*I’ve written about depression and Mental Illness previously. I continue to speak out about this to help overcome the stigma attached to it. No One Is Immune. Please read. You may just save a life.
There was a time when getting out of bed and facing the day, was my biggest challenge. The effort it took to get dressed and go to work every day was a huge struggle. All I wanted to do was to sleep because when you sleep, you don’t have to face anyone. You don’t have to deal with anyone or anything.
Most days, to cope, you put on your mask to hide the pain you’re going through, and you step out the front door to face the day. You go through the motions that you must to survive. You work, you cook, you eat, you bathe. But that’s ALL you are doing. Surviving.
Depression does that.
On some days, to brush my hair or bathe, was an effort that was insurmountable. So I didn’t. There were times when I slept the clock around, staying in bed as much and as long as I could, just so that I didn’t have to try to act “normal”. I used as many sick days at work as I could get away with so that I didn’t have to leave my house. This severity of depression also leads to agoraphobia.
Depression makes you lose all hope. You feel as if your life is meaningless. I was sad and miserable every single day. I knew in my heart that I had many blessings. I had family & friends that loved me. I had monetary things that made life good. I was fortunate compared to many people. None of that mattered. I found no joy in any of it. I found no joy in anything.
I was in this dark, dismal cave of a life for years.
The thing about depression that most people don’t understand, is that you don’t always KNOW that you’re depressed. You just plod along through the darkness day after day, week after week, not realizing what’s happening to you.
Depression is a thief. Little by little it steals your life. It steals the joy from everything. It steals away your very reason to exist.
This is depression.
It doesn’t matter what social status you have, what gender you are or how much money you have. You can live in a castle or a slum and still have depression.
Some people do not think that Depression is real. They think that you can just “snap out of it”. Some people are frightened, by depression. They think the person is “crazy” if they are depressed.
My doctor described Depression’s effect on people like a complex wiring system that has bad connections. For me, the medication re-routed my wiring system and corrected the problem.
Many people have lost their lives to depression. There is a very long list of people famous and infamous that have committed suicide because of their depression. Did I ever think about suicide? Yes. Did I ever come close to ending my life? Thankfully, no.
One day, I looked around me and the sun seemed brighter. The sky seemed bluer. The colors were all sharper and clearer. I was humming and smiling for no reason.
And just like that, I had made it through. I had gone through hell. I had seen the darkest and lowest part of myself and had come out the other side.
I’m one of the lucky ones. Many don’t make it through. Many people succumb to the darkness and hopelessness of depression.
How did I do it? Why did I come out of my depression? In all honesty, I don’t know. I can guess. But that’s all it is, is a guess. I think there may have been several things that attributed to the end of the darkness.
I think the first and most critical change in my life is the medication that I’m on. My doctor is a Family Doctor with a lot of good Common Sense. I’ve always felt comfortable discussing my depression with her. With her help, I have tried several different medications and I think we came across what happens to work best for me. There can be a real process to find what works best for you and it takes time. Don’t give up if the first thing you try doesn’t work.
The second most critical change in my life is my writing. I’ve written to some degree my whole life. I took that love of writing seriously in 2011. In 2014 I came out of my depression. That year, I had started working on my novel and blogging almost every day.
The one other huge change in my life since 2011 is my dog. I got Rocket in 2013. He is my almost constant companion and best friend. My life would be so empty and lonely if it were not for him. Rocket was a reason to get out of bed. He needed to be fed and walked.
My writing has become a habit. It’s a habit that I still have. Writing, on some days, is the reason I get out of bed. It gives me purpose.
There are so many blessings in my life now. I truly think that my life has gotten better and better because of the end of my depression. I’ve been at my job for seven years and have continued to advance and receive pay raises. I have a nice car and just purchased a home.
I’m not only happy; I’m content.
I don’t know if I’ve EVER been content. I have always felt that I needed someone else to help me feel complete. I think it was a way for me to try and find a way out of the darkness, the depression. I thought that the right person would do this for me.
Not now. I’m very happy just the way I am. I feel stronger and more confident than I have ever been.
If you think a loved one may be depressed, know what to look for. They may sleep more and be more withdrawn than usual. They may not find happiness in things or activities that they used to enjoy. They turn down offers to socialize that they didn’t used to. They may be drinking more or using drugs.
I’m no doctor and no expert on depression, but I think I’ve personally seen the worst of it. Because of this, I think I have some worthwhile advice for anyone that might be suffering from depression or anyone that may have a loved one suffering from depression.
- Talk to someone. A friend, a sibling, your doctor, anyone that will listen. Tell them how you are feeling.
- Have an honest conversation with your doctor. This may be a conversation that is difficult for you, but a good physician will listen.
- Have your doctor check your hormone levels.
- This applies to both men and women! Off balance hormone levels can make you feel like you are losing your mind. They can often mimic symptoms of depression.
- Be open to change. Maybe counseling is the answer for you. Or it may be medication. Possibly a change in medication is the answer. Be open to trying something new if what you’ve done in the past doesn’t work.
- Maybe you need a dog! 😊 Don’t laugh! My little dog gives me a reason to get out of bed every day. He needs to be fed. He needs to be walked. This little guy makes me smile and laugh every single day. He gives love and he’s something for me to give love to.
- If you have a loved one that you worry may be suffering from depression, talk to them. This may be difficult because the last thing a depressed person wants to do is talk about how they are feeling. Be gentle but keep trying. Encourage them to seek help.
- If that loved one comes to you for help, simply being an understanding ear can be a huge comfort.
There are several types of depression. If left unchecked, depression can have serious and lasting consequences. If it doesn’t lead to suicide, it can still do horrendous damage. Do a little research if you see or experience the symptoms. A little understanding goes a long way.
Depression is a sneaky bastard. It creeps into our lives under the radar. It pries open the tiniest of cracks in your veneer and preys on your weakest spots. You will have no idea what’s happening to you until one day you feel like there is nothing worth living for.
There is no one that is immune. Depression can happen to anyone.
The Suicide Prevention Hotline is 1-800-273-8255
Copyright (C) 2018 Penny Wilson