Sorry guys, but it’s gonna get a tad bit heavy in today’s post. I hate to do that to you all on a Monday, but it is what it is. A few months ago I shared that I was cutting back on blogging for a bit because I was dealing with depression. It was a bit of a downer, and, to be honest, it was embarrassing and terrifying to share. I don’t regret sharing, but I figured considering I received a wonderful amount of texts and emails from wonderful readers, I owed it to you all for an update.
What I was experiencing
I don’t really want to share a bunch of details about what I sharing, but I think it’s important to give a perspective of what it was like to experience, both for people who don’t understand and for people who are going through it. I think the most important thing to realize with depression is there is no standard “look” of depression. Yes, there are warning signs, but you can’t just look at a person and know. You also can’t discount a person because of how they look. The only person who knew I was depressed was Carl, and that’s because he’s around me all the time. Even in my lowest mood, I could crack a joke like the best of them. Robin Williams is an unfortunate example of this. Humor cannot discount the seriousness of one’s depression.
Carl knew before I was that I was dealing with depression that needed help. Daily tasks were getting harder and harder to do. Little to nothing could send me into the weepiest puddle of a person. My enjoyment and desire to actually do well at work disappeared. My typical “I’m gonna rule the world” ambition was nowhere to be found. The scariest development was the daily suicidal thoughts. I could drive down the road on the normallist of days and out of nowhere think I should just drive my car into a tree. Fortunately the thought process I possess prevented me from every considering doing that for a second. The biggest confirmation of my depression was knowing in my mind I had absolutely nothing the be upset about. I have the most wonderful and supportive husband, I have a job that I could not love more and I’m living in a beautiful apartment with no financial concerns. We had found so much success over our years of trouble, and now that we got there I couldn’t be happy. That’s when I knew I needed real help to get back to my normal self.
What I was concerned about
My desire to get back to normal motivated me to get help without hesitation, but I completely understand a person’s fear of doing so. My first concern was I did’t want to have to talk about my feelings. I like my privacy. I also did not have any emotional concerns. I was worried about having to sit on a couch and talk to something about how I felt about different things.
I was afraid of people knowing and trying to comfort me. I consider myself a badass beast. I don’t want pity and I don’t want people to feel sorry for me. I’m a strong person. The thought of a person thinking I was weak really actually bothers me. I would never want someone to feel like they need to walk on eggshells around me because they think I can’t handle something. I know putting out a blog post declaring my depression isn’t the best way to keep it a secret, but I think it was important. Part of me wanted understanding for needing time alone or absent for a bit, and another part of me wanted people to know that a person can still act normal and positive and still be depressed.
What getting help was like
I called and made an appointment with a family practice doctor. On the phone with the nurse making the appointment, all I had to say was I wanted an appointment to discuss treatment for depression and the appointment was made. I didn’t have to pour my soul to the nurse to get an appointment. I was a new patient so I had to wait nearly a month for the earliest appointment. Assuming you aren’t a new patient, you won’t have to wait nearly as long to see your doctor.
The appointment went just like any other. I waited in the waiting room longer than I wanted and the nurse took my blood pressure etc. When the doctor came in he did a little bit of small talk then got down to business. He asked why I was concerned I was depressed. I told him about my irrational mood swings, lack of interest in my regular/favorite activities, and suicidal thoughts. He asked if there was anything going on my life that was upsetting me emotionally. I said I had a great husband, job, and family and no reason to be having any problems. He also asked if I had put any thought or planning into the suicidal thoughts I was having and I told him I hadn’t.
He determined my depression was not a result of struggles in my life and recommended a prescription. He ordered blood work to make sure there were no issues to be concerned about and informed me about the medication. He told me about any side effects I might experience and what to do if I experience them. He also told me how long it would take to see change. It would take up to four weeks to notice a change, but others might notice I’m different at two to three weeks. After all questions were answered, an appointment was made to follow up a month later.
How things are now
After a month, I didn’t experience much change. My doctor upped my dosage since I wasn’t experiencing any side effects. Since then I’m back to my normal self. I don’t feel medicated and I don’t act any different. My medicine doesn’t make me feel like a unicorn riding over a rainbow, it’s not magic. I’m just back to having the motivation to live life like I used to. My old habits are back to being enjoyable and I’m no longer experiencing any crazy mood swings. The only thing to keep in mind with my medicine is I am advised to not get pregnant while taking it. Once Carl and I are ready for babies, I just have to inform my doctor once we’re ready and he’ll direct me on how to stop the medication.
Getting help doesn’t have to be public
If I hadn’t of posted a blog post about my depression, the only people that would have known would be Carl and my doctors. Being diagnosed with depression doesn’t have to be a huge public ordeal.
You don’t have to discuss it with everyone
I did get a few messages from friends and readers when I shared that I was dealing with depression. Pretty much every message was the same, the person shared their experience with depression and offered help/listening ear should I ever need it. If I didn’t speak about depression again, they didn’t bring it up. My boss read my blog, so she obviously knows what was going on, but she never had an awkward “so how are you doing,” chat with me. (Btw, thanks for that.) Don’t be afraid to get help because you think it will turn into a huge public event.
People won’t look at you differently
I don’t get weird looks from my friends because they know I’m on antidepressants. To honest, sharing my story opened my eyes to the fact many people I know are currently or have been on some sort of treatment for depression. Life is hard, being an adult is crazy stressful, nobody will look at you differently for needing help.
Depression is a serious problem and I’m lucky I sought help very early on. If you feel as though you are depressed, call you doctor and make an appointment. At the very least tell someone you spend a lot of time with. The biggest thing to take away from this post is, know that getting help doesn’t have to be scary or overwhelming.
- National Institute for Mental Health
- American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
- Suicide hotline: 1-800-273-TALK