I have not been depressed since I was twenty-six years old, over thirty years ago. Since recovering from depression, I have had ups, downs, and in-betweens but not sustained, paralyzing lows. Had you read only the last few posts of my blog and none previous, perhaps you’d think otherwise—that depression and thoughts about it rule my life. Quite the contrary, which is why I can reach out to others. No one should have to go through debilitating depression in his or her twenties or adolescence or ever. I want to help as many people as I can to avoid this fugue state and live a full life, unencumbered by paralyzing fear, doubt, unacknowledged grief, and anxiety. There are real reasons for depression.
In my case, my early operation without anesthesia laid a foundation for depression. Unexpressed emotions, especially rage, seethed. I’d learned that my emotions were dangerous and threatened my well-being. Helplessness was another factor. Instead of feeling the thrill of agency and assertion in my life, I was afraid to take risks. My body had betrayed me and I couldn’t trust myself. I had learned to give up quickly on things that I wanted. Adolescence and young adulthood, major transitions in human life, were in my case, extremely difficult, for they added stress to an already stressed existence. In reality, I had PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) and didn’t know it.
I am writing to alert anyone who may have experienced early invasive medical procedures without anesthesia that distress and despair may be the result of PTSD. If you are depressed and don’t know why, consider your past. Were you hospitalized as an infant or premie? Did you receive treatment in an infant critical care unit or NICU (neonatal intensive care unit)? There are real reasons for depression, and you have a right to understand your situation. You can turn your life around; there are steps you can take to do it and people to help. I was depressed and I found a way out.