Lesson: A Parent's Harsh Behavior Hurts
As long as I can remember I have been sad.
My mom is the nicest, most caring person I think I have ever met. My dad however, is a mentally abusive alcoholic. He has always made a point to tell me he loves me, and I know he does. He just has a lot of problems with himself that he does not know how to handle. So he took them out on my mother and me. I was always afraid of what was going to happen when he got home, what kind of mood he would be in. I have a sister who is 2 years younger than me, but she never seemed to be the target of his words.
When I was young, I never realized that I was depressed. I guess I didn't know that it wasn't normal to feel this way. I was sad. Otherwise, I was a normal kid. I was never disrespectful or viewed as a “problem” child.
I always dreamed of running away, but there was no way I could ever leave my mom. I always wished that she would just leave him, but she stayed because she was afraid she wouldn't be able to take care of us alone.
I spent a lot of time with my grandmother when things got really bad. When I was at home, I tried to stay in my room. That was where I felt safe and my father knew it. He would completely trash my room, dump my dresser drawers out, flip my bed over, break whatever he knew meant anything to me. It usually happened about once a month. I think it was a power trip for him. I always dreamed about when I would get away. I thought that I would be happy once I got out of there.
When I was 16 I got pregnant. I didn't exactly do it on purpose, but I did think it was my ticket out of there. I hid my pregnancy for five months. I was afraid that he would make me have an abortion. I didn't even actually tell them. They found out because I had been getting prenatal care behind their backs. The midwife I was seeing knew the situation and why I didn't want them to know yet. I could consent for treatment even without my parents because pregnancy is confidential.
But the lab where my blood work was sent mailed a bill to my house and my mother opened it. She cried for weeks. She kept saying I was ruining my life. She wanted me to put the baby up for adoption, but there was no way I could go through with that. I was already attached. She got over the shock of it and she helped me get everything ready for the baby. When my dad was sober he was much more supportive than I had expected he would be, but of course when he got drunk he would always tell me what a whore I was.
Near the end of my pregnancy he was talking to me like he always did and I guess I finally had enough. I had always been completely terrified of my father and I never ever would talk back to him or say anything that would tick him off. One night I had enough. I told him off for three hours straight. I told him everything he ever did to hurt me. I told him exactly what I thought of him, and what kind of a father I thought he was. He had no idea what to say. He sat there for the entire three hours with his mouth hanging open. For once, he was speechless.
I never felt better about myself in all my life as I did that night. I always thought that I was weak, but I wasn't. That was just my first ounce of confidence. I learned to stand up for myself.
I had my baby in July. Then, two weeks after my 18th birthday, I moved out. I moved an hour away from home to live with my boyfriend. I always thought that I would be happy when I got out of my parents house. That wasn't the case.
I worked full time and took care of my daughter, but I was still so sad. I would only get out of bed if I absolutely had to. I lost 25 pounds in a month. I had no appetite.
I was with him only two months before my idiot boyfriend started pushing me around. That quickly turned into slapping, then punching. He almost pushed me down a flight of stairs when I was holding my daughter. I had to leave and I knew it. There was only one place I could to go -- home.
My sister came over to visit me one night and my boyfriend called and said he wasn't coming home that night. My sister and I packed all of my things in the middle of the night and called my mom to come and get me. I went back. It wasn't bad at first. I got the job back that I had before I moved. I slowly got myself somewhat together. But things turned back to the way they were shortly. I managed to last at home a year that time.
Then I moved in with my best friend. I was there for two months and I found out that she had not been paying any of the utilities and everything was about to get disconnected. Then she just didn't pay the rent. She spent all of our money on clothes.
I left and got an apartment by myself. My daughter's father managed to get me kicked out of there by kicking in my door and harassing my neighbors. I went back home again. I stayed for three months then my dad kicked me out. Luckily, I had been saving all my money, so I got another apartment. I had a six month lease, and I was there for the entire lease. When it was up I went back home again. I had run out of money, my tax refund was what had been keeping me afloat. When I lived by myself I thought that the reason I was so depressed was because I was so financially strapped.
I dated the same guy after I left my abusive boyfriend. We started seeing each other a few months after I went back home the first time. After four years together, we got engaged. My daughter and I moved in with him a year and a half ago. He has an excellent job. We are financially comfortable. No more money worries. We have a wonderful relationship. He treats me like a princess. I am not afraid anymore. No one can treat me badly anymore.
Guess what, I am still sad.
I always thought it was something or someone that was making me sad. That was wrong. I have the life now that most people only dream of having, but I cannot control the depression. I still have thoughts and feelings that I would never want anyone to know about.
I have always been told depressed people are weak. I am not weak. Depression is a disease. I now know it is not caused by someone else, or a situation. I wish I knew when I was growing up all that I know about it now.
People just assume that all kids are happy. They think, "What does a child have to be depressed about?" That is probably what my mother thought. I wonder now if I had been diagnosed and treated when I was a child how differently my life may have turned out.
I was crying out for help, but no one was educated about depression enough to notice that I had all of the textbook symptoms. I am sure I am one of thousands. I can't help but think about how many children or teens MAY NOT have committed suicide if someone had recognized their depression and taken it seriously.
A plea from Jamie:
PARENTS: If you suspect that your child or teenager may be depressed, you may not think that it is that big of a deal. You may think "All teenagers are moody" or "They are just being a kid." You may think it is just a phase. IT MIGHT NOT BE! Don't ignore the problem and hope it will go away, it may never! You are your children's safety net! It is your job to catch them when they are falling and make sure they land on their feet. Trust your instincts!! Your child's health and life may possibly depend on it.
There is no such thing as a parent who cared too much, just the parent who didn't care enough!