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What It Was Like to Grow Up With Depression

Everyone craves that perfect childhood. Being able to play in the great outdoors no matter what the weather. Making even trash into something you can treasure with just your imagination. Years spent full of laughter and a sensation of feeling so loved. We all want to be able to find nostalgia of our younger years that were so carefree and close to our heart.

I recently had a conversation where a person spoke about their upbringing as if their life was standard. I know that sounds strange, but to me, his strong family unit and effortless life left me feeling envious — it was almost too good to be real. This person did not know what it was like to resent yourself before you knew the alphabet, or have nightmares of childhood traumas that haunt your ability to function as an “ordinary” adult.

Maybe there is a standard that many have better childhoods than me, but I will never know. It’s not to say that my whole childhood was terrible. I have some good memories. The thing is I am still trying to peel back the layers I have repressed for so long, the trauma and events that have led to me becoming this adult with severe anxiety and depression. The more I remember, the more I can see and even feel sorry for the young girl I once was. The poor child didn’t deserve that pain but sadly that was her life.

My mother has told me that when I was 4 years old, I tried to throw myself down the stairs. From my knowledge and hers, it seems I had been at the sharp end of some relentless bullies and it had taken its toll on me. It is no wonder I have such low self-esteem now and a compulsion to try to get others to like me, though other people still seem so alien. It makes me so sad to know people who still have good friendships with people they met as toddlers. I never had that chance because everyone left and I didn’t know how to make new friends.

I was very insecure in myself. I always felt like an outcast, like I didn’t belong. It was like being an M&M in a pack of Skittles, with a lasting effect that I cannot seem to break out of this shell. I always feel like I am being watched and judged, like I am some sort of bad joke. It stems from childhood I am certain.

Because of many factors, I found myself living in this imaginary world, making my own invisible friends and worlds.

The scary part of it all is I have since seen my drawings that I did at around 5 years old. I was obsessed with death but I had not been exposed to it. In truth, I do remember crying when I thought of my own demise. It made me sick as I used to imagine what it was like. It seems strange that a toddler understood the concept of mortality and inevitable death when I should have been focused on living and learning.

I felt like I was trapped in this world. I felt like I had been forced into an earth I did not belong in. I suppose I hated that I was born because now I would have to die.

To tell my whole story would be far too complicated and not enough to fit into words but I can say, if you cannot tell already, my childhood was not fun, toys and laughter. My childhood was full of pain I was too young to understand. I was a depressed child.

Now what has happened is that depressed child has become a depressed adult. I am in a weird generation because help wasn’t really available for mental health and nor did people understand it until I was a teenager.

I now notice that when I get really ill, mentally speaking, I revert back to a childlike state. I am still that little girl inside because I haven’t learned anything else.

I don’t think I know what it is like to not be depressed, but I am hoping with therapy and self-care, I can find out.

Unsplash photo via Christian Ferrer