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 :).

Happy Friday!

 

Questions:

Do you ever believe any of the depression/mental illness myths?

Have you, or someone close to, battled depression?

 

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About In Sweetness and In Health

I'm Lindsay! I'm a 23 year-old graduate student in occupational therapy. I love all things health and fitness related and this blog will document my life as I learn to really love myself, try to stop worrying so much about my body, and truly take advantage of all the sweet things that life offers us.

Posted on July 22, 2011, in About Me, Health, Mind. Bookmark the permalink. 33 Comments.

  1. Since I have dealt with depression type feelings in my past, I certainly know its not something you can just snap out of. Even now I have struggles and funks that I can’t just break free of even though I recognize they are there. Thank you for sharing so openly!!!

  2. You are brave and awesome. Thanks for sharing! Depression, anxiety, and other mental illnesses are so often scoffed aside, ESPECIALLY if you are a woman. Not everything can be “snapped out of” or attributed to a hormonal cycle, and hopefully more and more people will educate themselves about that fact.

  3. Hey Lindsay, thank you for sharing and being so transparent and honest. As a school psychologist, I have some background in understanding mental illness (although not nearly as much as a clinical or counseling psychologist has!). I absolutely believe it’s real, and I absolutely believe that it can be helped through medicine, counseling, or a combination of both.

    I’ve dealt with anxiety in my life (although I’ve never been diagnosed), and it’s hard when people just want to write off how you are feeling. I will say that since I’ve become stronger in my faith, I’ve seen a huge improvement in my anxiety level. But that’s just one thing that’s helped me. I’m not saying that anxiety and depression are not real issues, because they absolutely are!!

    Again, thank you for your honesty! I’m happy to hear that you are doing so much better now!

  4. Great post! Depression is not something you can just snap out of and it’s not your fault. I hate that society makes us feel bad about ourselves for taking meds to get help. Good for you for taking care of yourself.

  5. if we could snap out of depression, it wouldn’t really be depression right? Just a moment of sadness. I cannot thank you enough for sharing this Linds. We all need to take care of ourselves, and admitting we need help is hard. I commend you friend.

  6. I’ve dealt with minor depression and was scared to talk about it outside a therapists office–you are very brave for posting about it!!! I’m glad your doing well!

  7. Thank you for sharing this Lindsay! A very important topic indeed and actually one I plan to discuss on my blog as well. So look for that one soon haha
    You are so right, it is often seen as a shameful thing, but it really is not of course. Severe Depression caused a serious family issue and tragedy so I take this subject quite seriously, as I suffer with it too.
    Thank you for your honesty

  8. I went through a rough time last summer, and ended up utilizing the free counseling my school offered. I wasn’t clinically depressed, but the therapy really helped me get through the tough time. I used up all my free sessions, but when I get my new health insurance I plan on starting up again. Thanks for sharing this, it’s definitely something people shy away from talking about, but it’s definitely an important topic that needs to be discussed!

  9. You are very brave for sharing this! I have heard Rosie O’Donnell talk about her depression many times- she said that she’ll be on medication for the rest of her life, and she just had to accept that. I also learned in psychology that many diagnosed with depression do in fact have a chemical imbalance in their brain, and the only way to feel better is with medication.I’m glad you didn’t stay with your high school boyfriend, who told you to just snap out of it!

  10. Thank you so much for sharing! I actually really needed to read this because my sister is bipolar. My parents are always telling me similar things because sometimes I just don’t understand why she acts the ways she does…You are very brave for sharing!

  11. You are so brave for sharing your story & letting people know the truth about depression.

    I’ve never really struggled with depression myself, beyond brief periods of funks, etc, but my dad is clinically depressed due to health problems and I love, love, love his medication for making him back into the man he used to be, if that makes sense.

  12. I’ve done a lot of posts on depression and dealing with my various mood disorders. i suffered from depression most of my life..especially in my teenage years. after trying different supplements and diets etc. i realized my depression was clinical and chemical…and antidepressants were a saving grace in all that. at first i didn’t want to take any drugs but when i realized chemical depression couldn’t be ‘willed’ or ‘talked’ or ‘counseled’ away… i had no other choice.

    really loved reading this post and being able to relate. XOXO ❤

  13. Great post! Way to be open about things–I really like the myth part!

    It bothers me when people just flippantly say “Oh, I’m so depressed.” …No. They might not be. Depression is a mental illness (as you pointed out), not just a feeling of sadness. I hate that people can’t get that through their heads. I feel like they need to take a Psychology class to be able to differentiate and stop just calling themselves depressed every time something sad happens to them. 😦 Thanks for sharing the truth, and your story!

  14. Oh Linds, I can definitely relate. So frustrating when people don’t get it! 😦 For me, the biggest thing has been acknowledging my depressed feelings and then taking steps to deal with them so that I can be a healthy, happy, productive individual. While I don’t take a regular anti-depressant, I do take anti-anxiety meds on occasion and recently started the supplement SAM-E. Have you heard of it? I choose not to take anti-depressants because of some other medical history, but I certainly believe that you have to do what works for you. I would NEVER tell someone that they were dealing with their depression in the wrong way or that it wasn’t real. And that guy? Jerkface. I’m glad you got rid of him! The right guy will love you and support you no matter what.

    I think you’re fantastic no matter what! XO 😀

  15. BEAUTIFUL POST. Thank you so much for opening up and sharing this with us. You are so right, I don’t think people understand mental illnesses and there really is such a stigma, it is not something you can CHOOSE to snap out of. I am so so happy that your mom reacted to well and that you were able to get the help. I have always wondered about that antidepressant myth…thank you for answering it. LOVE YOU!!

  16. This was a fantastic post. I was diagnosed with acute depression (brought on by one particular event) 3 years ago, but it has manifested itself for a longer time. Your honesty and examination of the topic is helpful and refreshing!!

  17. Great post Lindsay. Your honesty is one of the reasons I love your blog!!

  18. This is an excellent post, there is no shame in having a mental illness and I think it’s great that you shared your experience with us. That’s so great that you were able to talk to your mom, and that she had such a suitable reaction 🙂

  19. Aw, this was a great post, and definitely eye opening for those who do not suffer with depression (and maybe many who do as well). I am glad that you are in a good place now!

    I haven’t personally been depressed, but it is very heavily in my family. My dad is bipolar, and my mom has suffered on and off with depression since their divorce. I think it’s an extremely hard to understand unless you are depressed yourself, because it’s difficult for someone to feel it if they haven’t experienced it. But it is so common, and great for people to know they are not alone!

  20. sara @ the foodie diaries

    You are seriously SO BRAVE for posting this. One of my closest friends suffers from depression, and anyone who doesn’t acknowledge that it’s a real illness is ignorant.

  21. You go girl!! It’s awesome that you shared so openly about your personal struggles. I was doing some stuff on my own blog and wondered off to everyone else’s blog (you know how it is :)),when I ran across yours. I LOVE IT!!

  22. Thanks for being brave in posting this! You aren’t alone! I have TOTALLY been there for most of my life. I guess it kinda runs in my family, which makes it more challenging to stay positive. I don’t ever think I’m going to be one of those super perky people, that’s not who I am. Finding contentment is a process

  23. Great (and VERY interesting) post, Lindsay! Sorry I’m a few days late, I was off the face of the earth (aka no computer) this weekend but happy to come back to some intense posts!

    As a friend of three folks who have battled depression or other intense mood disorders for a long time, I have watched firsthand the frustration that stems from folks telling them to “just snap out of it” and I think it’s important to realize that, given the choice, they obviously wouldn’t want to feel the way they do about their lives.

    Glad you posted this, glad you’re not currently upset, and glad to continue reading about your life, which always makes me smile!!

  24. This is so amazing, honey! One of my closest friends went on something similar to antidepressants for anxiety, and I have to admit that at first, I thought it was going to change her personality. Instead, it made her even more HER, and that’s beautiful! She feels significantly better, too. I couldn’t be happier for her. I commend you for taking charge of your health and sharing this with everyone!

  25. I totally missed this post – but I’m so glad you linked up to it today (happy blogiversary, btw!) I’m in the mental health field and you’re so right – people just want you to “snap out of it.” Um, would you say to a person with Crohn’s, “snap out of it!” No – never. It’s just as impossible to “shake” a mental illness as it would be to shake a physical one. I’m so glad you pointed that out!

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