Battling Depression

The Undiagnosed Bipolar Jehovah’s Witness Baby Chick



I could never square the family life I wanted with the life that I was living with my parents.  My family life was anything but typical. My father was diagnosed with bipolar depression and battled substance abuse while my mother struggled with alcoholism.Their marriage was dysfunctional and this affected me and my siblings greatly. We endured physical and emotional abuse from both parents -there was a lot of yelling, cursing and fighting in my home and often it would result in the local police being called to our home many times.


I did not have an easy childhood by any stretch of the imagination. The addictions of my parents, physical abuse, emotional abuse, fighting resulted in frequent police intervention at my home. As long as I can remember I was a depressed child. I can remember exhibiting suicidal behavior as young as 6 or 7 years old.   I remember around that age that I decided to take matters into my own hands. I took the 2 tops of aluminum vegetable cans and proceeded to slit my wrist- without much feeling. My dad rushed to the bathroom after the door had been closed for some time. When he saw me and he looked as if he had seen a ghost. As he cleaned my wounds I told him that it was a mistake and that I had only been playing with the can tops. I can still hear his helpless voice,  “What in the world did you do girl?!” I replied again that it was a mistake and proceeded to cry uncontrollably. At last! I had my father’s full attention. After much reflection on this incident, I can say that I cried more for my Dad’s love and attention than the actual pain. “Awww girl it doesn’t hurt that bad”, he said as he bandaged me up. What my dad did not know was that I would inflict myself with many other wounds in later in life that did “hurt that bad”.  I never knew why he did not take me to the hospital for treatment. Much later I learned that like myself, my father had the same type of mental illness that I was exhibiting at a very young age. My father was diagnosed a little before my parents’ divorce of 24 years. I often wonder if he received the diagnosis earlier how much that would have changed our family life. Unfortunately, before he was properly diagnosed he was already using illicit drugs to self-medicate himself.

After much reflection on this incident, I can say that I cried more for my Dad’s love and attention than the actual pain. “Awww girl it doesn’t hurt that bad”, he said as he bandaged me up. Although my mom found out later not much was said about this incident. The flesh wounds eventually healed but the wounds in my spirit and heart did not.  It was through the Jehovah’s Witness organization that I sought solace and comfort for my depression. I was on the fast track! At 11 years of age despite my father’s reservations … I was baptized as a Jehovah’s Witness.

What my dad did not know was that I would inflict myself with many other wounds in later in life that did “hurt that bad”.  I never knew why he did not take me to the hospital for treatment. Much later I learned that like myself, my father had the same type of mental illness that I was exhibiting at a very young age. My father was diagnosed a little before my parents’ divorce of 24 years. I often wonder if he received the diagnosis earlier how much that would have changed our family life.  Unfortunately, before he was properly diagnosed he was already using illicit drugs to self-medicate himself.

So many times in my childish ways I longed for attention from my parents who were wrapped up in their addictions and saving their marriage. No matter how many bandages my father used that day it could never “bandage” the blinding hurt, pain, and disappointment I experienced because of my parents’ choices. My dad willfully avoided talking about our upbringing for many years and it drove a wedge between him and me.

I often wonder if my dad ( who was diagnosed bipolar later on) had taken to the hospital how much that would have changed my life. Perhaps not much because I recall a time being in the hospital with my Jehovah’s Witness best friend who had tried to take his/her life after being disfellowshipped. As I waited nervously in the waiting area , I was told much later that his/her father , who was also an elder , told my friend over the hospital bed that they could face a judicial committee for the attempt on his/ her life. As horrifying as it sounds to be disciplined by a christian religion for a suicide attempt it is evidently the norm in the Jehovah’s Witnesses to deal with “sin” such as “self murder” rather than direct the ailing member for professional help

Maybe my father was trying to save face for the congregation. Maybe he was startled that I could be so young with suicidal idealizations. Whichever the case was I would not get help for my condition until much later when I left home to be on my own.



Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s