Stop the silence. Being open about depression is the only way to conquer it.

It has been a rough week. Someone very dear to me, somebody I have known for more than a decade and love deeply, has just acknowledged to herself, and to me, that she is suffering from depression. She has been living with sadness in her heart for a while now, but was too ashamed to admit it less she be painted with that dreaded ‘mental illness’ brush. That was until she began to experience symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder brought on by a recent trauma. While the pain she has suffered as a result of this trauma breaks my heart, I take comfort in the fact that it has prompted her to seek help. Still, I wonder, why must we wait until we feel completely broken before deeming ourselves worthy of joy?

Despite the prevalence of depression, denial still prevails.

And so it is that I find myself wanting to add my story to the millions of others out there. Every story is different. If just one person recognizes himself or herself in my story and is inspired to seek help, I will be glad I took the time to share my experience.

This is my story.

I have shed a lot of tears over the years. And by a lot, I mean rivers. But then, don’t we all cry? Crying is healthy, we’re told. It releases our negative emotions. But what about when we can’t identify the source of these emotions? When there’s no cause for grief, no ongoing crisis? When life appears to be tickety-boo, all ducks in a row, relationships happy, health good, friends plenty? Through good times and bad, I cried at least once every 2 or 3 days until my mid-40s, when I finally raised the issue with my doctor. With no hesitation, she handed me a prescription for anti-depressants and then my life began to turn around.

Until that doctor’s visit, I had never considered that I might be depressed. Looking back, it is hard to believe that I didn’t see it and that nobody around me ever raised it. In fact, there are people close to me who still try to tell me I wasn’t suffering from depression, despite my excess tears and despite what I’m about to tell you.

When I was 16, I took an overdose. When I told my friends about it, we laughed together at my suicide fail; I had taken 32 iron supplements. I got a tummy ache and resumed life the next day. Nobody, including me, took it seriously. When I was 18, I did it again, but this time I consumed an entire bottle of paracetamol. I lay in bed and waited for IT to happen but the pain was too much. I woke my parents up and told them what I’d done.

Before I knew it, I was in the car with my father, racing through North London’s sleepy streets. He approached the hospital with such fury, his tires set off the automatic doors. He stood beside me while they pumped my stomach. I stayed for a night, went home the next day, and shortly after began to see a therapist.

The therapist wanted to talk about my early childhood, about losing my birth mom at the age of four and the giant hole that must have remained after she died. I couldn’t relate. I remember sitting there thinking, “in a minute you’re going to ask me what I’m thinking about and I’m going to have nothing to say.” Over time, I stopped going. Life continued. Nobody said the word ‘depression.’ No more suicide attempts but still plenty of tears. I was labelled “oversensitive,” by people close to me, and I guess that over time I just came to believe that’s what I was. A needy, oversensitive drain on everyone around me, despite my capacity to also be the life of the party. That’s how I lived my life for close to three decades.

I might have identified depression sooner if it weren’t for the stigma.

After giving birth to my daughter, I found myself struggling from the post-baby blues. My newborn had colic. I was overwhelmed and I wasn’t coping. I discussed it with my doctor and she gave me a prescription for postpartum depression. I didn’t end up exchanging the prescription for pills. Still, soon after, when attempting to purchase disability insurance, my application was denied because the prescription she had given me came up in my medical history. In the 10 or so years that followed, I sometimes thought about seeking help again but didn’t. I was afraid to tell my doctor because I didn’t want any further strikes on my mental health record. And then I finally said ‘fuck it.’

At the time, I was actually in a pretty good place. At least, it looked that way on my Facebook profile. About a year after separating from my husband, my daughter and I had moved from a large house in the suburbs to a cosy condo in a vibrant part of Toronto. I was making a decent living as a copywriter in an uptown agency. I was in a long-distance relationship with a man I adored (now my husband) and making frequent weekend visits to New York where he was then living. But still, the crying continued.

Frustrated with feeling sadness despite the blessings in my life, I abandoned my concerns about being branded unstable. The chances of me ever having to make an insurance claim were slim. Meanwhile, the chances of me waking up to joy two days in a row were zero. It was time to take action based on the here and now, not on the ‘what if someone denies me insurance again in the future.’ And so I went back to see my doctor.

I wasn’t looking for anti-depressants. I was simply looking for help.

My doctor and I talked for a while. I told her about my relentless tears and about the sadness that persisted despite the positive things that were happening in my life. I told her that I didn’t think I was depressed, despite her having checked all the boxes. “Yes, I feel all of those things but I’m still able to function on a day-to-day basis,” I said. She responded by telling me that functioning isn’t enough; that life is about feeling joy, too. I left with a prescription for anti-depressants in-hand.

Side note: I should clarify that my doctor didn’t prescribe medication flippantly. She was aware that I had tried, through various means, to overcome my sadness. Over the years, I had attended therapy, worked with a life coach, read numerous self-help books, and practiced yoga, but I had never been able to shake it.

Despite being told that anti-depressants can take two or so weeks to kick in, I felt the cloud begin to lift within hours of taking my first pill. I don’t want to set false expectations. I was extremely lucky that those prescribed to me were such a perfect match, and that I didn’t have to try multiple drugs or suffer through any unpleasant side effects. That said, if I’d had to experiment with six drugs for six months to get where I am today, it would have been worth it.

Yes, I still cry, but never without tangible cause. I wake up every day with hope and gratitude for all I have. I am not oversensitive. I am just sensitive, plain and simple, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I walk the same beach every day, and every day the view opens up my heart to possibility. I am happy. I am hopeful. I am human.

Please, if you are feeling overwhelmed by sadness, seek help.

When I say ‘seek help,’ I don’t simply mean talk to a friend. Yes, share your feelings with others, seek comfort in your friends and family, but understand they may not be qualified to truly understand what’s going on inside you. I have always been loved, but even those with my greatest interests at heart were unable to comprehend my struggle, despite my suicide attempts, my perpetually broken heart, and my endless tear-stained phone calls.

Do not wait until you are completely broken. With help, you can turn your sadness around. Joy is yours for the taking.

 

By | 2017-09-16T17:31:39+00:00 August 19th, 2017|36 Comments

36 Comments

  1. Rose August 20, 2017 at 10:15 pm - Reply

    I’m so saddened when I read these posts because I know how rough it is for people to open up and trust others to help them. I am however always glad to read a post like this and hope others that need it read it.

    • THE WORDY MOM August 21, 2017 at 1:21 pm - Reply

      Thanks Rose. Sorry to be a downer, but take note that this post contains two very positive stories. I am living a very happy and fulfilled life, and the friend in question is now taking steps to do the same. I do hope people will consider sharing my post though, so that we can reach those standing on the fence, not quite ready to take that step towards happiness.

  2. Jordyn Galan August 21, 2017 at 12:06 am - Reply

    That’s awesome you got help! Good for you! That’s the hardest part for some people.

    • THE WORDY MOM August 21, 2017 at 1:18 pm - Reply

      I think it’s the hardest part for everyone, Jordyn, but I’m so glad I did. I don’t think anybody ever regrets getting support for depression.

  3. Camila August 21, 2017 at 9:15 am - Reply

    You are inspiring.

    • THE WORDY MOM August 21, 2017 at 1:17 pm - Reply

      Thank you, Camila. Like I said, if I can inspire just one person to seek support, I will be glad to have shared.

  4. ChristineSaltyMama August 21, 2017 at 9:20 am - Reply

    <3

    Thank you for sharing.

    • THE WORDY MOM August 21, 2017 at 1:16 pm - Reply

      Thank you for stopping by.

  5. Simon Manuel August 21, 2017 at 9:52 am - Reply

    So grateful and thankful that you could share this so openly! I had written about depression recently and laid emphasis on speaking up.But as you say, it isn’t enough. Friends and family aren’t qualified to help enough! Thank you for sharing!

    • THE WORDY MOM August 21, 2017 at 1:15 pm - Reply

      Simon, I read your post. I am just so glad you’ve found support and wish you joy x

  6. Cher August 21, 2017 at 11:43 am - Reply

    I absolutely love this post!!! First I want to thank you for your transparency. I know that was hard!!! Depression is hidden in so many because people have trust issues or insecurities that cause them to lack communication skills or just the desire to share with others. My husband is depressed, he doesn’t want to admit it. I encourage him to see someone but he isn’t fully honest with the therapist so it isn’t doing what it could do for him. I may share your story with him. As a round about way to get him the help he needs. Thank you so much!!

    • THE WORDY MOM August 21, 2017 at 1:09 pm - Reply

      Cher, I’m messaging you to share a snippet that may encourage him – one I’m not sharing in this post in order respect somebody’s privacy.

  7. Kinshoo Agrawal August 22, 2017 at 3:45 pm - Reply

    I agree with the words: ” if you are feeling overwhelmed by sadness, seek help”. That is a fact we sometimes fail to understand.

    • THE WORDY MOM August 23, 2017 at 7:53 am - Reply

      Spread the word!

  8. Ashley August 22, 2017 at 4:14 pm - Reply

    I’m so happy that you were able to overcome the depression. It’s a hard thing to admit that you have it but it’s important that you do so, that you don’t let it take over your life.

    • THE WORDY MOM August 23, 2017 at 7:53 am - Reply

      There is ALWAYS a way out. And you’re right. It’s hard, and in a way I think it’s almost harder for those suffering mildly to address it as it’s so much trickier to identify. Like me, you just think, ‘I’m functioning. I enjoy a good laugh.’ And that’s what others see, too. But JOY! We need JOY PEOPLE!

  9. Jordan | Read. Eat. Repeat. August 22, 2017 at 8:10 pm - Reply

    I’m so glad you were finally able to get help and are living a happy hopeful life now! What an inspirational story.

    • THE WORDY MOM August 23, 2017 at 7:50 am - Reply

      A VERY happy hopeful life. Thanks, Jordan : )

  10. Chelsea Padgett August 23, 2017 at 1:51 am - Reply

    I’m so sorry for your struggle. Depression runs in my family so it’s something I grew up around and I make sure to check in with myself every year or so. It’s so important to talk about, it’s more common than many think and looks very different than in the movies.

    • THE WORDY MOM August 23, 2017 at 7:50 am - Reply

      Thanks for sharing Chelsea. You’re right about the movies. I think many people think you have to be catatonic in order to be depressed. Not the case. So good that you’re checking in on yourself x

  11. dilraz August 23, 2017 at 3:23 am - Reply

    Needing help is not being crazy, and our society has a long way to go in accepting that. Good on you momma! And I truly hope you find joy and peace and also hope others reading your post get inspired to analyze their lives for themselves. Help is available, but we need to ask!

    • THE WORDY MOM August 23, 2017 at 7:45 am - Reply

      You’re so right. And thank you. I’m not looking for a joyful, happy life. I’m thankfully living one aleady. I guess that’s why I can share this story and urge others to get the help they need.

  12. Funso August 23, 2017 at 10:23 am - Reply

    Thanks for sharing this, it is good when you have family and friends that understand you.

    • THE WORDY MOM August 23, 2017 at 6:21 pm - Reply

      It certainly is. I’m lucky to have both, as well as a wonderful doctor.

  13. Liz August 23, 2017 at 10:08 pm - Reply

    Very brave to tell your story. When we talk we know we are not alone.

    • THE WORDY MOM August 24, 2017 at 8:42 am - Reply

      Thank you Liz x

  14. Julie Torres August 23, 2017 at 11:58 pm - Reply

    This was a great blog! I’m sure someone can relate so much to this post.

    • THE WORDY MOM August 24, 2017 at 8:42 am - Reply

      Thanks, Julie. I’ve had at least a couple of responses that tell me I spoke to them personally, which is enough to make me glad I shared it.

  15. Ramona August 24, 2017 at 7:27 am - Reply

    This is such an inspiring story. Telling your story can help so many people who are struggling in silence. It is so important to have supportive people in your life even if they do not understand depression.

    • THE WORDY MOM August 24, 2017 at 8:41 am - Reply

      You’re right, Ramona. Incredibly important, and I’m incredibly lucky to have such amazing friends and such a supportive family.

  16. cheryl August 24, 2017 at 11:04 am - Reply

    Wow, what a deep and inspirational post. Thank you for sharing. It can really help others who may have been through the same. I am glad to hear that you are happy now.

    • THE WORDY MOM August 24, 2017 at 2:10 pm - Reply

      Thanks, Cheryl, and so happy now. With days every now and then, but hey, that’s life!

  17. Nat Vallejo August 24, 2017 at 4:16 pm - Reply

    Thank you so much for being vulnerable enough to share all this with us. I suffered Post Partum depression after having my son and trust me.. It was so hard. I’m so happy you are doing better as I am too. Never give up and always keep going!!

    • THE WORDY MOM August 24, 2017 at 5:53 pm - Reply

      Hey Nat, I’m sorry that you had that experience. It’s so important for us to understand that there’s no shame in seeking support, as I’m guessing you may have done. Keep on trucking x

  18. Darlene Dee August 24, 2017 at 11:35 pm - Reply

    Thank you so much for sharing your story. It is so important. We should all speak more freely about mental health. And it starts with posts like yours. You are very brave. xo

    • THE WORDY MOM August 25, 2017 at 7:56 am - Reply

      I agree, Darlene. Such an important topic to be open about. Thanks for your kind words.

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