I want to talk to you about depression. Often times, when someone says they are depressed or suffer from depression, people assume they are dark and gloomy introverts. People might envision a depressed person as one who never leaves their house, curtains drawn, and lights dim at all times. While this might be the case for some, it is not that way for all people who suffer from the disease called depression.
I will be 30 years old in exactly two months and for my entire adult life, I have been severely depressed. I started noticing it when I was in high school but the depression didn’t get worse until my early twenties, maybe 21. Depression, to me, can be described as a deep sadness –a sadness that I can feel hanging on my shoulders like a weighted jacket. When I was younger and single, no children, I remember lying in bed some days, unable to get out of bed because the sadness wouldn’t allow me. I didn’t really consider medicine at the time. I just thought I’d snap out of it eventually, but I didn’t. In fact, it got worse. But I had a job and college to attend so I’d force myself to go and “half-ass” my way around campus while I tried desperately to not be sad. I don’t think that many people knew I was depressed. I’ve always used witty humor to mask the sadness. I mean, let’s be real – no one wants to spend their time with a sad person. So, I’d use humor to pretend. I managed to make it through college, start teaching, get married and have a baby – all while being depressed. I started taking a medication for depression about one month after I got married. I don’t really feel like it ever helped much. It did make me start putting on weight which in turn did not help the depression. When I found out I was pregnant, I had to quit taking the medication so I stopped cold turkey. It was miserable to suddenly stop taking the medicine. I felt extreme withdrawals, my body felt like it was “buzzing” or being shocked. It’s an incredibly weird feeling to describe. I felt it in my fingers, my lips, my toes – like an electric current running through my body. I took nothing for depression my entire pregnancy and the majority of the days I was pregnant, I hated life. I was sad. I didn’t want to be pregnant anymore. I hate to admit any of this but I know that depression is what caused me to feel this way. I never had a day where I didn’t love the life growing inside me, I was just sad and miserable. I gained nearly 100 pounds while pregnant. I had high hopes of losing at least 90 of those before I left the hospital. Obviously that didn’t happen. I’d heard stories of other women walking out in the jeans they wore before getting pregnant. I had to send my husband to the store to buy a much larger size, even larger than what I wore the day I had my daughter. I was so swollen. And again miserable. And sad. And depressed. I had to have my daughter through an emergency c-section. I was in so much pain. My daughter cried all night long. I was the only one who could get up with my daughter because I breast fed her. I felt like all I did was nurse and pump. After about a week, I had lost around 48 pounds and was starting to feel a little better. But the sadness was still there. I didn’t want to get out of bed but I had to because a tiny human was depending on me. The first 5 months of my daughter’s life were so bad for me. The depression was the darkest it had ever been. I had days where the only thing that kept me from driving off the road was the fact that I had my daughter in the car with me and didn’t want to hurt her. There were days when I wanted to run away but I couldn’t. My husband would tell me to snap out of it and to think of happy things. For someone who doesn’t suffer from depression, they have no idea that you can’t just snap out of it. I tried. I tried so hard to be happy. I quit breast feeding when my daughter was around six months old because I just couldn’t handle it anymore. I thought maybe that would help. It didn’t. She is now almost ten months old and the depression is at a point where I know that if I don’t get pharmaceutical help, I will only spiral into an even darker place. I don’t think that many people know that I’m depressed. Maybe three. I don’t talk about it. In fact, most people would NEVER dream that I’m in one of the darkest places I’ve ever been. I joke. I laugh. I go through all the motions that I need to when I’m in a group of people or at work. And that is the most exhausting thing I’ve ever done. I work all day. I’m a mom and a wife at night. Then on top of all that, I have a full time job of pretending to be happy. I’m exhausted at all times.
I’m only sharing this because I know that there are others that suffer from this exact disease but there are also many who do not. My husband is one of those people who has never had a bad day. He does not understand depression and what all it entails. He does his best to help me but he truly does not get it the way that someone who has suffered from depression would understand. I want people to know that I do love my life. I love my daughter and my husband more than anyone else in the world. I love my family and my friends. I love my job. I really do. Depression is just like any other disease, though. I didn’t choose to be depressed just like someone who has cancer didn’t ask to have cancer. I’ve prayed. I’ve begged God to take it away. I do feel like my quiet time with God helps but I’m not afraid to admit that I need to take medicine again. I don’t want anyone to feel ashamed of having to take medication because they suffer from depression. If admitting this helps even one person, I’m ok if everyone else judges me or points fingers. Depression is real. It’s scary. It’s lonely. It’s sad. But it’s not ok to brush it under the rug and hope it goes away. Get help. I am. I’m doing it for my daughter and for my marriage and for my life.