Growing up as a bi-racial girl in a predominately white community, mental health whispers were always commonplace. Many times, a classmate was dealing with depression or what I now recognize as anxiety. We would comment they were acting crazy again, unaware of the mental health concern there was.
I would have been categorized in the same ‘crazy’ box if anyone had noticed. I went as far as taking a required anger management class due to some outbursts that formulated into a derogatory manner towards my teachers.
It wasn’t until much later in my teens that I self-diagnosed my condition as depression. I’ve never been professionally diagnosed but it is apparent to me of what I have. My research indicates it as such. I had always thought the death of my mother made my mental health disorder emerge and maybe it did. However, now I’ve concluded it could have always been there, waiting for that one chance for it to rare its ugly head.
Can Mental Health Disorders Be Passed Down To Generations?
My mother was a poet. She wrote beautiful heartfelt poems about her dark feelings and catured moments in her life that indicated her fight with her mental health. When she was alive, I never saw her struggle or maybe I was too young to be aware of it.
My aunt found a book of her poetry a decade after her death and gave it to me as a gift. I was shocked by how much we were alike in this respect. I related to her words because they were so similar to my feelings. I am a poet in my own respect and I found our poetry had the same language and tone.
You can get a mental health disorder because of your genes, but that is not the single reason. According to Rethink.org, there are other things that contribute to this, including your environment, stress levels, a tragic event, and even your diet. So, the death of my mother could, in fact, brought on the depression I have now. Yet seemingly, her own bouts of depression were passed down to me as well.
My Family Didn’t Recognize Depression As A Viable Problem
Depression used to be a mockery in my family. It was embedded in my mind that it was a ‘white’ person problem, but I am half white so I guess I qualified. I didn’t understand why that was even said. I guess they recognized a difference in me before I did. When I got to high school, I felt that difference my family saw and I couldn’t explain what it was. I searched for answers and finally found my symptoms were indicative of depression.
Then I realized I had been dealing with it silently since my mother’s death, though the trait must have been embedded deep down. All it takes is one uprooting, one death, one broken relationship to jumpstart that depression gene.
My family feels different about mental health now. We’ve never openly discussed the shift of what mental health means in our family, but they have had a taste of it themselves that was openly conversed about. Supposedly, it’s been a sour taste that has always been there at the tip of their tongue, too.
Depression can be hereditary. There is no changing that. What can be changed is the onset of it becoming a mental health disorder. In my case, my hereditary depression was awakened and now I have the task of maintaining it’s slumber in my children as best as I can.
What I now know about depression gives me a good stepping stone to stop it from becoming something I pass on to my children. They do not have to have that gene activated like I did.