Depression symptoms are GOOGLED everyday by millions. In our present world, depression symptoms are massively experienced and are now reaching epidemic proportions. This reality has been pinpointed to the inauguration of the new United States president on 1/21/17. Crisis Hotlines have experienced an upsurge of overwhelming usage. Adult suicide has rapidly increased and the main driver driver behind it is depression.
One in four Americans will suffer from clinical depression within their lifetimes and millions are adult sibling abuse survivors, estimated to be 40 million in the United States alone. Many survivors accept their massively given mental diagnosis of depression. This is a great tragedy and one that not only needs attention, but also correction.
As I sit here today I know that survivors of sibling abuse have spent countless hours of misery with depression, excessive worry, bad relationships, addictions, bad therapies, dysfunctional parenting, homelessness, financial instability, etc. I personally was misdiagnosed with not only with depression but also borderline personality, bi-polar, attachment disorder, chronic anxiety, social anxiety, etc. I spent countless wasted years in the wrong therapies, with the wrong therapists, and also the wrong diagnoses. I went to countless doctors, ingested thousands of anti-depressants, was a patient in emergency rooms, countless churches, 12-step groups, health food stores, metaphysical healers, and wrote thousands of positive affirmations. I drank a lot too. My son was subjected to a very chaotic dysfunctional home and now has many issues that stem from my parenting. Over time, he learned to distrust me. We are now estranged. I don’t know my grandsons and will not have the opportunity to bond with them. I have paid heavily for the ignorance of therapists and doctors.
Depression symptoms coincide with lack of sleep, energy, focus, memory, sex drive and the basic ability to experience the pleasures of life. Depression destroys the lives of many adult sibling abuse survivors with loss of the desire or ability to love, trust, addictions, work, play, and the will to live. If depression is left unchecked it can cause permanent brain damage. Depression, however, is merely the tip of the iceberg in regard to being a survivor of sibling abuse. Many experienced a terrifying trauma of not being able to either tell and/or escape from an aggressive sibling/cousin(s).
Depression divorces us from life and splits the self in half. One aspect of the self desperately wants to reconnect with life while the other wants to escape, seek safety, feel empty, and feel a void of nothingness. Many survivors feel a great deal of shame that they are within the smothering grasp of a bad depression. This reality is heightened when a survivor is faced with disability, welfare, or perhaps the ridicule of their family. When they have been incapacitated because of the trauma of sibling abuse, they can reach depths of great despair and self hatred.
Depression symptoms are massively utilized by both medical doctors and therapists to CATEGORIZE the suffering of so many survivors of sibling abuse. The pervasive perspective is injurious to millions of survivors lives.Regrettably this stance is just the tip of the iceberg for recovery. Systematically, the entire professional world of human service workers is not educated about what lies behind the scarring of many adults lives: sibling abuse in childhood. Survivors of sibling abuse are massively medicated with antidepressants and tranquilizers. Unfortunately, therapists and doctors don’t dig deeper into the history of a survivor’s life.
“Traumatized people chronically feel unsafe inside their bodies: the past is alive in the form of gnawing interior discomfort. Their bodies are constantly bombarded by visceral warning signs, and, in an attempt to control these processes, they often become expert at ignoring their gut feelings and in numbing awareness of what is played out inside. They learn to hide from their selves.”
—Bessel van der Kolk, The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma
Many survivors of sibling abuse have a mental disorder called Complex PTSD. Survivors of sibling abuse are the largest, unaddressed, group of abused victims. Survivors of sibling abuse ingest millions of prescriptions for anti-depressants and tranquilizers. The diagnosis of chronic depression, as well as anxiety, creates huge profits for the pharmaceutical industry. It is estimated that there are well over 40 million sibling abuse survivors who have serious mental challenges. This huge, under-served and hidden portion of society hasn’t been addressed as deserving of attention or an accurate diagnosis. Battered and raped women have gotten far more attention and are estimated around 4 million. They have supportive resources and are organized and unfortunately we are not.
Many survivors obediently accept their diagnosis of depression and are never able to go into recovery. I naively accepted my diagnosis of depression and took anti-depressants to reduce my suffering. Many survivors of sibling abuse accept the mental assessment of depression because they are intimidated by the authority of a therapist. Additionally, because of the domination by a sibling, victims learned to not ask questions and to be submissive.
I want to share important educational information about PTSD and Complex PTSD. PTSD is acquired when the brain is traumatized and overwhelmed by a terrifying event. The traumatizing event disrupts the regulation of the body’s energy from hyperarousal (panic, overwhelm) and sometimes to extreme hypoarousal (low, lethargy), which appears as depression. Depression is only one of a number of symptoms of PTSD. When an adult survivor is depressed, they can spend huge amounts of time trying to numb from external events that seem similar to the stress of being abused by a terrorizing sibling. The numbness is utilized as soother and if utilized extensively can impair functioning in our society. If a survivor’s brain numbs out to the extreme, suicidal idea is a likely outcome.
PTSD (posttraumatic stress disorder) is a mental health problem that some people develop after experiencing or witnessing a life-threatening event, like combat, a natural disaster, a car accident, or sexual assault. It can definitely come about through sibling abuse. If after the originating event, it takes longer than a few months, PTSD is probably in place. Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (C-PTSD) is a condition that results from chronic or long-term exposure to emotional trauma over which a victim has little or no control and from which there is little or no hope of escape. Complex PTSD means that the trauma that caused the mental diagnosis of PTSD is longstanding or from childhood. Complex PTSD is difficult to remedy through regular talk therapy approaches. The beginning brain was altered and damaged. I have Complex PTSD that originated from Sibling Abuse. Depression symptoms weren’t all that I suffered from. I had massive panic attacks, constant worry, etc.
Do not be ashamed survivor if you have Complex PTSD. You were trapped in your own home. I hope this has been educational and helpful to you survivor. It is never too late to recover from what an abusive sibling has done to our life. In your recovery, look deeper than the depression symptoms that coincide with sibling abuse.
*If you need a correct therapy referral for sibling abuse, let me know.
Nancy Kilgore, M.S.
This blog is dedicated to my Mother who died April 29, 2017