My Journey with Depression

This is a post that I’ve been wanting to write for a few weeks now, ever since an acquaintance’s teenage son killed himself. Now Robin William’s suicide has kicked me into gear. I do realise that this isn’t what anyone is looking for when they visit a sewing blog, but the topic is something that no one should ignore.

 

First, I’d like to tell you about my own history with depression. For most people who know me, this will be the first I’ve talked about it. Depression is thought of as a shameful thing. It’s something people tell you that you can just get over. Cheer up. Smile. It’ll get better.

I have dealt with depression for my entire adult life. I can’t remember when I first started crying in my room for no reason, or wanting to scream and throw things just to feel better. I was probably 14. I can remember staring out of my second floor bedroom window, wondering if a jump would kill me or just make things worse. I remember sawing at my wrists with a dull pocket knife, not wanting to actually kill myself, but wishing I could leave a mark bad enough to get noticed. I never had an actual cry for help attempt. I was too ashamed to even admit my pain in that way.
Even so, my parents knew something was wrong. My mom would tell me that suicide was “a permanent solution to a temporary problem.” But the thing is, depression was the problem. It wasn’t a boy, or school, or my friends. It was an actual illness. Something about my brain that just didn’t work right. I wanted to see a doctor. But I never did. My parents tried to get me to talk to a church elder, but I felt insulted by that suggestion. I felt that they didn’t care enough to send me to a professional. I remember one day, when they arranged to have someone from church  come over, I locked myself in the bathroom and refused to come out til he left.

Time passed, and I found myself married, with two kids. That’s when I finally got help. I don’t know if it was post partum depression, the depression I had always struggled with, or a combination of the two. But I could not function anymore. I was a stay-at-home mom, unable to stop crying to feed my kids. My daughter would find me on the kitchen, bawling because I was unable to keep up with the demands my children placed on me.  I don’t know whose idea it was, mine, my husband’s, or my wonderful community of internet moms, but I finally made the call and saw my doctor. I knew I wouldn’t be able to speak, once the questions started, so I wrote down all of my symptoms. My doctor assured me that my problem was common, and nothing to be ashamed of. We discussed my options and I was started on Zoloft, with some Xanax for good measure. I started the meds that day, worried that somehow people would know by my behaviour that I was on drugs for a mental illness. I thought I’d act loopy or uncharacteristically happy.

I didn’t turn into a candy coated laugh machine, of course. But I got better. My bad days were fewer, and further apart. I still had them, of course, and I had my medicine upped a few times, and switched once (THAT was a fiasco). I’m lucky that I found a simple treatment. I still have my bad days, but everyone does. There’s usually a reason now.

 

My story is so common. So many people that you think have great lives and no reason to be sad share my story. But you never hear them say anything. There is still such a stigma around mental illness. I still have days where I hate taking my medicine because I feel like I’m hiding a part of me. But I realize that that part could have killed me. I wish I hadn’t waited so long.

 

If you are suffering, please, please, get help. Ask a friend to help you make an appointment with your doctor. Be accountable to someone. I had to tell people to make me call, then make sure I went to the appointment. Write down how you’re feeling for your doctor or therapist. Talk to someone. If you don’t think you have anyone, talk to me. I’ll help you.

If you think someone you know is suffering offer help. Ask them what they need. Don’t tell them to cheer up, it’ll get better, you have so much to be thankful for. They’ve already told themselves. Don’t tell them God has a plan. Help them.

If you have kids, please talk to them before you need to. The depression talk should be as prevalent as the sex and drugs talks. Talk to them and let them know you are there for them and you will help them without judgement. This is what I want you to take away from this post the most. Talk to your kids about depression. Let them know it’s not their fault and you will help them, no matter what.

The stigma needs to end. I’d like to encourage you to share  your stories as well.

 

My name is Melissa, and I have chronic depression.

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13 Comments

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13 responses to “My Journey with Depression

  1. Thank you for being honest and open about that part of you. We love ALL of you. And thanks for the reminder to talk to our children. This needs to be as okay to talk about and have as every other disease. Thank you. :)

  2. camille

    Thank you so much for sharing your story I know it’s not easy to speak up! I have family members who have severe depression and I think you’re right, it’s hard for somebody who doesn’t have depression to understand.

    One of my sisters is a therapist and talking about depression and anxiety is a weekly (if not daily) occurrence. Depression isn’t shameful but it can be hard to convince yourself of that, especially when no one talks about it openly. I have taken medication for my anxiety for over a year now and I know it helps me every day. It was so painful to get to the point where I could ask for help but I am so thankful that I did.

    You are not alone in your struggle, there are so many people who suffer quietly. I appreciate you taking the first step and letting others in. Hopefully others will be able to share their stories too.

    So many hugs!!!

  3. mom

    I am so proud of you. I love you and feel bad that I didn’t see this when you were younger. And thankful that you got help. I am not sure If could have lived with out you. I wish I would have know more about the illness when you were younger. I love you.

  4. You are a brave woman. I hope all the people that are sharing their stories today have an impact on everyone that feels alone.

  5. Jenna

    I know we’re not super close, but you are my friend, I love you, and I’m glad you’re here.

  6. Thanks for sharing and talking about your journey. The more we talk about it, the more aware we can all be.

  7. rachael {imagine gnats}

    thank you and I love you :) I’m glad to know you and glad that we can talk about this and be there for each other and I hope that we can encourage people to talk and to get help and to reach out. XO

  8. Hugs! I’ve been there. It’s such a hard road but, I’m happy that you’ve found your way to help. XO Latifah

  9. You are so beautiful — inside and out. Thank you for sharing this. I’m so glad to know you and call you a friend. xo

  10. What a wonderfully brave and honest post. Good for you, Melissa. This is yet another step that will help you feel better… I hope! Robin William’s death hit me hard as well, as I can relate to everything you say here. Thank you for sharing your story. It will help you. It will help others.

    PS – I think your Twitter account may have been hacked!

  11. my name is Wendy and I have chronic depression. I first saw a doctor 18 months ago and just last month they finally found a med that works. I feel like I’ve got my life back but also so sad that I’ve basically lost the last few years of my life (I barely remember them, just a sad foggy haze of a nightmare). Thank you for posting about this, you’re right, it is SO important. Depression is so stigmatised and still so misunderstood.

  12. Bev

    Brave lady! Thank you for your honesty and sincerity. This is a topic too often hidden.

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