TRIGGER WARNING ♥ Cozy Blankets and Coffee Needed ♥
(This content deals with suicidal thoughts, depression, and childhood sexual abuse).
It happened many years ago, but I’ve never forgotten the night.
I was barefoot, arms outstretched like Jesus to the cross, robe wide open — my 12-year-old body naked and exposed. Resembling the girl from the exorcist, I sprinted toward oncoming traffic in a violent rage.
“Hit me!” I screamed.
The first vehicle, a red pick-up truck, swerved toward the ditch. My eyes met with the driver’s –they were wide and bulging like an owl.
“Just kill me!” I shrieked.
The man slammed his foot on the gas. The drivers’ behind him swerved around me, eyes wide as they fled away.
I collapsed onto the cold concrete and listened to an unfamiliar cry choke from deep inside of me.
That night I believed I had morphed into a raging lunatic. People thought I was crazy: strangers, friends, – my own family did, too. In the words of my mother: “You’re fucked in the head,” and I believed her.
How could I not?
My rage was explosive, like something demonic had taken control. In time, I had turned to knives to release the anguish and transformed my wrists into what looked like shredded chicken breasts.
By the time I was 14-years-old, I was done. I wrote goodbye letters, chopped all my hair off, and swallowed two bottles of pills.
Why Am I depressed? The Deadly Secret Behind Depression
I’ve always looked back on that little girl with disgust. In many ways, she felt separate from me.
And I kept this ugly part of me a secret.
For the first time, with my therapist, I shared my deep, dark secret about the night I ran into traffic. Her reaction surprised me. She told me that I wasn’t a raging lunatic.
“You were in pain,” she said. “These are classic symptoms of trauma.” She shared a list of the symptoms of trauma, specifically childhood sexual abuse that included; depression, anxiety, self-harm, suicidal tendencies, running-away, drug abuse, eating disorders, etc.
I was shocked.
The characteristics that had, at one time, defined me as wild, uncontrollable, and crazy were nothing more than a list of symptoms. I had always associated those characteristics with my personality during youth, which left me questioning who I was back then.
But this understanding also gave me compassion toward my younger self. I simply needed some help. For the first time, since the age of twelve, I was able to see my younger-self with softer eyes and recognize that I wasn’t crazy – I wasn’t fucked in the head – as I had believed.
Instead, the secret of my childhood sexual abuse was sending me into a tailspin.
When You Ignore the Deadly Secrets from Your Past
I thought my depression had disappeared. As an adult, I was in control, and I had created a stable life. But over time, it resurfaced. I didn’t recognize it at first until I discovered that it just looks different — it’s not so wild and raw.
I suspect it’s the same for most people, as I’ve since learned that teenagers typically express their emotions through anger and irritability. But as an adult, I began to isolate myself by pulling away from friends and family. Generally, I just felt tired.
Tired of living.
Tired of breathing.
And that’s when the stable life I had created began to crumble beneath my feet: I gave my clients the bare minimum, my income plummeted, and I spent almost every single night in front of the TV — my escape—a place where I was transported from my own life into someone else’s. I cried easily and often. There were days I considered ending it all when I couldn’t shake the overwhelming exhaustion.
Surprisingly, I did not know that these feelings and suicidal thoughts were depression. I couldn’t understand why I would be depressed? I had created a beautiful life. Even more, I persisted in the belief that my depression had disappeared when I was that young girl –the one who felt separate from me.
The one with her knife and her rage.
That is until body memory flashbacks of childhood sexual abuse surfaced. A secret that was hidden from me –stored only in my body, far from my conscious awareness. It was like my unprocessed trauma was screaming at me! In time, my depression worsened coupled with an increase in terrifying procedural (body) memories of childhood sexual abuse. These procedural (body) memories blasted through the surface and forced me to seek help.
And with help, I finally understood that this deadly secret was triggering my depression.
How Unprocessed Trauma Triggers Depression
The old saying “time heals all wounds” is a lie, for we cannot ignore trauma while we wait for the passage of time. Trauma is alive inside of us and wreaks havoc on our mind, body, and spirit. “After trauma, the world is experienced with a different nervous system,” says Bessel Van Der Kolk. “Trauma affects the entire human organism” and can result in a whole range of emotional and physical health issues including depression.
Individuals with a history of childhood sexual abuse are more vulnerable to developing mental health disorders, such as depression. As seen in The American Journal of Psychiatry, women with a history of sexual abuse are more likely to become depressed earlier in life and experience chronic depression throughout life. Even more, self-harm and suicide attempts are significantly higher among women with a history of sexual abuse.
If you find yourself asking, Why am I depressed? Perhaps, you, too, have a deadly secret behind your depression? Any type of unprocessed trauma can trigger depression, such as a car accident, surgery, or the loss of a loved one. And in order to heal your depression, you first need to spend the time to pinpoint the root cause.
Most importantly, if it is unprocessed trauma, then it might be time to turn around and face your past, too.
Don’t ignore it.
Searching for Answers: Why am I depressed?
If you’re asking yourself why you’re depressed, then you need to pinpoint the root cause of your depression. Depression is a hard place to climb out. And it’s even more challenging if you don’t know what type of depression you have, or what is triggering it.
That’s why it’s critical to understand your depression.
There are several types of depression
- Seasonal depression
- Postpartum depression
- Major depression
Several factors can trigger depression
- A family history of depression
- Traumatic events in childhood
- A chemical imbalance
- Work demands
- Current, or recent life events
Take the time needed to explore your depression. For example, if you suspect it is seasonal, start taking notes and watch for a pattern the next time the season changes.
Furthermore, if you suspect you have a chemical imbalance, get your butt to the doctor and ask for help. Pretty, please!
In the end, I hope my sharing offers comfort in knowing that you are not alone. The reality is, I think we should share our experiences because there is still an enormous amount of stigma and secretiveness surrounding depression. Most of society, including those suffering from it, are embarrassed and view it as unattractive and weak.
We need to strip the shame for all it does is leave people to suffer alone and less likely to reach out for help.
If you’re currently struggling with depression or suicidal thoughts, I urge you to reach out to someone, find a doctor, or call the toll-free International Suicide Hotline: USA: 1-800-273-TALK (8255) and Canada:1.833.456.4566
Look within and get to the root cause so you can begin healing. And always remember you have me! You can grab your cozy blanket and a hot cup of coffee and meet me for regular Girl Talk & Coffee, –we’ll kick ass on this journey together!
For additional support, check out my 10 step plan to beat depression and How Nature Can Heal Depression.
I’d love to hear about your experience! If you feel like sharing, or if you have questions, post in the comments below.
Feature Photo by Oscar Keys
Second Photo by Arisa Chattasa