Depression the Dragon: An Invisible Illness with Visible Scars

I have depression.

This is not a new discovery. Or a scandalous secret revealed.

I have battled depression since I was young.

I have discussed how depression affects me. My piles of hair ties wrapped in hair. How I have to wake up some days and make a commitment to slay the dragon each and every single day.

I am not sure where my depression came from first. Nature or nurture.

My dad was bipolar and a manic depressive. He would sleep all day until the moon rose.

I do not remember a lot from the days before I turned 12. But I do vividly remember days where our house remained darker than a moonless night sky.

We ate chili from a can. He taught me how to play cards. He prided himself on never letting me win unless I worked hard for it. I never knew what house he would take me too, he had to move so often. He tried his best with the little he had. I think.

But he was sick. He had a brain tumor before I was born. When I was a newborn, it came back and they had to remove it again. Only this time, they removed a part of the brain they shouldnt have touched. They didn’t need to. A slam dunk malpractice suit had my mom had the ability.

I am not sure if the depression was apart of him before the brain tumor, or how much of the depression was a result of the botched surgery.

I remember a SWAT team having to negotiate with him, and call the cops in fear as he ripped my moms car apart. I was too young, or naive, to realize why.

My 12th birthday finally came. The cops finally listened to me as I screamed at them that I never wanted to see my dad again.

And I didnt. I did live in constant fear. But I never went back to whatever house he called home that weekend.

My mom has her issues as well. But she loves me in her own way.

I was given everything I wanted when I was a kid. I cried, and she let me pick out whatever I wanted at the store. I got mad at her, her response was to give me more money. She did her best with the hand of cards she had to play from.

I came from a divorced household with a mentally ill single father and a single mother who worked 80+ hours a week to provide for everything I could ever dream of wanting.

To the outside world, I lived a life that should not cause one to be depressed, or even be a key component in having depression. I didnt tell anyone, outside of my endless stream of childhood counselors, about my mentally ill father.

But depression is an inner demon. It is an invisible struggle that only the person it resides in, knows about.

I started counseling when I was young. I have gone years where I dont see one. And years where I dont know why I stopped seeing one.

I realized, or maybe finally acknowledged, about 5 years ago that I do not remember 90% of my childhood before the age of 12/13. I dont know why. I dont know what I have blocked out.

And honestly, I am not sure I am ready to find out what secrets I have locked away.

Hence why my past has remained there and has not flowed thru my fingers like so many other words.

My depression was the root of cutting when I was a young teenager. I locked myself in the high school bathroom in the drama building and threatened suicide.

My mom was called. She dropped everything and came to my rescue.

I dont know why I started cutting. I still cannot explain why I felt the need to harm myself. Or what pain I was trying to release.

I dont do it anymore. And while I threateed suicide on more than one occasion, honestly I was too lazy and scared to follow thru. So I didnt.

Maybe I just wanted attention. Or looking for a type of acknowledgement or love, that I wasnt receiving. Or felt like I wasnt receiving.

Typing this….I was broken.

I battled depression.

I still battle depression.

I will always battle depression

And sometimes the depression takes hold and doesnt let go.

I am 32 years old now. It has taken me nearly 20 years to figure out that taking antidepressants, or happy pills as I prefer to call them, is going to be a life long task.

You see, happy pills are designed to make you happy. Or, in my case, because every person that has experienced depression is different, happy pills numb your feelings and give you a false sense of security that everything is OK and that you won your battle with depression.

I would get to a point where I felt “happy”, even. I felt I was at a place where my life was finally moving forward.

And then I would stop taking my happy pills.

The overwhelming feelings would come back. My gray skies would return. My anger erupted and my tempers flared. Even if the wind changed directions.

It took me a long time to realize that stopping my happy pills, was probably not the best idea.

Fast forward to this last spring. I broke my personal record of successfully continuosly taking my happy pills.

But my migranes were constant and becoming unbearable. I didnt feel like my happy pills were leveling me out enough anymore.

So I saw my doctor. I talked with my counselor. And I tried a new med. Which I immediately had an allergic reaction to.

So…I tried another one. One that would treat my migraines and depression at the same time!

Efficient!

My migraines scaled back.

But my moods were still in constant flux.

I gave it another month.

I ended up hating myself. I had dived head first off the anger diving board and in to the eternal guilt and depression pool,

So back to the doctor. And we added a baby dose of what I used to be on.

It seems to be working. I will see the dr again in the next week or 2 for a tune up. But I can tell I am on the right path again.

Depression killed my summer. It won my summer. And I let it. It was out of control. The dragon desperately trying to win back the throne.

I didnt advocate for myself sooner.

Pre med change, I was in a fairly neutral place. I was excited for planning a 55 mile solo hike. I woke up everyday with a mission and a purpose.

I was winning the hand to hand fight with my dragon named depression.

But during the med change, guilt of my actions took their toll. I stopped brushing my teeth. I only could muster energy for 1 for 2 showers a week. I just wanted to sleep.

I dont answer phone calls, or listen to voicemails, or open mail….just letting everything pile up.

My anger dragon unleashed itself before I realized it was loose.

I lost focus of my 55 mile solo hike. I lost all passion and purpose.

It took me a month too long to advocate for myself.

But this last battle hasnt been for nought.

I unmasked my voice. For the first time, I can now see how toxic my childhood depression was. I can see how my depression then, is the reason why I am just now, at 32, finding out where my passions lie.

Depression takes a lot away from your life. It takes what you enjoy, or want to enjoy, and masks it, hiding it away in a dusty attic. It makes you fight for the little joys and it magnifies that which could be your kryptonite.

Depression is scary. It is dark. It is an immortal dragon that needs constant suprevision and attention. Depression will not be forgotten.

I am currently in a place where my meds are working as they should.

But depression the dragon leaves scars that will be a constant reminder of all that I have gone thru.

For instance, this week, brought to you by depression the dragon, I am dealing with intense pain on the left side of my mouth. I cant sleep. I cant medicate enough. I lost half a tooth. I can feel the deep cavities. I know getting my teeth fixed needs to happen.

But it is going to cost money that I dont have.

I havent gone to my dentist for 3 years for a reason.

My depression dragon has actually stayed anchored in calm seas this week.

But depression is there to remind me it is still a force to be reckoned with.

The kicker? My depression was finally subsiding, the clouds dissipated, the fog lifted.

My brain was finally working on all cylinders and it felt good.

The passions I never did have as a child, were finally unmasking themselves.

I can feel it in my bones. My soul is getting closer.

But my good ‘ol best friend, depression the dragon, is going to make me fight to find my calling.

When I was a teenager, I wanted to bleed. I wanted to escape. I wanted to die. I felt so alone. Depression ruled my life.

Today, I have an amazing husband, 2 amazing children. A household full of furry animals. I have found my tribe, which has provided me life long friends I know I can count on, and they know I am there for them.

Some days are darker than others. But depression the dragon, while it may continue to throw the first punch, masking as much of the happiness as possible, is no longer the most feared.

My depression is my depression. And no one else’s.

My depression is invisible, but that doesnt make it weaker or less there.

My depression the dragon and I will be together until the end. Only difference now is that I have finally tamed the beast.

It understood me before I named it mine.

Now, I understand it.

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