This isn’t an easy topic for me to write about, but I feel it deep in my soul that it’s a topic I need to bring to light. Especially right now in our current times.
I have never acknowledged that depression has impacted me, and I’ve really never written about it. However much of my life experiences and feelings along the way have given me every reason to acknowledge it. There is a reason for this denial, and I would like to share it with you.
Adoptee sadness has riddled every area of my life, along with daily feelings of constant anxiety. I can guess it’s been similar for many of my fellow adoptees. Grief & loss due to my adoption experience is something I will process until I leave this earth and go to my grave. I’ve accepted it’s here to stay.
But is grief and loss the same as depression? I think each persons journey is unique to them, as well as their struggle with depression. There is no cookie cutter one size fits all. I’ve never been good at gauging feelings and how I feel and putting it into words. I think it’s partly because no one ever asked me my feelings growing up, and the feelings I did have we’re pushed so deep inside due to gaslighting from my adoptive mom I never was able to process verbally how I felt. It’s still hard for me to do this but I’ve gotten better over the years. Here, I hope to articulate how I’m feeling.
One of the most significant examples of depression I have experience within my life is that of my adoptive mom. She was mentally ill in many ways, but major depression was one of the issues she had. She suffered from narcissism, manic depression, pill addiction, and the list could go on. Her pill addiction and the examples she set were very unhealthy ones that have impacted me my whole life. She was never a happy or healthy mom, ever. I think I remember 2 days of my whole life where she said, “I feel good today.” She was always in bed, crying, sleeping, or in the middle of a suicidal manic episode which overrode any positive experiences I ever had wither. I’m sure I have some, but the trauma in her home is bigger.
I have done everything in my power to not be like my adoptive mother or my birth mother. All I have ever wanted was for my kids to see a happy and healthy mom because that’s something I never had. Giving them less than that I feel like a failure as a parent, defective.
I have always done a great job at hiding things, and I stop anyone from knowing my issues, because I don’t want to burden people. I have a few close friends who I can confide in when times get tough, but no one really knows the inner thoughts of me or my struggles daily. I will put on a smile, try to find the positive in every situation, and tell you everything is just great.
I’ve been able to find joy amid the pain and I have always preferred to share the joy with others in a way to bring them a positive outlook on what life can truly be. But what about when things change, and things aren’t looking so positive anymore? What if all the things that brought you inner and outer happiness are no longer able to be found? What if the same people you’ve been able to turn to are going through their own struggles? What if the pain is so great, you spend day after day just surviving, sitting in sorrow?
I feel guilty on top of feeling this way.
Things I think about, are the fact that other people are struggling much worse than I am. I still have my job, I have my physical health, I have 3 healthy kids, a home, and a roof over my head. I’ve survived a whole hell of a lot, just like all of us have. But I still am feeling sadness and sorrow daily. It’s not been something I can shake like I’m used to doing. Usually it comes for a few hours, or a day or two and it tapers off. Currently, I’m going on 6-8+ weeks. I realize some people have lived with depression their entire lives. If I’m transparent, I think it’s impacted me my entire life as well. However, I’ve denied it because I don’t want to be like my adoptive mom, or to show signs of being an unhealthy mom like she was.
I realize currently many things can play into how we are all feeling. Let’s be honest, our current state of affairs are enough to let anyone feel this way all alone. Then you add real life struggles to it, or crisis situations, and it adds to the current situation. I think everyone is having a hard time right now, and it’s so understandable.
I noticed a few months ago when the situation happened with the adoptive mom/therapist (can read here) it was the beginning of a downward spiral for me and I haven’t been right since. It left me feeling hopeless. Seeking therapy, one more freaking time was a HUGE step for me. It was truly a last resort, and I was at a place where I was willing to do ANYTHING to not feel the way I was feeling and to work on adoptee triggers. I knew these experiences that drove me to therapy (once again) were rooted in RELINQUISHMENT TRAUMA but no one can HELP ME! I was faced with the hard reality that I will have to live with these issues for the rest of my life because I give up on therapy.
While this situation had me “down and out” another situation happened within a few days. My son and daughters close friend committed suicide, who was an adoptee. Sadness and sorrow sunk in for so many reasons. I knew this young man (22 y/o) personally for years, and I looked at him like another son. He reached out to me in June by phone. He said he was online, looking for adoptee resources because he was having significant abandonment and self esteem issues and he needed some support. He found my information regarding Adoptees Connect and called me. I was so happy he did. I let him know our group would be meeting again in August, and I would love to meet with him between now and then. We text several times between June and August, but we never got to get together in person. I had just text him the end of July to let him know our meeting time and date was August 2nd, and that I would love to see him. but I got no response. I also text him in July to see if he wanted to meet to talk, but I got no response. On August 11th was the day he decided to end it all and he committed suicide. If only I did more. I will always wish I did more. My heart is broken is an understatement.
The sadness that our entire family felt, and the sadness I carry is a sadness I don’t think I have ever felt in this way. It’s been constant, and I really can’t see past it for long. This situation happening, along with the therapy situation made me realize a lot of things. I always knew there really isn’t enough professional help for adoptees, but this hit so close to home. We’re on our own. If we don’t connect with one another, we will die alone and die trying. It really made me realize even more so how important Adoptees Connect, Inc. is to the adoptee community. However, we still can’t be responsible for walking someone through processing relinquishment trauma. We aren’t equipped! We aren’t therapy groups. We’re primarily listeners putting an emphasis on CONNECTING IN REAL LIFE. It’s made all the difference in the world to have this community, but even then it’s sometimes not enough.
My thoughts have scared me the last few months. I have thought many times, daily sometimes hourly that I wish I could just die and end it all. There is a difference between wanting to commit suicide, attempting suicide, and thinking about suicide. Please understand I am not going to harm myself. I would never put my kids through that because I’m all they have. If I didn’t have them, I would have been gone. I hate adoption and all the pain it has caused me and all of my fellow adoptees I love and care about. Yet our fu*ked up world continues to celebrate mothers and babies being separated. Adoptees are dying from broken hearts, relinquishment trauma and adoption trauma yet they still celebrate our trauma.
F*ck them and f*ck adoption.
I have a list of self-care things I do when I feel sad, or blue. They have been great for my mental health, but at this season they aren’t working like they always have. This is when I started to realize that I was struggling with more of a depression, than just grief and loss. I say they both intertwine for me at times because my grief and loss due to adoption is never ending. It’s been hard for me to tell them apart. I will also share; these are not the only situations that are currently on my plate. There are several more, however I wish to keep them private. I’ve become a professional at hiding my true feelings, all the way back to being 5 years old learning I was adopted. Isn’t that how us adoptees are programed and gaslighted from the beginning? “Be thankful you weren’t aborted” or “Be thankful someone took you in when your own mother didn’t want you.” We’ve had to break through mile high barriers just to tap into our pain. Some adoptees never get to that point, and they die taking it to their graves.
I took a few pictures on my birthday which was August 13. You couldn’t tell by the pictures that my heart and soul was ripped to shreds, yet I knew I needed to put on a dress, some red lipstick and a smile so at least when it’s all said and done, my kids will have some pictures of me to remember me by. At that time I was able to share how I have stayed sober for 8 years. That day was hard to get through with so much happening during the weeks that lead up to that day, but I was still able to find the goodness in life. Even celebrating my RE-Birthday , it took everything in me to celebrate that day, and I got my sh*t together just enough for my kids. I just wanted the day to be over.
I tried therapy, that didn’t work. As a last-ditch effort to straighten my mental health out I decided to ask my doctor for an antidepressant. I would like to stop feeling like I want to die. If you understand my history with my adoptive mom, and her pill addiction, and mental health issues you would understand why this was such a hard decision for me. I tried one medication, that made things worse. So, I’m currently trying another. If this doesn’t work, I give up on trying medication. I have no more options.
If you read over my blog all the way back to 2012 you can’t say I’m not trying to help myself. I think I’ve tried everything under the sun to heal relinquishment & adoption trauma.
I think there are several reasons I’ve decided to share this place in my journey. But first let me share what it costs for me to be here, pouring my feelings out on my website. I run the risk of the ENTIRE WORLD learning my feelings. Being vulnerable in that way isn’t an easy thing. I worry about prospective jobs finding my website, current employers, adoptive and biological family I have severed ties with reading it. I worry about people close to me reading and wondering what they will think. But most of all, I worry about my kids reading it. This article doesn’t show them the “Happy Healthy Mom” I so desperately want them to see. I hope they never read it, but if they do, I would like to tell them I’m sorry.
The other reason I’m sharing is for my fellow adoptees and that whatever they are going through they aren’t alone. I will share it all, if one adoptee can somehow benefit from my story. I also want to share that I believe deep down that this is a season. I refuse to accept depression and the way I am feeling is going to always be here. I think it’s been extra hard accepting the fact that this is it, this is the cards I was dealt and there are no more chances things will ever change for me regarding my adoption experience. Some days are harder than others.
It’s National Suicide Awareness month, and October is National Mental Health Awareness month. I hope me being transparent with my struggles, encourages you to be transparent with yours. Sometimes sharing can be a great healing tool. I’m not looking for sympathy or to be fixed or saved. I’m the only person that can figure this out.
Many of my fellow adoptees around the world are feeling the same way I am, and non adopted people too. I know I’m not alone although I feel like it much of the time. I’m thankful for this space where I can share my feelings. It’s been invaluable over the years. As I learn to be patient with the world, due to our current situations, I just ask others be patient with me. We have no idea what other people are carrying. I will keep pressing on, I’m behind in emails. Sorry. I’m isolated, as so many of us are. I’m doing what I must do to stay afloat, and I hope whatever you are doing, you do the same.
If you reach out to me, I’m going to tell you “I’m good” because I really don’t know how to talk about all these things, nor do I want to talk about them. It’s hard enough just living them and thinking them and feeling them. It does feel good sharing them here, but then there is always the risk of what others will think. But I honestly don’t even care anymore. I care more about the adoptee who might read this, who’s feeling isolated and all alone. I think we’re all in survival mode. All we can do is take it one day at a time.
I look forward to brighter days, and for a future where adoptees don’t have to carry their heartbreak and pain to their graves. I have a feeling many of us are feeling similar ways? If that’s you, what’s helped you?