What's at the core of/ what's the motor driving my depression


I've had PTSD and depression, ever since I can remember, due to childhood trauma.

However, until a few years ago (starting in my 40s) depression never really featured very heavily. I had a bunch of intuitive/ spontaneous tactics of how to push depression aside, that I learned during childhood and used and adapted as I grew older. Survival and fear were very much in the foreground and it always felt like I couldn't "afford" to wallow in the depression, so I'd just push it aside and keep running/ keep going/ keep doing.

Becoming retraumatised when I was 40 has meant that allllllll the stuff that I'd previously managed to push aside/ push down/ keep a lid on from childhood trauma has now messily spilled into the open and I have to deal with it all, all at once and it sucks.

One of the main things that's now in the foreground is the major depression that I managed to "avoid" all those decades before.

So now it's here and there's literally nothing I can do to get the old avoidance patterns to work anymore.

Looking at this depression, the origins of it, the dynamic of it, the structure of it, the pattern of it... makes me realise that during a traumatic childhood, I never learned to care for myself properly.

Fundamentally, every single day that I wake up and am alive, I do not do what I WANT or what I LIKE. I do what my brain thinks is NECESSARY for survival/ what's EXPECTED of me (cos in the logic of childhood trauma that's also necessary for survival). That's how I learned to live as a kid.

Now, sure... life isn't one big party where you can do what you "want" and "like" all the time... I get that.

But in a non-traumatised, non-depressed life, I think people at least KNOW what they want and like and TRY to get that stuff, even if they realise there's a lot of compromises to be made and stuff to do like going to work, doing the dishes, paying the bills, etc etc.

But due to childhood trauma, I entirely skip that bit about knowing what I want and like and trying to get it. My brain just blankly, numbly accepts that that's "not possible" and jumps straight to the responsibilities/ chores/ tasks bit, that will secure survival.

It shocks me that at 46, I'm lacking that absolute basic, fundamental ability that every healthy 3 year old has of knowing what they want and like and trying to get it.

I'm so shocked and appalled that my childhood managed to delete that normal healthy instinct from my brain.

I'm so daunted as to how to go about turning something to fundamental around.
No help here I'm afraid, but could have written your post to a-T, except I've never had that insight or words. And I'm still in the same survival mode. I am curious to see what others or yourself think or advise. Maybe I missed the boat as a child on that one too. I know from 5 I understood many adult concerns, the gravity of stuff, even when I didn't wholly understand them. And was independent/ didn't want to add to stuff. I remember trying to solve all my problems on my own.

I would say, the strong parts are you recognize it, and possibly want something different, even though I understand you aren't sure what that might look like.

And also you mentioned the self care.

Good luck!
ETA @Ecdysis the concept of 'wants' is a difficult one, and risky to try, or to have to deal with disappointment.

I think one thing about survival, there aren't many conflicting motives. The only positive has been living with a certain authenticity, albeit at much loss. I've considered 'wants' more for others, or those privileged or entitled to have them I suppose. Actually, I haven't much thought about 'wants', at all. Wasn't the time or place or mindset.
Yeah, that makes sense @Tinyflame

I was just thinking too that for me, in the past, what's been the closest to choosing what I "want" has been if there's 2 things on offer, then choosing the option that's less-crap than the other option. I guess at least my brain is able to compute that and that I like myself enough to choose the less-shitty option.

Other than that, thinking about what I "want" feels kind of dangerous. It's certainly something that I would've gotten in trouble for as a kid.

Also, it feels kind of ridiculous. Like asking for a real-life unicorn, or something.... If I say what I want, then people/ life will laugh in my face about how ridiculous my wants are.

I do feel kind of determined to figure this out tho. Because I'm 100% convinced that if I don't, then this depression is never gonna end. And this depression is so bad that I HAVE to figure this out. I've come to the crossroads in my life where this is the task I need to get my head around, if I want any quality of life from this point forward.
Oh and also, I don't think that "knowing what you don't want" is a good equivalence for knowing what you want.

Cos, in my depression, there's a million things that I don't want. I don't want to get up in the morning. I don't want to go to work. I don't want to do housework. I don't want to be around people. I don't want anyone bothering me. I don't want to have to think about stuff.

It's an endless list. But it's all about "not" and "no" and "go away". It's moving AWAY from life.

I have to work out the things that I want to move TOWARDS. The things that I say "yes" to.
I never dealt with depression the first time my PTSD hit in my 20s.

Rage? Sure. Depression? Nope.

Suicidal as f*ck? Certainly. But I wasn’t depressed. Passion drove me. Exhaustion drove me. Extremes drove me. But any of the classic signs of depression? Crickets.

In my late 30s/early 40’s? Holy f*cking shit. Depression has wrecked me. In soooo many different ways. I still have zero handle on it. Even years later. Wish I could be of more help. To you, or to me. But to me? Depression is kryptonite.
Depression is the one major symptom I have not struggled with. I'm guessing that in classifying the original incident as "the cause" of my problems and that being an accident - there was little to get depressed about.
Even now I don't feel depression. I have to wonder to myself if that because I have no idea who did what was done. The memories have no movies or pictures - and the voices are gone. I have yet to talk to my T but it's probable there were two traumas - back to back, within minutes of each other, within the complex events of the "first trauma".
I wonder if not having more than a few bits and pieces of memories and no real "pictures or movies" helps with there being less depression. At some point I guess I will get to discuss it with my T..........
I also had childhood trauma. Depression was always sitting on my shoulder waiting but I was able to keep it at bay till my late 30's. Then 2nd set of traumas and BAM.

When I was young I used to get a little jealous of the attention paid to other kids with tough life's. I am now seeing the value in the extra attention they received(Speaches from grandparents,trips to principal office, scheduled time with counselor at school, young adult jail time....) even though a good deal of it came from attention seeking behaviors.

I think there was a price to pay by avoiding theses attention seeking behaviors. Now we are stuck with our adult brains trying to nurture those stubborn assholes ourselves.

Sorry if I hijacked that and just told my own story. Attention seeking may be my new thing and I haven't realized yet. : )
I never thought I had depression. Even just before I went on this site I had an incident where I was suicidal but not sad, more resigned. I learned just recently the #1 sign of depression is actually irritability.

I agree that 'not wanting' doesn't apply. That could even be avoidance.

I feel embarrassed to have a want.
@Ecdysis I thought of something: a 'not want' can be reframed to a want. Just for example, if I said, "I do not want to go to work", I could flip it to something like, "I want to work where (x)'- I feel fulfilled; (or) under a reasonable Boss; from home; a day shift; a night shift; etc. Or, I don't want to do housework may become, "I want to live in a clean, organized place', (or) declutter; find things to give to charity; change my decor/ remove negative reminders, add things I like, etc. I don't want anyone bothering me could become, 'I want to be in a place I can focus, that's peaceful, block out time for what I need because I need it', (etc).

Hope that's helpful, Idk. It all sounds easy in print. 🙄😳