The Depression Dragon
28 February 2020, by We Are Family (501 views)
I don’t have an elephant in the room. I have a haggard, spiky, gnarly terrifying dragon that stalks me everywhere. For most of my life, when expert therapists have suggested that this is linked to my adoption, I have retorted that it has absolutely nothing to do with that, thank you very much, and headed back to my absorbing and much more important Facebook conversation.
Now, I realise that the experts might have been right.
My adoption affects me every day. It has moulded the Depression Dragon’s loud voice, which shapes the way I think, feel and see the world. For example, adopted children feel things much more intensely than non-adopted children (a generally accepted fact). They are also more likely to read anything other than a positive word/look as negative (including neutral, tired, etc.). Knowing the link to being adopted, I can now understand why my mood spirals; why the Depression Dragon visits if someone speaks to me in a rude way.
On these occasions I say to myself: ‘I’m feeling hacked off (this is normal), but suddenly very low (disproportionately so, given the situation). Let’s understand this. Ok, they were rude to me, so now I feel worthless, bad, inadequate, threatened, etc. Ah, this is not a response to right now - this has resonated with my past and what happened to me as a baby.’
I then picture myself as two things: A little baby-me and a nurturing mother-me. The mother-me acknowledges the baby-me’s feelings rather than fighting them or blaming baby-me. She soothes the baby-me, much like my parents did. For example, I might stroke my hand or rub my tummy. This sensory feeling grounds me. Before, I’d simply try and self-harm the feelings out of me - slay the dragon - which led to its own problems.
I thought I had this all sorted. A: Don’t self-harm and B: Soothe the baby-me.
However, what I didn’t quite realise is that you don’t simply soothe the baby once to make it OK. And recently, I have struggled to soothe myself at all. I know that cutting, burning, etc, are not a healthy way of managing, so I feel ill-equipped to defend myself against the Depression Dragon, since my sword and shield (previous coping mechanisms) have been taken away.
I sought help. The internet is great, but is also our biggest enemy! I started to seek comfort and a sense of self-worth from others in the hope of protecting or distracting me from the dragon. Not content with this comfort being sought platonically through friends, I went online and was meeting people ‘to connect with, meet with, drink with and more.’
However, running into the arms of strangers to avoid the Depression Dragon was in fact much more dangerous. I walked head-first into several dangerous situations. Situations I never would have thought I was stupid enough to walk into. But I did, consciously and willingly, motivated by the fire of self-loathing and a desire to feel loved, connected, worth something.
Parents, please take note and speak to your children about this. However intelligent your child is, the Depression Dragon can visit with a fire ball of lies which overrules judgment.
As time passed, I began to see men as a threat rather than a source of safety, and the dragon’s voice and burning intensified. So, I changed tack and started speaking with girls online. I was looking for gentle, nurturing, maternal relationships to keep the dragon at bay. I am now grappling with a new identity-confusion: what on earth is my sexuality?
But the question is bigger than this. What is stopping me, and anyone (adopted and non-adopted) from feeling a sense of peace and contentedness by ourselves? Why can’t I slay the dragon alone, and why do I live in constant threat-mode? My thoughts and the dragon feel real, but is this rooted in logical fact? Dragons aren’t real, are they?
Dragons are scary, fire-breathing mythological creates which are slain by heroes in stories. I’m trying to be that hero and feel like a failure because the dragon is still here. But maybe I’ve approached this all wrong. What if the Depression Dragon is in fact the baby-me, responding? Healthily crying, hurting and grieving for my start in life?
If this is the case, I can’t slay it. I need to soothe it by facing the past, understanding it and not attributing blame to anyone. That way its voice will get quieter, and the me I want to be - not the mother-me or baby-me - the me-as-I-am-me has a platform to speak. Then I can work out who I am, little by little.
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