I suffer from depression.
If you met me in real life, you would have a hard time believing that I suffer from depression. I am extremely outgoing, relentlessly positive & freakishly energetic. I am a busy, happy mother of two amazing boys, owner of a successful business, reliable volunteer, master connector and social butterfly. I am the girl who will strike up a conversation with anyone, anywhere and form deep friendships with complete strangers. I am, as the saying goes, the life of the party.
Except when I’m not. Because sometimes . . . Shit gets dark.
We all get sad – when people we love don’t love us back, or when people we love get sick or die. That’s normal. But when things are really good and we’re still sad?
That’s not normal and it’s not good.
My outward positivity is not an act; I really am that vivacious girl you see but I’ve also been the girl who lacks the energy to get out of bed for days. Who can’t stop crying. Who needs help taking care of her kids. I am fortunate to have a very loyal support system that includes my kick ass mom, many dear friends, my ex-husband and my incredible therapist. And for the past 6 years, I relied on anti-depressant and anti-anxiety medication to help me get through each day and have the energy to face the next one.
People tend to get funny (and by “funny” I mean “judgmental”) when you discuss anti-depressants.
Maybe you need to exercise more? Do more yoga?
Have you tried St. John’s Wort?
Yes, yes and Good God yes.
But you also have to recognize and accept that sometimes these things alone may not be enough to help someone who is truly depressed. For me personally, it is a combination of therapy, medication and mindfulness that allows me to be happy and productive and manage my depression.
These days, I would say that I’m the happiest I’ve ever been. I’m excited about the possibility of a new day to enjoy my children, take on a great project, do the things I love and be with people who make me happy. In fact, I’m feeling so content that I have decided to test the waters of a life free of anti-depression meds.
With the assistance of my doctor, therapist, friends and family, I have slowly been weaning myself off of my current medication. We’re aware of the warning signs should my moods start to go sideways and I will not hesitate to go back on medication if I need to. But right now, I want to try to be meds-free. Wish me luck!
A large part of depression for many people can be found in the stigma attached to it. Thanks to the courage of people like Kevin Breel, I’m no longer ashamed of my disease and hope that others find solace in knowing that they’re not alone. And maybe find the courage to say those four words to themselves and to others and do whatever it takes to get well. It will be the best thing you can do for yourself and the people who love you.