I first experienced depression during puberty, maybe age 13 or so. It made me unhappy at first; by age 14 I was downright miserable, and by 15 I was suicidal. Not once did I ever think of getting help. Why not? Because, obviously, if I was suicidal, there was something wrong with me. I mean, really, only the hopeless cases get suicidal!
At age 16 1/2 I left for college, still quite depressed. At the highly competitive and very stressful university I attended at first, I failed classes. This did not help.
After I dropped out of that school and got married (age 18), I spent a semester in community college, trying to raise my GPA enough that I could apply to another university. While I was waiting in line to register for classes–it was a long line, and it moved very slowly–I picked up a school newsletter to read. One article was about how to know if you had depression. I looked down at the list of symptoms–they almost all applied–and almost started crying, because suddenly I knew. I was not horribly bad: I was sick.
I wish I could say that I got help right away, but I didn’t. When I went home and told UnlikelyDad, he quickly shut me down: “Nonsense. Everyone gets blue now and then.” And so I didn’t do anything about it. But I knew, and knowledge is a powerful weapon. Over the years I learned things that helped me manage the depression–a healthy diet, exercise, etc. After my second bout with suicidal thoughts, I went to the library and got a book on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, which was very helpful. (By this point, UnlikelyDad was no longer openly against therapy–but he refused to let me have the money to go to therapy, which our insurance didn’t cover, or use of the car to go to therapy.)
Things got better when I got to MyU and could visit the counseling center.
Things got better still after I was diagnosed with PTSD and referred to a trauma specialist who helped me work through the emotions attached to the past abuse.
Things got even better after I went on medication. (One of my initial worries about going on meds is that I would forgot to take them on a regular basis. I have to admit, I still do forget after all of this time–but it’s still a huge help.) I was on Celexa at first; switching to Lexapro got rid of the side effects that made me hate meds in the first place.
Things got even better still after I got a protective order that severely limited UnlikelyDad’s ongoing harassment.
The final piece of the puzzle was a new cognitive behavioral therapy technique that my therapist introduced this summer.
For the first time in…my whole life, maybe?…I feel…normal. I think. Is this what normal feels like?
I wish I hadn’t waited until almost-40 to get help. I wish I could have felt like this in my 20’s. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve accomplished a lot in my lifetime, but I can’t imagine how much more I would have accomplished had I not suffered from depression.
I blog about depression because I want others who suffer from the disease to know that they are not alone.
I blog about depression because I want people to know that there is hope.
I blog about depression because it is treatable. Even if you can’t take meds (I have a friend who’s had bad reactions with all of the meds he’s tried), there are things you can do to ameliorate the symptoms.
I blog about depression because I want others to get help. To everyone who’s out there feeling like you don’t have the mental energy to get out of bed…who feels like you are worse than a lowly worm, because at least worms are good for the soil…who mires in the blackest abyss of depression…THERE IS HOPE. Please, get help.