So I have checked this thread from time to time, reading the various stories that people have posted, reading their advice and the likes. Why am I posting this? To be honest, I am not really sure. Perhaps maybe to get it off my chest or maybe help someone else. I am not looking for a pity party or to have people say "aww you poor thing!" I am writing this in hopes that perhaps I connect with someone or perhaps make them feel like they are not alone. I really won't know until I finally hit submit.
I have suffered/battled with depression for most of my life. And I am trying not to exaggerate here. Although I am pretty sure a child psychologist isn't going to go around diagnosing kids with depression like the way Oprah gives away a car. You get depression, you get depression, everyone gets depression! (Yes, that is my lame attempt to get a chuckle out of someone) I honestly don't remember much of the appointments I had with a psychologist when I was younger. I was probably 8 or 9, upwards of 10 or 11 maybe (again, I really cannot remember). I do remember the woman would allow me to pick a board game to play at the end of each session. I really don't remember much more than that.
I put most of my history/background information in a spoiler for those who do want to read. Trust me, it is long so I wanted to leave the more general/relevant parts for anyone to see.
Those sessions were roughly around the time that I was diagnosed with ADD. I saw a psychiatrist for them to properly diagnose me at that time. I wasn't "bored" or anything of the sort, I had terrible time keeping focused. I also would get so overwhelmed/stressed out that I broke out in hives all over my body. At this point in my life, I had just moved from one state to another. I moved into an area of this state that was very affluent. As well, the school system was very good. Not only did I have ADD but I also had (still have) dyslexia and dysgraphia. In my previous school, I was never stupid. I hit all of the same milestones as other kids I just seemed to not understand stuff as well. Perhaps a tad slow but nothing out of the ordinary it seemed. In my new school? I was put into special ed classes. I felt so stupid because I had to go to extra special ed classes (still went to the regular classes though) and none of my friends had to. In fact, I knew people who were in the "accelerated" program and I wanted to be like them. I wanted to be thought of smart rather than stupid. I inherently felt left out/judged because I was in what I deemed "stupid classes." I went onto Adderall and successfully brought my grades up from C and D to A and B. I no longer got hives, I could read without stressing myself out (as much) and things seemed to improve. Yay for school improving!
But the social aspect was a whole other thing. As I mentioned before, it was an affluent (almost strictly white) area. Most of the kids at my school had parents who were doctors/lawyers/CEO's...well you get the point. Most people lived in homes that were large (anywhere from 3000 square feet up to mansions) and most kids were able to get whatever they wanted. This meant that most kids my age (9,10,11) had a PS2 when it first came out or within a year or so. We had our own desktop computers, our own "play rooms" (a separate room in the home for just our toys) and so on and so forth. This also meant that a lot of people were judged by what they had. Yes, even at that age we learned to judge. We would brag about how big our homes were, what we had and where we lived. Being an only child in a well off middle class family, I too had some of these things. And I would brag to my friends because well, that was the "thing" to do. After all, I wanted to be the popular girl in my grade and have everyone like me! (Again, I am not sure about others but I learned at a very early age about popularity) This also created very toxic friendships in my life. This was the main reason for my depression from about 3rd-4th grade on. I had parents who loved me so I never had issues at home. But my friends at school could be incredibly vicious. (I went to one school for 3rd grade, another for 4th and 5th and went back to the first school for 6th grade. All of this was still Elementary school)
I was never popular. Sure I had friends, but they were users. They would barely talk to me at school, going to their "cooler" friends at school. Sure, I ate with friends at lunch but I always felt out of the loop. On the weekends? I was suddenly cool enough to hang out with. My friends couldn't be bothered to hang out with me at school (much less even talk to me for that matter) but the weekends it was suddenly cool since I was the only one around. All of my friends were my friends for the wrong reasons. They only cared about having something to do on the weekend or perhaps seeing what they could get from me. I had a lot of toys and a nice house so it made sense that people would want to come over. But I also had selfish friends who wanted everything about them. Hell, on my 11th birthday party, my "friend" tried to turn everyone against me...at my own party.
Then came middle school. I once again moved back to the previous state where I had done Kindergarten through 2nd grade. My parents had found a home and came back to tell me "Oh the girl across the street is so nice! She is a year younger but I can see you becoming great friends with her!" To which I replied: "What if she is like everyone else? Who will be mean to me even though we are friends." I was skeptical of making friends at age 12. I was going to middle school with no friends, in a new state where the people I did know went to other schools. I made friends with the girl on my street who was in my grade. Which in turn made the other girl upset because I came in. Cue her being nasty to me. The girl I became friends with (who I considered my best friend) introduced me to some of her friends. I became close to some of them but I was rather shy at that point in my life. I wasn't good at making friends in class by going up and just sparking up a conversation. So I became friends with the girl on my street and some of her friends. And I soon found out they only liked me because they thought I was "rich." (Again, I was still middle class. But being an only child, it seems as though we were rich since I got nice stuff.) And suddenly I was left out of stuff. My "best friend" would make plans for sleepovers right in front of me. But never invite me. She would plan to hang out with our friends in front of me, but not include me. It was a perpetual cycle of her making plans in front of me and not inviting me. And being very shy, I was not assertive enough to ask to be a part of the plans. I did ask a few times but I was shot down or the plans would suddenly "change" as the date got closer. Meaning I somehow was once again, left out. My "friends" would throw me under the bus if given the chance (and they did more than a few times).
It was also the first time I was singled out for being white. Coming from the previous area that was almost strictly white, it was a shock to say the least. I could care less about the skin color of my friend. Why does that matter? But there was a few mentions of "Well it is just because you are white..." as if that was somehow a disadvantage. Middle school was also the time when I had guys picking on me. They were guys who lived on my street (one was the male twin of my best friend) so the teasing happened outside of school mostly. It was comments of I was ugly. My nose was too big, I looked like Pinocchio. My ears were huge, just like Dumbo. I was fat. I was so fat in fact that I caused Hurricane Katrina when I stepped. I was Godzilla and when I got blonde highlights in my hair, I was now Blondezilla. I have never been a size 0 and I never will be skinny. I developed at an early age and I always had curves. As well, I swam and did softball so I had muscles. But I was at a normal weight when these comments came in. As if there isn't enough things to be self-conscious of at that age.
High school. I kept the same friends I had in middle school because I was still so shy. I had issues making eye contact with people and while I was outgoing with my friends, I was shy to new people. Sure, I talked to people in my classes and kind of got "friendly" but we never hung out after school. The bullying/name calling with the boys stopped but the friends continued to get worse. It became evident that they only wanted me around because I could probably buy them like an iPod for their birthday or things like that. I heard more than a few times them talking behind my back, claiming how "annoying" I was and the likes. Mind you, these are people I considered to be my best friends. I would bottle up a lot of the little jabs they threw my way, the comments they made and the way they made me feel. But a few times, the bottle would shatter and I would tell them how annoyed/frustrated I was with them. (Perhaps it was a little more than just telling but I never yelled or anything) Which lead to them claiming how much of a bitch I was and then turning everyone against me until I came crawling back with an apology. Two girls I eventually gave up on. They suddenly got mad for some reason and I was in no mood to go groveling back when I had no idea what was wrong. Halfway through my senior year, I was going to move to a different town (only about a 15 minute drive for me, still in the same school.) My best friend had always gotten rides from me to school every day and some days home. (She never thanked me, never offered to pay for gas, it was more or less something that was "expected" of me because we were friends and I allowed them to walk all over me.) When I mentioned I could no longer give her a ride because it was out of my way? Poof. Never heard from her again. So I was left with no friends my senior year, only the school friends I would talk to in class. I got to the point where I was done groveling and I didn't look back. During this entire time, my depression was always there. I would come home to my mother most days, crying about how once again my friends treated me. There even got points where I had bottled up so much that I would almost have a semi-mental break down at points. I would just be crying, unable keep myself in check and I would be so mentally exhausted that I couldn't do anything for the day. I would never admit this to my parents but there was more than several times where I honestly contemplated suicide. And if my parents hadn't been there and so supportive, I honestly wouldn't be sitting here typing this out.
In college, I had hoped that things would change. That the girls would be mature and not backstabbers like all my previous friends. In the back of my mind, I worried that history would repeat. And sure enough, it did. The girls I roomed with acted the same way, even if they started off fantastic (like all my previous friendships). This has lead me to the point where I am today. Where I really want a friend but I just cannot bring myself to let anyone in close because I am afraid it will again end in disaster. Online friends have somehow been easier but there is a big difference from someone online and someone in real life. It is perhaps why I sink so much time onto online is I don't have friends in real life. And this certainly does not help my depression in any way, shape or form.
Depression has been a part of my life for a long time but it took me even longer to even admit
it. Sure, people get depressed with a loved one dies, they are failing school or stuff like that. But trying to tell yourself that there is a problem with yourself? I just couldn't. I never saw it as "well it is probably a chemical imbalance" or anything like that. I looked at myself as I cannot even control my emotions properly. I think I honestly never accepted I struggled with depression until maybe 3-4 years ago. Because those high points make you forget the low points. And in those high points, life is fine. It is when you are stuck deep in one of the ruts that you just struggle to even do anything.
Accepting that I needed medicine for the rest of my life however...that has not come so easily. Finally admitting that you struggle with depression is a big step and one that I could finally take. But accepting the fact that I need medicine was something I just wasn't ready to accept. I had been on and off medicine since I was in high school so it wasn't a stranger to me, but it was never very long term. "I mean, who the hell cannot control their emotions?" Is what I always told myself. I felt like such a failure because everyone else can control their emotions and I just apparently sucked at that too. Again, I never looked at it as I had a chemical imbalance or that there was a legit physiological reason for being depressed. Perhaps it goes back to being diagnosed with ADD and not wanting people to look at me like I am a loser. My mom would always say "Well it is just like people who have diabetes and require insulin for the rest of their lives." but it never helped. I never saw depression as a disease or anything long term. I always figured that I would merely get over it at one point in my life. Whenever I told people about the medicine I took (besides doctors), I would always claim that my antidepressant was for anxiety. To some extent, it was slightly correct. But I felt more comfortable telling people I had anxiety than saying I had depression. Why? I think I felt stupid for being depressed because most people weren't depressed. Most people didn't have the same issues. But somehow I thought anxiety was more relatable? Less...stupid? Perhaps people could understand anxiety more than depression. Maybe it is the social stigma associated with depression. Who knows. But I cannot even count the posts people have made where someone has said "Well you look
fine so you are not depressed" or "Well you are always smiling so you cannot be depressed." or "Your life is fine, why are you complaining? Why are you depressed?"
People only see the surface; what we project. And I know I am not the only one who knows how well a depressed person can project an image of being fine. Some say it is like wearing a mask. That we put on our "happy" mask for others when inside we are nothing but sad. But one of the most annoying things is the people who just don't understand but still judge. Who assume that we must be making it up for attention. Or we are just whiners. Or we are losers who cannot control our emotions. Whatever they believe, they just honestly cannot understand the struggles we go through. As others have mentioned, depression is life sucking. Soul consuming. And one of the worse parts? It is our minds doing it to us. It is not something super simple as saying "Well you broke your foot, you cannot walk." It isn't just obvious to everyone and it is not something we can physically show
I am glad to see that there are people here who feel free to share this. And I think the biggest thing is that we are not alone. Reading just this thread, I can relate to many posts of how people are feeling. So while every depression isn't identical, it sounds like a lot of us have gone through some similar things. I probably rambled way too much and I am not even sure if this will help anyone. I guess one of my biggest points for writing this was the fact that it took me a long time to admit that I struggled for depression and that I needed medicine to help me. I still occasionally struggle with both parts myself and I am not sure if I will ever come to terms. But I will continue to work on it.