This is part II in our explanation of the cause of teenage depression and the effect of broken homes. I want to be especially thorough in explaining teenage depression and adult depression and in defining what I mean by a growing up in a broken home.
And so how – specifically – does EVERY home become a BROKEN home? How does EVERY child bear the scars of their youth..?
If you haven’t yet read Part 1 (I mean, how seriously lame is that), click the following:
Now let’s get on to it…
Most people, as you know, are not dysfunctional in the literal sense. They aren’t so messed up that they need mental healthcare, or can’t function with others or with themselves. Most don’t have psychotic episodes, or mental breakdowns. Most don’t commit heinous crimes, or cause intentional pain in others. They’re regular people. They’re average.
But what was amazing to me, as I finally began to examine the world around me, was just how dysfunctional average actually is; how scared and hurtful it is, how hopeless and desperate, how mean and sick.
I was amazed at how insane we allow ourselves to be, and how crazy we have to be before realizing something is wrong.
When a man throws feces, we give him help. When he throws insults, we give him nothing. But NEITHER behavior is the action of an emotionally healthy individual. Yet ONE has become normal. One’s become acceptable.
Mean behavior like that is typical of regular people, though, as is a general fear of most things: of following one’s dreams, of leaving the spouse they no longer love, of talking to the beautiful girl in the coffee shop, or of acting with your own integrity and values, despite what anyone says.
As is the tendency to follow others, to base one’s self-esteem on the size of their clothes, to feel envious of others and somewhat ashamed of ourselves.
And, to me, it’s f***ed up.
We are not who we are, But who we learned to be
We are not born with low self-esteem; with fears and anxieties, with anger or envy. We learn these things. It may have been from a parent, or guardian. It may have been friends. It may have been a total stranger. But however we acquired these habits, they have surely become habits. They’ve become a part of who we are; of who we believe ourselves to be.
Often, it’s the smallest things that affect us a lifetime: the bully in school who convinces us we are overweight or ugly; the older, achieving sibling whose example convinces us we are not good enough; the parent whose warnings and stories of doom and crime teach us a mistrust and fear of all people generally.
These are small events, ones which, on their own, do little to injure our general ability to live and co-exist in the world. But though small, these are events which have actually seriously harmed our ability to truly live the life of our design; to be just freakin awesome – free of any fear or any internal limitation. They create the conditions for depression: the low self esteem, the lack of control over ourselves, our minds, and our lives.
That’s a broken home. That’s your broken home. And it manifests itself in adolescence, when kids “grow up” a bit, and begin finally to see the world adults see. And so forms our teenage depression.
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The Teen and Child Depression of Real Broken Homes
Think of the child playing at home, waiting for his father to return from work. He got an A in school today, and all he wants to do is show his father the grade, to show him how smart he is and how hard he’s worked. He just wants to make his father proud. So badly.
His father comes home finally, exhausted from a long day at work. All he wants to do is lie down and nap. The world is tough for him. He has too many bills to pay and works several jobs to meet them. He feels like he’ll never get out from the burden, and life is getting harder and harder. It’s not easy to smile anymore. When his son comes running up, he brushes him off.
“That’s great. Show me later,” he sighs.
The son looks down disappointingly, mutters “ok,” and goes to his room. The father isn’t to blame. He did nothing intentionally wrong. He’s just tired. He has every reason to be. I understand.
But think of what that might teach his son: fear of approaching him, the feeling that his grades and his efforts aren’t good enough, that there’s no one with whom he can share his good days, and therefore certainly no one with whom he can share his bad days.
He thought his actions – studying, getting good grades, sharing his accomplishment – would be met with congratulations. After all, life is tough for him too. He’s picked on. Like most kids, he doesn’t feel as cool or smart as others he knows. He’s lonely. He thought this grade would make him feel better, not only about life but about himself. Instead, he somehow feels worse.
That type of thing happens to us all countless times in our youth. Think of its collective effect on the rest of our lives.
That’s a broken home.
Think of the girl on the playground, picked on because of her size. She goes to school to learn, to grow, to get the education which will improve her life. Instead, all she learns is that she is different, not good enough, too large. She took the arbitrary opinion of a few stupid kids, who know nothing about themselves, the world, or what they’re doing, and made it her identity. She’ll carry it the rest of her life, struggling to be the girl in the magazine, buying all the products which promise the image in the photo but do nothing to fix the only real problem she has…her opinion of herself. The workout tapes won’t work. The fitness program won’t work. The diet won’t work. All because they don’t fit the image she has of herself. She’s the fat girl. She thinks it will always be so…and so it remains.
That’s a broken home.
Think of most any kid in this country, taught from an early age that the most important thing in life is a college degree. Get the degree and you will get the comfortable job. Get the comfortable job and you’ll afford the large house and nice car. How many millions base their life on this promise. How many millions chase that dream all their lives. Many get it. But most realize it wasn’t what they wanted at all.
They got the degree. They got the job. Now they’re stuck in a cubical till age 70. They hate their job. They hate working for others on things they ultimately don’t give a damn about. They’d leave today, but they have the large house to pay for, and the nice car. If only they had been told from the beginning what’s actually important, that to follow one’s passions is far superior, whether that leads to a comfortable job or not, whether it leads to college or not.
That’s a broken home.
We have a lifetime of negative experiences just like these. Together they have had a tremendous effect on us; gradually whittling away all we could and should have been. Though these and all problems are surmountable, how much easier would life be if we had learned in our youth how to avoid such concerns, rather than shoulder them? How much healthier and sane would we be had we not been raised in broken homes?
That’s the effect of youth: that our broken home becomes our broken mind, that our teenage depression becomes our adult depression, that the massive awesomeness of life is spoiled before it ever truly begins.
And Now What?
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