I was talking with a friend a few weeks ago about depression. We had a really good conversation about it through several e-mail messages and so I thought I would share some of my side of the conversation here. This particular friend has known me for years upon years and never knew that I battled depression. I think it helped him greatly to not only see himself in my words but to know I led a “normal” life despite it.
“it was at it’s worst when my youngest was a toddler. I didn’t want to kill myself or anything drastic like that, I just kind of gave up feeling. my world was a dull gray color and it just was what it was. I was actually okay with it for awhile, not having to feel all of the time was a relief! I’ve been an over-thinker my entire life, dealt with anxiety issues. but in order not to feel the negatives, I had to give up feeling the positives too, and I really missed them. especially since I was trying to put on a brave face and raise two kids. sure, I didn’t fly off the handle anymore and want to crawl out of my skin just because someone decided to play with a noisy toy or spilled juice on the clean counter but that meant I didn’t feel their laughter either, or crave their kisses; I didn’t hope or look forward to anything. I finally decided that if the only way to get the good was to suffer through the bad, then that was something I was willing to do. I’ve tried antidepressants through the years, some were too strong, some had annoying side-effects; I’ve been on the same one for 5 years now and it’s working out well.”
“my personality itself changed after my big bout of depression. after being a neat freak my entire life, now I’m messy. I’m still particular about certain things but everything being neat, tidy and in it’s own place isn’t one of them! I’m much more blunt with people now too, not that I say things that will hurt them, I just don’t waste time playing games. if I don’t want to do something that someone is trying to coax me into doing, I just say No. I say No a lot these days! on certain days I wake up and just know that it’s going to be a rough day emotionally-most of the time there isn’t even a reason but I know. it’s like my shields are down and I feel all exposed or something. on those days I try not to interact with people outside of my house; I stay home from social gatherings while my family attends without me. it’s better for me not to be around people on those days, not because they will hurt me, but because I will hurt them; I’m way too honest with my thoughts and feelings on those days! I’ve learned not to hold back so much on the good things either: if I want to hug someone, I just do. there’s this older man of my acquaintance that I randomly hug a lot. I like hugs, they recharge me. and he gives really good hugs, the kind where he grasps you and doesn’t let go- instead of awkwardly patting you on the back.”
“at first I wasn’t really on board with the fact that I might be depressed, I thought it was just postpartum depression and that it would go away. a year later it was a lot worse and so my Doc put me on an antidepressant. it worked wonders right away, and had the added benefit of acting as an appetite suppressant, but then it leveled out and kind of just quit working. the thought of depending on medication made me uncomfortable, so I quit taking it (which was easier said than done. it took me over a month to wean myself off of it). a year later I had finally come to the conclusion that this depression thing was here to stay. looking back, I had always been a melancholy person inside, I just thought I had a short circuit somewhere that made me different from everyone else. I started taking a milder form of the meds then; it had some side-effects when I first started taking it but nothing too annoying. I’m really comfortable on it now and I know it’s working which is why I won’t stop taking it. that’s the mistake so many people make: they think since they feel better, they should stop the meds. you’re feeling better because of the meds.”
“I never really talked about the depression because I felt weird about it, like I wasn’t strong enough to succeed at just living life and how pathetic is that? I mean, I have a relatively easy life: I don’t work outside of the home, I have a nice husband who is a decent guy, I have 2 kids who are really well behaved, I have an extended family who gives me unconditional love; what the hell was my problem?! it was kind of embarrassing. I’ve since learned to own who I am, shortcomings and all. I feel like I came out the other side of that rough patch a better person, yet more myself than I had been since I was a kid- it’s hard to explain. at any rate, the big epiphany for me was the realization that it’s not something that’s going to go away, I just need to learn how to deal with it. I’m often able to feel the negativity coming now and either try to diffuse it or just batten down the hatches and ride it out. it’s the worst when it creeps up on me and I”m not paying attention- it’s the loss of control in those situations that bugs me more than anything. it’s funny because a lot of the people I interact with on a daily basis are surprised when I mention the depression, they say “but your such a positive, happy person!” I laugh a lot, I make jokes a lot, I try to see the absurdity in life because if I don’t then it’s back to being worried about everything and everyone and what they think of me, etc. some of that outlook probably has to do with age, some of it has to do with the medication, but a big part of it is just learning about me and what I need. being a bit selfish is not always a bad thing.”