Depression: the Family Curse

Kate Landis

It was the family curse. I had heard the term muttered by my grandmother, “the family curse,” but I didn’t know what it meant. It sounded like something from a pirate story, like my ancestors had stolen a magic treasure and now we were all damned unless one of us could slay the dragon. Alas, our family curse was nothing so exciting. Our family secret is soul-sucking depression, a hopeless morass of despair that is nearly impossible to shake. The multi-generational curse of dads crying on the beach. The curse that led to suicides, aunts who never left the house, terrible tempers spinning out of anxiety attacks, dropping out and getting fired. I wasn’t the only one in the family with compulsions, who prayed frantically for a sense of control.

The family curse was real, and Dad was under its spell. Later, I would have a few turns as well, an emotional rip tide pulling me under the waves. Freeing myself took more strength than I could muster, but I was pulled from the crashing surf by the people who love me. I am broken yet beloved, imperfect but cherished. I felt them, as real as the saltwater breeze, pulling me unflaggingly through the current. I tell my story to accompany fellow travelers trying to make it back to the shore.

an excerpt from Stubborn Grace: Faith, Mental Illness, and Demanding a Blessing