21 December 2011

Damn the DNA

by Soledad

Realizing that I might be a little different from the average child was a gradual experience. I remember not being included in some neighborhood social activities and wondering, why was everyone else invited but me? So, like a normal child, I asked my mother: why would they exclude me? And like a normal mother, she called the people involved and asked them to include me, which they did.

The experience got my thinking started: why don't people want to hang out with me? It was the beginning of a deeply ingrained attitude I have as an adult, of hating social contact purely for the sake of social contact. There are some people whose company I always enjoy and I seek them out when I need a social fix. But there are just as many people I avoid like the plague. To hang out with them is nothing but torture. (This applies to every work function I've ever been forced to attend, even my husband's).

I realized that my mom spending all day in bed, every day, was not normal. And I began mimicking her behavior on a smaller scale. She discovered she was hypothyroid, as was her mother and her mother's mother. This condition can be accompanied by depression. And of course we've had a long history of depression and suicide in our family. The chemical makeup that's in our DNA predisposes us to depression. It doesn't take much to start a landslide of emotion, so when things get particularly tough...

It's amazing that as many of us have survived as we have. I think the key is realizing that the cards were stacked against you from the beginning, but also realizing that only the toughest among us survive and thrive. So damn the DNA. I am going to beat this. And that is the purpose for living, to rise above what I was handed and give it my best shot. And better yet: to help others in the same situation by telling my story.

We can all survive and thrive. It's like a diet: you just have to stick to it, while remembering to also be kind to yourself along the way. You are not the enemy. The depression that steals your happiness like a cloaked intruder in the night is. A positive attitude is the poison he will breathe when he breaks into your mind, and he will die, and you will emerge victorious.

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Illustration by M. Rhea