I could tell you that the beginning of this journey was a stormy night, March 2, 1981 at Kaiser Zion hospital, San Diego. It wouldn’t be a lie; that is when I was born, and there’s a good chance I was genetically predisposed to clinical depression from day one. But, even if the seeds of this battle were planted before my birth, that’s likely not when I started living with depression. In fact, my early childhood was, well, as normal as a Catholic child with divorced parents in the early 80’s could be, I guess, and, as we journey through the storms, and as I work through things, maybe we’ll return to these early days.
Did my depression, and its symptoms, start to emerge in my elementary school years? One might think so, since I was always trying to look like everyone else, worried that the blood stains from picking my scabs (a habit that started as a child’s curiosity, but was never broken) and the general dinginess of my clothes would be noticed by the other kids at my Catholic school. These, too, were the days when I realized I didn’t have as much as my classmates, that they had school uniforms and play clothes and church clothes. That didn’t seem to bother me too much at the time, though. In fact, aside from worrying that someone would notice that my rolled-down tube socks had colored stripes at the top (and, therefore, violated dress code), most of my childhood seemed OK.
Junior high was when I really started to notice a change, especially as I look back at my life so far. The picking continued, and it seemed mom gave up on trying to get the blood stains out of the sleeves of my white blouses. There were always brownish ghosts of blood stains on my blouses, and my socks, from the oddly satisfying picking, that momentary relief from both itching and from the rough patch of a scab. The picking wasn’t the whole story anymore, though. Around 7th or 8th grade, I started daydreaming about dying. Don’t get me wrong, there was no suicidal ideation at this point. Looking back, though, I doubt it was normal to daydream about some tragedy befalling me, and ending up on my deathbed. Frequently, a crush would be holding my hand, maybe even giving me my first (and last) kiss. This was also when I started to write, especially poetry. Of course, it was pretty underdeveloped and overwhelmingly cliche, but I realize now that my writing and my mental health have been in a long term dance throughout most of my life.
Since then, depression has been the antagonist to my protagonist, the constant companion that no one would ever ask for. There have been times when my depression falls nearly silent, when I am winning the battle. There are also times when it seems depression is gaining the upper hand. There were times in my past when I couldn’t externalize my depression. In these times, the screaming whispers of depression in my ear seemed to be my own thoughts and feelings. Over the years, depression has colored my world view, and been ankle weights on the already challenging walk we call life.
It has been a long walk, and I would like to share stories of my walk with you. I would also like to invite you to walk with me as I work towards even greater, and deeper, healing. Perhaps you, like me, are endlessly curious, and would just like a view from the inside. Maybe you struggle or have struggled with depression, anxiety, or other mood disorders, and find peace in knowing you’re not alone. Or, you may be interested in a writer’s journey, because this will be a project of healing, and of reawakening the passion for writing that led me to studying it in college. Whatever your interest, welcome, and I hope you decide to join me as I work on writing out my storms, and finding my calm seas.