Dear Mr and Mrs. Magallanez,
Your son has been crying a lot in class lately. I believe he may be oversensitive for a boy his age.
In 3rd Grade, my class had to bring home a weekly progress report to be signed off.
This was one of the more embarrassing notes I had to bring home.
As much as I don’t like thinking about it, this memory has always felt like an important clue to when my depression and anxiety started. Or at least, when it got to the point where it was affecting my school life.
There was a lot of chaos in my home. My dad was dealing with PTSD from Vietnam and even though he had an issue with alcohol, he was just proud to never have been drunk at a bar. My mom had a lot of anxiety, which usually manifested itself into her thinking she was sick or worried that I had a hormone imbalance.
My parents would get into ugly shouting matches nearly every day. It got to the point where it seemed like they didn’t even want to argue. They had to. It was part of the routine.
As much as I could, I’d tune my parents out by watching cartoons and eating fruity pebbles in my room. It worked to a point. When the walls starting shaking, I couldn’t really ignore it. So I’d go into the kitchen and try to settle them down. At first I tried to yell at my parents to be quiet.
When that didn’t work, I yelled louder.
“STOP YELLING OR I’LL YELL LOUDER THAN BOTH OF YOU! I’LL DO IT! MY LUNGS ARE YOUNGER THAN YOURS!”
That ended up making them laugh.
And laughing stopped the yelling for the night.
It wasn’t a conscious decision, but from that moment on, I became the clown of the family. I was very slap sticky. You know, slipping on banana peels, pie in the face, Tom and Jerry kind of humor. My cartoon binging was paying off. I mean, to this day they just think I’m accident prone.
But as I got better at taking care of my parents, I got worse at taking care of myself.
I became easily overwhelmed by my emotions. I started getting these frequent panic attacks. I would scream-cry into my shag carpet while trying not to disturb my family. And to be fair to younger me, a shag carpet is reason enough to to scream-cry.
As I got older, my panic attacks became less and less frequent, but spells of depression started to take their place. I became suicidal at 13, but my depression reached its peak in college when I tried to kill myself with percocet.
Spoiler Alert: I Totally Failed.
Since then, I’ve been going to therapy and taking antidepressants on and off.
So now I have an amazing wife, a loving baby girl, and I piss rainbows.
Alright, maybe not.
But objectively, I can say I have a great life. I really do have an amazing wife, and I really do have a loving baby girl, and we’re all safe and physically healthy. But objectively, I’ve always felt like I had a great life. I can’t tell you how much I love my mom and dad. Even in the most chaotic points in my childhood, I was grateful for my life and my family. I felt privileged to be well fed, have a good education, and be physically healthy.
Unfortunately, depression doesn’t care. It doesn’t care how grateful you are for your life. Depression, isn’t like, What? You had breakfast AND brunch this morning? Well, Mr. Fancy, I’ll be on my way then. Your life seems to be going swimmingly.
Depression is terrifying. Last month I felt great, but this week I keep having to fight the urge to ride my bike into traffic.
The worst part is that I’m so embarrassed by all of this.
I feel like I’m bringing a note home to my parents again.
People seem to either not get why I’m depressed or seem to patronize me like I don’t understand what real depression is.
And that makes me feel really lonely.
I promise I’m not trying to one up anybody and their issues.
I promise I’m not trying to play the victim.
I promise that I’m not ungrateful for my life.
I know I have a great life.
I’m just depressed.
And a little sensitive.
Johnny Magz is a public speaker, health coach, INFJ, recovering perfectionist, and proud dad. He loves to share stories about health, self development, and comedy.