|THREE MONTHS OLD AND ALREADY LOOKING WORRIED.|
Twenty-five years ago, I was diagnosed with clinical depression. I’ve shared some of my struggles here, so I don’t know that this is any major revelation. It wasn’t that I was suddenly clinically depressed 25 years ago. It was simply that, after a lifetime of depression, I finally just couldn’t manage it anymore. There are so many things I can point to as root causes for my depression: Genetics is a possibility. Growing up gay, and ashamed and hating myself for it (I’m over that; it really does get better). Being expected — and expecting myself — to be perfect, although I believed every waking minute that I was seriously flawed. Inconsistent and hurtful messages in my life… It’s easy to find reasons for it. What was not easy was accepting that I needed help and that I couldn’t just make it better myself.
|SMILE? BUT, DAD, DON’T YOU SEE THAT SHADOW LOOMING.|
My brother’s developmental problems were discovered when he started school. I was 11. I was already feeling kind of damaged myself, but my brother’s problems definitely had a major impact on my own emotional growth. I spent a good part of my life convinced that if only I were a better person, he would be OK, that somehow I was responsible for his problems. Every year when my birthday came around and there were candles to be blown out and a wish to be made, my wish would be that my brother would wake up in the morning “better.” It never happened.
|I’M SURE THE CLOTHES DIDN’T HELP MY EMOTIONAL DEVELOPMENT.
(SEE THE SHADOW STILL LOOMING EIGHT YEARS LATER?)
Then, when I was 23, my sister was diagnosed with cancer. Until she died 3-1/2 years later, my birthday wish was that my brother AND sister would wake up “better.” It never happened. And I continued to figure it was because I just wasn’t good enough. On my 27th birthday, three months after my sister died and two months before I met Jerry, I made my own birthday wish. I wished I would know what to wish for — for myself — next year. That didn’t happen either (but, in the meantime, I had gotten Jerry anyway).
|NO ONE NOTICED THIS?|
My moods can be, if not manic, at least changeable. I smile a lot. People think I’m happy when I’m not. I also brood a lot (I used to brood a lot more than I now do). People would think I was angry when I was just … thoughtful (as in thought-filled).
|WAS IT THE HARSH PUNISHMENT? (I DON’T LOOK LIKE I’M SUFFERING.)|
I can’t live without change in my life. I like to move. I like to shake everything up. Often. And that has its consequences. So, although, I am elated to be living this new life in Sevilla, I also appreciate that making this choice has brought lots more stress along with it and that stress, for me, usually translates into depression. So, I have to work a little harder right now to not allow it to overwhelm me. And sometimes I need outside help.
|MAYBE IT WAS JUST THE CHOICE OF FAMILY VACATION DESTINATIONS.|
I know how to deal with things now, which doesn’t mean I don’t still have my moments (as you have witnessed — recently “dropping a sock” among others). It also doesn’t mean there’s an easy fix. If I just count my blessings every day — or meditate, or exercise, or keep myself busy, or drink herbal tea, or volunteer, or talk to a friend, or go to a chiropractor, or make lemonade, or let a smile be my umbrella — it doesn’t get all better. The sadness lurks in corners or sometimes takes up every inch of space. I don’t let it control my life anymore, but I have learned to accept that it’s a big part of who I am. And despite the title of this post, I will not torture you with a video of Annie singing that the sun’ll come out tomorrow. Because it might not. I simply hope the sun’ll come out eventually. Clouds every now and again aren’t so bad.