I suppose the first post in this series should be about the problems I had; why I had issues with depression, and the impact it had on my life. Everyone’s story is different, and everyone reacts to things differently, so this is basically just a summary of the first 26ish years of my life that finally brought me to a point where I could make the changes I needed to make.
When I was a toddler, I was always surrounded by incredibly intelligent people. Everyone in my family – even the individuals who don’t necessarily seem to be on first glance – is ridiculously intelligent and talented. Entrepreneurs, pharmacists, sergeants, accountants, engineers, professors, advanced math teachers, musicians, artists, programmers…and I have a big family; that list only encompasses my parents, my sister, my aunts and uncles, and a couple of first cousins that I spent a lot of time around. I was also very intelligent, and that was a problem. I know it doesn’t sound like one, but bear with me.
When I was very little, I picked up on things incredibly quickly, and my thought patterns were…abnormal for a child. As a toddler, I would watch a piece of technology be used, and immediately understand the principles that made it work. I remember watching a movie (in the ‘80s, long before the days of Google) with my parents in which the main characters were using a device to break into someone’s house by picking up the signal from the garage door opener and mimicking it. The movie didn’t explain that that was what they were doing, it just showed that they had a little device on which, after the person left for the day, they could press a button, and the door would open again. My parents voiced their inability to figure out how it worked, so I rattled off what it was that the device was doing, and they looked at me like I had three heads. I didn’t realize at the time that they were simply hugely impressed at their toddler understanding something that they didn’t, so I took their expressions to mean that I was wrong and they thought that I was stupid.
Things like that happened a lot. Everything except people just intrinsically made sense to me. It all worked on rather straightforward and predictable logic that just came to me, but people I knew to be very smart, who were much older and more experienced than me, didn’t seem to understand those things as easily. I didn’t take that to mean I was smarter than them, or that I was just more capable than them in certain areas, I took it to mean that I must be wrong, that I must be stupid, and the fact that everything seemed so simple to me just meant that I really didn’t understand it at all. So I started to keep my mouth shut when I thought I knew the answer to something; I would overanalyze to a painful degree, and never voice anything unless I was absolutely certain I knew what I was talking about…which was pretty much never.
Obviously, this was not good for my social development, not to mention my self-esteem and confidence. I was afraid to try new things, I was constantly second guessing myself in school, I hated most children because they were even stupider than I was in my own mind, which made me question how stupid I actually was, which then led to a weird sense of superiority that would cause a massive crash as soon as something made me feel stupid again. I would feel guilty for ever thinking I could possibly be smarter than anyone, even people who were objectively really fucking ignorant.
As I’m sure you can guess, that horrible cycle outlined above, coupled with a feeling of isolation from the entire world, (I struggled to connect to people my own age, adults tended to talk to me like a child even younger than my actual age since I was a pretty tiny kid, and as I said, I felt like I was the only stupid member of my family so I didn’t connect with them either, add to that the fact that we moved around a lot so I would constantly lose the friends I had managed to make, and you’ve got a very lonely teenager) caused a lot of problems. I was angry most of the time, annoyed at myself, annoyed at the people around me, annoyed at my lack of direction in life, annoyed about the fact that my parents spent more time away from home than at home and still felt when they were around that they had a right to tell me what to do when they weren’t even there often enough to reliably provide groceries…
I was a highly independent child, and that only got worse as I got older. I didn’t trust anyone around me to help me with anything. When I was a toddler, on top of everything else, I was also a very picky eater. And my parents wouldn’t accommodate that, but they DID let me make my own food. So I had a choice, either eat what they gave me, go hungry, or make my own meals. So I made my own meals. As a toddler. When I needed help with something, I couldn’t trust my family not to make me feel stupid for needing help, and that wasn’t even me misunderstanding non-verbal communication like the issues with my actual intelligence. My parents did see me as very smart, and so when I needed help with something that they thought should have been very simple for someone who understood the things I understood, they would get annoyed at me and actually imply that it was ridiculous that I needed help with it.
As I got older, it became a matter of no one actually being AROUND to ask for help. Like I said, when I was a teenager, both of my parents weren’t there most of the time. By age twelve I was basically living alone. My older sister would go stay with her friends or boyfriend, my parents had jobs that caused them to leave for long periods of time to other parts of the country, I was just left home alone for days on end, they would come home for a day or two, yell at me for drinking all the pop and not keeping the house spotless, and then leave again. I resented them a lot. But mostly what I learned from that was to never ever rely on anyone else for anything because the people who should have been there for me the most, weren’t fucking there. Even when they were there, they weren’t there. I couldn’t talk to them about my problems. They would tell me that I wasn’t allowed to be stressed or depressed until I had bills to pay. When I had bills to pay, I still wasn’t allowed to be depressed because my whole situation was all my own fault so I should just suck it up.
I make my parents sound like terrible parents, and objectively, yeah, pretty much. But they are really good people. They’re just shitty parents. I know they love me very much, and I have a great deal of respect for them as human beings, but they’d have been much happier if they’d just never had kids and instead put all the money the spent on us into doing things they always wanted to do like traveling to Australia. Instead they had kids because that’s just what people did. So please, if you’re considering having kids, have kids because you WANT KIDS, not because you think you’re SUPPOSED to have kids. Please. Or at the very least remember that kids are human beings with individual thoughts and feelings and needs.
Anyway. So yeah, because of the whole, feeling like an idiot thing, I never pursued anything I really cared about because I never believed I could do it, or if I thought I could do it, I thought it would be something that would make my family look down on me, and for some reason I still wanted their approval. So I had no long term goals, few friends, no ambition to do well in school or give any kind of shit about my health. I ended up in a university I didn’t want to go to taking courses I had no interest in while working part time at a job I hated to try and pay the bills because my parents couldn’t afford to put me through college but I also wasn’t eligible for student loans because they made too much money. I stopped going to school, I ended up working in a call center taking calls from angry old people about how much they were being ripped off by the company that I was representing, and just trying every day to find SOME reason to keep getting up in the morning.
Eventually I couldn’t take this anymore, realized my only way out was going back to school or suicide since I lived somewhere with a non-existent job market and I had few marketable skills, so I decided to at least try school first, and managed to get myself into a retraining program offered through the government through some… I didn’t lie. But I certainly bent the truth a bit. But I got out of the call center, into another school that I didn’t really want to be in preparing for another job I didn’t really want, but at least would suck less than the one I had been doing. I still had to work another shitty job I didn’t want to do to keep up with the bills because I was still somehow not eligible for student loans, but I felt hopeful that at least life would suck marginally less at the end of it all.
Then my not paying attention to my health came back to bite me in the ass.
I am going to say this with all the sincerity I can muster. If you ever have a filling fall out, GET IT REFILLED! FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS HOLY DO NOT IGNORE THIS! IT CAN KILL YOU VERY GODDAMN QUICKLY AND PAINFULLY!
So that sucked. But then I found a job that didn’t suck! I actually enjoyed it! And I liked the people I worked with! It was wonderful! I even managed to get The Llama a job at the same company, so I was working somewhere I liked for people I liked, with my best friend, and things were looking good for the first time in my life.
It didn’t last long.
The boss I liked who really wanted to see me succeed, left. He recommended me for his job, but they ended up giving it to someone with absolutely no management experience or training, no people skills, and whose idea of motivation was to call everyone morons as loud as he could for even the tiniest of mistakes. Or when they didn’t make a mistake, they just couldn’t get what they needed to do the job because we were ill equipped and there was not a goddamn thing they could have done. And he did not like me. At all. And then Llama got pregnant and moved to another province so the good job now sucked and my best friend was hours away again, and I no longer had a bright future at that job since there was no way in hell I would ever get a promotion as long as that ass was in charge. In part because I had the gall to point out the fire hazard that indeed ended up causing a fire. So the anger that had only been starting to go away came back with a vengeance and the depression and hopelessness came back just as strong.
I grew angrier and angrier every day. I started writing about villains as a way to vent. I contemplated every day whether or not I should just drive off a cliff. Getting up every day was harder and harder. I was jumpy, I was constantly on edge, waiting for the next horrible thing to happen. I had believed wholeheartedly that this job had been the start of finally being able to enjoy life, and all of that had disappeared almost overnight. I had had a career path, now I just had a job. I had had a boss I could actually talk to and bounce ideas off of, who respected me and listened to what I had to say and acted on some of my suggestions, now I just had the stereotypical horrible boss that everyone fantasizes about getting beaten by the watercooler who I couldn’t even approach about legitimate health and safety concerns, let alone suggestions for the future of the growing company.
Even when he eventually left too, he was replaced by people who he approved of who also hated me for daring to bring up safety concerns that one time. (It really was just the once, and it was only after the overloaded wall circuit had already caused power outages.) Though I also dared to point out that they were treating their employees in a way that wasn’t acceptable. I have a bad habit of defending people even when I’m not involved, and watching employees who did nothing wrong get yelled at for ten minutes for technical issues they had no control over wasn’t something I could let go. I went to the higher ups and pointed out that the man they put in charge had anger issues that made him an unfit manager. I also made a point of cutting him off mid rant explaining what happened as point blank as possible when the person he was yelling at was just sitting there taking it. This did not win me any friends with anyone above me. I was a shit disturber. I will always be a shit disturber though. That’s not something I ever intend to change, no matter how many times it screws me over.
So my depression and anger was pretty constant and I didn’t feel like even if I made another drastic change again that I could escape it. I felt like any improvements I made to my life would just go to hell again like this job had. So I didn’t try. I gave up. I dragged myself out of bed each morning, forced myself into the office, and eventually once it settled in that all hope of every moving up was gone, I just completely half assed pretty much everything. I hit another breaking point. End it all, or try again.
I’m stubborn. I tried again.
The way I chose to look at it was that if I was going to kill myself if I stayed, and only might do it if I left, I owed it to myself to at least try the other way first. The worst case scenario was I killed myself. Which was what I was planning to do anyway. So the worst case was just delaying the plans. So I moved to the other side of the country with the help of my family (I told you they were good people. I have issues with them, but they’ve been there in their own way, it just wasn’t the way I needed them when I was young) and then went broke and caught pneumonia.
It wasn’t off to a great start.
I felt horrible in every sense of the word, went with my parents to a bar, met someone who had a potential job for me, got food poisoning from the chicken wings. While I still had pneumonia.
Anyway, despite a lot of issues cropping up, things actually did start to improve, then suck a bit again, then improve, then suck again… But there was enough good going on to keep me from dropping into the severe depression again, which allowed me to actually start working on improving my outlook on life.
This was the turning point that has allowed me to drastically alter a LOT about my emotional and physical health in the last three years.