Depression and grief are not the same thing although they can coincide or trig the other.
Depression has been something I’ve struggled with my entire life. Grief has been something that has sprung up throughout my life but the past five years has not left my side.
As a young girl, I can remember hating myself. Hating the way I looked, the sound of my voice in my head, the way my hands looked as I wrote and colored, every little thing I did, that made me who I was, I hated. I have journals filled with spewing hatred about myself. My first thoughts of suicide came before the age of 6. I always felt as if I wasn’t good enough for my family. Maybe, if somehow, I was better, smarter, prettier, more fit, more athletic, funnier, happier, so much more, I could make their lives more fulfilling.
I struggled with nightly terrors. I had the same nightmare for years every single night. It never failed. We lived in Pennsylvania at the time and I would dream about a trailer we lived in on a hill (we actually lived there when the dreams started but continued even after we moved). It would start with an army of soldiers that would come marching from the right side of the property where the garden was. I could see them coming from far away and I would yell for my parents and brothers to come into the house but no one ever did. The soldiers would get up to us and I watched as they shot my father, then my mother. My brother Adam and I would hold hands and run into the house to hide with Josh running with us. Adam and I hid in a cabinet together and Josh hid in one by himself. I could somehow see though the walls. I watched as the soldiers came into the house, open the cabinet where Josh was and they would shoot him. Then they’d open the cabinet where we were hiding and shoot Adam, right there beside me. They never hurt me. They would leave after they killed everyone and I would be left alone, crying and begging for my family to wake up. Then I would see them all get shot again and again. I had that dream for years. I’ve had it about a dozen times since I’ve been an adult.
I’m sure that fed my depression as a young girl. My depression and anxiety would hold me so tightly I couldn’t speak. Still at times I would want to say something to someone but I physically couldn’t speak. It’s as if I was frozen and my tongue and throat couldn’t move. The words would repeat again and again in my head but nothing actually would come out of my mouth. That’s another reason I always wrote in notebooks or whatever I could find to write on/it. That still happens to this day.
I had a boyfriend in college who would get so frustrated with me because I would be upset but I couldn’t talk. I’d just grab my notebook and disappear to write. He once grabbed my notebook and said, “Fucking just say what you want! Don’t run away and write shit in this fucking book! Just say it!” If only he knew how badly I wanted to speak. I longed to say what was on my mind but I’ve always felt as if…maybe…maybe I didn’t deserve to feel what I was feeling. Maybe the pain I felt was because I wasn’t a good person or was doing something wrong. I thought, if I’m doing something wrong, or upsetting someone, why should I get to express my emotions. I was in a prison of self hatred with no self worth.
With grief in the picture, now I feel guilty about being upset because my dad and brothers don’t get to have feelings or emotions. Why should I get to have them when theirs were cut way too short? So my lifelong depression gets amplified with the grief of the loss I’ve consumed these past few years.
I know to many this all probably sounds crazy. And maybe it is. But depression can play some crazy games with your mind, with your thoughts, with your life. Maybe this is a new way for me to speak without having to use my physical voice. Or maybe it can be a voice for someone who feels or has felt the way I do or have.
I plan to write more on this topic, for now I need to stop.