Brendon's (DVDDY's) Story: My Mother and Depression
Written By Brendon Nielson (DVDDY)
I have faced both first and second-hand mental illnesses. “There’s a pain in my heart. It’s the place that I grew up. It’s a hate that I can’t explain.” I wrote those words in my latest song about depression that helps describe where my story began. I had a really rough childhood. It's difficult growing up knowing that you have a predisposition for depression just because of your genes.
My mom had major mental health problems—bipolar disorder, depression, and drug addiction. She was in and out of rehab my whole childhood which, as a child, was traumatic. She was a good woman, but she had her mental struggles and demons. It really wasn't even her fault why she first got addicted to painkillers, which is part of the tragedy. She had open-heart surgery as a young girl and also had rods put into her back. Painkillers were prescribed to help handle the pain, but what has become a common occurrence happened to her and she developed an addiction to them.
I was 11 years old when my mother took her own life. She felt like we deserved a better mom, which is something I've never agreed with. I understand it came from a place of love and it's a very complicated situation that left me without my mother at a very impressionable age. I grew up from that point on getting bullied for years in middle school and early high school. My father remarried at this time and my stepmom legally adopted us which was fantastic. But things were tense in my relationship with them. We didn’t always get along and between not feeling understood by my parents and being bullied at school, I really struggled. I didn’t realize it was depression at the time though.
As I got older and things became more clear in my understanding of mental health, I realized that I had a lot of unaddressed trauma from my past. It wasn’t until my early twenties that I learned it wasn’t only trauma I was dealing with, but also that I did have clinical depression. That was very scary for me to hear because I lost my mom to some of these issues and I became afraid that maybe my life would follow a similar trajectory. I had made it my mission from an early age that I wasn't going to let my circumstances dictate my choices. Confronting this fear with this chosen mindset and relying on it during my adult years became my saving grace.
I’ve observed a lot of people that use things that happened to them as an excuse to do things that hurt themselves or others around them. Again, I decided when I was young to not do that and that I was going to defy the odds. And I have!...because of that decision. There are obviously good people in my life who helped me come to that decision but I'm proud of being able to get to that point. There's a phrase I like that says,
“It explains it, but it doesn't excuse it.”
When trauma happens to us, we have a tendency to react negatively, and it’s easy to just fall into that and excuse resulting actions. The trauma explains it, but it doesn’t excuse us from becoming...because we always have the choice to keep trying.
That's something that I’ve never done—stopped trying! I have always kept trying and I'm proud of that. It’s the thing that has gotten me through life. It helped me get accepted into a prestigious college, it helped me get multiple high paying jobs, it helped me realize my dreams as a musician and music producer. It helped me feel confident in starting my own family and being a good father and husband. I realize that I don't have to go down the same path as my mother simply because I have genetic tendencies. It’s up to me what kind of dad and husband I get to be based on the small choices I make on a daily basis. And though I'm not perfect, I'm pretty damn proud of myself that I chose to keep trying. That's the differentiator between someone who overcomes and someone who doesn't.
I just want to give hope to anybody that is struggling with depression or feeling alone. Know whatever your trial may be, just keep trying. Even if it feels like you're hitting a brick wall, if it’s something you feel is good about and that you should be doing in the back of your mind, just keep trying. That means getting professional help from a therapist. It means going to multiple therapists until you find a fit. I went through 4 or 5 different therapists until I found one I like.
Sometimes it means medication. I'm on a medication right now that I have to take every single day or my mental health can get pretty bad. But overall right now, I’m pretty happy. I’m living a life that I’m proud of. There isn’t anything I’d rather be doing in life than everything I’m doing right now. I can say that with confidence.
So that’s my story. No matter what happens to you, no matter what cards are handed to you, it doesn’t matter what they are, it just matters what you do with them. And the human spirit is so strong that it can get through even the worst and most dark of trials.
Listen to a short clip of my latest song being released on June 16th. It’s called “Better Than Tomorrow (feat. Devin Barrus). It’s about just trying to make it another day.
For more of my music (aka DVDDY) which addresses a lot of the issues around mental illness.
Listen on Spotify here
or visit my youtube channel here.