A bit of background: I believe I began to struggle with depression at age 13. At that time, I briefly saw my first therapist. This was preceded by years of anxiety in childhood. When I was in elementary school, I was treated for physical symptoms (stomach ache, fainting), but not the anxiety itself.
I wrote these entries when I was 16.
‘June 25, 2006
I feel like something is missing. Like it’s that absence that triggers my episodes. But I don’t know what it is. I’m desperate for something that is unknown even to me. I just want to find it, but I have no idea where to look.
‘June 26, 2006
Will S. died today in a car accident. We used to be friends when we were little. I’ve known him since we were five. Why did God choose him? He was depressed. Maybe God thought he deserved to be happy again. Where is he now? What is he thinking? Is he aware of what happened? Does he even know he’s dead? Is he in heaven with God?
I feel that missing thing again. I feel like I need to hold onto something or else I’ll fly off, disappear, something. I need to hold on to something until I can stop thinking. But I can’t sleep.
Today I needed to get away, so I got in the car and drove for about a half hour. Way out through the country. Finally I turned around and came home. Mom called and seemed really suspicious of me and my mood. I’ve been so weird lately. I don’t know what’s going on with me. I feel so unlike myself. I want it to go away.’
Caroline, thanks again for this project. I’m very moved by it.
~thank you, Madeline. I, and others, are very moved by your contribution~
Diary 2 / 14-years-old / Reading, Ohio
I’m probably depressed, but I’m a kid and I don’t have that word. Without a resource for getting help, I try to understand the emptiness by writing; and when that doesn’t help, I try asking god to give my feelings back. It seemed a solid step up from the wishing-on-a-star route I normally took.
A friend of mine who works with children pointed out there aren’t a lot of depictions of childhood depression in art and the media. Please feel free to share this with any adult struggling to talk with their child, or any *child* who may find writing to be an outlet.
I’m reading these entries as a woman in her 30s. But—especially considering the topic—I really want to facilitate remembering how very young I was. This is the girl who wrote that entry.
~and catch up with the February 25, 1995 entry for the backstory on my crush, and see below for my early experience with a therapist in my 20s~
April 27, 2008
And exactly 12 years later, I visit a therapist named Joyce for the second time. The first time was, by my admission, hard and weird. I thought about canceling our second appointment, but I go—and I’m so glad I did. She became my therapist and life-support for years. Below is my reaction to our second meeting. April 27, 2008 email to Giovanni click to listen
~It remains such a thrill to receive submissions. Be sure to click on the audio links below each diary page to hear Charmaine read the entry herself.~
January 24, 2016
“24 January 2016. Prior to this date, my grandmother had been having trouble keeping her balance. Mornings where she would find herself too weak to walk—and mornings we’d find ourselves too weak to raise her. It didn’t take me seeing her there on the floor, like a child who’d curled up and fallen asleep there, saying, ‘It’s alright, I’ll just lie here for a while,’ to know I was losing a part of my childhood. The day came when she woke and said, ‘I can’t move.’ And on this day I watched her, being lifted into the rear of the ambulance, and I suddenly felt all the years that had come to pass.”
February 13, 2016
“13 February 2016. After years of a prolonged back and forth, my mother ends her relationship with her abusive boyfriend. How final it seemed, sitting there, while simultaneously not feeling final at all. I had wanted this since I was a girl, and now it comes, almost too late.”
Diary 19 / 30-years-old / NYC
“Reality, why have your forsaken me?” I feel like I’m hitting a second puberty– I’m confused, untethered, messy, thrilled. Giovanni and I are faltering, and tango is opening all of pandora’s box. This one winds…art, relationships, a car/bike crash… but stick with it. And read David Grossman!
Diary 10 / 21-years-old / Durham, NC
Quite recently a good male friend of mine and I had a discussion about losing our virginity, and how it hadn’t felt particularly momentous (or particularly anything.) This entry is the time sex *did* feel like a big deal, when it did feel like growing up; and how thrilling and frightening it can feel–at the exact same time–when a young couple talks through the possibility of pregnancy. It’s my last months as a senior at Duke, and these are my last days with the boy I’d been seeing.
Behind the Scenes with tbdiary
Yes, this really happened when I went to record this entry. Not only did it happen, but it’s an exchange with the friend I mention at the start of this week’s video. Perfect.
Diary 20 / 31-years-old / NYC
More than a handful of entries begin with similar “why-do-I-even-write?” sentiments. I’m stuck in a rut, with some habits being particularly hard to break… On-again-off-again keeps offing-again with one man from Tango, while I try exploring others through online dating. Giovanni and I start to talk to each other about our other relationships, and I’m able to get out of a bad situation before it becomes too familiar. Leonard Cohen makes everything better.