Family History

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This is my mother holding me or my sister, I’m not sure which, so either almost 38 or almost 35 years ago. She describes this as being really happy and loving her little ones. When I look at her face, I just see hopelessness.

I thought maybe this was because I remember how incredibly depressed she was, from before I was born until after I was in college. Then I had a friend look at it and she used the same word, “hopeless.” My mother looks like if you took the baby out of her arms, she would just fold herself up into the fetal position and give up.

This is what I’m talking about when I say “family history.” I have a family history of alcoholism, abuse (physical, verbal, emotional, sexual), and depression. I toss out those two words like they’re nothing. They’re the answer to why I don’t drink, to why I have to be careful with monitoring my moods, to why I’m anxious about dating. “Oh, you know, family history.”

But then I saw this picture of my mom – a photo that she remembers as happy – and realize how low her baseline really was and remember how low her lows were. And how there really weren’t any highs.

I’m so grateful to have gotten help early. I feel like it took far, far too long to get my depression treated but oh my goodness, it could have been so much worse.

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