I Am Stronger Than These Thoughts
I’ve lived a life of self-reliance and I believe that there are times in which this is our only choice. But if you have the chance to let another person help you as you struggle, let them in.
I had a normal childhood living in Ohio with my parents and older sister. My parents got divorced when I was three, and my mom took my sister and me with her in the split. By the time I was six, she had remarried, and we moved into a duplex in Kentucky. I was still seeing my father on the weekends, but it wasn’t more frequent than that.
For a while, I didn’t have any personal problems with my step-dad. I remember he had a bad temper and was very controlling of my mom. He didn’t like that my mom was still friends with my father after the divorce. If my father called and my step-dad picked up the phone, he’d usually threaten my dad in some way. Though my step-dad was controlling, he was good to me — at least at first. He taught my sister and me how to shoot a gun, and he let me smash his beer bottle caps with a hammer. Granted, I look at these memories now and see some problems with them, but at the time, they were happy.
I didn’t realize my step-dad was dangerous until one day when my dad was dropping me off at the duplex after a visit when I was six. On my way back, I had dropped my toys, so my dad got out of the car to help me. My step-dad was angry, so he pulled a gun out and aimed it at my dad. He didn’t shoot, but the event was horrifying.
My mom and step-dad went through a nasty divorce when I was 12, and I was glad to see him go. I noticed negative thoughts flooding into my head more, but I assumed it was from the divorce. I tried to manage them on my own. My mom and I jumped from the duplex to a house. When I was 14, my mom started dating a new guy, we moved to an apartment, and I had to switch high schools. He and I didn’t get along since he had a problem with alcohol.
It was during my time in the apartment that I came to terms with the undeniable truth that I had depression. I wasn’t motivated to get out of bed or do much of anything. Since I didn’t get along with her new boyfriend, my mom and I got into a lot of fights. After one bad fight, I shut myself in the bathroom to get away from everyone. My sister begged me to open the door so she could talk to me, but I refused.
As I stood there, I thought of how hard my life felt. I had dark thoughts wearing me down each day. I stared out the window and saw our balcony, and wondered, “what if I just jumped? All my problems would go away.” This thought terrified me. I didn’t want to have thoughts like that. I started hitting my head repeatedly in attempt to shake the thought from my head. When my mom and sister finally got into the bathroom, they saw me hitting myself and got scared. When they asked why I was doing it, I told them I had to get rid of the voice in my head. My mom thought I was crazy, so she started sending me to a therapist.
I was happy to be getting help. I felt I couldn’t handle the dark feelings on my own anymore. My mom couldn’t afford to spend a lot on therapy, so I only went once every two weeks. Knowing how expensive it was, I tried to go in prepared with reflection.
I thought the therapy was going well until the day that the therapist said in front of my mom that she thought I was making everything up for attention. I felt so betrayed. How could she think I was lying? I knew what I felt. When my mom and I left, I insisted that I wasn’t lying. I asked for a new doctor, but the hassle seemed too much for my mom, and that was the last therapist I saw. Things changed from that moment. I was forced to accept that I was depressed, but I couldn’t get professional help. I had to learn how to manage it on my own.
When I was 14, my mom passed me off to my dad. She didn’t know how to handle me. I didn’t want to leave, but she had convinced me that the high school near her wouldn’t take the credits I had received. She made it seem like I had no choice but to move in with my dad, so I could keep going to school. And so, I moved in with my dad.
I didn’t regret the move because I did miss my dad. My dad had remarried when I was about 11, and I gained a younger step-sister and older step-brother. I always got along with them fine, so moving in was a seamless transition. My dad was happy to take me in though he wished I had come by choice.
When I began school, it was my third high school I had attended by the beginning of my sophomore year. Beginning here was strange because the school was so large, students were given a map. For months I didn’t know where anything was. I was able to graduate a semester early in early 2012, but had trouble finding a job in the months after I graduated. When my older sister had my niece, I was enlisted as the full-time babysitter, a job I did for a year and a half.
By the fall of 2014, I decided I’d give college a try because my parents were pushing me to. Not long before I made this decision, I had started working full time and went to school part-time for two years. I didn’t see much point in school for all the time and money it would take to continue, so I dropped out.
Over time, I worked my way up to assistant manager at my job, and I’m liking it well enough to stay. My life isn’t defined by my career, and I’m proud of that. My life is defined by my interests and passions. I love making videos and writing. I hope that one day one of them can function as side-job. I wish that I had found what I loved before attending college, so I could have seen that I didn’t truly want to go. Everyone says not to take a year off, but I say differently. Having that year to find yourself and what you love can help you define the right path in life for you.
Though dealing with the depression on my own can be hard sometimes, but I’ve begun to grow, and slowly rely on others again. In times when I want to suffer in silence, if I feel I’m getting to a dangerous point, I always call someone. There’s no shame in getting help, and if you’re confiding in the right kind of person, they’ll understand you or find someone who can. To cope, I create things. It doesn’t cure my depression, but it helps forget about it for at least a few minutes. I may have gone through many difficult times despite being only 24, but I take comfort in knowing that things will always turn around eventually.
This is the story of Deanna Oliver
Deanna currently lives with her parents in Cincinnati while she saves up to buy a place of her own. Due to a lack of understanding from adults in her youth, Deanna accepted that she would have to deal with her problems alone. Over time, she began to see that help can be useful if it comes from the right people. She finds happiness through her hobbies rather than her career. Despite the fact that her mother passed her off when she was 14, Deanna has kept a decent relationship with her mother and has forgiven her. Deanna hopes her story inspires people to find inner strength but to know when it’s time to ask for help.
Life Log #75
| Writer: Kristen Petronio | Editor: Colleen Walker |