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
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
I thought I had this all sorted. A: Don’t self-harm and B: Soothe
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
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,
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.