I’ve been terrified to share about this part of my life. I’m usually pretty open, but no one would ever tell you they knew I suffered from depression. I have suffered in silence for almost two decades.
I struggle daily with anxiety, irritability, hopelessness, discontent and I cry…a lot. I tend to feel empty and numb a lot of the time; especially in the evenings after long, stressful days where my patience has been tested and I’ve lost my temper with my kids.
I struggle to “snap out of it,” and if I hit a bump in the road during the day, the rest of my day is shot. I feel foggy and lost and the hopelessness easily creeps in.
Let me back up a bit. My whole life I’ve been an overly emotional person. As a child I was quick to temper and would cry at the drop of a hat. I would cry in my room for hours and never understand why I couldn’t get myself together.
In high school I was diagnosed with depression. When you’re 17 years old, you aren’t always super in touch with yourself, and that was definitely me. I thought, “Okay, sounds good. Thanks doc.” It didn’t really hit me what this diagnosis meant for my future. I took a prescription anti-depressant for a little under a year, but I felt better (obviously), so I stopped. Rookie move, I know.
In college I again saw a doctor who prescribed another anti-depressant; again, same result. I felt better so I eventually stopped. Part of this was due to the fact that because I felt happier and less “empty,” I legitimately thought I was fine (why did I never learn?). But it also has to do with the fact that I have a family history of addiction, which had me very concerned with becoming addicted to pills.
I eventually convinced myself that I was just an overly emotional person and I buried this part of my life deep. It wasn’t until last year that I finally decided that I needed to address what I had been hiding from myself, and everyone around me, for all these years.
For most of my early to mid 20s I self-sabotaged. I would sabotage relationships-both romantic and friendships. I made decisions because I thought I didn’t deserve to be happy and loved. I was a terrible friend at times because I didn’t know how to get out of my head and the emptiness always kept me down.
It has taken a lot of self-reflection for me to realize that my actions were related to my depression. I think of all the things I lost during those years; all the activities I didn’t participate in, and all the friendships I missed out on. I feel sad for that girl. She didn’t realize what she was missing.
Last year I started to forget things. I did some research and learned that depression can affect your memory, especially if you’ve been experiencing extreme stress, which I was.
My husband went on a 3-month assignment out of state and the summer was horrendous. My father had just passed away-who was my best friend and confidant- and before I even had time to grieve for him, I was playing the single parent game for the second time in as many years.
My kids were in a tough phase and would fight daily. I lost my temper nearly every day and by the end of the night I found myself in front of the TV just staring off. I had no motivation and my work suffered because of it.
At one point during the summer, I thought my children would be better off if I wasn’t around. I could understand why people committed suicide and found empathy for them. That was the lowest point for me.
There are a variety of reasons why I never talked about my depression. At first it was because I didn’t want to be different. No high school girl wants people to know she is depressed. Not to mention I was involved in a lot of activities during those years and the thought of people watching me, knowing I had a mental disorder made me so terrified.
In my 20s it was because I had buried it so deep that I wouldn’t even acknowledge that I had a mental health condition. I pretended like my diagnosis had never happened. If I didn’t acknowledge it, it wasn’t real, right?
And eventually it was because I worried it would affect my business. Being in the health and wellness field and having a mental illness? I was so worried people would think I was a fraud. How can I help others if I have this condition?
It’s unfortunate that every reason I kept my depression to myself had to do with other people. Even though there is so much information out there on mental illness, it still has a stigma in our society. People think they know what it means to be depressed. They think someone is sad or down, but that they will eventually “come out of it.” Or they think it makes them “different.” That was my biggest concern. I was so terrified that people would look at me differently, that I would lose friends, and that people would feel like they had to tiptoe around me or I may cry.
Something in me last year said that I needed to address this, and I needed people to know. I don’t know if it was hitting my low point, but whatever it was I’m glad I’m sharing my story. I’m glad because if I can help one person who’s struggling, maybe I could inspire them to get help. Maybe my story will help that teenage girl not feel ashamed that she has recently been diagnosed with depression.
I want those like me, who’ve been quiet for so many years, to know they aren’t alone. I want people to feel like they can talk about it and not feel like they are different.
Just because I have been diagnosed with depression does not make me a lesser person than anyone else. It doesn’t mean I’m a bad person, or that I can’t help others. Depression doesn’t make us weird or different. It just means we need a little extra help, and that is okay!
So, what’s next? I’m researching some natural remedies to help me on a daily basis. I still worry about taking prescription medication because of my family history, but if it is necessary, I will work closely with a doctor to find ways to manage my symptoms.
My husband has been so supportive through this whole process and I feel like he better understands me now. If you’ve felt like someone in your life doesn’t understand you, consider talking to them about what it feels like for you. You may find better connection and support you never knew you needed.
Also See – What is Emetophobia