A Little More Serious
Hey guys! Today I have more of a serious post for you, but it’s something I’ve wanted to discuss it for a while.
I have depression.
- No, I am not currently sad or in a depressed state because I have been actively treating my illness ever since I was diagnosed at the age of 17.
- Yes, I take an antidepressant, and I have since I was first diagnosed.
- No, I do not see a therapist and never have. That is a personal preference. I have absolutely nothing against seeking out a psychologist or psychiatrist for talk therapy, but when I was diagnosed that was not a therapy option that alluded to me. If I ever feel the need, I will not hesitate to see a therapist because I do see the value in it.
Ok, I just wanted to get those things out of the way because whenever I tell someone that I have depression those are the things that often come up.
I don’t think that a lot of people understand mental illness, including those of us who have it. There are so many stigmas and myths associated with mental illness that it can be hard to even admit to yourself that you feel “off”.
That was part of my problem when I first started noticing something wasn’t quite right.
I didn’t want to tell anyone that I was extremely unhappy, that nothing interested me anymore, that I was angry and irritable all the time, that I felt like I had no energy to do anything, and that I felt worthless. I mean, seriously, who wants to go up to their parent or friend and be like “Hey! My life sucks right now for no reason…wanna hang out later?”
No, I didn’t want people to think differently of me if I admitted that I felt so horrible. I feared the accusations –
“Why are you unhappy? You have everything going for you!”
“Just snap out of it!”
“Oh, you’ll be fine…that’s ridiculous. It’s probably just your teenage hormones running rampant.”
I also feared the label of being depressed. Who wants that? Especially as a senior in high school where everyone is competing for popularity and judging a human being is the easiest thing in the world.
No thank you.
So I silently suffered for a while. I’m pretty sure people knew that something was wrong, but no one said anything. After a few months I really couldn’t handle it anymore and one day in the car (of all places), I told my mom that I wanted to see the doctor because I thought I was depressed.
She handled it perfectly. At least, perfectly for me. She did not ever throw a judgmental comment in my direction. She simply said, “Okay, we’ll call as soon as we get home.”
Already I felt a huge sense of relief. Seriously, it was great to know that I was no longer alone…that someone knew what I was going through.
To make a long story short, I saw my doctor, talked with her for a while and took some screenings. It was actually kind of funny when she went, “Yep, you’re clinically depressed.” I felt another relief to have the awareness that everything I was feeling was not in fact something I had control over.
We talked about treatment options and I went with the medication route. That was the best option for me at that time. I have been on antidepressants ever since. I’ve tried going off of them because it is possible for medication to restore the brain chemicals to normal, but those attempts have always failed. Thus for now, I will remain on my antidepressants and I have no shame in admitting that.
There are numerous myths about depression, and I think that’s why there is often a stigma associated with it. Part of the reason I want to be open about my having depression and the fact that I do take medication, is I want people to understand this isn’t something that can just be helped and that there is no reason to experience shame or guilt if you have it.
So, I want to address some of these myths and my thoughts on them:
Myth 1: You can “snap out of” depression with positive thinking.
- Um…no you can’t. Sorry, but I just don’t believe this. People do not choose to be clinically depressed. It happens from changes in brain structure or function due to environmental and biological factors.
- Quick story: My boyfriend at the time thought it was “ridiculous” (his words) when I was diagnosed. He told me that he couldn’t understand why I wasn’t just happy with my life, and that he didn’t agree with me trying to get better with meds. I should have known then that we weren’t going to work haha.
Myth 2: Depression only happens when something bad occurs in your life
- Again, I disagree. Nothing bad had occurred in my life when my depression began. I DO think that an event can cause depression, but I don’t think that it is the only cause.
Myth 3: Antidepressants change your personality
- I absolutely do not believe this. My personality is the same as it was before my depressive episode. The only difference that it makes is that I feel NORMAL. I am not some exceedingly happy freak, bouncing around, with rainbows coming out of my ass. I still get sad and down sometimes- but that’s a part of life. I do not however, feel the horrible and low way that I did when I was first diagnosed.
Myth 4: Depression is not a real medical problem
- This is total crap. People need to realize that mental illnesses are as much of a health problem as something like diabetes, heart disease, or asthma. It can have physical and emotional symptoms that make life extremely difficult for a person.
My reason for sharing this today is I want to remind everyone is that it’s okay to have a mental illness, and it’s not okay to think less of someone that does. I also wanted to share my story (albeit not one that is entirely interesting) because I want to reach out to people and let them know that having one is nothing to be embarrassed or ashamed of. I want people to know that depression is real and that it can be treated. I want people to know that you CAN live a normal and happy life.
Thanks for reading everyone! I have a wedding shower to attend tonight, so the next post will be more fun :).
Do you ever believe any of the depression/mental illness myths?
Have you, or someone close to, battled depression?