How depression has affected me
This was the catalyst for the severe family life problems which caused the onset of depression… Soon after, my mother started seeing an extremely violent man called Alex. My siblings and I witnessed nights of extreme sexual and physical abuse against my mother which scared all of us, and we suffered with severe emotional stress.
This whole drama of our lives lasted about 3 years from the age of 8 – 11. Of course amongst this there was the cliche custody battle, but my dad lost. It was weird – at this age I didn’t know nor understand what depression was but looking back, I can deffo say it was a depressing 3 years.
Suicidal thoughts and weight gain
I became very forlorn and introvert which started my suicidal thoughts. I turned to food and put on extreme weight for my age, and was referred to a counsellor at the age of 10 via my primary school.
Bullied for weight and sexuality
I knew by age 12 that I was homosexual, and by age 13 I decided to ‘come out’. After being bullied for being overweight this sparked all new series of bullying and school life became unbearable. Most of all my family were unreliable and homophobic, offering me no emotional support.
Rejected and alone
I tried to find comfort in friends but with news of my coming out any male friend I had refused to talk to me in school and most girls shied away because of their boyfriends. At this point in my life I had nothing.
At age 13 I attempted an overdose by taking heavy painkillers. Luckily I was unsuccessful. From this moment I had a counsellor recommended by school through Connexions.
Alcohol and drugs
At age 15, I had found an older group of friends who understood me for who I was. I soon became involved in minor drug taking and heavy alcohol dependency. Through the alcohol use I lost a lot of the weight previously put on so I assumed that my body liked what I was doing.
Through this I neglected my schooling and personal appearance. Through my drinking I went through bouts of depression day in day out, usually crying myself sick to get to sleep. I lost all train of thought and my life ceased to become anything but drink and drugs.
Mother became abusive
At age 16, my mother became alcoholic and very physically abusive. I suffered with a lot of injury to my torso, including cracked ribs. Mother never hit my face as to avoid bruises, which would ask questions.
I finally left home and found a local hostel, where I began to get my life back on track…
Severe family life problems
I’ve already outlined the severe family life problems that started it all off. Alex was an utter violent w****r who incessantly beat my mother every night, and the attacks also sometimes found themselves on my older brother.
‘Good old middle child’
My brother and younger sister both would fall apart, and it was up to me to try and control them so the night didn’t completely turn fatal. Good old middle child me. Whilst they were crying and running around I kept them settled in a safe room altogether. Now, I couldn’t cry at all, not until Alex finished and everyone was in bed.
Not being supported by the courts
Dad took me and my younger sister to a different city up north, where his family live, and fought for custody but didn’t win, although me and my sister chose to be with our father because of course we didn’t want to go back to a violent home. Of course, no court would ever listen to an 8 or 9 old when we both documented the violence – silly really considering we were right!
A year of peace
After Alex left, we probably had a year of peace and quiet where it was just my sister, mum and I – my older brother had moved out at 14, because of the whole Alex thing, so he escaped much earlier.
Nearing the end of the peaceful year, mum became a massive alcoholic. I’ve always said “if the start of the year is good, the end of the year will be shit”. Its been true for the past 9 years. Anyway, mum became a recluse never leaving the house – she only left in the early evening to gather more alcohol and this system has occurred in varying degrees ever since then.
Mum became violent as a result and if my sister received the first bout of beatings I became filled with guilt, so decided to coax mum into beating me – easier to deal with than the guilt. Mum was easy, a sharp witty comment here and a condescending remark there and punches would soon fly towards me. Life became clockwork again.
Running the house
Fortunately, me being intelligent and completely arrogant at the same time, I managed to make sure that all the bills were paid. Mum was on benefits at this point so rent and council tax were pretty minimal and I knew how to put electric and gas on so that wasn’t a problem either.
Mature past my age
At the age of 12, I was running a house, going to school and acting as a human shield for my little sister. Quite a busy life, I cooked, cleaned, washed, ironed for myself and my sister. After all the domestic violence, one tends to mature past their age and this is what i did. 13 going on 30.
Brainwashed to keep it all secret
As mum’s last two children she tried very hard to keep us under lock and key. We became brainwashed against the family and we were told never to let school know. All that jazz.. My mother is very selfish and stubborn, and although mum is pretty much the only person ever to bring shit to us, she will never hold herself accountable but she of course is the one that is hard done by.
Mother into drugs
Anyway, this period ended after about 18 months when mum got herself sorted into a good job. Of course the drinking still continued and at work she fell into the wrong crowd, becoming more loud and ‘lairy’, and dabbling in cocaine. Mum became a whole new person to us – the drugs didn’t cause any untoward beatings we just avoided her really.
Life at home was good, so of course, I’d seek my own drama. I fell in love. With a straight boy, so immediately that was a stupid idea. Anyway, I suffered for a year denying what I felt, then two years trying to get over him. Of course, times between me and him were both good and bad so there was always a reason to hold on. Plus I was completely manipulated and led on all throughout so not totally my fault.
Mum’s new relationship
Anyway, mum started having trouble at work so took on independent clients. She met Sharon, who is an ergh, dirty crackhead lesbian. So of course to mum she was no threat. One night, did I get a shock… Mum and Sharon were making quite inappropriate noises and on that night me and my sister confronted her and said “us or her”…
I know it’s unfair but after all the failed relationships which ended in gunfire, drug raids and violence, surely we were both right to know it was gonna end badly and right to ask her to choose. Anyway, surprise surprise, she chose Sharon and we left.
Ongoing guilt and depression
Of course the guilt and depression didn’t stop. Mum manipulated me into giving money and pretty much anything she wanted whilst I was working, which drove me insane because I couldn’t say no. Sharon hated me for leaving because I was earning money she felt she was entitled to. Mum is the only person in the world that has beaten me, manipulated me, stole and took from me, used me, made me depressed, hated me but yet I cannot stop loving her…
Help through the hostel
Soon after I left home, I moved into a hostel. Through them, I managed to stop all drinking habits and I hadn’t touched drugs in a few months before I moved in. I focused on my education and I got my life back on track. I’m now in the ‘move on’ flat and not the main project.
Counselling not helpful when younger
I never found counselling as a youth very useful. I was too young to understand what people were trying to do and I never really understood what I was feeling at that time.
Good emotional support
As I got older though, I found that having a good emotional support background did help me a lot because I have people I can really depend upon. I never had that throughout school, but now I have six strong friends that support me in their own little ways.
I have found my own defence mechanisms which help me to avoid the harder aspects of my life. I got an iPod for a Christmas which helped me to block out the scarier images in my head and stopped me thinking about everything at once. I never go anywhere without it and it also protects me from slander in the streets.
My only other defence is literature. I would get lost in books. Not only can you lose yourself but it helps put a lot of perspective on your own life, and it helps you find new ways to deal with your own problems. Also, it provides such great feelings when you’ve read the life of another character and it ends so well for them.
What I’ve learnt
Adversity can make you stronger
As a result of all that we’ve been through, me and my sister have become immensely close, which is something I never regret. Although we’ve had loads of shit, I would never change a thing, because it has helped me become a strong and independent person with an eye to see through idiots.
Choose your friends well
Finding good friends is probably the strongest recommendation that I could make. It’s best not to try to find and hold onto friends because they’re cool or because they’re always doing something. Friends like these are users, and I was subjected to that.
Work on staying strong
I went through my depression completely on my own and I knew nothing and no one that could help me through it. Even now, I have moments of low times, but I think everyone does, and it’s just something everyone goes through. I hope by being part of this project I can help students of my own age group and learn a lot at the same time…