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Am I lost? Early days of depression.

Last updated on January 31, 2023

Lately I feel like my entire story may pour out just in response to Path To Freedom’s sharing….

Today’s post on Brian’s page reminded me of my first deep depression and decent into thoughts of suicide. I was ten or maybe 11. The timeline of those years is still fuzzy. What I do distinctly remember is how terribly guilty I felt and how condemned I believed I was for hating my parents.

For some reason we had run away to California again. My mom had reconnected with a couple old girlfriends of hers, which was odd enough by itself because my mom didn’t have friends. But then even more strange than that this woman takes my mom, brother and I all sorts of adventures—drives us out to see the fields of poppies, takes us to dinner and let’s me sit in middle of the front seat of her boat-sized Cadillac…and my mom lets her! I start to think this could be a happy life after all.

But the clouds regather the moment we are alone with my mom again. I can’t believe it, but of course I also expected it on one level. And I hated her all over again.

It was later on this same trip that I watched the old movie Ben Hurr movies. We weren’t allowed to watch movies so I’d been shocked at this break in protocol. Internally I added it up to being Divine Intervention so when I was emotionally swept away by this movie I reacted as I’d been taught—with public confessions of faith and a new determination to “live right.”

In tears I confessed to my mom how I’d hated her and now wasn’t going to anymore, how i had recommitted my life to God and would be a good daughter from “now on.”

This didn’t lift the cloud though. My

Mom’s reaction isn’t recorded in my memory. All I remember is a general sense that no one else had experienced the movie as I had, that I was alone in my emotional response and as such my heart-rending experience of contrition was suspect at best.

A year or two later when I found myself kicked out of my own home passively (when I called home every night to ask if I could come home the answers were varied “oh, the pipes aren’t fixed, I think you’d better stay at your friends another night.” Or “work is running late tonight, wouldn’t it be better if you just stayed there?”) I sat down and wrote in my first journal: “I feel like I am someone God started to make as an experiment and then gave up and just dumped the broken pieces on a shelf.”

It was during my time rooming with my friend in her parents home that I began to believe I had committed the unpardonable sin because I couldn’t stop hating my parents and as such I would be better off dead. My mom had taken me to a counselor because “I don’t know what to do with her” and I spent my days walking to and from school, to and from the counselors office or in my basement room writing nearly incoherent messages about my own failure as a human. I was just barely 13 that year, a freshman in high school.

My days of threatening others or trying to fight back we’re still in the distance. I’d turned all that hate and rage right around on myself. After all I couldn’t hate my parents so who else was I going to hate for all this ugliness and terror??

I desperately wanted to give up. It hurt just to exist. The conflict between trying to survive my mom and dad’s expectations and fitting in enough to survive my peers (after “homeschooling” through all my elementary years I’d be out through half a dozen—not exaggerating—schools between 7th-10th grades before I’d refused to jump through any more of my moms hoops to remain in school) seemed impossible.

From no dancing, no secular music except orchestral/classical, no makeup (not even cherry-tinted chapstick) to no fiction of any kind, no TV (except the Olympics) and absolutely no commercials ever, no meat/dairy/eggs/ketchup/candy/soda/cinnamon and on and on and on and on—I couldn’t keep up. Add in my mom’s loyalty tests and the viciousness with which she derided my one sister’s rebellion (her fake nails were a sign of her evil ways, as were her earrings—a definite “mark of the beast”) and I felt completely doomed.

During that first very long period of depression that wouldn’t lift for several years there was one thing that kept me going. I had a couple friends. One of them was the son of a denominationally famous theology professor. This college-age young man liked to hang out with the invisible high schoolers such as myself and one day I mentioned to him how I believed I had already committed the unpardonable sin and was beyond all hope.

To this day I remember the street corner we were standing on and the light of dusk and the cold, crisp fall air and the look on his face as he turned to me and said “oh no! You can’t have! The very fact that you are worried about it means that you haven’t yet.”

Years later I found him on Facebook and thanked him for being such a pivotal influence in my life. He graciously let me know that he’s now an atheist, having left all things of his own childhood and the sect we grew up in his own past.

What strange twists and turns this healing journey takes us on. I am amazed I survived from one heart-tending crisis to the next.

As Brian says in this post if you are feeling hopeless and alone please know that the feelings you feel are real YET you are not, I fact, alone.

Hang on.

Reach out.

Tell someone.

Safe hugs, Elise Photini

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