The Apple and The Tree

The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, the old saying goes. It’s an obvious statement, of course. Unless an apple tree is at the top of a hill any apple that falls from it isn’t going far at all.

My tree has dropped three apples, so to speak. None of them have fallen far from the tree. To be frank, I’d bet money the genetic engineers of Jurassic Park cloned my “apples” directly from me if I didn’t know better. I can see my likeness in their jokes, their intelligence, their behaviors, and their personalities. But nothing quite dissected how similar we are until I read a short essay today.

I was talking with Baby B about meds and school when he mentioned an essay he needed to turn in for English tomorrow was finished. I inquired more about it and found out that the topic he’d chosen for this essay was mental health. I asked if I could read it and he acquiesced.

And I was blown away.

I was taken by the content of his essay. It could easily have been written by me. It was like staring into a mirror and seeing my reflection, yet somehow knowing that the person staring back wasn’t truly me. Moreover, I was taken by how well-written his essay is. It’s not that I doubt his talents, but when I was his age I wasn’t quite as crafty with words as I am now (and I still have some of my senior writing projects to prove it). I was impressed by his articulation, punctuation, and vocabulary. I saw a bit of my own writer’s voice in his piece.

I asked B if he minded if I shared his essay here. For a couple of reasons. The first? I’m very proud of what he’s written and, like any proud parent, I want to show off what he’s done. The second reason is far more important, though. Just three days ago B was officially diagnosed with depression and anxiety. I’d had him evaluated because in the last few months I’d noticed some erratic moods in him – the same sort of moods I used to have before I began taking meds. That was it, though. That was the only reason I could offer his doctor when I asked to have him evaluated. This essay, however, lays out all the things I didn’t know. All the things he’s suffered in silence. All the things he’d kept to himself despite knowing both mom and dad fight similar wars.

I want this to be read by any parent who has been diagnosed with depression. I want those parents to know that your child may be suffering even if he/she isn’t outwardly showing any symptoms of depression. Depression is genetic. My mom has it. I have it. At least two of my three boys have it. My message to parents with depression is this: have your child evaluated for depression and anxiety even if you see no symptoms. My only clue was mood swings, but that was but one grain of sand on a mighty beach. In the past week I’ve discovered that beach and I’ve been hard on myself for having never seen it before.

Please learn from my fail.

“I think the saddest people always try their hardest to make people happy because they know what it’s like to feel absolutely worthless and they don’t want anyone else to feel like that.”  Robin Williams said that. On August 11, 2014, millions mourned his passing as he took his own life. The world knew him to be one of the funniest men to grace the earth with his presence, and yet, even he could not escape the ever-tightening grip of depression.

Looking back, I first began to exhibit symptoms of this ominous mental illness in sixth grade, long before I could even comprehend the idea of depression. My motivation to perform important, even trivial tasks plummeted. I was eating less, I became antisocial and morose. My family was always there to help me, but I pushed them away, drove a wedge between me and everyone else around me. In the following years, I picked up habits that have both hindered and helped me, but after consulting with the voices in my head, I can now confidently state that my mental health, or lack-thereof, is the worst and best part of me.

Music has played a prominent role in my life for as long as I can remember.  When I first became overwhelmed with sadness the only thing I desired, other than someone to guide me toward happiness, was to drown myself in music. I walked through the halls of (my middle school) with my headphones blaring mellow acoustic rock. My classmates noticed at times that I was distant. Often, my peers heard my music and immediately came to the conclusion that wistful music was causing my unprecedented mood swings. It was quite the contrary though. Indeed, I did listen to sad music, but on a certain level, the lyrics resonated with me. It helped me realize that I was not the only one pushing through life with a weight on my chest. It was not until my sixth-grade year was coming to an end that I was presented an opportunity to learn to play guitar. I had little motivation to do anything, but this felt different. It gave me the chance to be a part of the music that had been counseling me so often. Music spoke to me and I spoke through music. Every song was like a therapy session.

Writing has become a recently developed tool I use to cope. I began writing in my sophomore year of high school. I was not outstanding, however the quality of my work was not my focus. Content is where I lived. I wrote how I felt, indirectly. Symbolism was rampant in everything I wrote. In this, I was able to create alternate realities, where I could be someone else. I had to become the characters I wrote about or the piece did not feel real.

Depression did not only affect how I conducted my life in the physical world around me, it also greatly changed my outlook on life; not for the better. I often fantasized of ways my life might end on a particular day. Not suicide. Suicide, to me, always stuck out as a coward’s way out. See, I wasn’t trying to die, I just was not making a conscious effort to stay alive. Most days were spent adrift in thought, thinking of how other’s lives might be better if I was not in them. My parents both struggle with joint custody ever since they separated. Being in the middle, trying to appease both parents has been more than stressful for many years. Often times, I wondered if they would be better off with me not around. Around this time, I developed one of my favorite coping mechanisms: sarcasm. My teachers and classmates were not as enthusiastic about it as I was though. It is not a healthy way to cope by any means, but it brings a sense of humor to otherwise morbid situations.

To others, I may seem insensitive. In reality, I have gained a rather sensitive outlook toward others. Having experienced the feeling of worthlessness, it brings me almost to tears when anyone around me is in a state of anguish. I try my hardest to make everyone feel confident in themselves; to never let anyone else’s opinion bring them down. Furthermore, it has forced me to take a step back from all situations before making a decision. I have become more aware of other people’s feelings, with an understanding of society as a whole, not just life from my perspective and people like me. Everyone is fighting their own battles. What may seem trivial to one person, might feel like the end of the world to another. It depends on where you come from and how you grew up. Everyone experiences stress in different ways.

Just a few days ago, I was officially diagnosed. Of course, living with depression has a special way to make a person believe they are at fault for any wrongs in their life. It was a relief to be told that I am not to blame for my mental instability. After speaking with my doctor extensively on the matter, my parents and I decided that it was best that I take medication to help balance the chemicals in my brain. Depression revealed the best part of me. Now, moving forward, I can still be the caring person I have learned to be, without the crushing density of hopelessness weighing me down.

41 thoughts on “The Apple and The Tree

  1. Perhaps he ought to start a blog, or write a novel.

    As a parent my own Mental Health issues are in the foreground of my mind. It really does seem like a genetic thing. Even now I try to teach my little one skills on coping with this burden.


  2. Wow! What an intelligent, intuitive and self aware young man! You must be so proud of his ability to express himself in writing/via music and for his openness to try medications in order to feel better! These are not common attributes of teens/young men! You need to give yourself credit for the example you have been to him.

    Thank you for sharing this, make sure to let him know that I am one of those persons who benefited from his words and wisdom by helping me understand what my daughter may be going through. 🙏 ❤️


  3. You did not fail at all because YOU took him to the doctor….I wish this to go viral so every parent can see this…Both because of you and for your son’s words


  4. That’s so crazy. I mean the crazy part being how much his writer’s voice does carry your own. And it also may be the fact that I feel like his essay summarized the parts of your blog where you spoke of your depression and how music connects with you. That’s pretty wicked.

    It’s a major bonus how self-aware he is. Kudos to the essay, kudos to your “apples” 😉 and kudos that you have each other.


  5. Wait. How old is your son? This was amazing. He is an excellent writer and although I hate that he is suffering, I am so impressed with how well he can articulate his experience with depression. You must be so incredibly proud of his newfound gift and by the way, I think you are an AMAZING father and a compassionate and wonderful man. I bet your kids think so too.

    Please tell your son that he has great strengths to fight this battle, and his writing is surely one of them!


  6. Reblogged this on Behind the White Coat and commented:
    I don’t usually post on Mondays anymore because the clinic is usually crazy but I did want to reblog this post from Twindaddy at Mental Defecation. Typically I don’t get a ton of people popping over to read reblogs but I would encourage you to hit the link on this one.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Thank you for sharing yours and your son’s story and his beautiful piece of writing. I bet it is proudly odd to look in the mirror and not see yourself yet know you are there.


  8. That was brilliant, and I couldn’t help but think it could have been written by my own son. He was tested for depression in middle school, the psychologist said he was not, but I knew better. I knew my family history, he was just smart enough to answer all the questions in a way to avoid the diagnosis. He took to music, learned guitar, wrote lyrics that spoke to his pain. As a young adult, he has found some relief, a few meds that work for him, but it’s still a struggle.

    Thank you for sharing such a personal post. We all worry about those apples who fall close to the tree.


  9. This is a beautiful piece. Your son’s insight is so clear and beautiful. His words resonated deeply with me. I hope he will consider writing more and sharing with his peers in some way.

    I would have given anything to have a friend I could have confided in about mental health issues when I was a teenager. I felt so alone. My own daughter, now nearly 30, lives her life with mental health issues. She’s so much more open and upfront about how she copes. I am grateful she feels she can talk to me about her issues. Most importantly though, I’m grateful she knows there is help for her out there.

    I wish you both peace and health. Thank you for sharing. Amy


  10. This hit close to home. I have two toddlers… and if it happens I will be prepared. I love the robin Williams quote! It’s so true. A friend told me she needs some positivity in her life…. that she needs more of me in her life! It’s great she feels that way but I’m just like anyone else I can only take so much negativity.


    1. It IS great that she feels that way, but I get it. I, too, can only handle so much and then I just shut down. I can’t stand that about myself, but I also can’t change it. At least, I don’t know how to.

      Keep an eye on those kiddos. Around age 13 is a good time to start looking for clues on any possible mental health issues. I was diagnosed at that age.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Hello, my name is Kathy and I follow Victo Dolore and read your post she reblogged, I left a reply on her page and she thought I should also leave it here for you….but first let me say thank you for opening my mind and bringing back memories from a long time ago….
    I also look forward to following your blog.

    Oh my…..what we miss as parents looking and raising our children is scary….thank you for sharing and I am glad I read this. It reminds me that after my child was grown and had graduated from high school did I learn, and only because I was lucky enough to be sitting with her and her girlfriends at a get together….they were discusses depression and other issues that had hindered them in school. My daughter mentioned she had OCD and how bad it had effected her in the reading department. She was always reading several books, and as I sat there my mind was racing, OCD, I never noticed that. She went on to say that no matter how far into the book she was if she misread one word she would have to start this all over. It went on for years she said, it wasn’t until she was in the last year of high school that she was finally able to get a handle on this, she realized she was never going to get through her senior year, I have never been more proud, or more scared at the same time. How did I miss this, I knew her father had it, he was no longer in my life, did I not think the apple fell close to the tree, she had never once mentioned this and I never noticed her reading the same books over and over. Scary, I hope all young parents read your post, had I had better insight I might have been able to help my girl. And I am proud to say today she no longer had any problems reading and has been able to over come this, I did ask her is if ever bags her in the back of her mind,, and she replied, Nope….told it to stop bothering me and it had left my mind. Brings me back to the time she told me she had to go before a board of professors to get into her Masters class in college and they would be asking her lots of questions including asking about a list of 50 books that she had to familiar herself with, I can saw I saw the fear in her eyes when she said she had to read them and only had 3 months to get it done….so I know she still fights quietly no matter what she says…what a brave child I have raised, did she fall from my tree or from her dads….I would have to say she landed somewhere in the middle… thanks again….sure stirred up memories in my mind….kathy



    1. I guess it’s the nature of being a parent. I was looking for clues, I talked to them about, yet I still missed almost everything. Of course, there’s no windows into anyone’s mind, so the only way I could have known is for them to tell me, but still…


      1. We, as parents can only do the best we can, I missed it completely…didn’t eve think about it, and I was aware her father was somewhat OCD…I know I am not perfect, but I did do the best I could, as I am thinking you did too…have a great weekend….kathy


  12. The observations you made, the metaphor of the apple tree and fallen apples and your recognition of what you missed speaks volumes about your commitment to your apples. Growing up in a broken home and dealing with extremely similar internal struggles made me teary eyed as i read his essay. I only just found your blog today but as I’m reading various posts, it’s clear that he definitely has your talent for writing. I used music and writing to stay sane and i credit both of them almost equally with getting me to adulthood with almost no incident. For sure encourage him to keep at it, listen to him play guitar, read everything he writes and be an open ear. If i could talk to my mother 20 years ago using the knowledge i have today, that’s exactly what I’d have said.


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