Monday, March 22, 2010

Mar. 21: Thoughts on Depression

I've mentioned a few times on this blog that I've had some serious issues with depression. I wanted to talk about that a little bit, because I realized this weekend that no one knows about depression because no one talks about depression. I know the whole world doesn't read my blog, but if I can spread some understanding among those who do read it I'd like to do that. Further, if I can reinforce the fact that you are not alone if you suffer from depression, I'd like to do that too.

I've had lots of ups and downs in my life, when I look back at my own story. There are so many times when my quality of life could have been improved if only I had known that I am one of the 1-in-6 North Americans that suffer from depression. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, approximately 58 million Americans are living with depression.

It's a slippery slope because it is misunderstood by the general population. Nobody wants to feel like they are 'crazy'. Because of that, a lot of people go without the help they need. They think they can "shake it off" or "pull up their socks." I've heard those phrases so many times I want to pull out my hair whenever I hear them. Or even better, pull out the hair of the person that says it!

I take medication for depression. I have taken it on and off over the past 15 years. Some people suffer from chronic depression and need to take medication all the time. In a person who is clinically depressed, it is a chemical issue. The chemicals in their brain are out of balance. They aren't going to "perk up" unless the chemical imbalance is corrected. It is exactly the same thing as a pancreas that doesn't produce enough insulin. Medication is required for a proper quality of life.

Other people have a tendency towards depression but are not clinically depressed at all times. This is me. A stressful situation is something I can't shake off like other people, no matter how hard I try. A bad break up, a difficult marriage, a divorce, my father's death.....all of those things ended up in a despair that wouldn't go away. Things in my life start going downhill because I just can't muster up the energy to keep that from happening. It's an effort just to open my eyes and take care of my kids when this happens.

Because I have two daughters I love, I get treated when this happens. They deserve a mom who is a fully present participant in their lives. Because it honors my dad, I get treated. He would never want me to be unhappy and unable to go on because of his loss. Because I love myself, I get treated. I deserve to be happy and healthy.

I will likely spend a minimum of the next 1-2 years taking one capsule a day to help me fight off the demons in my head, the ones who drag me down below the surface of my life, to a place where I merely observe the joy going on without me. I feel like I have a lot of things to offer this world, and if I am too depressed to get off my couch, the world will be going on without my contributions.

Mental health cannot be taken for granted. If you are having a hard time and it has been going on too long, consider discussing it with your doctor. It might be the best gift you have ever given yourself and those who love you. There is no more shame in receiving this treatment than there is in receiving dialysis for a non-functioning kidney.

It has the potential to change the way you spend your life..... It really is that simple.


  1. Kudos for writing this and speaking for so many people. You should be proud, and you're a great mother for taking such good care of yourself!

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