I come from a long line of depressed women. I was raised to believe that the depression itself was genetic; my grandmother struggled with it, my mother struggled with it and all her sisters struggled with it and as I got older I was warned that it was only a matter of time before I fell victim to the horrors of depression too. There was never a conversation about how depression might be a result of a deeper underlying issue. I believed that it was inevitable that I would ‘get it’ one day too.
But in recovery from a life time of depression, dissociation, low self-esteem and a few other issues, I realized that depression, as well as the results of depression, start somewhere. I wasn’t born with it.
My mother used violence to vent her anger and frustration. My father either didn’t notice or didn’t care; he never tried to stop it. Who could I tell and what would happen to me if I did tell? The way things were in my family was “my normal”. In my survival mode, I only knew to keep trying harder to be “good”, to be what those manipulative people wanted and to be quiet because it seemed to me that I was causing a problem for them and I had been taught that the path to love was about compliance and obedience.
Looking back, I had my first depression when I was in grade 5. My teacher was picking on me, my parents didn’t believe me and I began to get sick. It was the doctor that figured it out and insisted that my parents to remove me from her classroom. Hearing my father argue with the Dr. communicated to me that the way that he was perceived was more important than I was. The Dr. threatened my parents with legal action if they didn’t take action to get me out of the class but due to my parents’ reaction to what the Dr. was saying I believed that brought shame on my parents in revealing to the Dr. what the actual problem was. This was not the first or the last time that I learned that there was a consequence to telling.
I come from a long line of dysfunctional family issues. As I sought solutions through therapy, self-help books and motivational seminars I found some great Band-Aids but nothing healed the deep wounds that were left over from the events of my childhood until I took a look at the way those events had defined me.
Of the professional help that I sought, no one ever made the connection between family dysfunction and depression in a way that could help me to move forward however in all fairness to the mental health profession, all my life I had been taught NOT to speak about family dynamics in the first place. The family code of silence is a huge part of the grooming process in dysfunctional family dynamics therefore it didn’t really occur to me that there might be a connection between childhood trauma and my constant depressions. I threw out a few ‘test questions’ with each new therapist nevertheless when the reaction I got was neutral or dismissive, I learned once again that the trials of childhood were not going to be validated and as in childhood, I complied with the path that the therapist (the other person in the relationship) was comfortable with.
I found healing and freedom from depression when I stopped asking the question “what’s wrong with me?” and started to look at “what happened to me?” My depression was healed when the damage done to my self-esteem was validated.
The key to the present was in the past.
Looking at the past and how I was defined by the words and actions of others, set me free from the past. Looking at the past and facing the pain instead of shoving it down and trying to dismiss it, is where I found a permanent solution to a life time of depression, dissociation and low self-worth.
Society teaches us to “get over it” and put the past behind us and as I frantically tried to do just that, I struggled more and more with depression and low self-esteem. I prayed for my abusers in order to be relieved of the resentments I had, I practiced gratitude, I did volunteer work, I tried many things but it wasn’t until I faced the truth about the ways I had been devalued in childhood that I found real healing and freedom.
When I discovered my worth and took my life back, I realized I had a passion for communicating this message with others. I began speaking in mental health seminars and marriage recovery workshops. The response that I got from the audience was so profound that a few years later I decided to start a blog. That was 5 years ago now and today my blog “Emerging from Broken” is a hugely successful high traffic website read in over 150 countries by 150,000 people a month. Today I work internationally with individuals and groups and have a full time coaching practice specializing in personal empowerment and life transitions. My first book, “Emerging from Broken ~ The Beginning of Hope for Emotional Healing” is based on a collection of articles I wrote for my blog about how I overcame the effects of childhood trauma and abuse that resulted in serious depressions and low self-esteem by seeing where it all began. People are using my book like a workbook and having amazing results in their own lives.
This e-book is the first in a series of three and focuses on setting the foundation for emotional healing and how I found hope in the first place. I write about how I unlocked the door that was blocking my own insight in order to find the answers that I had been seeking most of my life. I was finally able to see that the blame and shame didn’t belong to me and that I was not defective, unworthy or unlovable. Through seeing where the broken began, I was able to find freedom from depression and embrace life to the fullest degree.
It was through seeing the truth about how I was falsely defined by the ways I had been regarded and disregarded that I was able to reject that false definition of me and embrace the life changing truth. There is hope. There is life after depression, trauma or abuse. There is beauty and fullness after pain and suffering and I dedicate my life to delivering this message to a hurting world.
Darlene Ouimet www.emergingfrombroken.com
You Are Not Alone: stories of hope, by Lisa Browning