Its hard to admit weakness…especially to yourself. I am such an independent person that to admit I need help or that I am not 100 % in control is a very hard thing to do. Much of it has to do with perception. So often to admit weakness is to put yourself out there to be ridiculed, bullied or thought inferior. But here it goes….

I suffer with depression and anxiety. I have dealt with this for many years on and off. Much of it is a “situational” depression rather than a true chemical one. It does not mean my life was or is horrible; it just means I let it affect me more than I should.  Medication helps tremendously by helping me to feel more on an “even keel” as I deal with things but sometimes I also feel it dulls the edges of emotion; there are few “high highs” or “low lows”  and I am mostly okay with that.

Its been a long road to get to this point. I was in my late 20s when I first was diagnosed. There was much going on in my life between work, family and life in general. I admitted my ‘sadness’ to a few people but I don’t think they understood the full impact of it; I remember saying that I “felt like I wanted to cry but was afraid if I started I would not be able to stop”. Often their reply was to just go ahead and cry and that I would feel better.  For anyone familiar with depression you know it just doesn’t work that way.

“There is no point treating a depressed person as though she were just feeling sad, saying, ‘There now, hang on, you’ll get over it.’ Sadness is more or less like a head cold- with patience, it passes. Depression is like cancer.”
Barbara Kingsolver, The Bean Trees

I finally made myself seek counseling from an off-campus work related site–I just walked in, not knowing I was supposed to make an appointment but the kind woman saw me immediately and from there it was as if the flood gates opened. I can’t say it made me feel better, perhaps it even made me feel worse for a while. Our initial conversations were filled with my tears and once started I could not seem to stop; once loosened all the thoughts and hurts of the past just seemed to be anxious to display themselves. I was eventually referred to  doctor for possible medication but then found out I was pregnant. Ironically this actually gave me strength; it was now ok to put myself first and concentrate on me for a bit.

Becoming a parent gave me a strong focus outside of myself rather than always having my thoughts being those of introspection.  You are forced to make sure these little beings are also cared for and thriving. For the most part it contained the “blue feelings” and we’ve had many wonderful memories along the way.  I’m not saying you should have children to overcome being depressed because it certainly adds its own stressors, but for me it helped me to decide on what was important and to take medication when exercising alone did not help.

When I think back over the times when I found myself seeking medication to help pull me out of dark periods it is almost always related to something out of my control: a car accident leading to PTSD, Lyme disease that would not abate easily with medication constant migraine like headaches, and Seasonal Affect Disorder (S.A.D.).  These are  “situational” causes of my depression. But I also think that there may be a genetic factor at play as well; although not diagnosed I feel my mom may have had SAD and possible depression as well. I don’t remember her ever being totally depressed but she would always keep herself busy probably so she didn’t have time to think. She also had less “blues” once she moved to Florida.

Fast forward to today, I take Lexapro daily and it does help. No, my world is not all sunshine and roses but it allows me to be calmer and deal with things as they happen.  And the funny thing? I’ve gotten to the point where I am okay taking the medication because I know it helps me to be the best me I can be.  I can share this with others with less and less shielding of myself.  I find the more I share my journey the more I have in common with people I see on a regular basis–they too have been taking medication and suffering quietly, trying to avoid the stigma of having depression. But there is strength in numbers, so to speak, in that we know we are not alone in this very personal journey.