I was diagnosed with depression earlier this year. Although it took a series of tough events before I decided to seek help, I’ve been self diagnosing since I was 14. When I told my therapist that I should have done something about this at least 10 years ago, she very kindly responded, “You’re here now. We’ll deal with it now.”
I’ve come a long way in the seven months since I received that diagnosis, with the help of therapy, medication, friendship and a growing belief that it’s OK that I’m not perfect. But it’s still hard for me to think about the worst days of this year, when I would email a coworker from my spot on the office bathroom floor and tell her I was crying and needed her to come get me. I knew I was broken.
I wasn’t so good at asking for help the first time I realized depression might be an issue. Although this year was set off by some challenging familial, relational and career circumstances, it hasn’t always been so. (Remember, depression is a clinical condition, not just sadness.) During my freshman year of high school, I was down after my cheerleading squad lost a competition, and it took a long time for my mood to lift. My closest friends didn’t understand, which left me feeling bereft. I would wake up far too early, and then spend the hours until school lying in bed, watching infomercials.
Looking back, I can see that both the transition to high school and seasonal affective disorder were at play. Children don’t have such perspective. And, OK, neither do I when I’m in the throes of my worst moments.
But this year, I’ve started to learn how to cope. I’ve learned to ask for help, and I’ve learned to identify when I’m viewing life through depression rather than reality. Sometimes an issue will seem so big that it’s overwhelming; I have people in my life who will remind me that challenges are surmountable, and that they’re walking through them with me. I’ve always been determined and a perfectionist. Now, I’m balancing those (generally very good) traits with a healthy dose of reality.
When I told an insightful friend about my diagnosis and how life has improved since, he offered one of the most encouraging, profound compliments I’ve ever received. “My expectations for you just increased,” he said. “If you’ve achieved so much while depressed, what else are you capable of?”
I know this: I’m capable of sharing my story with others. Depression is common and often easily treatable, but some people still hold a stigma associated with it and other mental-health issues. Therapy and medication have done wonders for me; my therapist said I just needed a little support. As a coworker said, “You wouldn’t expect a diabetic to go off insulin. That makes up for what his body doesn’t produce. So if you need antidepressants to do the same, what’s wrong with that?” I can’t predict whether I’ll need this medication and a psychologist forever, but I can encourage others to seek the help they need.
Day three’s #bloglikecrazy prompt was to write something risky. I think it’s riskier not to share these challenges. Today’s subject line comes from one of my favorite songs, Nickel Creek’s “Reasons Why.”