Wednesday, December 16, 2015

My Story

So a lot of things have happened in my life that have made me want to hide myself. This post is about that. Mostly it's just a way to get what's inside of me out.
I have a darkness inside. Or that is the way I was always taught to see it. I was always scared of the dark. Growing up I was taught a few things. Crying is weakness. Being sad is unacceptable. I would be happy in public. I would smile and be happy and be a wonderful child with no problems at all. Showing emotion is bad. Showing emotion makes me weak and unwanted.
When I was a kid, I would get really angry for the littlest things. Someone ate the last cookie and I wanted it. I'd explode. Not necessarily outwardly. I'd go to my room and slam the door shut and cry and blast my music. I blasted the music because crying was bad, I didn't want anyone to know I was crying. Over a cookie. It made no sense to me. Why was I so angry? Why did this stress me out so much? Why was I so weak that the tiniest things made me cry?
With my siblings, as I think it is with most people with siblings, we wanted to be better than each other. If we could make one of each other cry, we were stronger and thus better. Totally messed up logic looking back on it, but why would we do that? Sometimes it would be my big sister we would make cry when she was watching us. Sometimes it was the littlest brother. A lot of the time it felt like it was me they wanted to make cry. Make me weak, make me less of a person, make me something to be avoided. I eventually learned not to cry. I would blast my music and just huff and puff and fight away the tears. I would draw angry pictures, usually dragons because that is what it felt like was inside of me. My little dark dragon.
My dragon was filled with emotions. Emotions I wasn't supposed to show. Sometimes I would forget the dragon was there. But when I would least expect it he would creep up and tear everything apart.
I remember one time my older sister was being particularly rude. I couldn't handle it. There came the dragon ripping up my throat. I had all this energy, the fire inside of me, I had to get it out. Crying wasn't an appropriate way. Exercise? I went to the garage and put on my helmet then grabbed my bike. The tires were flat. I threw something. I couldn't do this. I grabbed the bike pump and began to pump my tires. Had one done. Big sister came into the garage. "I want to ride my bike, give me the helmet." Fine. She was the better sister anyway. SHE never lost control. "FINE!" I shouted and threw the helmet at her. I went back in the house. Then stormed out the front door. I ran. I ran and ran and ran. I think I wanted to run away. Life was just to hard. What was the point? Nobody at home cared. I was obviously different from everyone because I had this darkness, this monster, this THING inside of me. I ran really far. I was tired. I think I got all the energy out. Apparently not because I started crying. Hard. The dragon would talk to me sometimes "Running away?" He growled. "You are pathetic. You can't deal with things. How do you expect anything to get better if you can't even control yourself?" I walked and walked and eventually came to a park by our home. Like a mile and a half from our home. I had stopped crying and sat down to watch a softball game some girls were playing. I decided I should probably go home. Crying took a lot out of my. I didn't want to walk. I borrowed a cell phone and called my mom. "What are you doing there?" she asked. I didn't know. I just ended up there. The dragon would take over sometimes. I would watch myself doing things. I wasn't in control.
Another time I got mad at my mom and made her cry. My dad yelled at me. A lot. I distinctly remember him saying "You made your mom cry. Did you know that you make her sad? She has to take medicine to be happy because you make her so sad!" I don't know why he said that. He was probably just angry that I made the woman he loves cry. But still, it was my fault my mom had problems. My fault she couldn't be happy without medicine. That really messed me up.
Jr. High came and I had a few friends. But not many. I was different. Could people tell that I had the darkness inside? 8th grade health class. I learned about this thing called depression. Anxiety. It sounded like me. My little dragon had a name. I talked to my mom about it. "No," she said, "You are just a teenager and things are hard. You don't have depression. Just be happy and keep going." She even had it. She should have understood. But she didn't. Was I broken inside? Did this darkness make me someone that nobody else would want? Was I worthless?
I pushed through. There wasn't anything else to do. Friends came and went. None stayed too long, either because I pushed them away or pushed myself away. I was scared. If I got to close they would know about my darkness, this little evil thing inside of me that was destroying me. It was tearing me apart from the inside and I was supposed to suppress it by myself. That was my job. Don't show emotion. Control that darkness. Don't be myself because nobody would like me that way anyway.
High school came. Marching band was my savior. I made friends. Good friends. But the darkness was there. "Don't get too close. They will hate you. They probably don't even like you now. They pity you because you have no friends. You just come along because you are afraid. This won't last. Don't get comfortable." High school health class. Oh, look, I have all of the symptoms that go along with depression. Talked to my big sister since my mom obviously didn't care. Couldn't talk to my dad because he would be mad at me for showing weakness. Big sister said to talk to my mom. Told Mom I needed to talk to my pediatrician. "Wait until your birthday, see if it gets better." She said. So I did.
Met with the doc. "Why do you think you have depression?" I'm sad. "Do you have friends?" Sort of, don't really trust them. "Do you have thoughts of harming yourself?" Yes. "Killing yourself?" Yes. I hear Mom crying in the corner. Should have asked her to leave. "How long have you felt this way?" A while. "Let's try something." And then I was medicated.
It went slow at first. "There's no way this is going to work. Your are a broken person, meds can't fix that. How can you even ask for them? You are so weak. You will never amount to anything." There was that voice again. Soon it got quieter and eventually became a whisper. The voice never stopped though, just became easier to ignore. I made friends. Good friends. I could see the light. I didn't realize that I had been trapped in this deep deep hole, drowning in myself. Suddenly life was possible. I smiled a lot. I laughed a lot. My laugh got louder and I became this crazy, energetic, happy person. The person I was taught I had to be. If I ever missed a dose of my medicine, the dragon would be right there taunting me. One day would bring everything back to how it was. I couldn't miss a dose.
My first boyfriend came a month before I graduated. It was true love. Like most high school romances are. Then he was hanging out with his ex. I still took my meds, but the voices came back even stronger. "You are such a failure. He doesn't even like you enough to be honest with you. You have ruined yourself because you tried to be something you aren't. This darkness is your life. You cannot escape it." I eventually broke up with him. Tears streaming down my face. I went home. Cried and cried and cried. I had made him cry too. That boy I loved so much. "How could you do that to someone? You are terrible. You don't deserve to be alive." The dragon took over. I grabbed a pair of scissors. I put them to my wrist. I was going to kill myself. I watched this all happen through my tear-filled eyes. What was happening? I didn't want to die. But was there no way for me to have happiness? If not, maybe this was the best thing to do. Suddenly, I was in control again. I looked at my wrist. No blood. Not yet. I was scared. Terrified. I felt the darkness inside me purring in success. I threw the scissors on my bed and ran upstairs. I told my mom. She made me sit on the couch. Everyone could see me. Everyone could see my tears. I knew I couldn't be alone or the dragon would take over again. I kept going over the conversations I had had with my boyfriend. Over and over and over. What had I done wrong? It had to be my fault. I was the one with the darkness. I was the one that was broken.
I left for college three days later. I was a mess. My roommate and best friend had just had her first kiss. I had just lost my boyfriend. My big sister was up there with me. She came by a lot. I needed her a lot. My ex-boyfriend got over me way faster than I got over him. I cried a lot. A whole lot. There was nowhere to be alone in an apartment full of girls. I was weak, and now they all knew it.
Healing took time. I kept taking my meds. So long as I wasn't alone for to long, the dragon stayed quiet. Eventually I met a man, a wonderful man. We fell in love. We got married. It was wonderful. The dragon was still there, it is still there.
My first baby came as did a whole new bout of depression. Post partum depression. It kicked my butt. I had a new job working as the director of a color guard. My dream job. What a thrill! It was so hard though. Trying to figure out a new dose of my meds while learning how to be a new mom as well as teaching a bunch of teenagers how to be successful. "You will never succeed here. You are a terrible instructor. You can't even choreograph. You suck. Why are you even trying?" The students didn't really like me. Neither did the band director. I was a like-able person, wasn't I? Maybe not. It was hard. I got told many times that I wasn't good enough or wasn't as good as the previous instructor. I was 8 years younger than her! I was just starting out. But so much was expected of me and it gave an opportunity for the darkness to grow within me again. After 8 months of this difficult instructing with no support, taking my baby to rehearsals because I couldn't afford a babysitter, I got called into the principal's office. Must be an angry parent, I thought. "We feel the color guard program needs to go in another direction." Ok. Which direction would you like me to take? "We feel it needs to go in a direction that you are not a part of." What did I do wrong? "We can't tell you." The dragon nearly took over. If I hadn't been on my meds I don't know what would have happened. The rest of the conversation was a blur. I was shaking. I was crying. I was weak. I had nothing. I had lost. I wasn't good enough. I was a failure. "I knew you couldn't do it. Why are you surprised? You never succeed at anything. You never will. You aren't meant to have the happiness that everyone else gets. You are broken. You are wrong. You will never be good at anything." I drove home in complete tears and cried for the rest of the day. I held my baby. I cried and cried and cried. I asked a friend to come over because I didn't want to be alone. I couldn't let the dragon get control of me again. My husband came home from work. He was upset. Life went on.
I got another job working with color guard. Choreographer for a college guard. It was so much fun. I was scared to put myself out there. I can be successful, but what if I do my very best and I fail? "You probably will. If you try, you will fail again. And again. You will not be able to success. You will not get what you want. You do not deserve it." The color guard had a lot of success. Maybe they could have had more if I weren't so scared of myself and my ability to succeed, risk, fail. I will never no. I did a year with that guard as the director. I learned a lot, I grew a lot, I did really well, I probably could have done better for them, but what if I failed? Nobody likes the real me. I've learned that. Why try? Why put everything in when if I fail it will hurt so much?
I had another baby. Post-partum depression came again. Upped my dosage on my meds. Man it was hard. I needed to find something I could succeed at. Something I could do well and love. I had tried making costumes for comic conventions. I loved it. But I wasn't very good. I could learn to be better. I made a really intense and hard  costume. I knew success for the first time. I had made something people loved. Something I did, people liked. How was that possible? I created something good? Me, who is full of darkness? I did it. I found it. Not only did I make something, I got to dress up and be someone else. I didn't really like myself, so I became someone that I loved. And everyone loved me. People wanted pictures. I felt so accomplished. Cosplay became my light in my inner darkness.
It has been almost 10 years that I have been medicated for anxiety and depression. It is never easy. I still hear the voice of the darkness. I still go over conversations in my head. Conversations from my childhood. I still look at them and try to figure out why everything went wrong. I think about the job I lost 3 years ago and how I failed. I think about losing my first boyfriend. I think about all the mistakes I've made as a mother. Every day I think about every little thing that can go wrong. I think about everything that is said to me. I look at it from every angle. I love to hang out with friends, but what if they know about my darkness? I stress out all the time.
I will not simply 'get over' my depression. I cannot simply work away the anxiety. This is who I am. I have learned that my darkness is inevitable. It will always be there. There are things I can do to bring light into my being to soften the darkness. Unfortunately I can't make it go away completely. One day, when I have become a resurrected being, I will be whole. I will no longer have darkness. I will be filled with light. Until that day, this is who I am. I will fight my darkness, but know that sometimes I can't. Sometimes it overwhelms me. Love me anyway. That is all I need to bring in the light. Every day is a battle between who I am, who I want to be, who I was taught to be, and who I can become. Never belittle anyone struggling with anxiety and depression. You will only make their darkness grow. Bring in the light. Don't you DARE treat us differently than anyone else. That will only single us out even more.


  1. Thanks for sharing this Melanie. This is an amazing depiction of depression. I remember when your meds kicked in for the first time. I told the doctor that I had my sweet, happy Melanie back again. I could really see a difference. Depression is a real thing, and yes, we will struggle with it. Thanks again for bearing your soul! I love you!

  2. Thanks for the share Melanie! I love you (all of you, even your dragon) and I'm glad we're cousins! Keep working to bring the light into your life, and I'm here if you need support!