I grew up a really happy and loving kid, and I always knew I wanted to help people when I grew up. I loved meeting people and I was always trying to make new friends when I traveled with my parents. Unfortunately, my innocence didn’t last long once I was exposed to public school. Kids are just downright inhumane to each other, and I slowly became a loner over the years.
When I was in fourth grade, I had a teacher who was actually quite mean to me. As if that wasn’t hard enough, my grandfather died suddenly on Valentine’s Day, and my best friend died two months later after he’d been suffering for months. My only sister also went away to college shortly after that, and that’s when my depression was conceived. A classmate molested me in seventh grade which only screwed me up for a short period of time, luckily I don’t think there have been any long-term consequences that I’ve had to deal with because of it.
But my serious depression began when I was in high school. It was mostly a result of a pretty strenuous and sometimes volatile relationship with my mother. It wasn’t much of a physical abuse, thankfully, but I always considered verbal abuse to sometimes be worse. She would scream at me in such close proximity that I could feel her spit spray across my face, and she’d punish me by taking away privileges for no less than one month at a time for things that couldn’t have been that serious. I found myself in my school’s group therapy that I only signed up for to get out of class one period a week, but I quickly found that it was a place I needed to be. I always had the “worst” story for the week about the latest “crazy” at my house, and I soon discovered that I didn’t know how to cope with it.
I honestly can’t remember the first time I did it, or why I even thought to, but I eventually started cutting my wrists as a coping mechanism to deal with the constant pain I felt. I certainly didn’t want attention for it, so I hid it from my family, friends, and teachers. I truly cannot explain why I have the inclination to do such a thing, but it always gave me a sense of relief and possibly control at the time. Of course, the following day I would be absolutely disgusted with myself, but it was the only way I knew how to feel better at the time.
This only lasted a couple years, and it stopped abruptly when my mother discovered my marred wrist when I forgot and wasn’t being careful. She immediately marched me downstairs to my father and forced me to show him what I had done to myself while calling me a “basket case” and screaming at me. However, my mom knows she isn’t perfect, and I think she just didn’t know how to react, because that was the first time I ever received an apology from my mother.
Life got better after becoming an adult (because it’s legal to drink?), but depression is clearly something that is never going away for me. It’s manageable for the most part, but I have a very low threshold for coping. I still get the urge to cut myself after 14 years, but I’m able to control it. Needless to say being humiliated and called a basket case tends to deter you from certain behaviors.
But one constructive thing I did do in high school was write poems and songs as an escape. I think most have them have been lost to advancing technology, but I happened to run across a poem I wrote at about 14 when cleaning out some old things of mine a few days ago. I read it and actually cried because of how much it still resonates with me. It also broke my heart remembering how it felt to be a little girl so distraught that her only way to not feel pain was to actually hurt herself.
So, in case someone out there can relate, I wanted to share my poem with you:
I had to go somewhere this morning,
so I dragged myself out of bed
I turned the light on and looked in the mirror –
“Ugh,” I said – what an awful sight
I tried and tried to make myself beautiful,
but nothing worked
I applied as much makeup as I could,
but it didn’t work
Every other morning it worked.
This one was different –
it was very different
What was so different about it was the night before.
Something happened last night –
and that’s why I’m not beautiful today.
It’s not really my fault,
just worked out that way.
I tried to apply more glitter; that always worked.
I put it on – it didn’t help one bit.
I looked into the mirror one last time and I realized –
I wasn’t smiling.