Black Depression

I was medicated for depression, anxiety, and ADD from when I was 10 or 11 years old. At the height of things, when I was sixteen years old, I was on five different drugs at once. The only effect I ever saw from them was that they made me hyperactive and manic; I remember one day when I climbed the exercise equipment along one side of the school gymnasium to swing from the rafters like a monkey. There were other kids who did things like that, but that had never been "me." It's a miracle I didn't kill myself, or at least break half the bones in my body due to a fall (the miracle being that I didn't fall; I made it across the gym; some of my friends still talk about it). The week after that, I had study hall in the art classroom. I painted myself with a bunch of markers and went and lay in the corridor outside of the room, making invisible "snow angels" (there was no snow, if you're wondering, though that would've been something; I might've had company if that were the case). 

My parents weren't very supportive, which is to say they tried to be. Looking back, I was a challenging child to raise. By the time I was in my teens, my mother had turned to largely neglecting my spurious interests in everything from a new series of novels to the knob on our bathroom door; I might have waxed on about one or the other, at varying times, with equal enthusiasm. She became visibly irritated and frustrated if I tried to talk to her from the age of 11 or 12 onward, so I stopped trying for the most part. She'd simply deal with any crises that arose, as well as manufacturing them when they weren't actually there; it took me until my mid-20s to realize that I wasn't a terrible person. The fact that I'd skipped class one time didn't make me an awful child. The fact that I'd smoked pot one time (literally, once) didn't, or shouldn't, have made me a terrible disappointment. The fact that I sometimes felt ignored and disregarded didn't make me an "ungrateful thing." It's been almost ten years since I slowly started to accept these truths about myself. Now I'm just dealing with the anger, trying to find an outlet. 

I sometimes feel hate towards my mother for how I was raised, and how she continues to interact with me to this day. I'm trying very hard not to let things go that route. I know -- know -- that it wasn't intentional, wasn't deliberate, but a life ruined is still ruined. The gyst of my mother's regard for me, that which I came away from my teenage years with, is "I love you, but I'm sick and tired of dealing with you, which is your fault, because you're a terrible child. But the world hates you, and is out to get you, so listen to what I have to say, and form no other relationships with anyone, because they'll only take advantage of you: you're naive, and helpless. That's my fault, so I'll always be there, and you'll just have to deal with my obvious frustration, but I'll provide what support I can even though my job as your mother is over." 

That's not just an impression, either. That's cobbled together from various things she's said over the years. When I was 19 I lived on my own, and made enough money to keep a small apartment and a car, as well as to pay my bills. I had a girlfriend, a decent job, and a social life; I went to a local nightclub a couple of times a month. I was in three hobby-related groups. Life was good, but I was still dealing with depression. My mother's reaction was to tell me her job was done, and to express extreme disgust that, one night, I had a Mike's hard lemonade with my dinner with a bunch of friends. She tried to forbid me to see them again; fortunately, like I said, I was out of the house and paying my own bills. I've stopped willingly listening to my mother's advice ever since the period of 3-4 years she spent beating me with a wooden paddle whenever I didn't understand what she was asking of me. She *can* at times be very loving and supportive, and I like to think that's who she is deep down, but her general demeanor is harsh, cold, distant, judgmental, mean, and superior. 

My father is an enabler... a very loving and supportive enabler of both my mother and myself, who to this day doesn't understand how his willingness to force an assertive "I'm here to listen to you; why won't you talk to me?" down my throat on a constant basis wasn't helpful to me as a depressed teenager. He makes a marvelous grandfather, though; my sister beat me to the punch there (no surprise; I've had a grand total of one live-in girlfriend as of the age of 33, though I think my brother-in-law was actually her first). My niece is functionally immortal; if something is wrong, my father notices within fifteen seconds, tops. Left in the car on a hot day? My sister has never done that, and in truth I can't see her ever doing so, by accident or otherwise -- she's too focused and "on target." But if it were to happen, my father would prevent any awful consequences thereof. The frequency of his phone calls asking "How is Jen?" (name changed) would be enough to prevent its occurance on those rare times when he's not actually present.

When I was depressed as a teenager I remember him standing in my doorway and staring at me. He was probably willing himself to "say the right thing." It's a trait I've picked up, regrettably. I definitely understand the urge, and it's only by his example that I know what not to do. I love my father, I just don't know how to talk to him. The unfortunate fact is that I get my anger from him too. My temper. He never took it out on me, or my mother, or my sister -- don't get me wrong. He was not at all abusive. But he's easily hurt, and easily made angry, just like me, and it makes talking to him about anything we so much as casually disagree on impossible. I'm simply too rough in how I express things, that being my own observation. I don't know how to be tactful in an argument, which doesn't help matters any, but the subject of being unhappy with my mother is something I've never been permitted to raise with him. Of all the parts of my life where he's been amazingly helpful, even when I didn't want or need him to be... he's never helped me to understand her. He used to tell me that I was imagining things, or making them up.

It took seeing my mother talking to one of my cousins about her college choices the way she talked to me about mine to realize that there was a terrible problem there. My cousin was applying for college around the time that her mother, my mother's younger sister, was going through financial problems. Some were her fault, some weren't; my aunt Mary (name changed) is a lot more open and trusting than my mother. I'd say "to an unhealthy degree" except that'd be the perspective that my mother has given me talking. In any case, my cousin was applying for colleges in her field of choice, and was getting accepted (due to her record) by some prestigious universities. My mother tried to tell her not to go to any of them; "stay close at home for your mother's sake. Go to a two-year program at a community college, then transfer over. She can't afford your education." She told her not to try student aid, that she'd never qualify for scholarships because there were people more deserving. I spent ten minutes compiling a list of some of the free/assisted tuition programs put out by the universities she was interested in and sent it to her, along with a simple note to completely ignore any advice my mother gave her on the subject. 

I'm about at the point where I'm rambling right now, but I'm going to come back and add to this at a later date, or simply post a separate story. I've hit hard times financially yet again, and it's bringing up a lot of old feelings and older memories. I waffle between confused, scared, angry, hateful, and bitterly depressed like I'm trying to balance over a chasm on the head of a pin, dancing from one pin to the next. I can't afford therapy, but I'm trying very hard to help myself see a better way, to move beyond these feelings, and to do things to actually improve my quality of life. Sometimes, on a good day, I manage... and I see a light at the end of the tunnel. I'm even able to talk to my mother with a smile.

On a bad day, well. The next time I have one of those, I guess I'll be back here.

User Comments

I sincerely hope that you have a lot more good days than bad going into the future. This sounds like an intensely painful and difficult situation. I dealt with depression growing up (that wasn't the only time I tried to run away from home, just the most memorable). It helps to hear from other people who are as confused as I am at any rate! Best wishes, sincerely.

Anon-1

Your mother sounds more than a little narcissistic, like her own life growing up left her bitter and unable to enjoy herself except at the expense of others. I hope that you're able to break that cycle; it sounds like you're at least trying hard, just having trouble seeing a way out. I promise you you'll find one! It's there, just not always obvious or readily seen. 

Anon-2

I feel sorry for your father. I'm much the same way, and it pains me to feel just how intensely he must honestly have wanted to help, while obviously (from my perspective at least) making things worse. I hope that he enjoys a very fruitful relationship with your niece, which sounds like it's underway; grandfathers are meant to dote. In the meantime, whatever their failings, your parents raised an obviously thoughtful person with a talent for writing (both evident from your post). I realize that that's also on you, I just wanted to highlight the happy parts and hope that everything works out for all of you.

Anon-3

That feels, without more to go on, like it's an unfortunate combination of traits from 3+ people which create a situation that was untenable for a young person growing up today. I hope that you're able to move past the hate and move on with your life. 

Anon-4

I grew up with a narcissistic mother and a father who self-medicated by coming home as rarely as he could manage while still maintaining the title. You could tell that he did his best not to think about his family at all. I was fortunate to find some older mentors worthy of my respect and admiration while I was still a teenager; not everyone in that situation is so lucky. I wish you the best in terms of a recovery, and I hope that things improve for you. 

Anon-5

Man, depression sucks. I know the feeling, at least that much of it. I'm glad that you have good days, and that you're able to recognize that there's hope at the end. A lot of people in your position can't do that. Best hopes for the future; I hope that things improve for you.

Anon-6

My mother drank, and would occasionally beat me and my older brother. Looking back, I'm honestly not sure what I'd prefer: that, or what you described. I hope that things start to look up for you. This might sound a bit cheesy, but I think you're brave. Not everyone could deal with all the mess that you've had to go through.