When I (Will) was about 14 or 15 years old, I started going to therapy. The general social stigma about seeing a psychologist was long gone, but I remember feeling like it was something I shouldn’t talk too much about. Strangely enough, no one in my family ever makes reference to it, to this day. Maybe it’s just never come up.
I don’t know if I was actually depressed or if I wanted to be depressed. I don’t know if I was troubled enough to see a psychologist. It was confusing and upsetting, and therefore I definitely needed to talk to someone.
I had spent the first 10 years of my life in a small town in Connecticut, where I think I was relatively popular and pretty well-adjusted. I say those things despite not really remembering much of that span of time. It feels just about right, though.
We moved to a suburb just outside of St. Louis in Missouri. I remember my sister Kristen taking it hard, which makes sense. After all, she’s three years older than me, and at 13 years old, most kids are just starting to settle into their lives and explore their personality. She had to give up on people she’d known her whole life. For me at 10, I was just young enough to be fine with meeting new people. I got lucky there.
Even still, I wasn’t thrilled to be in a new place. I remember being a little more introverted, and the way I commonly describe my years in Missouri is this: I didn’t bother making friends for about a year. I don’t know whether this is a fact or whether I created this story in my teenage-years and repeated it so many times that it became true. Either way, I remember being a little cynical. I remember being a bully. I wasn’t always mean, but I definitely wasn’t always so nice to other kids. As an adult, I’m still pretty judgmental and dismissive. Even if you think I’m funny, its hard to ignore how much I criticize others.
In Missouri, I eventually got settled. And then my sister and I walked into my parents’ bedroom and saw them looking at a map of New Jersey.
At 13 years old, we moved again. Again, I don’t remember much of it, aside from the fact that, while I was now at that difficult age, Kristen was now 16 years old and leaving her friends again, at an even more unstable time. She must have also only just started getting comfortable. Even more than that, the friends I was leaving at 13 years old were people I had known a short time. It’s not the same as her experience leaving people in Connecticut. People she’d known her whole life.
I have friends now who have known each other since kindergarten or earlier. And while I’ve now lived in New Jersey longer than I’ve lived anywhere else, I don’t really have any concrete memories of my first 4 years here. I haven’t really got anything to look back on with any sense of familiarity until senior year of high school. Thinking back on any time before that feels fuzzy. I feel like I have to cobble together blurry images and second-hand stories to know anything about what I did. It especially doesn’t help that I’m a born storyteller/bullshitter. I can’t trust any of my common stories, because I’m sure somewhere I’ve embellished something.
It’s a lot like how I didn’t know I needed glasses: For about 17 years, things would be difficult to read from far away, but I didn’t know that meant my eyes were bad. For all I knew, no one was supposed to be able to read the street sign a block away. That’s how I think of my memory. I don’t know if I’m suppressing memories, if I have a bad memory, or if I’m overly critical of myself and everyone has this sort of poor-recall.
I’ll tell you what I know for sure, though. It’s something I couldn’t embellish. When I went into therapy, I stopped because of something the therapist pointed out.
It raised questions that I think I wanted raised.
It’s difficult to not only think about your immediate problems, but to try and analyze why you have those problems. And this guy inadvertently nailed the problem. I sat in a small office with an old bearded guy for an hour a week, and after a couple months of what I thought was the same old thing, he caught my attention.
He asked me why I hadn’t said anything in three weeks.
I had started out going to therapy and talking about my problems regarding my friends, my family, and myself. I talked about moving. I acted like the brooding teen I wanted to be (which meant that I was a brooding teen, ironically), and then I settled in. I kept going to therapy, and I didn’t notice anything had changed, but somehow I had been going for weeks, pondering my problems, and leaving. I hadn’t said a word to this guy for a long time.
So I stopped going.
After he pointed out my silence, I didn’t need him.
I have honestly never considered going back to a therapist, which isn’t to say it wouldn’t be helpful. I think I’ve mellowed out over time, and, now that I think about it, I wasn’t writing back then. I think that helps.
Even still, sometimes it just hits me. Allie and I might wake up early on a beautiful Sunday. I might start the day feeling energetic and positive. Sometimes I suddenly slow down and get quiet. It comes from seemingly no where.
I’m writing this right now because tonight I’m feeling depressed, and I’ve known for years now that I’m not powerless against that feeling. I don’t like succumbing to it, no one does, and I think I’ve found my method of dealing with it:
I embrace it.
You can’t hide from the feeling, and you can’t post-pone it. That just makes it worse. You have to let it out in some way, whether that’s talking about it or writing about it, or drawing/reading/crying/thinking/whatever.
I don’t care what you do, as long as you’re not hurting anyone (including yourself). Some people just have anger and sadness. It’s not something that suddenly hits them or something that goes away. It’s a part of them. Allow it to come to you and understand that it has to run it’s course. You’ll be better in the long run.
I’ve been angrier and sadder than anyone knows, regardless of how I seem in public, and regardless of how great I know my life is. My depression is a part of me, and I know that it doesn’t always take control, but I know now that when it does, I can let it take it’s time. I’ll feel better later.
And I’ll tell you something else: I’m far more judgmental of anyone who says they don’t get depressed sometimes.
So allow me to have this post analyzing my history of depression. I hope someone is able to relate. I remember feeling scared and confused.
You’ll be alright if you allow yourself to be.