Jane's Childhood Self-Esteem & Depression
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Depression can feel like a long period of feeling severe sadness, hopelessness, and helplessness - My cousin Jane experienced an extended period of depression after she lost both of her parents in a car accident at the age of seven, and this is her story.
Moving In With Family
She was taken by her Aunt who turned out to be the least effective care-taker that she could have found within our family – She constantly made her work to earn her keep by doing an excessive amount of challenging household chores, and verbal insults were a daily occurrence. The whole thing was like something out of the movie, “Annie”. She would wake up early in the morning, do all of the household chores before going to school, and would stay up late at night cooking and serving dinner for the whole family. She was akin to a servant in the household, where she was restricted from watching television or playing with other children, and her Aunt would smack her for any small mistake that she made while doing her servile duties.
When she was finally allowed to go to sleep after cleaning up for the evening, she would go to her room, where her small bed was a single mattress with only a light blanket with which to cover herself. She would cry all night due to her painful circumstances, and over time she became increasingly depressed with dropping self-esteem. Her sense of being mistreated, rejected, and used caused her to begin viewing everybody as complicit in her Aunt’s approach to parenting, so anyone she met immediately became an enemy in her mind. Jane began developing strong feelings of contempt and resentment, which further fueled her depression, and as the situation progressed over a number of months and years, she developed the tendency to blame other people for her misfortunes. Once she grew up, the whole thing had impacted her character very badly. She was bitter and assumed the role of victim in any painful situation that she encountered as her performance in school deteriorated, and her self-esteem continued to drop. Meanwhile, her cousins made fun of her, which solidified her sense of total alienation from the world – That everybody was an enemy of some kind. Once she grew up, Jane did not seem to enjoy socializing with anybody, and this is obviously a consequence of her Aunt’s mistreatment of her during childhood.
Of course, it is completely reasonable to anticipate that Jane would develop anger, resentment, depression, and low-self esteem as a consequence of these experiences. The many ordinary frustrations of “normal” life as a child can result in long-term hostility that is directed toward one’s care-takers, but this circumstance was obviously more extreme. Furthermore, while children learn to hide their true feelings from others and harbor resentments that are very difficult to unearth later in life, but a turnaround is always possible.
Jane has since come a long way in overcoming this personal challenge, and she has learned that forgiveness of others is key to personal growth and development. As a result of practicing forgiveness, she has stopped blaming others for her problems and no longer imagines herself as the victim, which has assisted her with developing more positive and healthy relationships with others.
Despite her Aunt’s mistreatment of her during childhood, she recognized that her best option was to befriend her in her old age. Although she had experienced an enduring sense of humiliation during her time with her Aunt, she practiced reflecting upon the gratitude that she felt for having a place to stay after her mother died. Jane let go of the anger that she felt as a child, which was like a weight lifted from her shoulders.
She recognizes that her Aunt, cousins, and society at large failed her as a child, but she maintains a sense of optimism that she will fully recover from her painful memories and completely break through her anger and depression.