Freak

I have suffered from depression for most of my life. After my ex-wife and I divorced, it was so profound that I began taking an anti-depressant medication. I stayed on it for about three years. I still have episodes, but they are rarer and I’ve learned how to handle them. Cognitive therapy techniques keep them short and moderate. Recently, I wondered when depression started for me.

I often say that “puberty did a number on me,” but I remember experiencing profound depression in grade school. On the other hand, I remember being very happy as a pre-schooler. When depression began to dominate me?

My earliest memory is of my mother telling me she and Dad had bought a house in a town called Hazlet. Our new neighbors’ last name was Kruger. I laughed and said, “That name cracks me up.” When I asked my father about it, he said we moved to that house soon after my sister was born, so I would have been three years old.

I remember a lot about the next five years. Friends, parties, trick-or-treating, my first day at kindergarten, digging snow tunnels. Almost every memory is happy. (The exception: I remember my sister breaking one of my toys on purpose when I was about six.)

We moved to Florida the month after I turned eight. I had good memories of that time, too, right up until I started second grade. The teacher gave us a test to determine our reading level.

I aced the sixth grade level. Later, another test revealed that I was actually reading at an eighth-grade level. The first test hadn’t had material that advanced. That was when my mood began to shift. I was in the most advanced reading group and I was still years ahead of the others. They were reading chapter books that bored me. I was reading history, science, and literature appropriate for junior high school kids. I felt out of place.

I was proud of my knowledge but also embarrassed at being so different from everyone else. It got worse the next year, because I had advanced even farther. I remember crying often, which didn’t make me very popular. By junior high school, I felt like a freak, and I was depressed most of the time.


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