Growing up with depression

October 25, 2010 at 7:56 am 1 comment

Part of growing up feeling different is that when you finally make peace with your difference, you realize that you overlooked a chunk of your life – in my case the all-important teenage years – when you were supposed to be learning how to interact with other people. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a total social imbecile but I’m also acutely aware that my lack of masculine socialization means that I constantly feel like I’m a step behind when it comes to interacting with others.

Women and I, we tend to get along just fine. Having grown up with sisters as siblings, and no brothers, I learned a lot about female friendship circles. But I did not have a whole lot of help in the male bonding experience. In my early teens, before my family moved from Canada to South Africa, I began to make many good friends, a lot of them male. They were my buddies and we were on the same wave-length. I played soccer with the boys – goalie – and I was damn good.

The move to South Africa when I was eleven coincided with my social withdrawal. Initially the children, mostly the children of parents who were friends with my parents, reached out to me, but I struggled to find my footing. I retreated more and more. I surrounded myself with a select few friends. Of my female friends, only two were close to me during my high school years, and to these two I told nothing about my growing doubts regarding my sexuality, my gender and about the severity of my depression. I had two male friends over this period. One lived in Belgium and we corresponded over the Internet. The other lived with us briefly as a renter, before he disappeared unannounced.

It’s a hell of a way to live your teens.

The point I am getting to is that the period where, if I had been able to verbalize my feelings, I should have been able to make friends and go out and party, I did not. Leaving me now a thirty-something man with a chip on his shoulder. The trick is to make up for lost time. But I don’t want to feel like I’m always catching up. Part of overcoming that feeling, is reaching out to new people and new experiences. Practice, practice, practice. It’s a second childhood. And it’s just as scary as the first.

It’s also exciting.

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Entry filed under: Gender, Mental Health, Sexuality. Tags: , .

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Areyan Kalen  |  February 28, 2011 at 5:05 am

    it is both scary and exciting, so true. i feel the same about the time i missed and ironically i only had a select few girl mates at school and was raised with a solo mother and younger sister similar to you, so you would think eh? lol.

    can’t wait to see what good times mean for me as a man in my new life. that’s what it feels like at times too. it’s not all bad this journey.

    Reply

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