Battle scars

Guest Author: Laura

This content contains explicit and sensitive information that may not be suitable for all ages.

I have a distinct memory of being six or seven years old and playing on the balcony of my grandmother’s apartment with my two cousins. We were colouring and talking about everything and anything. Somehow the conversation turned to their father. One of the girls casually mentioned that my uncle – her father – liked to put his hands up her nightgown. I piped up and said that my mother’s boyfriend did the same thing to me. We went back to playing and colouring as if this was a normal thing that happened to little girls.

This was my reality.

We were pretty poor. My single mother raised a family of seven on government assistance. Dinner was often French fries or Hamburger Helper because a bag of potatoes or a pound of ground beef was cheap and could feed all of us. My birthday was in January but I often got my birthday presents in March, when the income tax return came in.

This was my reality.

 I grew up to make a thousand self-destructive decisions.

We were often suddenly jolted awake by screams, curses and sounds of furniture breaking as my mother and her boyfriend would have another of their drunken battles. My brothers and sisters and I would gather in a bedroom crying in terror and hoping, that when we heard my mother’s boyfriend screaming, “I’ll kill you!” that he didn’t actually mean it.

This was my reality.

I grew up to make a thousand self-destructive decisions. I dated men who were alcoholics, abusive and untrustworthy. They cheated on me, they beat me, they stole from me and one even died from an overdose. I thought I deserved them.

They were my reality.

I can’t remember when I started realizing that what I was feeling wasn’t normal. I had always expected the worst to happen. Thinking of ways to kill hurt or myself myself were as commonplace to me as figuring out what to make for dinner. It took years of living in the darkness of my negative behaviour and emotions before I was told that what was happening to me it was the mental illness. I was formally diagnosed with Chronic Depression in 1996. I started on medication then and slowly started healing. The medication helped me realize what “happy” felt like. Climbing out of that dark hole honestly felt like I was feeling and seeing the sun for the first time.

I consider my depression as a battle scar.

Fast forward twenty years and I now have a husband, a daughter, and two stepchildren. I’ve got a good job, a nice place to live and more reasons to be happy than I can count. And I have depression.

THIS is my reality.

After all, I’ve gone through, I consider my depression as a battle scar. I wear it, not proudly, but as a reminder that I survived my life. I had to be strong to survive it. Having depression makes me sick; it does not make me weak.

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