Thursday, April 18, 2013

Dealing with Depression Part 1

I abandoned you!  My loyal readers for the entire week.  I didn't even post anything on Facebook or Twitter to tell you I was alright.  I just unplugged from the world, and enjoyed a somewhat blissful week filled with sunshine and no electronics.  It was wonderful!  We hiked in the gorge (blog to come) and I got to spend some time rummaging through old photos of my adorable younger self with my parents.  And as much as I missed writing on this little blog o'mine... I needed the time away from it all.

But never fear!  Even through the unplugging and resetting process, today's blog topic has been on my mind for the past two weeks. Early last month, I told you that I was depressed and that when I felt more comfortable with my feelings, I would discuss them with you.  Well, I've been feeling comfortable for the past two weeks, but I haven't quite known how to get started.  Hence, the week of thinking and no writing.  But now I've finally figured it out... So, sit back and relax-- it's a long one today, folks!

[** I have in no way overcome my issues, I'm a long road from that.  But I do intend to be as honest as I can be about my experience.  Part 1 and Part 2 of this post are not meant to call anyone out, make anyone feel bad, or blame anyone-- it is merely an example of how I got to the point where I recognized there was a problem. **]

-- There's Something Wrong --

I grew up in a very close knit family.  My childhood, for the most part, had no problems...  We took the typical family vacations together, had holiday gatherings with the extended families and did the normal things families do together.

Of course there was some fighting between my brother and I, typical sibling stuff.  And of course there were always hurt feelings at times in the big family-- to me, that comes with the territory.  But I do remember, at times, feeling forgotten and insignificant among the big family.

I'm the fourth in line in a group of nine cousins on both my mom's side and my dad's side (weird that I come in 4th on both sides, right?)  I would never have any "firsts" in my family-- and something about that made me want to try even harder to be an individual.

Fast forward to middle school...

The summer before 6th grade, I started to widen out.  I had always been taller than my peers-- but it was becoming more and more obvious that my body was going to be MUCH bigger than everyone else in my life.  I started having to shop in the young women's department, and I started to get self-conscious about my body.

No one around me really understood what it felt like to be a whole foot taller than most of my classmates.  I couldn't really relate to them when it came to clothes or body issues-- because I had matured physically at an earlier age.  I was practically wearing "old lady clothes,"  and for an 11 year old, that's a hard thing to swallow...

As I continued to grow and change, I also started to feel more and more like I didn't "fit in."  Not just in the middle school fashion race, but with my group of friends and within my family.  I felt very misunderstood and pressured to be perfect.  The perfect daughter, the perfect sister, the perfect friend, the perfect student.  I didn't do or admit to anything that would soil my perfect name.  But under this pressure I had, in conjunction with my parents, created-- there were several occasions when I cracked.

This feeling continued well into high school and by the time I turned 15, I was inexplicably crying myself to sleep practically every night.  It wasn't something I ever admitted to anyone, until I started seeing a therapist.  And I can't really explain why I was spending hours when I should have been sleeping bawling and sobbing, feeling overwhelmed and misunderstood.

The only times I really felt at peace and happy, were the summers I spent at camp.  Away from it all.  I felt understood there, accepted... and like I could truly be myself.  Loud, sassy, a bit nerdy and just free.  I really bonded with my friends at camp... and would feel incredibly sad at the end of every summer.

These feelings lasted, until I moved away to college...

It was in college where I really found myself.  I experimented with different friend groups, different hair-styles, different cocktails, different styles, different men...

I really allowed myself to get rid of the horrible feelings I'd felt in high school and learn who I was and what I wanted.  I became stronger, more outspoken and free.  It was really the greatest time of my life.  But that woman I became in those 4.5 years at the University of Montana... didn't last for very long.

-- Spiraling into Sadness --

I came home from college a new woman, ready to take on the world.  But just days after arriving home with a new part-time job at a local TV station, my grandfather died suddenly.

It was a really difficult thing to deal with, and the first "big" death in my world.  I felt like I'd lost a second dad, really.  With the painful and sudden death of my grandfather, I felt myself beginning to close off from everyone around me.  I spent more time on my own, walking the dogs and hiking in the gorge.  And, I found myself closing off and pushing away my college friends.

Shortly after losing my grandfather, I moved to Eugene for a full-time job.  The distance from the sadness did me some good.  I made some new, wonderful friends and I was starting to feel more like the Kerstin I left behind in Montana.

Fast forward 3 years later...

Things took a turn for the worst when I had a falling-out with a friend of mine.  I'm not going to get into the hairy details, because it honestly doesn't matter anymore.  But, I will say that it ended with ugly name-calling and hateful rumor-spreading.  I had never experienced anything like that before, EVER.  And it really took a toll on me, sending me into what I believe was the beginning of my depression.

In my adult years, I had always been well liked.  A light-hearted, funny person.  With the people I loved and cared about, I was also honest. And while that would occasionally lead to disagreements, I had never had someone who just hated me.  Needless to say, it was a horrible time for me... and it turned me into someone I'm not proud of.

I'd like to stop here for now.  Mainly, because this post would be way too long to read in one sitting... plus it's an overwhelming subject.  Not just for me to write, but for you to read.  These emotions are fairly new for me and talking about them, even writing them here, stirs up old feelings and emotional scars.  It's hard to get through without wanting to reach for that pint of ice cream to calm myself down again... so I will leave you with a bit of a cliff hanger, until tomorrow.

Read Part 2 HERE.

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