It could be said that I got my depression from my Mom. She has suffered from re-occuring major depression since she was young and she recalls that her Mother, my Grandmother, suffered from it as well. Studies show that children of a parent with re-occuring major depression are 4-5 times more likely to suffer from major depression.
I have been very vigilant about my predisposition to depression since I was in high school and tried to stay aware if any symptoms started to be prevalent. When I started going to therapy after college, I would cringe anytime the word “depression” was brought up. I was determined that I didn’t want to be my Mother. Don’t get me wrong, my Mother is an amazing woman. I would be lucky to be half of the woman that she is. Blame it on part immaturity (we all have worried about becoming our Mothers at some point, right?) and the fact that I had watched this illness steal so many parts of her life. I have been in the front row witnessing how she has suffered and she has continually battled to overcome her depression.
I convinced myself that I was different from my Mother. I don’t even look like her, I am the spitting image of my Father, so my genes had to be different as well (obviously sound logic to determining your genetic make up). When I was first diagnosed, I wouldn’t let myself believe that I was “like my Mother.” I was terrified of suffering the way that she did. It wasn’t until recently that I realized that I may have inherited my depression from my Mother, but more importantly, I was lucky to inherit her bravery, as well.
Since I have gone public with my depression people have used the word “brave” to describe my actions. I figured after awhile that if so many people were making the comment there must be some validity to it. I am very introspective and I had to figure out, where did the bravery come from. Then as listened to my Mom casually tell a story of how she went zip lining on her own on a recent trip, that I thought, “damn she is a brave, badass lady.”
My Mother has fought depression most of her life, but she keeps fighting and she has never given up. As if fighting off the symptoms of depression wasn’t enough, she has made it her goal to push herself outside every comfort zone she has. A woman who used to be terrified to drive over a highway overpass conquers her fears on zip line tours now. If it scares her, she has gone out and tried it. She may still be scared, but she is brave in facing those fears. She refuses to let depression steal her life and I don’t think there is any truer definition of bravery than that.
My Mom was completely helpless in passing depression to me, but she has made all the difference in my ability to face it and fight it by teaching me to be brave. It is through this gift of bravery that I have been able to fight my depression and I couldn’t be more grateful.