A Canadian gal in Stuttgart, Germany, who loves nothing better than crafting by the seat of her pants. See her snip, sew, knit, knot, glue, sculpt, splatter, spin, and of course, talk about herself.

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Thursday, October 19, 2006
999 Things - Depression
I've been wanting to post this for a few days now, but have been putting it off (along with a lot of things) because it's really difficult for me to talk/write about. But I think it's important that I do, for my sake and maybe also so that those of you who visit regularly know where I wander off to sometimes when my blog goes dead for a week. I hope it doesn't come across as wierd that I'm adding it to the list, but it is a list about me, and sadly, this is a pretty big part of my life. Besides, this makes it easier for me to write all this. Little steps :)

51. I have suffered from depression more or less my entire life. I went to a psychiatrist for the first time when I was 5 because I told my parents I wanted to die.

52. My parents were never able to deal with this. As far as I can tell, I got little or no therapy at that time and my parents did their best to ignore the whole thing. When I would shut myself up in my room and cry for hours (which was often) their response was 'What do you have to cry for?'

53. As a teenager, the addition of hormone fluctuations made things worse and I sought help on my own. I got put on anti-depressants and saw a psychologist who would nod off during or sessions. She was not a big help.

54. My high school years are a strange split between the two lives I lead. I did everything I could to be a well-balanced, well behaved student and daughter at home and school during the day, then would take off nights, which were a blur of drugs and drinking.

55. My only real support was my best friend, who I met when I was 15. Having alcoholic parents, she had run away from home and was also often depressed. We did our best to keep each other in check, while providing company on all those nights when we needed to drown ourselves in anything that would make us forget how awful we felt.

56. If we had not had each other, I shudder to think what would have become of us. She was the one who stopped me from cutting myself, I was the one who made her eat. We dragged eachother to school even when we horribly hungover, and told one another that we would get through this and make something of ourselves.

57. After about 3 years of scraping by in school, together we decided to clean ourselves up and strive for a goal: we wanted to go to university. In spite of all our problems, we both loved learning and believed in educating ourselves. In addition, going to university meant I could finally get away from the critical eyes of my parents. We both sought help again for depression, and with some medication, a whole lot of will power and each other, we both got into the schools we wanted. This was a big step for both of us in learning that our problems didn't have to ruin our lives.

58. Being at university really helped give me the confidence and strength to deal with my depression better. It was still a struggle, but I didn't feel like it owned me any more. I had goals to strive for, and, I hoped, would have a career helping people that was worth living for. I wanted to work in agriculture in developing countries. I wanted to help feed people. Having always had difficulty with my self worth, it was easier for me to strive for things for the sake of others. It still is.

59. I was over the moon when I learned I was accepted to do a MSc in Tropical Agriculture here in Germany. All I could think of was all the things I would learn that I could pass on to others who needed help. Unfortunately, after working with a international development research agency as part of my degree, I was no longer sure. I faced not only disorganization, but also exploitation of native workers, while the foreign researchers lived the good life, people who only focused on getting their next grant rather than helping people, and lots of money spent on projects that helped noone. I can't even begin to describe the effect this had on me. I don't know how I managed to complete my degree, this disillusionment left me shattered. I was a mess.

60. I have since managed to crawl out of that hole, but it has not been easy. Being here in Germany, away from my friends back home has added to the strain. Try as I might, I have not been able to connect to anyone here apart from my partner and his family. I am, and will likely always be, a teeming bundle of raw emotions, while most people here rarely show any (at least in this region). I find it not only hard to understand, but it makes me feel doubly vulnerable and all the more difficult to try to socialize and live normally when all I want to do is crawl into a little hole and hide.

Phew. So that's me. A part of me, anyway. I hope it wasn't too depressing. The bright side is, I try to remember that I've achieved a lot in spite of everything and this no longer has the power over my life it once did. I may still be fighting, but I am winning.

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posted by tatjana @ 12:20 p.m.  
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