IT HAPPENED TO ME: My Mother Shut Me Out When I Started Suffering from Depression at Age 14

My then 9-year-old sister informed me that "Mommy told me that she only has three children, and you are not one of them."
Publish date:
November 3, 2016
depression, adolescence, mother-daughter relationships

It has been about 10 years since the relationship that I once had with my mother transitioned into the crumbled shell that it is today. Today, the status of this non-relationship is not a bother to me, and I know that many people wouldn't understand that.

I remember the way that it started as vividly as if it were just a couple of days ago. I was 14 years old, and my mother, three siblings, and I had only emigrated to the United States just a few months prior; around mid-October, I was preparing dinner with my great-grandmother when we heard the front door open with a bang. My mother comes marching in, spewing angry words, calling me "ungrateful" and a few other adjectives that should not be repeated. I came to find out she had just attended the first parent-teacher conference of the semester, where a comment by a teacher became the catalyst for a rage that she may have already been harboring.

She was told by my Global History teacher, an immigrant himself, that while I was unmistakably a brilliant student, he just wanted to let her know that I was always extremely quiet in class, and he was a bit worried about me. He may have caught me trying to stealthily wipe away a few random tears throughout my days sitting in gloomy classrooms or walking down crowded hallways.

Looking back at that night, I figure that Mr. E was just trying to be an advocate for a student in whom he could recognize the impact of an international move. Unfortunately, his hints at my apparent emotional disruption was fuel enough for her to turn her back on me, at one of the most transitional periods of my life.

I was experiencing what I would now describe as symptoms of depression. I cried myself to sleep most nights, harboring dark feelings about my existence, wishing to just be taken from the confusing mental state that I was in. I walked around each day with a cloud above my head, my face now the home of a permanent frown. I covered myself in layers of clothes, trying my best to not be noticed. I was, to put it simply, extremely unhappy all of the time. Despite this, my chores were always done, and I never swayed in showing respect to the extended family living in the household.

After that raging night, my mother stopped speaking to me. Not even to return my polite greetings in the afternoon through the small opening of her almost-always-closed bedroom door.

One day, my then 9-year-old sister informed me that "Mommy told me that she only has three children, and you are not one of them." As far as I know, she gave birth to me as the first of four children.

Throughout the years since then, the quality of our relationship has deteriorated even further. I continued to excel in school, despite my mental state, and I jumped at the opportunity to graduate high school a year earlier than scheduled. At my graduation, in one of the only pictures I have with her within the past decade, she stands next to me with her face reminiscent of someone who was not at all happy to be there, while her body language spoke even greater volumes.

In my four years at university, she only visited once, during freshman move-in day. After that, despite my pleas, she never cared to know where I lived, how I was surviving, or even what I was studying. I would make calls to her, nearly begging her just to call me sometimes, urging her to show some level of interest in me as her daughter.

I continued my attempts at bridging the ever-widening gap between us, until summer 2011. By then, it became absolutely clear to me that it made little sense to keep pushing to rekindle our mother-daughter relationship. She consistently refused to even meet me halfway, any conversation ending with me in tears.

In a very long email, I politely made clear all of my feelings regarding this long-standing situation. I let her know that I was no longer going to try. Point blank.

I will not pretend that the lack of relationship with my mother, especially considering how close we were in my earlier years, hasn’t affected my well-being. Up until just a couple of years ago, I would avoid social media at all costs during Mother’s Day (twice for the year that I lived in the UK). I couldn’t bear to see the highlight reels of friends and acquaintances that showed off their seemingly lovely, supportive mothers. I have had sporadic breakdowns over feeling unwanted, a mistake of a teenaged mother who is just expressing her regret at not terminating the pregnancy. I haven't heard her voice in at least four years, and for much longer than that, I have had no mother to turn to for sage advice of any kind.

Today, at 24 years old, I am in a place of greater clarity regarding my relationship with myself, as well as with the world around me. I have been proactive in harnessing my capacity to be a light for others to have a better relationship with themselves, through advocating for active self-love and self-appreciation. Ten years was enough for me to learn that removing myself from a situation that constantly placed my emotions on an off-kilter roller coaster was a gift to my mental and emotional well-being. I am currently on a conscious journey of becoming my best self for myself, as well as for the young women that I plan to inspire and empower.