This is a personal story I wrote a few years ago. I hope this story blesses someone and lets them know that they’re not alone.
I knew nothing about depression. I ignored it and pushed it to the back of my mind because no one I knew was terribly sad. I was ignorant of depression. Every book I ever saw the word in was just a definition given to me by someone with a Ph.D. I couldn’t actually tell people how depression is caused but I couldn’t even tell people what it was. I thought it was stupid to get your emotions so worked up that you had to take a medication to get yourself better. I was wrong, so terribly wrong.
My parents argued all last December. Christmas wasn’t joyful nor was it very jolly in my household. I wanted to have the best Christmas ever because it was the last year I was going to be a teenager. I was getting into the Christmas season. I helped decorate the house and put up two trees. We even had to redecorate a tree because my dad didn’t like the original decorations because they were old. He took no part in it because he was at work or studying for this super important test. My parents became indifferent with each other, every conversation sounded like hisses between two angry snakes.
I still tried to make the holiday great. I had everything planned out. I want to take the family to Lake Lanier, so we made a trip. It started fine as we drove more than an hour to see “The Magical Night of Lights.” We had gone almost every year so it became a great tradition. Most of the time afterward we stopped at the local Burger King to use the restroom and get some grub. I suggested that we go beforehand so we wouldn’t be hungry on the way back. I so was stroked to sing the Twelve Days of Christmas and witness all of my favorite displays, but this year was different. It was pit black outside and every star lingering above was visible. The roads were dark and the lake was a black shining pool that spread out more than a mile. We stopped at the live Nativity scene and this where everything went sour. My brother and I went to sit in the first row. It wasn’t cold, but a bit nippy. I had on a huge jacket that I was going to sweat in later. My mother had come to sit down and my father was still in the car.
I started to get concerned because he was supposed to be with us, but he was talking with someone on the phone. I knew he was because that is what he did. He sometimes put us off to be with other people. I was used to it, but there was something not right about that. I wanted to ignore it, but my mother pouted her lips and furrowed her brows. I stared in the distance in the car, but I knew that he was talking on the phone. My mother got out of her seat to go get him and she didn’t come directly back. I worried. I knew that she was angry and that my dad was going to just brush it under the rug. They were gone for more than ten minutes and when my mother returned she was in tears. The entire trip was ruined. Everything had changed, but I chose to ignore it.
My mom and I engaged in Christmas activities; we built mini Christmas trees out of ornaments and styrofoam. It was fun, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that she had a chip on her shoulder. She fought with my father more and more and then I was given a grace period. By Christmas Day everything was going well, they got along and I just ignored anything that might be wrong. I didn’t want to think about my parents getting a divorce. I knew that I would have to brace myself for it. I thought my parents resolved all their issues. We had gotten past all the secrets and lies. January held no tension, no fights, and nothing that put my nerves on edge. Our family finally was happy; even though it was for just this little bit of time.
When February came my mother became a new wife. She was completely dedicated to focusing all her attention on my dad. She made February romantic and tried hard to woo my dad. So I assumed everything was going well. I worried about myself and focused hard on school. As my parents stayed happy I stayed happy. I actually would admit to disliking both them because they fought all the time. Every problem they had was reported back to me. If they were upset with each other I was their therapist. I was their daughter and was forced to take sides one too many times. The pressure stressed me out so bad sometimes I wanted to go far far away and never come back.
When my parents fought again I was at my wit’s end. My nerves were terrible and my anxiety had me hoping my parents divorced. I didn’t want to be stuck between a dysfunctional marriage and something that was becoming a broken home. The screaming and the shouting was so loud I was afraid the neighbors could hear. My brother and I started out on a walk, but then ended up driving all the way to Atlanta. I had to steer and focus while my eyes watered and tears rolled down my cheeks. We left around twelve-thirty and came back to our house at one-thirty. It was hard trying to go back to sleep that night. I didn’t want to wake up in the morning.
Although the entire epidemic had passed I thought everything was going to be all right. We made it through the weekend. Everything was normal, we made it through Monday and all the way to Wednesday with no problems. I talked to my mother on Thursday and she was just okay. I couldn’t rationalize what she was thinking, but I just wanted her to get over it. I was tired. I didn’t want to hear what she had to say, because I was tired of being in the middle of a feud that wasn’t my concern. I told her I loved her and went to school.
My entire school day was good. I was having a great day. I called my best friend and we had a hilarious conversation. I called my mother to see when she was coming home, but she didn’t answer. I called her once more before my dad and I had our conversation. I asked him about my mother and he replied: “I put your mother in the hospital.” My heart sunk. She was fine this morning and now she was in the hospital. She was fine. I was pissed with my dad. He told me “I’ll talk to you when you get home.” I didn’t understand what now or later meant to him but to me, he was holding valuable information. He gave me a load and was telling me to hold onto it until he was ready to give me the rest of the shipment. For some reason, he needed to wait to tell me that. My mother was in a special kind of hospital; she was in a mental institute.
I didn’t want to think about my mother inside a mental institute. She was fine and she didn’t need to be there. My dad asked if we had anything to say. “This was your fault. She was fine,” I said to him and went upstairs to pack her clothes. I didn’t want to talk to my dad, but my we ended up fighting. We were no different than him and my mother. We were going back and forward about why she was in there. My father told me it wasn’t his fault, but it was because she was depressed. She had chronic depression. My mother wasn’t fine.
I didn’t know the signs or the symptoms of depression. I just thought that meant she was just sad all the time. She was only upset a week or so prior. All other signs or calls for help I ignored. I never thought that my mother could be depressed. I almost thought it was impossible. As I rolled my eyes at those antidepressant medication commercials, I realized my mother was going to be consuming the same pills. I felt stupid and horrible for all the times I made fun of depressed people. I cried my eyes out and hoped to see her soon. My father pulled up her number and called her. He said a few words and then said, “she thinks it’s my fault.” Then he handed me the phone. I sat on the floor with my tears flooding my eyes.
“Mom,” I said into the speaker.
“Hey,” she said. She sounded too tired to speak. Her voice was deep and raspy.
“Are you okay?” I asked her.
“I’m fine,” She said.
I didn’t think she was going to be fine. I needed her out because I needed her with me. My mom helped me get through so much and I had to be strong for her. I didn’t even know that she had any serious issues and I thought I knew everything about her; as much a child should know about their parent. I wasn’t able to finish our conversation because I began to sob.
“Don’t cry. I’ve done enough crying for both of us,” She said. I knew she was telling the truth. I just wasn’t ready to hear anything else about the situation.
This situation was hard to remember, but it was also hard to grasp the thought that my mom was going to be alright. She was even though I couldn’t see it. I learned from my mom’s experience so I know better from next time. I learned that no matter what, everything will be all right.