As I drove my mom home from the hospital, I wondered exactly how I was going to ask her the question that wouldn’t stop ringing in my head.
We pulled up to her house. I hadn’t been inside since she was taken to the hospital, and the blood spot in the center of the living room where she had been found by the ambulance sent a chill up and down my spine.
Mom sat down on the couch and looked up at me. She was ghastly. She looked so small, and yet she also reminded me of the mother that used to call me Princess and rock me to sleep when I was little.
I remembered for the first time in a long time that she truly loved me, and that she always had. As negative a picture as I can paint of her here, the one thing I could never accuse her of was not loving me.
It was what she had ben battling, what we both had been battling, that had ripped us apart. I wanted to say these things to her, but years of unspoken emotions quelled my voice.
Instead of speaking, I found a box and started boxing up every bottle of alcohol in the house.
I knew it was harsh, but I couldn’t deal with it any other way.
My back was turned away from her, but I could feel her eyes on me. I wondered how this was going to go.
Suddenly she was beside me, gingerly lifting bottles of chardonnay and setting them into the box.
She promised me that she was done and asked me not to worry about her anymore.
It was a huge relief to know that she finally understood that she couldn’t continue living the way she had been for so long, but I had to keep her at arm’s length.
Nothing would have broken my heart more than if she had started drinking again.
From that point forward we slowly started healing but it would be a few years before I would finally be able to put everything behind me.
Growing up the way that I had damaged me in a way that I’ll never be able to erase.
But with what I hoped was the worst of it in the past, I felt ready to focus on the other areas of my life again. At only 20, I felt old and tired.
I resolved that I would start acting my age again and try to put the past behind me.
I wasn’t strong yet, but I wanted the experiences I’d been going through to mean something. I wanted to truly learn and evolve instead of continuing to spiral down depression’s dark path.
A few months later… I fell in love again. Talk about a distraction.
My journey towards true happiness has always been one step forward, two steps back. However, I truly believe that the most important survival strategies I learned were when I was walking backwards.
My relationship with Trevor was a whirlwind. I had just turned 21, and more than anything I wanted to move on from where I had been the previous three years since leaving home.
I was ready to settle down and focus on the things that really mattered, and since I was in love and things were going great – why not get engaged?
The engagement and the following weeks were definitely happy times. I was finally starting to mend my once non-existent relationship with my father, who used the wedding planning process as a means to bond with his estranged daughter.
For every reason imaginable, I should have been the happiest girl in the world.
I had a newly healthy mother who had moved closer to where I grew up, lessening the strain that we’d both felt after she followed me to college.
I was getting closer to my father, brother and their significant others and finally felt like I had a real family again.
I had a hot fiance, big diamond ring to show off and a beautiful wedding almost 90% planned.
And still… I wasn’t happy.
In fact, my depression was the worst it had ever been.
Thinking that maybe I was just overwhelmed by all the recent life changes, I headed to the therapy yet again. This time, I got on medication.
I waited and waited for it to kick in, all the while feeling more confused than ever.
I was in love. I was supposed to be happy! What was going on?
Sure enough, things quickly fell apart. For a host of reasons I’ve discussed here, I realized that things with Trevor were not what I thought they were and we parted ways.
As another relationship washed down the drain, I suddently felt halted. I wasn’t moving forward or backward. I was stuck.
I went off my medication, which I don’t believe ever truly helped me (although I have nothing against anti-depressants and believe they can be very helpful to some) and settled into another cycle of self-destruction.
I know what you’re probably thinking… I promised this story had a happy ending and yet it keeps getting sadder and sadder, right? I promise I’m getting there.
I just feel that it’s important to really take a look at the circumstances that lead up to depression.
Depression can occur for no reason at all, but most of the time there’s a sequence of things that gets you to that point. This was story was it for me.
After my engagement broke off, one other really bad thing happened. I’ve been 100% candid here, but I can’t really go into details about that – it’s just too personal.
However, we’ve come to the point in my story where I’d reached my ultimate low point. I had just graduated college, moved out of my college town and I was at a precipice.
I was either going to keep getting worse, or I was going to get better.
The happy part is that I did, in fact, get better. It took a lot of hard work and a lot of time, but I got there.
In the next (and hopefully final) installment I’ll tell you how I did it.
Thanks so much for following along with this. I’ve been so touched by everyone who has reached out, and more than that - I have received an incredible amount of mental clarity from finally owning up to this story. I finally feel completely free from it all.
In the past I would have been ashamed and terrified to disclose all of this information, but I feel that I’ve come to a place where I can be open and honest and I truly hope it will make a few of you out there feel a little less alone.
I encourage you… if you are going through or have gone through something in the past that has caused you to feel hopeless PLEASE TELL SOMEONE. It can be a parent, a friend, a spiritual advisor even a journal.
You will never learn more about yourself than by just being honest about what has happened to you. In my opinion, this is the first step to true healing.
Everyone has a story, no matter how insignificant it may seem, and the truth will set you free.