How I became depressed: prelude

I’m having a blah day today. It’s a real Wednesday feeling. Not sad or depressed exactly just thoroughly fed up right down to my very bones. I had a very dream filled sleep last night and I’ve found that when that happens I either wake up very sad or very low in energy (or both) I’ve heard there’s a strong connection between sleep and depressed people. As in depressed people spend longer in REM sleep which I’m obviously doing if I’m dreaming a lot. Studies have also found that sleep deprivation improves mood in some cases. What are we supposed to do with that?? I love sleeping! But this is something I have found myself, when I don’t sleep much I’m quite often in a good mood. I think this demands more research.

I’ve settled into the routine of posting every other day. It seems right, not too demanding but consistent enough to get me into a nice flow. I’ve decided that it’s time to start the back story, the reason for me doing this blog: my depression, and more specifically how it came about. I think it’ll be in a few parts, this is the prelude.

I didn’t have a bad childhood. There was no abuse, or trauma, I wasn’t bullied especially badly, I was talented, I had a supportive family and some friends, and I was not a depressed child. However I was not happy being a child. I have always been an ‘old soul’, and I’ve never been willing to conform. Nothing too drastic but at school anyone who is marked out as different does have it harder. I knew what I wanted to do and who I wanted to spend time with. I realise now that I was lucky and had an innate contentment and knowledge of mindfulness. I was very happy lying out in the garden appreciating the sun and the grass, I understood the value and joy of living in the present. I also never went in for competition, or for striving or achieving. I just liked to live. Well, I just liked the idea of growing up and not being a kid anymore to be honest.

Having said all that, as well as my capacity for contentment, I also did know depression. As quite a young child (8 or something) I did know that awful heavy-weight-on-my-chest crushing misery that I’ve come to associate with a very low mood. I remember feeling it and not knowing what it was, it was such a strange feeling. Not much like sadness at all, if you’re sad you cry was my thinking. I never cried, I was always praised for not crying. I had friends who never saw me cry and I was very proud of this fact. I decided it was silly and attention-seeking to cry when you fell over so I never did it.

Unfortunately I think this attitude came back to bite me in my mid-teens. I had a period of angst which lasted a couple of years and with no one to talk to in my misery I developed a very unhelpful coping mechanism. If I could cry I might have had a less destructive release. During this time I was the agony aunt for my other friends who were suffering from angst too. I was the reliable one, the shoulder to cry on but with no one’s shoulder for me to cry on. I never would believe 10 years later I’d be the depressed one.

After this period, the end of school and beginning of university, I think came the most settled period of my life. I had a good sense of humour, contentment, healthy disregard for achieving, appreciation of living and an ease in my body. I never valued these things, I took them for granted. I was about to have a big fall.

Still I think it’s important to note that my depression did not come out of nowhere. I may have not had trauma in my past but I did have unhealthy thought patterns. I was a sensitive child (and a sensitive adult) and a worrier. I’d worry especially about the state of the planet but simultaneously I’d be powerless to do anything and also I was bewildered that others didn’t care like I did. Not tending towards anger at other’s failings, I’d turn the despair inwards and with no one to talk to about it I’d let the worry fester alone in my chest (well not quiet alone, it had that big ball of misery for company sometimes!) I am also the child of pessimists. My parents are natural born moaners and I took the attitudes in and they stewed with the worry. “No one cares about this, no one will do anything, that’s just the way people are, I bet it’s going to get even worse”. Worse than these thoughts I believed the classic pessimism belief: if I think of the worse possible thing that could happen then it has to be better than that! Looking back now, it’s not much of a mystery I became depressed, it’s more amazing it didn’t happen earlier!

Depression is a very complex thing but I think I’ve covered most of the foundations for why it happened to me here. Next time: I leave school, get a job and feel forced to go to university.


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