blue.
This only got worse as I got older, the hits got harder, the anger heavier and of course I wasn’t the only one that was the focus of his rage. My brothers got it too though I can’t recall if I got it worse than they did, as I was focused on trying not to trigger a beating, and if someone else was getting hit then all the better because at least it wasn’t me. It was all about survival of the self.
The most malicious thing though was the permeation of that type behaviour into us. We would fight between ourselves as kids which became even worse as teenagers. Full on violence. His behaviour became our behaviour. The fights escalated, particularly between myself and the second oldest. We’d throw fists, he’d get a kitchen knife, I’d get a heavy post. That sort of shit became normal. I have the image of my mother, my sister and my youngest brothers being absolutely terrified seared into my brain (or at least a bit left that works). Cop cars outside the house yet again. Simply f**king horrible.
It got better, eventually. Seriously, it did. Starting about the time the first grandchildren appeared. They weren’t us. They were better. They deserved better. So we all, subconsciously, tried to be better. For them. Including my Dad.
But despite that. The trauma we all carry has still f**ked us up, some of us in different ways.
Is it the main reason I’m f**ked up? I think it’s one of them. I have gaps in my memory of other instances that I just can’t recall and I’m rather little fearful of what I would find if I suddenly did. Maybe I’m best not knowing? They will probably require deep hypnosis of some sort to bring to light. I have a genuine feeling that none of them are going to be good.
Anyway, at this phase in life I’m the best that I can be and the best that I have been for a very very long time. I still have low moments but I have developed ways to mitigate the majority of them. I have restarted therapy again in order to continue working to resolve the PTSD aspect of my depression. I’m 50 years old and I’ve let go things that are no longer important to me regarding career and goals. The best “medicine” of all has been the woman who’s stood by me for the last 22 years. Never giving up, despite the toll on her own wellbeing (OK, she’s had to take sabbaticals away from me at least twice during that time just to build her strength back up, and that doesn’t include the occasions she’s had me committed into hospital for months at a time). She has stopped me from harming myself. She has stopped me from killing myself. Without her I wouldn’t be here. I wouldn’t be building our new home. I wouldn’t be contemplating how much f**king superannuation to invest so I can actually retire in 17 years when I’m supposed to.
I hope that I have not reached peak wellbeing and that there are even better times ahead. but if it is it’s still a shitload better than where I’ve been. Now I’m actually trying to be here for someone else because that someone means something to me.
And there you go.
Btw sorry this is so badly written. I'm at work guiding a major release right now so I've writing this during the gaps between getting reports from the team spread across the globe.