Posted 7/22/2006 6:56 AM (GMT -6)
Hi Michelle Beth,
So sorry to hear how much pain you're feeling. I felt very much like you do now when I was your age. I was depressed with bulimia, and everyone kept telling me I'd get better -- only I didn't really want to. I felt guilty, like you do, about disapointing my parents and having them worry it was their fault. And of course they then bent over backwards to try to "make everything better", and sometimes they snapped in frustration. But, like with you, it wasn't them -- it came from in me. And (again, oh-so-similar) I felt like there were things I "should" be doing. It was a long time before I realised that some of those things at least I simply didn't want to do, that I hadn't found my "niche" at that point.
After I moved out and went to uni, I found that I could do things or be on my own much more as it suited me, and I could take or not take phone calls without explanation and without guilt. I found that I was a great daughter from a distance! I still found it difficult going home: even though the problem was in no way to do with my family, I felt under pressure there to show a happy face so that I didn't make them worried. But as time went on, even that got better. After years of being pretty much forced to have counselling, I finally started cognitive therapy of my own accord (finally I wanted to get better). That was my godsend: it gave me practical ways of dealing with my emotions day-to-day, rather than the endless questioning I had in counselling about my family (which didn't help with the guilt I was feeling about them worrying it was their fault).
Well, I'm 31 now, and have left the bulimia long behind (it was an outlet, I think, for the depression, and the cognitive therapy helped my find better coping strategies). I have been depressed since, but I've got so much better at recognising the signs, and getting help. And, yes, that has involved medication, and yes, at times I have wanted to never take meds again because I thought it was cheating and that I should be able to do things on my own (there's that "should" again...). What I've learned is that in fact it's giving up meds that's not taking control: like if you had cancer and refused treatment. Depression is an illness, and you do need to treat it. I'm not grateful for how much anti-depressants have helped me -- after all, if I'd lived even 100 years ago, I'd probably have been stuck away in an asylum for the rest of my life, rather than living it. I know I have depressive tendencies and am not "cured" as such, but I also go for long periods without the depression creeping in, and without meds.
What I now wish I'd done all those years ago was write my parents a note (since saying it would have been too much), in which I would have told them (in part so that they could re-read the words at certain times when they doubted) that nothing if what I was going through was their fault -- that I knew that and they needed to know that too. I would ask them to try to understand that when I hid myself away it wasn't because I needed comfort (and that oddly that often made things worse, and I couldn't really explain why), but because I needed space and escape. I would have promised that if I ever did want comfort, I would, if I couldn't say this directly) tell them in a note because I knew that they would want to know and would be great at comforting me. (I'd say this last bit even if I was sure I'd never do it -- more to put their minds at ease and therefore stop be worrying so much about their worrying.) And then I'd try to find places I could go and feel calmer -- not places I felt I "should" go, and not with a bunch of other people so that I felt I had to put on a happy face. I've always found that walking by a river makes me feel calmer, but you may well have your own ideas of what might work for you. What I know is that you need a respite from all the worry and you need to feel there's somewhere you can go where you're not hiding and not worried the phone will go: somewhere that you like being, rather than somewhere you withdraw to simply because you can't be in other places.
Please do keep using this board. -- I'll look out for you here: you really do sound a lot like 19 yr old me!! Uncanny.