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Does emotional abuse in childhood = depressed, anxious adult?

(19 Posts)
TeenTwinsToddlerandTiaras Fri 19-Oct-12 16:09:09

I know this may get moved to 'mental health' but I put it here as more traffic and anyway I do not accept that I am 'ill'!

I had a shite middle class upbringing but I have never really accepted that it is the reason that I am the complete nervous wreck (with a good dollop of depression) that I am today. I have had numerous stressful life experiences as an adult and I have blamed that.

My counsellor thinks differently though and has got me going through my childhood experiences which involve parental divorce and violence, abandonment by my father and prolonged emotional and physical abuse from my mother and stepfather (i.e. I was the scapegoat and was told I was a nutter from an early age). My counsellor believes I would have coped better with bankruptcy, homelessness, the death of a child at birth and a failed move (dream hmm abroad if I had not had such a stressful childhood!

I am at a loss really as I think that is enough for anyone to go through. I am feeling very 'stuck' at the moment and have lost motivation for most things apart from the basics such as keeping the house, my 4 DCs and myself clean, cooking etc. There is no way I can work atm although I desperately need to pick myself back up and move on especially as we are living in a horrible place but cannot afford to move out (rented).

I don't know who to be angry at: my mother (and crap absent dad who now wants to be one apparently 30 years later), life or myself!

Any words of wisdom?

TeenTwinsToddlerandTiaras Fri 19-Oct-12 16:11:44

* a failed (dream hmm) move abroad* or should be disastrous!

AdoraBell Fri 19-Oct-12 16:19:49

Yes, in my experience. People can blame whatever, or whoever they choose, the ones I know who are depressed, anxious, angry etc all have issues from their family life which they won't or can't recognise as being behind their behaviour and habits.

mischiefmummy Fri 19-Oct-12 16:24:27

My mum had the most awful childhood but as an adult she threw herself into motherhood (and a career she loved) and everyone who meets her loves her company and her crazy variety of interests. Her life has been full of challenges (my sister and I were adopted as babies, both of us had serious illness as children and my sister still struggles, my mum has had a serious life-long condition and was told not to attempt to have a career or do anything active, but she's done all those things and more.)

Sometimes you have to imagine who or how you would like to be and act accordingly. I know that's tough but I know from experience my best days are when I act out who I'd like to be, not how I'm feeling!!

She is somehow a very forgiving woman (sadly I am not) but she managed to see past her childhood experiences and make her adult life very happy and her relationship with her parents improved once she acknowledged and stood up to their bulling and childish behaviour.

I am in a very similar situation to you, 4DCs, dogs, house etc (and I have longed to move abroad but DP will not go angry sad. I'd love to work but I have yet to formulate a plan. That's my mission now my youngest has started school.

Try not to be angry, it's self-destructive. Surround yourself with people you like, and be kind to yourself, it's been a tough time and you will need time to bounce back.

AdoraBell Fri 19-Oct-12 16:28:21

Sorry, pressed post instead of preview.

I'd say carry on with your counsellor, deal with the things she/he wants you to deal with. This should help immensely even though it was years ago. There's no way to tell who you should be angry with, you need to discover who -and it may well be more than 1 person- you are angry with.

Good luck

Cheekychops84 Fri 19-Oct-12 16:30:09

I am an anxious depressive. On bad days I can be up all night worrying about something really trivial. I also suffer with depression I think it's the anxiety that brings on the depression. But my childhood was fine , yea my parents had arguments but nothing major. So don't know but my dad is the same so I think I get it from him.

redexpat Fri 19-Oct-12 16:31:17

If you have a bad childhood you are more likely to suffer problems as an adult than those who had a 'good' childhood. Perhaps your counsellor means you would have been better placed to deal with everything that has happened recently had you had a better childhood. Does that make sense?

Although I think you are right and it certainly sounds like you have had more than your fair share of rubbish to deal with. I'm so sorry and I hope things improve.

HoleyGhost Fri 19-Oct-12 16:31:27

Do you need to be angry with anyone? You are where you are. You are facing up to your problems, seeking help with your anxiety and depression.

I do think that trauma of all kinds, at any age, makes anxiety and depression more likely but it is not inevitable. You can pick yourself back up again and make your life the way you would like it to be.

sweetkitty Fri 19-Oct-12 16:33:47

In my case yes it does. Kind office to see other mums of 4 on here too, bloody hard isn't it.

Most of my anxiety focuses on something happening to the DC, has been much since they were born.

I have no contact with my EA mother either which is how I keep myself just about sane.

fromparistoberlin Fri 19-Oct-12 16:36:28


I am wincing reading this, you really have had a pile of shit on your plate sad

i think yes, shit childhood massivle affects people, its takes a rare person (ie mischiefs mummy) who can rise above it

dont be angry, please. what will it acheive?

keep on the with counselling, and really try hard to accept the past, and be happy with what you have

so sorry about your baby

I think it can have an impact. You can develop beliefs about yourself in childhood which carry on into adulthood e.g. if you are used to getting blamed for everything you can start to take responsibility for everything that goes wrong even if it isn't really down to you.

You can also develop coping strategies as a child to deal with difficult situations that are less helpful in adulthood - e.g. trying to be extra nice / people pleaser / peacekeeper instead of sometimes saying "no I am not happy with that" etc.

Untangling and ditching some of these patterns is very liberating as you can then focus on what you want to do now rather than falling back into a habitual pattern.

However, depression is an illness and can arise without any external trigger or previous trauma so you don't need a bad childhood to trigger depression nor does a bad childhood mean you will suffer it.

avivabeaver Fri 19-Oct-12 16:43:52

me and my sister had v similar childhood experiences- manically depressed father, constant stress at home etc.

she has had mental health issues as an adult- i haven't so i don't necessarily think that there is an inevitable connection. Similarly I have friends with anxiety disorders that normal childhoods.

I kind of decided when i was around 20ish to forgive my parents for being a bit rubbish and moved on. I suspect that sister was more prone to depression (its an inherited trait to an extent) and that perpetuated it. Is your depression as a result of all that has happened or is it just that you have a depressive illness?

WilsonFrickett Fri 19-Oct-12 16:50:53

You have had an exceptionally tough life. Yes, if you'd had a better childhood you may have developed better strategies to help you deal with the things life has thrown at you - Chaz is spot on I think. However, you may not. Plenty people with a 'charmed' existence find it difficult to cope when life doesn't go their way, precisely because they're not used to that.

What's important now though is how you move forward. You talking about not knowing who to be angry at - why do you need to be angry at anyone? What is that going to achieve?

TeenTwinsToddlerandTiaras Fri 19-Oct-12 18:37:03

I do feel angry that I have had shit parents and have had various shitty circumstances that life has thrown at me. I suppose blaming it on something/someone would be easier than just accepting that that is my lot in life. I, of course, know it would not achieve anything.

Chaz is spot on! I have no inner (or outer atm) security about myself due to being vilified so often as a child probably so often feel like a ship floundering in stormy seas with all the responsibilities that being a mother of 4 entails this then manifests into panic attacks/intrusive thoughts. Would'nt wish it on anybody sad.

You can guess the sort of childhood I had then wink

You can't change your childhood but you can stop it intruding on your life going forward. Counselling can help you sort out your sense of who you are and what you want.

Dededum Fri 19-Oct-12 18:52:43

I think forgiveness is the key, forgiving the people who made your childhood shit, but also more importantly forgiving yourself. Forgiving yourself for not dealing with everything perfectly. Often with this sort of thing, one is racked with self loathing.

About 5 years I did The Hoffman Process, all the therapy you need wrapped into a week. Powerful stuff. My husband's mum had walked out on the family when he was 10 and never looked back. After the Hoffman Process he forgave her, contacted her and told her that she was his mum and he loved her. That process helped him move on with his life and he has thrived since.

HissyByName Fri 19-Oct-12 19:23:14

I was depressed in my 20s, I always felt as if I was the TROUBLED one, the black sheep, the one in the wrong.

Now I'm in my 40s, have escaped a 10 yr abusive relationship, and look back on my life, i see that the depression was caused by feeling a square peg in a round hole, being told I was fat (I wasn't) being told I was a failure, (I wasn't) or never being quite good enough. My dad also had an affair and buggered off, repeated putting his new OW above his kids.

The reason, as far as I can see, that i got depression in the first place was due to my family, and the golden child/scapegoat dynamic, the reason I fell into an abusive relationship was also a result of my upbringing. Depression is anger turned inwards, remember this.

I'm on my own now, and can see my 'family' for what it was/is. I already don't talk to my sister or my dad anymore, and my mum is only a matter of time.

Forgiveness? NAH... It's too soon for that hell has not yet frozen over.

I doubt it will ever come, as i have realised their full abuse of me, and looking at my son, there is no way on earth I would ever treat him the way my parents/sister treated me. Given the option, it's clear that they would prefer me to still be with my abuser, as it kept me down, below them.

Now that I am free of him, and more or less free of them, I can SOAR! And I am, day by day, I grow stronger and happier than I have ever been in my life. My family was a CANCER tbh.

They had a choice, to support me, or to leave me in a doorway. They chose neither, they chose the worst possible option, to try to destroy my spirit, my soul and my hope.

What my mum did may have been out of ignorance. What my sister did was evil, calculated and she exhibited extreme joy when she rubbed it in my face years later.

You have a right to be depressed love, you have all the ducks lined up.

But know this. When you look at the real truth, the one that says that you are as good as everyone else, if not better (and you are) and that no-one has the right toi make you feel any less because you are a threat to them and their warped little life, when you see what others will do to get their emotional hard-on, let me tell you that there is no more space in your life for depression, only a realisation that you have suffered at the hands of others, and that you may need guidance to get yourself back to where you always ought to have been. On top.

This is not your lot, this is the lot they forced on you. You don't even know your full potential yet! So get out there and find out! Check out Stately Homes on Relationships too. It's really great and everyone will know what you are on about.

Keep up the counselling, feel the anger, know that it is justified and that it is misdirected at you, deflect it back to where it belongs.

Keep strong love, you can do this.

biff23 Fri 19-Oct-12 19:26:04

My childhood is most definitely to blame for my anxiety now. I'm only now at a good coping level after a year of hell and 1 1/2 years of medication. I couldn't have done it without the meds. I suffered mental, emotional, physical and I suppose a touch of sexual abuse (however I struggle to really admit/agree to this). Even now as an adult I struggle if I don't carry out my job perfectly, even the most minor of mistakes causes great anxiety and I put this down to the repercussions I suffered as a child when not doing something perfectly.

If you are finding yourself at a really low ebb I would honestly suggest you see your gp and consider antidepressants. I was on citalopram for major anxiety and slight depression and I felt like a brand new person . I wouldn't think twice about going on them again if I had too.

HissyByName Fri 19-Oct-12 19:28:05

However, depression is an illness and can arise without any external trigger or previous trauma so you don't need a bad childhood to trigger depression nor does a bad childhood mean you will suffer it.

I do agree with this too Chaz, there is much we don't know about the causes of depression, however feeling and realistically being isolated by those that should protect/care for/love you has got to be a really strong starting point.

I say this too because most victims of DV have abusive/neglectful parents, most abuse victims have low self esteem, most will struggle with communicating their needs/feelings through fear of rejection; perfect breeding grounds for depression.

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