...it's not something easily talked about.
"Mental Illness". It's just not a 'safe' thing to bring up as dinner conversation. And that is too bad. It needs to be talked about. It needs to be okay to talk about, so that others who are struggling in the dark will find the courage to receive help and climb out of the dark pit and enjoy the light and enjoyment of daylight once again.
So, I'm going to do just that...talk about it, right here. It may take a few posts, because who likes a l.o.n.g. post that seemingly never ends? Not me!
So here it is. My first entry:
Depression: Part One
I have always been an introverted person. A deep thinker. An old soul. I don't know whether that predisposes me to bouts of depression. I don't think so. I think it helps me dig deep within to find the source of the darkness and climb my way out of the crevasse and find the daylight and enjoyment of life once again.
The first time I was diagnosed with 'Depression' was when I was 21 years old and had just been diagnosed with cancer. It was a tough year. At the time only 'older' people got cancer. (Now it seems that it hits anyone). I had this misdirected belief that feeling the way I was, was a spiritual battle. That I got cancer because I wasn't 'Christian' enough. That I was bad. That this was punishment for something. I thought I would never start my career, or meet my prince charming, or have kids, or grow old. Thoughts like that get you spiraling downward pretty quickly. I saw a councilor who seemed to share her issues with me more than listen to mine. That didn't last long. I found out that my family doctor was also a believer and shared my fear with her. I told her I was not interested in medication. I was afraid of the stigma. She had the best explanation for me. She insisted that yes, sometimes depression is a spiritual battle, but in my case she believed that it was situational. She said that sometimes when we are fighting so hard at something, our brain doesn't create enough serotonin and we fall into different types of depression. We would never look down on a diabetic for taking insulin. Would we? They need it to function. Well, going on medication for depression is the same thing. Getting those serotonin levels back to normal so that we can function properly. The only thing is that with time it is possible for some people to come off of anti-depressants, where that is not easily possible for diabetics.
This discussion completely freed me and I went on medication for a little while. Until things levelled out and I was doing better. The support of family and friends, increased self-care, and working on my thought life, I was able to get better. And the medication? It was only a small part of the hard work. It helped me climb out of that crevasse onto solid ground again.
Fast-forward a whole bunch of years and life threw me another curve ball. Workplace bullying. Yes, adults can be cruel. I felt myself spiraling into the depths of despair again. I was able to see an amazing councilor this time and learn how to set boundaries and not always be 'the nice girl'. This depression was much deeper and far more difficult to get out of. I was on medication for a longer period of time this time, but once again, with the help of family and friends, supportive colleagues, and lots of hard work myself, I got out of the pit and came of medication again.
Please don't take this post as being that medication is THE way to deal with depression. It isn't. Not always. It sometimes works as a part of the equation to getting better. Sometimes it is not needed at all. Sometimes a person needs it for the rest of their life. And that's okay. There isn't a magic equation to get out of depression.
I think that's a long enough post for today. More on this another day.