Part 1 – The Depression Series
A hypersensitive child, I was very uncomfortable with feeling overwhelmed by my own emotions. I saw surface and depth at the same time, understood dynamics and conflicts in people and their relations, and I absorbed the environment undiscerningly. As an adult, I came to see this as a natural part of childhood – it is only normal for kids to pick up on everything around them, especially emotions and attitudes, and this is why it’s so important to provide them with a happy stress-free home environment.
My sensitivity was not recognized as the positive component of my personality it really was, so I had to deal with lack of understanding (or care) and the constant external pressure to change. My feelings were often minimized, denied, deemed improper, and sometimes punished. That built a cozy nest for my future depression.
Everything went nice, with the normal ups and downs, until I was 13, and someone irreplaceable passed away. Suddenly there was no balance, life started to fall apart, and adolescence exploded in my face. Lots of things happened all at once, including: bulimia, estrangement from friends, emotional withdrawal, frequent nightmares and suicidal thoughts. I always overslept, never rested, prayed to die in my sleep, was heartbroken to wake up alive. I was lethargic and nothing interested me since my hobbies and passions had been tagged as a waste of time – in my circles, no one was interested in music, arts and crafts. The few people who were artistically inclined confessed later that they had been jealous of me and didn’t want to support me.
I developed the habit of keeping people at a distance, mainly by playing an arrogant part that was completely against my natural caring predisposition. I wanted to protect my heart, not to share my feelings and expose vulnerabilities. I was ashamed for not being happy and “normal”. I longed for relief and ideal friendships, but pushed everything away. People seemed too offended to care about me and ask what was wrong.
Home was not a refuge for me. In fact, I was desperate to leave. I kept the rosy vision of turning 18 and being totally independent to live any way I pleased, to be true to myself. It was tricky, because with all the anger and grief projected inside, I hated myself. So, being true to myself meant allowing happiness for the one I hated – my self. Quite a problem.
Parents got a divorce – much too late, the damage had been done for years. Father had a stroke (he did not die, but didn’t fully recover either), mother had other complications – I was totally broke and broken. Left, came back, left again, came back again. Loved, lost, missed. Missed deadlines, appointments, trains…
When I was 21, I decided I didn’t want to feel miserable anymore and reached for professional help, despite people around telling me that only crazy people go to psychologists. I told everyone I didn’t care if they called me crazy, because I was really determined to hear a stranger’s opinion on my issues and feelings. I went to a therapist, took tests, told my story, and she said one sentence that inspired a huge shift in my approach to life, making me realize I was strong, responsible and able to care for myself. She said: “after all you’ve been through it’s almost a miracle you’re so lucid, not a drug addict or promiscuous in another way.” After three or four meetings, I told her I was able to handle things myself, and stopped seeing her.
In a few months, I was free from bulimia. The strategy was simple: I allowed myself to eat anything, in whatever quantity, as long as eating was not tied to an emotion. Basically, I did not push against my defenses and didn’t restrict myself. I gained some pounds, and then I lost them easier than ever.
I also acted upon my decision to embrace my sensitive deeply perceiving psyche and the occasional depressive episodes that come with such a nature.
But more about that in part 2 of this series.