I am Deborah Stevenson, and I am a painter and I teach art. I was first diagnosed with depression in 1982.
Well I have known about depression being hereditary and mental illness being something that goes through the family. It's been something in my family that I grew up with.
My mom was sick with schizophrenia for most of my childhood. I didn't know if I had something that was related to what my mother used to call the family gene.
When it became clear that that really is what was going on, I had mixed feelings about it and in one way I was relieved to know that this is something identifiable and treatable.
Having a child and now she is grown up and she is having her own struggles ---
This is genetic, this is something that -- because she has come through me, this is something she is inherited. That's kind of a grave thing to come to terms with.
I was recently diagnosed with chronic low grade depression so that was just a few weeks ago. It's really new for me. – I'm starting to take medication. I think it's kind of funny,
I feel like I am following in her footsteps but I feel like growing up with my mom, dealing with the same issues, I have sort of saw how not to do it, and how to just get help right away.
And how are you feeling now?
I know, I'm feeling so much better than I was.
Watching her go through that and having her have the experience of being told "yeah this is something we can treat" and again this is something that's a family thing. That I had mixed feelings about.
I mean nobody wants to have it. It's not like I was like "Wow, I really hope that I get that depression".
Yeah I think that I always knew kind of that depression was hereditary, specifically because my grandmother had schizophrenia which is separate, but knowing that it runs in families…
It wasn't like "Oh, God this would ruin my entire life because I watched you have it for so long and deal with it in different ways and figure it out and navigate.
She said, she was relieved and I know she was, but I was sad, because I wondered -- could we have treated it sooner.
Could we have relieved her of any stresses early on in her family and I think as a parent you always think, oh what could I have done differently.
But on the other hand we have wealth of experience around it. As a family we can help each other.
Seeing what it's like, seeing how it's not an overnight cure, it doesn't make me worry that something hasn't changed instantly. So I feel like it has made it a lot easier for me to deal with my own issues, having seen hers.
She doesn't have as much of the sense of stigma and shame that I did or my mother's generation did. The idea that she should feel that she has resources
and a toolbox and a support system and a lot of things in place to make this something that isn't a trauma in her life, is a huge thing for me to think could be true.
So if she feels that her experience is one that it makes her feel more flexible with her own mental health then that's a good thing.