I was a victim of intrafamily sexual childhood abuse. I was three years old when my teenage cousin began sexually abusing me. It would start with a game of truth or dare, during which he would make me expose myself, touch him, and allow him to touch me. It continued for two years. Finally, our parents discovered one of these "games," and put an end to it. But we continued to attend the same holiday parties and family gatherings. I dreaded our meetings my whole childhood. These are the ways it impacted my relationship with my family and the things I wish my family had done differently.
I learned that relationships in depression are so important when my doctor prescribed prednisone to treat my autoimmune disease. Although he talked about its side effects, he failed to include depression as one of them. The first time I took the drug was an unpredictable blow that wreaked havoc on my life and my relationships.
Perhaps no other relationships cause as much anxiety as our relationships with our parents. They are the people who've known us the longest and in some cases are the people who know us the best. But sometimes relationships with our parents trigger reactions that exacerbate our mental illness and cause us undue stress.
I hate Christmas. There I said it. I don't hate the holiday - I'm a Christian and I believe in Jesus, Mary, the whole shebang. What I hate is enforced happiness and gift giving that's associated with Christmas, especially when I'm depressed and I don't feel like I have anything to be happy about. And when I'm miserable, the last thing I want is a bunch of people - especially my family - telling me to cheer up.
Last week's post on disclosing mental illness at work was very popular, so I decided to continue the topic this week. In my video blog, I talk about telling coworkers about your mental illness and the benefits that can come from having support systems in the workplace.
During my senior year at Yale, I had what I now consider a manic episode. I'd gotten 2-4 hours of sleep for nights in a row and I was still flying high. I was in a terrific mood and got lots of work done on my senior thesis and a play I was producing. I felt invigorated! Then, one night, I crashed. I couldn't sleep. One night, I was so tired I cried and spent a few weeks just feeling "off". I never mentioned it to anyone, least of all my Dad, still reeling from my Mom’s death a year before.