Is depression genetic?

Did you know that not one of my children has the same blood type as me?

I don’t think that any of my children really look like me either. Oh! Each has inherited personality traits from me though: Bethany is a perfectionist; Emily is sassy and will tell it like it is; Brantley loves people and always wants to help. Each of the children have facial expressions that they get from me too. My hopes are that they didn’t inherit my depression.

We as mother’s do not like to see our children hurting or sick. Bethany got the flu this season, and I’m not sure I’ve ever seen her look as pale, frail, and helpless as she did then. I really hurt. I was really scared, and that’s saying a lot because I’m a nurse. My heart broke for my baby.

My biggest fear is that one of my children will inherit this awful disease that I have. I know how badly I hurt sometimes, and I do not want my children to have to go through that. I do not want to see my children like that. I do not want to know that my genes were responsible for them being in such a dark, miserable state.

I did some research today and was relieved at what I found as far as depression being genetic.

A person inherits a vulnerability to depression, not the actual disease. People that have a parent or sibling with depression are 1.5 to 3 times more likely to develop depression than those that do not have a relative with it. Studies have found multiple genes that may lead to the development of depression. Research still fails to find one specific gene that increases the vulnerability of depression in everyone. It is thought that there are multiple genes working together to make someone vulnerable to depression.  Genetic causes of depression

This reassures me that there is still hope for my children. Hope that my children do not have to live a life with depression. Hope that much more of the vulnerability comes from environment, and hope that Ronny and I are raising our children in an environment that increases vulnerability for vitality than for depression.

My beginning….

I’m not really sure where to begin this. Do I begin where my parents divorced when I was in kindergarten? Do I begin when I got my first step-mom a few short months later or maybe I should begin when I got my step-father when I was in 3rd grade?

I’ll start where I think was the turning point in my life. I was about 11 years old. My mom gave birth to my first half-sister. My dad and first step-mom divorced, and he moved in with another woman that had several children of her own. (My first step-mom did not have any children nor did my dad and her have any children together.) I had a wonderful relationship with my step-mom; she was my 2nd mother.

These are 2 major life changing events in a kid’s life. I felt like I had been put on the back burner by both of my parents. My new sister had replaced me in the eyes of my mother, and this new lady’s kids had replaced me in my father’s. The later was harder for me because I had always considered myself a daddy’s girl.

It really did not take long for my depression to kick in. I can remember being 11 years old and being suicidal. I just wanted to end my life. I kept a bottle of Tylenol hidden in my room and thought many times about ingesting the entire bottle to end my life. Me being a nurse, I now know that I probably would have just destroyed my liver, lived through it, and had to live with liver failure and depression. What a great combination, right? Anyways!

I remember when my half-sister was born. She was MY baby. I would stay up at night with her. I would change diapers. I changed her clothes. She was mine. I still to this day think of her as my first child, even though I have 3 of my own. It was as if I became a mother at the age of 11. Oh did I mention that I’m the oldest child too? Yeah. I naturally have that personality that wants to take care of everyone around me. I was growing up way too fast.

When I was around 13 my brother starting acting out. He would fight with my mom, had no respect for authority, was doing terrible in school. Looking back, I think it was his way of dealing with the situation that we had been dealt. I mean he had also “lost” a father and mother. He ended up in juvie a number of times along with drug rehab, and eventually prison where he is today.  There were many occasions where I took my half-sisters (Yes. Another one came 15 months later.) on long car rides or trips to the store in order to not have them exposed to the hostility and chaos that came from my brother toward my mother and step-dad.

I became a perfectionist in order to get my parent’s attention. I excelled in school. I was a good kid as far as they knew. That really didn’t work because then I guess they figured that they really didn’t have to worry about me; I was turning out to be a great person on my own.

When I was around 14 I became a promiscuous girl. I did things that a teenage girl should not be doing. I experienced things that a teenage girl should not be experiencing. I can’t say that I regret those things because in a weird way I don’t. Those things have taught me so much. They’re a part of me.

I was searching for anything and everything to give me happiness, to fill that void that I had in me; that hole that depression creates so deep inside of you. I continued this search for years and years and in a sense I’m still trying to fill that dark hole.

My junior year of high school I met Ronny. My mom had picked him out at church. I remember her saying, “You need a nice, clean cut guy like that.” He ended up asking me out (after him and my friend broke up) against the advice of everyone that knew me and even those that didn’t. Ronny was the “good Christian boy.” He had his head screwed on straight. He went to church, excelled in school, had his own lawn business, and was headed in the right direction. He became what “set me straight” and grounded me. I depended on him to fill that void. He at least covered it up for a while.

I graduated high school and started college. The first few semesters were fine. I felt God calling me into nursing. My first semester of nursing school I gave birth to my first child. A child on top of nursing school? I was insane! I had a breakdown EVERY semester. I was overwhelmed by the amount of time and effort my classes took. I was sad because I was missing out on my child’s life. People kept telling me “She won’t even remember that you weren’t there for that first whatever. You’re doing her good by getting your education.” Every time I heard this I would think “I’M going to remember not being there for her first…” It was a real struggle. Ronny kept me grounded though, and I graduated nursing school in December of 2007.

In April of 2008, I gave birth to our second daughter, Emily. The depression really kicked into overdrive. I did not want to go back to work after she was born. I wanted to stay at home with her and watch her grow and be there for all those things that I had missed with Bethany. Financially we could not afford this. Ronny is a high school math teacher. I don’t know about other places, but I know here teachers don’t make a lot of money. This was the first time I felt like I was being forced to work, and that feeling has not stopped since.

About 4 months after Em was born, I realized that I had a problem. I was crying all the time. I felt angry. I just could not get myself together. I went to the doctor, and he prescribed me an antidepressant. I had been taking it for about a month when I found out that I was pregnant with our son, Brantley. I came off of the antidepressant for the rest of my pregnancy. It was a living hell. The crying started back up. I was irritable, angry. I repeated over and over every single day, “I cannot wait for this child to come out, so I can have my antidepressant back.”

Thus began my roller coaster ride of depression.