Raised by a Broken Woman: Battling Depression and Anxiety Without Parental Support - OC87 Recovery Diaries

Raised by a Broken Woman: Battling Depression and Anxiety Without Parental Support

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A never-ending cycle: Broken souls having children only for those children to be shattered souls themselves. Because I know that millions experience this, I want to share my story in order to change a life; or even save one.

My mother came from a neglected, unloving home where her father was in and out of the house. Her mother saw her as a stain on a pearly white wall. She didn’t grow up surrounded by love. She wasn’t embraced, or held. As I aged, she would tell me stories about her life and about my grandmother, the grandmother I saw as an angel. Her conclusion was that my grandma was a broken woman herself, shattered not only by the times she lived in, but by her husband, who would leave her home alone with six children only to have another child by a different woman. With five siblings, how would she get the attention or the love that she needed to thrive? She couldn’t. She didn’t.

My mother, the shattered woman she was, decided she wanted a daughter. My father wanted nothing to do with me so she left him and married another man. I was young and, therefore, I can only remember so much of the good, but the bad; it sticks with me like a repetitive nightmare that shakes you out of your sleep.

I was in the second grade, and my mother had just rushed into my after-school daycare to pick me up and take me to my grandparents’ house. I’m sitting on the couch, my mom in the chair, my grandparents in the kitchen. Silence. Not even the ticking of a clock. That’s until the phone rings. My mother looks up, eyes distraught as she gazed at her father. He answers, listens, and then looks to her, and I can’t remember his exact words, but I remember the shrieks that escaped my mother’s mouth. I watched as if she was crumbling into a ball of nothing. My step-father had just shot himself.

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That’s when the devil himself intertwined with our lives. My mother was already a cracked piece of glass, but this time, she just… shattered. Her addiction started. The same home she grew up in was now my home, and now she was able to snap her finger, and in mere seconds, I was her.

Neglected and unloved, I was now a speck of dirt on a new pair of shoes. She crippled me into a sheltered, antisocial, reserved being who closeted her emotions and resentment. We lived in an emotionless, noiseless home except for the occasional running faucet and laughter coming our television sets. There were no hugs, no speaking about emotions, rarely any “I love yous.” It was no home. Just a house.

As I grew older, my grandmother would try to tell me something was wrong with my mother, the mother who slept through most of my childhood. Well, obviously something was wrong, but I was a child. How was I supposed to know? I remember my mom walking around our house with a lit cigarette in hand in a daze as if in a dream. I would try getting her attention, shouting, cursing, screaming at her. Nothing, but that daze of hers. She would finally stumble out of my room, and when she was in her right mind, she would initiate arguments with me as if she fed on them. As if she fed on my misery.

From morning to bedtime, she was asleep on the seemingly comfortable sofa in our living room. I’d put myself on the bus every morning making sure to lock the door. Tried to keep my unkempt hair tidy as best as a child could, putting on clothes that never seemed to match. After school, I’d come home to find her in the same position.

Eighth grade came around. My mother used to pawn off my possessions: my Playstation, Gameboy Color, and once went as far as to steal the little change I had. I suppose she felt bad about it, because eventually she promised me a dog. I told her to pawn whatever! Soon we went to adopt the being that would alter my life, change its course: a rat terrier I named Casey. It was a small, two-month-old puppy, who would be my responsibility, and for the first time, I felt loved. I felt wanted. I felt needed. I was finally shown that maybe I mattered. Someone thinks I matter.

Before I knew it, I was 18 and off to college. My mother decided then to go to rehab. I was happy for my brother’s sake as he was too young to know who she was, but my childhood was over. I’m off to college. It was simply too late for me.

My mother’s addiction was treated, but her treatment of me with a city in between us was no different. She’d call just to argue, never drive to pick me up from school, never give any sympathy for my health. I became sick dealing with chronic pain my sophomore year (years later, I’d be diagnosed with fibromyalgia). My mental health started to deteriorate, and I had no insurance, so throughout college I had to endure this mysterious pain. Eventually I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety too. My grades slipped and the pain grew. I was advised to return home for a semester, but I decided I’d rather endure the pain and depression than return home.

I managed to graduate, and now I was in the real world. I was sick, no doctor could help me, I couldn’t hold a job, I crashed my car twice within a year. There were times when I just wanted to die. I prayed for God to end my life, but Casey; who would take care of him like me? Anytime suicide popped into my mind, I remembered Casey needed me, and that was enough for me to go on for another day.

But the worst debuted. Casey had been sick for years. He had a bad heart and was getting sicker. I was on vacation for the week when my brother texts me that something was wrong with Casey. I came home, and he looked bloated, but this wasn’t new. I gave him his medicine, thinking he’s fine. The next day, it became clear that he wasn’t having seizures. It was cardiac arrest — he died. At first, my mother surprisingly hurried over and showed compassion.

I fell into the deepest depression that I had experienced. As I type this, I’m still experiencing it. Since December, I’ve felt no emotion. No happiness, no sadness, no motivation, no anger. Nothing. I knew I needed help, so I went to my mother expecting that and sympathy. What a mistake. This time, she called me miserable, depressing, and pathetic.

Time passes, and I lose my job. I was about to lose my car, my apartment, my belongings. I’d already felt I’d lost my mind. My mother leaves voicemails saying if I starve myself to death or hurt myself, she’d be sad for a little while, but remember, “it’s not my fault. You’re an adult. You make your own decisions. You’re not going to kill me!” She went on to say she never wanted to live with me, but since I didn’t have a job, “I guess you can come live with me.” A day later, she rescinded the invite.

That is my mother. The mother who purposely harms me. and degrades me. There have been no apologies. She’s blocked me from communication.

It is a never-ending cycle in some families. Broken people growing up in neglected, unloving homes only to have children and replicate that same environment as they build and decorate. Although I thought it was too late for me, I take any opportunity I can to heal. I jog, I write to producers, literary agents, and submit profiles to talent agents. I promote my screenplays, I write, read, and watch films when my depression doesn’t hinder my concentration or my anxiety doesn’t cripple me, and after ten months unemployed, I was able to find a job. I write this with the hope that others will read this and not only end this horrendous cycle but heal themselves.

For me, I don’t want children. I don’t want to be her, but I feel it is only a matter of time. I’m not healing as well as I thought I could. I would love to just isolate myself again, but I am in therapy. That’s a start, right? We can’t be broken and continuously bring children into this unhealthy cycle until we, ourselves, heal.

Broken people give birth to broken children, and it must end.

EDITOR IN CHIEF: Gabriel Nathan | EDITOR: Evan Bowen-Gaddy | DESIGN: Leah Alexandra Goldstein | PUBLISHER: Bud Clayman

See Related Recovery Stories: Addiction, Anxiety, Depression

Alicia McClendon graduated from Ball State University in 2012, earning a degree in Biology. Since the second grade, she has written short stories and has now immersed herself into screenplays. She’s studied acting, screenwriting, creative writing, theater, martial arts, and recently made her first short film. As a champion for female storytelling and diversity in film, her stories center around women from fantasy to thrillers, and she hopes to one day share her work with the world. Her biggest influences are Quentin Tarantino, Angelina Jolie, and J.K. Rowling. Alicia is currently working on a feature horror film as a script supervisor.

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