When I started writing my story 16 months ago, I made a confession. I was an addict, and my addiction was to sadness. I realized I had this addiction after I became aware that everything I did and felt up until that time was an extension of my addiction, and I call it an addiction because it was persistent.
In my previous posts, I have painted a vivid picture of my life from my childhood through my teenage years. Although all my problems may have easily been identified as you continued to read my story, it wasn’t apparent to me at the time as it was happening. For over a decade, I was imprisoned by my own thoughts. I often regretted my own existence. I subconsciously blamed my parents for creating the environment I hated being in. I kept wanting to kill myself. The voice in my head that wouldn’t shut up created a monster in me and, in turn, I behaved in ways that eventually led to problems that were both mental and physical. The question is…how did it come to be this way?
It was through a conversation with my mom in early 2006 that I first suspected I was depressed. She mentioned something about being depressed when she was working as a teacher, which was during the time I was still in school. She talked about having thoughts of committing suicide, and she acknowledged that the ruckus she often made in the kitchen while cooking, the ones that made me close my eyes and cringe, was because of her depression. When I heard this from her, I thought what she described sounded a lot like how I felt, and my first thought was depression must run in the family. It wasn’t until I did some further research that I learned depression is not hereditary through genes, although it can be inherited through lifestyle.
We have all been groomed to associate certain words with certain characteristics. When a person says he/she is depressed, people often view this person as being weak or overly emotional. This is a total misconception. Depression is a mental disorder that is caused by a chemical imbalance in the body. Simply put, there is a malfunction of the neurotransmitters that produce the chemicals our bodies need to feel happy. This leaves us with negative thoughts that distort our perception of reality.
Before I understood what depression was, I had no idea I was depressed. I thought I rarely ate during my elementary and high school years because I just didn’t have the appetite. I thought I worked a lot because I hated being home where my parent’s yelling irritated me. I thought I had trouble getting over my ex because I thought I was just stuck on the idea of being with him. The truth is everything I felt in those years was a product of my depression having been neglected for far too long.
When I realized it was my mother’s behaviour during my childhood that influenced me to become depressed, I felt like suddenly it all made sense. But then as I started to think more about it, I realized it didn’t quite make sense at all. Not every child whose parent is depressed becomes depressed as well. I may have “inherited” it through lifestyle because we lived in the same house and I was exposed to the adverse effects of her depression, but if I was a completely different person with a completely different personality, would I have ended up the way I did? I wasn’t convinced.
As Dr. Phil McGraw once said, “Behaviours often start for one reason, and occur for a completely different reason.” I had no doubt that my behaviour was a result of my depression that started when the dynamics in my family changed, and I understood the effects that my behaviour had on my health. I had figured out that much. But why was it a reoccurring problem for me? Why did I keep doing things that would make me feel happy for brief moments, only for me to feel even more distress afterward? Why couldn’t I break free from my addiction to sadness?
I had a firm belief. If I could talk myself into this mental prison, then surely I am capable of talking myself out of it.