The Novelty Had Worn Off

I guess we like to think that every baby born is welcomed with a great deal of happiness.  I admit that I have never had a baby myself, so could be accused of being out of my depth… except that I was a baby once.  I know it from that angle, even if I have never had my own child.

I’m pretty sure that my birth was not welcomed with happiness, let alone joy.  There is only one photo of me as a baby.  You see, the novelty had worn off.  I was number three child, and I certainly wasn’t planned.  I came just ten and a half months after my next brother, and my mother will openly admit that my presence was an embarrassment to her.  Two babies in the pram was more than she wanted.

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about my childhood and wondering just how happy I was as a young child.  My first diagnosis of a mental illness didn’t come until I was 28 years old, but at that time everyone was pretty amazed nothing had shown before then.  I’m inclined to think that maybe there were signs but no one looked, or knew what they were looking for.  When I think about some of the (slightly) unusual things I did as a child, and then as a teenager, I am amazed that no one said “Wait a minute.  What’s going on here?”

But then this is the 1960/70’s I’m talking about and who went looking for signs of mental illness in their kids?

Deborah Serani, psychologist has written a book last year entitled ‘Depression And Your Child‘.  I think I’d like to read it, although the focus of it being about the reader’s child is not what I’m after.  She wrote a blog post, What Adults Need to Know about Pediatric Depression and I found that interesting, although I admit it also made me sad.  She reported that

“In the United States alone, evidence suggests that up to 1% of babies, 4 percent of preschool-aged children, 5 percent of school-aged children, and 11 percent of adolescents meet the criteria for major depression.”(1.)

Wow!  Even one in a hundred babies having major depression is huge, without stopping to think about the older age-groups.  She continues to list ten myths relating to childhood depression, which all parents should know.  It makes worthwhile reading, even for this non-parent here.

I don’t know whether I had depression as a baby or a child, but the odd things I started doing go back as far as I can remember, which suggests to me now that something was up at a young age.  I’m sorry but I’m not going to tell you what those odd things were.  Just know they were a little different from normal, and seem to me like a coping mechanism I used from a very young age.

I’m not saying this to in any way accuse my parents of anything, but I suspect there was something going on that they didn’t realise might give clues to my state of mind.  This is more about my own journey to work out what has made me who I am.  I’m not interested in blame, just in being able to understand myself.

Phew! It makes me sad for that little girl who was me.  There’s no denying that because if my theory is right, then it has had an enormous impact on my whole life.

I need music to finish.  As you will see the lyrics don’t go with the music.  Purposely.  I just had two tunes in my mind, for the child in me.

You with the sad eyes
Don’t be discouraged
Oh I realize
It’s hard to take courage
In a world full of people
You can lose sight of it all
And the darkness inside you
Can make you feel so small

But I see your true colors
Shining through
I see your true colors
And that’s why I love you
So don’t be afraid to let them show
Your true colors
True colors are beautiful,
Like a rainbow

 – Cyndi Lauper, True Colors

Related Articles


11 thoughts on “The Novelty Had Worn Off

  1. Dear Cate,

    One thing i have learnt in my life is, unless you are God himself, there is no way you can make everyone in your life appreciate and love you. I agree with john when he says you make the world a better place. Of course a faceless, nameless blogger saying this would no way compare to your mom saying it. But then, it matters to me and John and am sure several others. So it should matter to you, by law of reciprocation.

    I have read and evidenced childhood depression. Where I come from, the kid is called a lunatic sometimes even worse, the kid is deemed to be possessed. Most of them don’t make it through their teen years and the fact that makes me cringe is that, when that happens, the parents are sometimes relieved that they are no longer burdened to be responsible. No more guilt of neglect. But every now and then, there shines through a diamond that walks through all this, faces more challenges and heart breaks and eventually lives to tell the tale to others to make them believe they can too. I wish to believe that you are one of them. Up to you to believe me 🙂

    Again, continue inspiring us on. The world is beautiful, we just choose not to see it, sometimes.

    If I am ever blessed, I wish I could meet you once in my life,


    1. Thanks BP. I think you just managed to make my day but break my heart all in the same breath. It makes me so sad of children being called lunatics and being regarded as possessed. It makes me thankful for the childhood I did have. I still like to think that every baby and child is a diamond, and it’s so awful to think of them being treated as anything else. Thanks for putting that perspective on it for me. And hey, you never know what is ahead. Maybe, somehow, we will meet one day. 🙂

      1. Hello Cate,

        Every baby is a diamond, but like real diamond, they need someone to nuture them and polish them. If hey get thrown away as black carbon rocks, even they will not believe in themselves. Which is why you,a Self made person is that bit more special. 🙂

        Do you have any plans of supporting children with depression? Say starting a counselling school in your locality or a free evaluation at local schools or the likes?


  2. This was a very interesting post for me, Cate, as over the course of the past year I’ve begun looking at my childhood for clues to what made me who I am. I’m in the early stages of discovery (or lack of it), but at some point I imagine I’ll catch up to you.

    I can say without hesitation that, planned or not / joyful or not, your part in this world has made mine a better place. Happy 2014 to you, by the way!

    1. Thanks Sid. Sometimes I need to be reminded of that and today is one of those days. It’s not an easy look to go back and look at our childhood, but I am hoping in the long run it will be worth it. I guess some people would say what’s the point in looking back, but I think it can explain so much of where we are today. Good luck on your journey of discovery. Oh, and Happy New Year to you too. 😀

  3. Cate, I am going to say this in the best way I can: GET OUT OF MY HEAD!!!! 😉

    Except for the part where my mother loved me very much (I don’t know if my birthday was planned or not but love me she did) I can relate to everything. I was one odd child and looking back, I am absolutely sure I was very depressed. I am also shocked at the fact that no one thought of doing anything about it.

    Anyway. I *heart* that Cindy Lauper song. Also, blessing or curse, I can see the true colours of most people

I would love your feedback...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your 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