A few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to spend the day with one of my best friends. We spent the day shopping and gossiping. Over lunch we sat and discussed everything from marriage to motherhood. In between stories of our children, a more serious topic came up. That topic was depression, more specifically how those without depression struggle to understand those who suffer from it. I have suffered from depression and anxiety since I was eleven years old. As a child, I hid my mental state from those outside my family. There is such a negative stigma when it comes to those suffering from depression or an anxiety disorder. Most people assume that those who are sick can not live a normal life and are weak. This is not the case. Explaining depression to those uninformed can be so frustrating. Over the last fifteen years, I have heard comments such as, “depression isn’t real, it’s just you trying to get attention.” Or “if you want to be happy you just need to think happy thoughts, since it is all in the mind.” These statements are false. To explain depression to someone who does not have it, I want you to imagine you are swimming in the ocean and a huge wave comes out of nowhere and pushes you down to the bottom of the ocean. You are so disoriented that when you try to swim to the top, you are actually swimming farther down. It takes a lot of work on your part and help from others, to finally get back to shore. This is how depression works. For me, depression consists of anxiety, sadness, loneliness and exhaustion. While these symptoms do not completely go away for me, I find relief through certain lifestyle choices. These choices include: getting exercise and spending time outside each day, talking about my emotions with someone I trust and taking medicine for depression and anxiety. I have also learned overtime, that my depression is worse during stressful situations, such as my parents divorce and the loss of my daughter. While it is impossible to avoid situations such as these, I found finding support from family and friends was the best way to ease me out of my depressive episodes. Like everyone, I have my good days and I have my bad days. On my bad days, I might just be a little more withdrawn and emotional than what is normal for those without depression. Though it is not easy living with a mental disease, and I never know when a wave of sadness is going to hit, I try to take it one day at a time. I am blessed to have an amazing husband who is there for me through my good days and bad days. My recommendation is for anyone who suffers from depression to find a support system who will lift you up on those bad days, and those who don’t, to become that support system that others so desperately need!
Love and blessings,