March 7, 2017
I believe that I was destined to live with anxiety and depression because as I grew up as a child, as a high school and college student, and even as a young adult before I married, I was constantly dealing with certain themes in my everyday life. These “themes” seemed to reoccur day after day, year after year. It seems to me, that these things lead to my depression and anxiety. One very troubling thing that I dealt with and truly did not understand from the time I was in high school until well into adulthood was death. Or maybe, it is more accurate to say my fear of death helped lead to depression as an adult.
I understand that the loss of a loved one, for many people can cause depression, but not all the time. My first experience with loss did lead to my first true experience with depression. It was the summer before my senior year of high school. However, the people who died were not particularly close to me. In a span of 2 weeks, my 1 month old cousin, my next door neighbor who was a young college woman only 2 years older than me, and my elderly, great uncle who had been sick. Those 2 weeks were difficult because they passed by so quickly and there were three funerals to attend in a very short amount of time. It was so shocking, maybe because of the amount of time it all occurred in and, the thought immediately crossed my mind that it was 3 completely different generations of ages of people who passed away. It made me see, for the very first time that absolutely anyone, at any age, could die at any moment. This had a profound effect on me. Once I realized this, my first real experience with depression started.
I guess the first thing that happened was that I started having nightmares. One night I dreamed that my youngest brother died. He was my little buddy and as his big sister I protected him from everything I could, including my other brother who liked to rough house with him from time to time. I was always making sure that he didn’t get hurt when Mom and Dad were not around. Secondly, I dreamed my grandpa passed away. This was hard as well, because my grandpa was one of those people that everyone loved and admired. He was a very special person to me and played a very influential part in my life. At that time, I was obsessed more with baseball than I was about a lot of things. Grandpa used to take me to Kansas City Royals games quite often as he had season tickets. He loved baseball too and taught me a lot about the game. It was more than a game to both of us and we bonded over it. He loved telling stories about his favorite players and teams, and I used to sit next to him for hours and just listen to his stories. Finally, my third and most disturbing dream was that I walked into this big room full of caskets and was told to pick out my own. Wow!
Obviously death was on my mind. It was summer, and my main job then was to watch my younger siblings during the day while my parents were at work. I remember for a few weeks or so, waking up earlier than was actually necessary so that I could sit with my parents while they ate their breakfast. Then, I remember thinking as my Dad left for his day’s work that this was the last time I would ever see him alive again. For some reason I started to truly believe this.
I also started waking up every morning with an upset stomach and feeling like I needed to vomit. I would have a bowel movement and just felt sick for hours at a time. As the day went on, I would start to feel better. But, every morning I felt physically ill. This lasted for a month or so when my mom obviously started noticing something different about me. I don’t remember if I ever talked to her about how I felt, but she knew something was wrong. She knew I wasn’t handling theses deaths very well.
The issue was finally addressed one Sunday afternoon when I went up to my grandparents’ home for dinner. Grandma made fried chicken for the family almost every weekend. I will always remember that and how delicious it was. My mom had her sister go on a walk with me. It was just the two of us and she asked me questions about how I was feeling so I told her. She then went on to explain to me her situation of losing her best friend to cancer just a few short years before that.
I am not sure why, but from that moment on, for a very long time, I woke up and did not feel sick to my stomach anymore.
Of course, I did not know it at the time that I was experiencing depression or that there was even such a thing as depression. But as I got older, things became worse as I developed an almost irrational fear of losing loved ones and did everything I could to stay as close to them as possible for as long as possible.
Before I close this post, I want to say one more thing about this. Yes, at that moment in my life, I experienced depression due to grief. But I have learned too, that grief doesn’t always lead to depression. Unfortunately the first time I experienced the death of a loved one to whom I was very close, I was already in the midst of a serious depression. My story about my experience with losing a dear, loved one does not end here. There is more to come soon.
Thanks for reading!