That Selfish Depression: By Quick Silver Queen

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That Selfish Depression: By Quick Silver Queen

HA note: Quick Silver Queen blogs at The Eighth and Final Square. This story is reprinted with her permission. Also by Quick Silver Queen on Homeschoolers Anonymous: “All My Fault, Not Good Enough” and “My Regret”.

Depression, in my folks’ house, was deemed “selfishness”.

It was a result of thinking too much about yourself and not enough about other people. (All mental disorders, according to my parents, were just a product of bad/selfish choices.) Of course my dad was allowed to be depressed, but nobody else was…we were supposed to put on a happy mask all the time, regardless of our true feelings.

I thought when I left my parents’, everything would be great. And it was, for about ten months. For those ten months I was the happiest I can ever remember being. Then I got unexpectedly pregnant when I didn’t want to be (I wanted to wait a few years), and I immediately fell back into depression. Partly because of the pregnancy hormones I’m sure, and partly because that wasn’t the direction I wanted my life to go at that time.

I felt guilty because I shouldn’t be depressed; life wasn’t as bad as at my folks’, so I didn’t have a right to be depressed, right?

After Ari was born my depression got even worse… it was so bad that I didn’t even want to move or get out of bed. Ari was literally the only reason I got out of bed in the morning, because I had to take care of her. I realized that something was seriously wrong and I needed to get help, so I set up an appointment with a “therapist”, who I never went back to — she spent half the time talking about her kids, and half the time actually talking about me.

After that I was really skittish about trying to go somewhere else.

Unfortunately, depression is a disorder where one of the symptoms is also the lack of motivation about getting help! Partly, I was afraid that I would go and they would tell me I was fine, since everything that happened to me at my parents’ was supposed to be not as bad as whatever happened to everyone else! Everything just felt useless, and I just barely got through the days. I wasn’t suicidal (like at my parents’), but it was still really bad.

About two months ago I just got fed up with it.

I was so tired of feeling tired and depressed with no energy or motivation.

I was always frustrated and irritated and I cried frequently. I just got sick of it. So I got up at 6 am to be at the Family & Children’s building at 8. Family & Children’s helps low-income people with many things including mental disorders. I went through the orientation and intake, and went back three days later to talk to one of the doctors. I was diagnosed with major depressive disorder (MDD, or just clinical depression), and given Zoloft.

I’ve been on it for six weeks and the difference has been amazing!

I have energy, motivation, and the ability to actually feel happy. I’ve lost 10lbs so far. I’ve been cooking more and keeping the house clean. I’ve also been less irritable and frustrated. Of course I still get depressed sometimes, but it’s not nearly as bad, and it never lasts as long.

When I do get depressed now I think to myself “holy shit, how did I ever live like this for years?!”

The thing is, people like my parents don’t understand that mental disorders are actual physical differences in someone’s brain. Most times it can be helped through medication, just like other physical ailments. It has to do with the balance of chemicals and hormones in one’s brain, and that’s nothing you can consciously fix any more than my dad can will away his ankylosing spondylitis (which he takes medication for). It’s nothing to be ashamed of, though many people are because of the culturally negative connotations of a “mental patient” and people being “crazy”.

As for me…it’s a part of me, whether I like it or not.

I unashamedly take medication for a physical condition I can’t fix. Just because that condition happens to be in my brain and affect my emotions and mood doesn’t make me any less of a whole person than anyone else. I’m writing about this today so hopefully someone will see it and be encouraged to get help for their own mental disorder.

It’s not your fault.

Mental Health — From Shame to Seeking Help, Part Two: Learning Shame in Childhood

Mental Health — From Shame to Seeking Help, Part Two: Learning Shame in Childhood

HA note: This series is reprinted with permission from Lana Hobbs’ blog, Lana Hobbs the Brave. Lana describes herself as “an aspiring writer and a former religious fundamentalist” who currently identifies as “post-Christian.” She was homeschooled in junior high and highschool. Part Two of this series was originally published on June 7, 2013.


In this series: Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four, Part Five, Part Six, Part Seven.


Part Two: Learning Shame in Childhood

(trigger warning: depression and suicide shaming and suicidal thoughts)

I don’t believe we are born believing that our negative emotions are wrong, i think this shame is something that we learn.  I believe we can learn to use our emotions as guides to show us warning signals and lead us towards the next healthy steps (of course, with clinical depression, those emotions might be liars, i’m not sure how that works).

But many of us learn that normal emotions like sadness, anger, fear, and distrust are things we need to repress, for the sake of keeping the peace around us, being ‘godly’, and making our parents and others happy.

I struggle with depression. For years, probably for most of my life, I have struggled with depression and physical pain caused by depression and stress.

I never would have recognized it as depression though. I would have called it ‘feeling a little stressed’ or ‘having a bad attitude but working on it’, when secretly I felt like there was no hope and if I loved everyone around me, I would kill myself and rid them of the burden of dealing with me. I remember being around eleven, after doing something that upset my mother – i didn’t even know the word suicide yet – crying on my bed, believing that I was a major screw-up and a terrible daughter no matter how badly i tried to be good. If I weren’t so scared I might go to hell for murder (I was a christian who was afraid of losing her salvation at that point), i would murder myself so my parents wouldn’t be disappointed by me anymore.

I was twenty-three before it occurred to me that these are not the normal thoughts of a healthy preteen child.

I brought it up once – only once that i remember – in childhood.

It wasn’t something i could talk about, because I quickly learned suicide was a taboo subject.
I don’t remember what I said, I didn’t say that I was thinking of it but tried to bring up the idea of killing oneself. My mom declared suicide very evil and nothing to be considered or talked about, and that was that.

I was afraid my selfishness kept me from doing it, but others considered suicide the ultimate expression of selfishness*. I felt most of my life that I was damned if i did and damned if i didn’t.

I also had unexplained pains and aches, and periods of ‘attitude’ where I just couldn’t feel happy and cried for no reason. I was sad that i was such a poor example of Jesus’ light to the world** My parents lamented once that i wasn’t even PMS (i wasn’t sure what they meant). I frequently had trouble making friends at school, my teachers once said i wasn’t adjusting well, and i went to the office to be checked for sickness regularly because of tummy aches – i still get stomach aches and joint pain when i am very stressed or depressed.

In retrospect, I believe a lot of this was partially because of undiagnosed childhood depression. now that I know what depression feels like, I can remember that I did feel this way many of those times, all the way back to age 7.

In 7th grade, I was homeschooled for the first time. My homeschooling continued through graduation, and while there were some benefits, one cost was that I lost any of the ‘psychobabble’ from school counselor classtime that might have taught me how to cope with anger and that sadness was okay and how to deal with it. Also my family ventured deeper into fundamentalist Christian teachings, where we believed we would find out how to live and all turn out faithful because we trusted God and served him. My parents wanted very badly for their children to grow up to be strong soldiers for Christ, and I wanted that for me too. I wanted God to be happy with me, and not sad because of me. I wanted to hear ‘well done, good and faithful servant!’ when I died.

When I was sixteen, I took a great interest in the human brain, staying away from psychotherapy because that was ‘psychobabble’ by people who denied God could heal. I was actually very interested in psychology, and learning how the brain worked. I had an old college textbook I read in my spare time.

I also dreamed of being a christian counselor, to help people. Maybe even to help myself with my very big negative feelings I couldn’t seem to control – and by control I meant get rid of.

My parents encouraged me by buying a me a course on mental health from a respected Christian teacher. I ‘learned’ that suicide was the ultimate expression of ‘self love’ (which means ‘selfishness’ in the language i learned as a fundamentalist christian), and depression was either a failure to trust God, guilt, or an evil spirit that god visited on you for sinning – like Saul after God disowned him as king.

I had heard somewhere that depression was a medical problem, but this was generally dismissed as a lie perpetuated by people wanting to drag others away from God, while medicines that ‘supposedly’ helped with mental illness – depression especially – were even called witchcraft by a pastor at my church – who used bible verses to support this claim. I cannot find an article arguing this right now, but the general claim is that the word translated ‘witchcraft’ is pharmokopeia, which they say refers to psychotropic medications. By this logic, taking any medication that might help mental illness is actually trusting to ‘witchcraft’ and sin, instead of trusting God, forgiving, asking forgiveness, and living right.

I would like to point out that I am not saying the bible is against mental health care, simply that I was taught it was, and the Bible was used to teach me this. I no longer agree with these interpretations or usages of the Bible.

By the time I was done with high school, I didn’t admit I’d ever had depression (I believed I didn’t have repressed guilt and I knew I did pray and trust God, so how could I be depressed?), but I did believe that if I trusted God ‘enough’, he would give me peace and mental health in my life, and that if I worked hard, I would be such a good christian I wouldn’t have to wrestle with the dark sadness and suicidal thoughts again.

Unfortunately, I was never ‘made perfect’, although I had many long periods of happiness in my childhood and young adulthood (and probably periods of hypomania), the emotional difficulties, attitude problems, and unexplained sickness came back the worst they had ever been, when i was in college….


(disclaimer: my whole childhood was not depression and repressed feelings. there were many good days and fun times. but this post is about my history with depression, and mental illness shaming, and the warped beliefs i held about mental illness)

*the link to a reb bradley PDF is a note taking guide/companion to the tape set The Biblical Path to Mental and Emotional Health. the section on suicide as self love is striking. My parents got the set for me when I was about sixteen because I was  interested in becoming a therapist to help people. I didn’t listen to all of it, the suicide and depression shaming filled me with very uncomfortable thoughts, and led me to put the tapes away until i trusted god enough not to be depressed. That day never came.

** I ‘got saved’ at age 5. I felt a great pressure to ‘be salt and light’ so that people around me would love Jesus and not go to hell. This ‘burden for souls’ and pressure to be Christlike added extra guilt onto me my entire life. For many reasons, both of reason and heart – and hurt – I no longer identify as Christian.


To be continued.