This is an old story and a new one.
The Old Story:
When I was 15 I was diagnosed with severe clinical depression.
I had suffered for years with controlling my emotions and more often than not I felt out of control. I had outbursts. I would make myself physically sick with worry. I even had thoughts about hurting myself. This went on for a while.
As a sophomore in high school, my mother dragged me back into the psychiatrist’s office and we discovered I had been misdiagnosed for 5 years. I was weaned onto two types of medication for severe anxiety and depression, and to balance out the chemicals in my brain.
I saw a counselor once a week and learned that writing poetry, stories and journal-ling helped as an outlet as well as talking about my worries. Over the course of a few months, I got better and life got better.
So much better, in fact, that at 19 I decided to go cold turkey off my meds; something I would NEVER EVER recommend (It’s very dangerous and I regretted going about it that way). I was tired of experiencing withdrawal symptoms whenever I forgot to take my pills or ran out on a family trip. And ultimately, I was scared of being dependent on medication the rest of my life to stay happy.
The New Story:
A year ago a friend mentioned she thought I might be depressed. I laughed at the idea. She didn’t have to worry, I told her, I knew what depression was like and if I ever needed help again I would go get it.
Depression was a heaviness and hopelessness that you carried with you. A frantic feeling that on a particularly bad day use to trigger a craving for the soft green and pink pills I had long ago thrown away. This wasn’t depression, I assured her.
This was me feeling stressed, and tired, and needing time by myself to recharge. This was the cold weather, not taking enough vitamin D this week and getting off work at 3 in the morning. To a large extent this could have been true, now, I wonder if I might have been depressed and just didn’t realize it.
That’s no longer the case. My current state of stress and anxiety is no longer simply side effects from recent events in my life. I can’t excuse them away anymore and I, once again, need professional help. So, I’m getting it.
Sometimes there isn’t a rhyme or a reason. I never thought I’d suffer from depression again. I thought my spirituality, meditation, writing, Pilates and emotional maturity would prevent it from happening again, in many ways they helped, but right now, my tools aren’t cutting it anymore. I need help, as embarrassed and shocked as I am by this, it’s the truth.
I share this with you not for pity or concern but because I think it’s important to let other people know they are not alone. There is nothing shameful about having depression. It’s okay and it’s okay to get help. No one should have to suffer. Life is too short and too precious.
And if you need counseling and medication to pull you out and get back on your feet, you owe it to yourself to do it.
Blessings & Love,
For anyone who needs help or knows someone who does, here’s a good place for resources and help right now: http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/