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Common Causes of Childhood Depression

If you plant a young tree beside an underground stream of toxic water, its’ roots will grow down until they reach that stream. Every aspect of it’s life will be shaped by the contaminated water.”-Steven Levenkron’s Stolen Tomorrows

Hello again, Dear readers!

I have been working on this post for some time, and it will be a series (so stay tuned). I have told you my experiences with depression, and have given you a glimpse into some of the dark thoughts crossing my head. It’s time to learn why these thoughts occur and how it all started. After much research, there are a few ingredients that may have created the perfect environment for depression to settle and fester. These ingredients are:

  1. Abuse
    1. Sexual
    2. Physical
    3. Verbal/ mental

2) Genetics

3) A tramatic event

I want to start with sexual abuse, because it is SO prevalent in our society that we have become numb to it. We see the behavioral problems that may be a result from abuse, but we don’t take enough steps to try to help them process the emotions and thoughts.
Childhood sexual abuse is defined as a relationship involving phisical acts of violation by a person(s) who is older and/or more powerful than the child” (Levenkron, 19).
A child, though they may not be able to express, knows that what is happening is abuse. They know that they feel violated, and they feel like they are less valuable than those around them. The perpetrator pushes the feelings of guilt and shame on to their victim(s) and so it puts the child in a box. If they try to speak out, they just hear the echos of shame and guilt and each echo becomes a wall.

The child may develop certain behaviors such as: wanting others to look/touch their “privet parts”, doing drugs/ alcohol to “self medicate”, self harming, showing signs of withdrawal, depression, and social isolation, or they may act out with sexual promiscuity. These behaviors do not always stem from sexual abuse, but they are common behaviors to watch out for.

Children who experience abuse at a young age, develop defense mechanisms. (We all do, really- part of life is learning how to deal with things, but not at such an early age.) The first stage is called “magical thinking” (Levenkron, 22). The child believes that if they do better, the abuse will stop. If they pray, or do certain rituals, it will stop. Eventually, though, it won’t. Then they move into dissociation, where they send their mind to a happy place in order to not feel what is happening. Another thing that children do is place the blame on themselves. This can create a self loathing pattern of destructive behavior, and they just need help.

So, I told you all about my experience with my mom’s (ex)boyfriend. There is something that happened even earlier than that. I want to preface by saying that I love my family and I don’t regret my childhood. However, there were series of abuse throughout my life and it started around the age of 4- way before the age of 10/11. I experience sexual molestation by someone who didn’t really understand what they were doing. I have never really blamed them, because of the age and I think that some one (probably an adult) had done it to them. Nonetheless, it has shaped me and branded me from the age of 4 years old.
There is something completely wrong when a 4 year old experiences sexual activity. The brain, at that age, is not ready for those stimulants! It is JUST PLAIN WRONG! It alters the development, and the poor thing will never be the same! I was shown what an orgasm was at such an early age… I didn’t even know what it was! The rush of chemicals and hormones that I shouldn’t have discovered for another 14 YEARS! I was fortunate to not turn to drugs or alcohol. No… instead, I developed a sexual addiction. AT THE AGE OF 4 YEARS OLD!!!
I had a “boyfriend” at the age of 6 or 7 and I remember my parents laughing and saying it was “cute” and “normal”. I had inappropriate crushes on my parents’ friends, no, that wasn’t “cute” nor was it a laughing matter. As a teen I turned to online chat sites, and pornography. Parents, pay attention to your children. LISTEN to what they are trying to say and take the time to EXPLAIN things to them. Don’t just ground them and punish them, because they grow up. They become broken adults, and all they don’t know how to function as an adult. There is a reason for the sex laws.

Then, there is the emotional and mental abuse. This is can be many things that seem perfectly normal to some. It is not, though. If you say things like “Why are you crying? I’ll give you something to cry about!” That is not helping your child. That is teaching them to suppress their emotions. That is teaching them that their emotional expression is wrong and they’ll be punished for it. They need to be able to work through their emotions and identify what is making them upset. When your child comes to you with something exciting and they’re really happy about it. Your reaction of disinterest and disconnect is teaching them not to share their excitement.

If you are a victim… honey, I am so sorry. Please, seek therapy or help, even send me an email. Just focus on getting help. It is NEVER too late.
To this day, I get ridiculed my brother for having relationships with his friends. Also, for the number of “ex-boyfriends” I’ve had. He can’t see that the string of failed relationships comes from the fact they all thought it was okay to use me. He doesn’t see that I allowed it, because after all the years of abuse it was just another normalcy.
I’m working through it. I realized that my past has shaped me to be able to leave home. I am stronger, now. I am rebuilding my relationship with my family so that I can be happy. Even though I have low moments, I know that I cannot focus on everyone else in my life. In trying to make them all happy I lost myself. I’m finding who I am, again. You can too.

If we are going to stop childhood abuse, we have to hold the perpetrators accountable! Teach children that punishments also happen to adults. Also, STOP SAYING THAT IT WAS DESERVED or justifying the abuse as “discipline”. Smacking your child, is not “discipline”. Screaming at them for not doing their chores is not “discipline”. That is taking your anger out on the tiny human you created. Victim blaming is so weak and a pathetic way of passing guilt. No one deserves abuse. EVER!

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