The other day I suddenly realized something: I'm not depressed! This wasn't the first time this had occurred to me, but I think this WAS the first time I actually embraced the thought. I. AM. NOT. DEPRESSED! What a wonderful feeling--even though it didn't REALLY happen overnight. ;)
I haven't been shy about sharing my emotional problems--I have had several bouts of depression in the past and have dealt with it in different ways. I have been on medications for depression and have been in therapy--both of which helped to some extent. However, I believe the biggest factor in my 'recovery' came from the 'work' I did on my own.
As far as depression goes, I have had two bouts of post-partum depression and have suffered because of problems we had with our girls. (While the 'problems' we had are not as severe as other people might have experienced, 'problems' are whatever someone can handle. 'Problems' are a very subjective matter.) I think a good part of my last, severe depression came after the collapse--once again--of any support from The Family. It was hard enough dealing with incorrigible kids, but when you have no family support system to fall back on, it is easy to just fall apart. And fall apart I did. One day, about ten years ago, found me lying in the middle of the kitchen floor, in a fetal position, sobbing and moaning like a wounded animal. I honestly believe I had a small breakdown that day. How I got up from the floor and into bed after however many hours, I'll never know, but after some sleep, I believe I resolved to take charge of my life once and for all. And that is when my recovery began.
I don't know how my thought process worked in terms of getting me 'better.' I DO know that things changed drastically for me when I decided to get rid of 'toxic people' from my life. The day I decided to break ties with my parents and brother and his family, was the day I started to get emotionally healthy again. I consciously made up my mind to ignore The Family's blaming me for everything that 'went wrong' with my kids. Today, any guilt I might feel about whatever happened, is guilt I have placed on myself, by myself. I have never denied any culpability in the problems our family had, but I also will never take all of the blame--it was a two-way street, for sure. And in the middle of it all, was The Family doing a great job of acting like cops at the scene of an accident--they did a lot of 'traffic control' and were a big part of everything that transpired. For that, I HAD to get them out of my life--and the fact that they NEVER accepted any responsibility for their part in 'the troubles,' is reason enough for me to stay away from them. And stay away I have.
The last time I actually spoke words to The Brother was in January 2004. I saw him during the month of May 2008 for the last time. I saw The Father and Mother last year in May--and I last talked to The Mother a few months ago, which happened to be the first time since May. And in all honesty, I don't miss them. The Brother and The Mother aren't 'happy' in their lives unless they have big-time drama going on, and that is something I don't now, or ever, need in my life. The Mother is extremely manipulative and controlling--but she is so subtle that only people who know her as well as I do can see it--and The Brother has some serious mental-stability problems that I never think he will address. I'm happy to be rid of them.
So, do I ever miss The Family? Of course I do. The Mother was my best friend--I talked to her almost every day and we were 'on the same page' most of the time. Getting together with The Family could be the most fun I had in weeks--we had some great laughs while telling the family stories, etc. There ARE some good memories that I have to suppress, but they do come to the surface at times. Holidays and special occasions are sad for me sometimes--until I REALLY remember how they used to be.
Getting together with The Family was never as easy as it seemed. With The Brother's lack of control, you never knew if something said would make him have a 'temper tantrum,' start to scream and holler, and slam his way out of The Parent's house. (This he did on more than one occasion--usually because someone didn't agree with his views on a subject. And he is EXTREMELY frightening when he gets like this.) The Mother would work her subtle digs at me far too often--as in, "Gee, Jane has lost SO much weight! She looks WONDERFUL." as a way of telling me that I needed to lose weight. Also, her favoritism when it came to certain grandchildren was extremely apparent far too often--and The Youngest always came out wanting for the approval and attention that the others got. I don't need to put myself through this--as well as everything else I faced through the years.
To sum it all up, I'm feeling MUCH better now! If it wasn't for The Husband and some closer-than-sister friends who were then--and still are--in my corner, I don't know what would have happened to me. I am more grateful for them than words can ever say. The doctors and therapists that I saw--even the lousy ones--were part of my recovery, as well. Also, I never could have gotten through all that I have without my faith and God's help. This is something that I have always relied on and always could depend on. However, what works for one person doesn't necessarily work for another. If anyone would find themselves in the situation I was, my recommendation is this: See a doctor first, get on meds if you can, and find support of some sort. And trust your instincts--you might not like what your heart is telling you to do, but it might be for the best. (As long as it isn't destructive, of course.)