Lately I’ve been noticing more and more discussion about depression. What once was the ominous elephant in the room is no longer a taboo topic to discuss.
Depression affects so many more people than you might realize. I’m not going to bombard you with stats and charts and shit, I just want to have an honest conversation about how depression affects me, and hopefully help open the conversation up for you if you’re struggling.
If you had to label it, you could classify me as having high functioning depression. I don’t even know if that’s actually a thing, but it describes what I deal with in a day to day basis fairly accurately.
The overwhelming feelings of hopelessness and sadness hit me out of the blue and are often followed by a mild anxiety attack. It’s distressing and sometimes crippling & I wouldn’t wish it on anybody. I can usually breathe my way through it and plaster a smile on my face for the world to see that all is right in order to get on with my day. Heaven forbid a person show weakness.
As the years went on, I started realizing that I wasn’t who I used to be emotionally, physically and mentally. I had experienced a loss that was unexpected and I didn’t know how to cope. So instead of seeking help, I buried my emotions. For a long time I refused to believe that this cloud was something I couldn’t overcome myself. I scoffed when it was suggested that I speak to a counsellor, declared that I was stronger willed than any drug that was out there & just acted flat out stupid.
One day, while driving, I had the mother of all anxiety attacks. Pulling over to avoid colliding with anyone I started sobbing, realizing then that I needed help. I could no longer act like this was nothing, that I could hide what was happening with a smile, a joke & a smattering of sarcasm. After visiting my family doctor, I was referred to a psychiatrist, who prescribed me an anti depressant and sleep aid. I was so incredibly ashamed of having to take “drugs” to feel better. Other than a couple of close friends knowing, it was an otherwise deeply guarded secret. Seeing a counsellor on a weekly basis was the next step, but also another thing I was ashamed of. Why do I need to talk to a stranger about how I’m feeling? That’s what I had friends and family for. I’m fairly certain the first words that came out of my mouth were “I don’t even know why I’m here, I don’t need this.”
I was a real peach I tell ya.
But you know what? It worked. Talking worked. Taking my medication regularly worked. Opening up to my friends and family worked. All those things I scoffed and judged others for, were working for me. ME! The girl who swore she was strong enough mentally to overcome every obstacle thrown at her. That girl was dishing herself the largest piece of humble pie. No joke.
The stigma that surrounds depression & mental health is crushing. We shouldn’t be made to feel inadequate because we feel differently or can’t harness how we feel. We should be talking about it, showing support and compassion. It should be an open conversation we have with our kids, our siblings, our friends, or acquaintances. A conversation that lets them know that there is hope, there is light & there is always, always support. Today, I know what to do to keep from falling into a deeply depressed state. I’m fortunate that I have that choice, not everybody does. Compared to others, my depression is mild. It’s manageable. I know that if I keep myself busy doing the things I love, I can keep it at bay. I’m able to catch myself when I feel that sense of hopeless foreboding creep up on me & I’ve found ways to keep it from consuming me. The tunnel that was endless, now has light at the end of it.
After I wrote about Haylee last fall, a good friend sent me a quote & it’s really resonated with me.
Living with depression is my fall. The fall that fortunately, I can pick myself up from to continue my journey to wonderland. And If continue to fall, I know that I have an incredible support system around to help pick me up.
Each day we interact with people, people who are struggling inside and battling their inner demons just to make it through the day. People who are so accustomed to hiding their struggles behind a cheery smile & upbeat hello. Be kind. Your compassion may be what gets that one person through their next day.
As a bonus for making it through my ramblings I’m offering this free printable to remind you to keep fighting. Keep climbing. You’ll find your wonderland.