Hi, my name is Lisa and I live with Depression!
There was a time I would never have said that, couldn’t actually, not because I didn’t know it but I didn’t want anyone else to know. I think about that now and just how ridiculous it was, but that was my reality.
I was always and still am an optimist, even through the worst of my depression I was still an optimist at heart. I just had to work at it a little more. No one knew, not my family, friends or co workers, I just kept it to myself.
I would smile, laugh, chat my way through the day whether I was at work or with friends and family, then I would close the door at night and cry for hours.
I wasn’t crying because I was sad, I wasn’t. I was lost, confused and with an overwhelming feeling of not being good enough………broken mainly, but not sad. I would do this day in day out for a very long time before the cracks really started to show.
Even then I didn’t speak up, I threw myself into work like a woman possessed, if I just keep busy maybe I’ll get through it and it will go away!!! Well it’s seems as stupid to write that now as it did back then. I knew about depression, I knew if I didn’t address it I could get worse. Work would suffer, family, my children would suffer and that wasn’t fair.
I’m not sure at exactly what moment I decided it was time to act, I didn’t make a conscious choice to tell someone. I do know I had this feeling of “I’m not going to hide it anymore”, and it evolved from there. People knew I was under stress, they’d noticed I was overeating, over working but as I kept insisting I was ok, they never questioned it. Once it was out in the open many said, ‘I knew something was off’ …..But again I take full responsibility as I did not let people in.
I know I keep saying that but it’s true. It’s very difficult to help someone if they don’t let you know there is something wrong and it is why I am so vocal these days about delving a little deeper if you think something is off with someone……..on the other hand, those of us who live with depression or mental health issues of any kind need to acknowledge, accept and reach out. There are more people that care than we realise.
It surprises and saddens me that with such a high focus on mental health, the many Awareness days/weeks/months, positive posts and inspirational quotes across all social media that it is still one of the most misunderstood and unfortunately feared topics of conversation. Why? If I truly knew the answer to that I could maybe make a real difference, but I don’t……however these are some things I do know.
* Depression and all mental illnesses are not contagious. You cannot catch depression.
* Don’t look at someone that is always smiling and assume they are ok…..they might not be.
* Depression is not always about feeling sad, sometimes it’s about feeling nothing. Feeling empty or simply not knowing what you are feeling.
* People who live with depression are not weak, not crazy, not less than anyone else!
* Depression can run in families or it can hit anyone out of the blue. It is a chemical imbalance that can run from mild to severe, but make no doubt there is no such thing as a touch of depression.
* It can be triggered by undue stress, emotional trauma, physical illness, you can about Fibromyalgia here in Part 1 and grief, even being a perfectionist can lead to depression as this can place unnecessary pressure on an already highly strung personality…….
Sometimes people notice you are not quite yourself and don’t know what to do or say. They are afraid they might make it worse and say something to upset you……..it’s ok, it doesn’t work that way……..reaching out in any way is a positive step. It may not feel like that initially as it’s cracking that proverbial Pandora’s box but that’s what needs to happen for both the person living with depression and for those around them.
Only once we are truly honest and with two way dialogue can we begin to heal. It’s not instant, it’s far from easy but it must happen.
There are many different treatments for depression including medications, therapy and supplements. The most overwhelming point is to seek treatment……do not assume you can think it away on your own, you can’t.
On top of any relevant treatment you need a support network. They can be friends, family, even friendships you have formed on social media. There are many online support groups available if you are isolated or not yet willing to reveal it to your inner circle……..whatever way you do it, open up, reach out and share your burden. This alone can lessen your load and give you a direction to move forward.
Not everyone will be able to help you, they may not all be able to understand but if we don’t keep it out in the open they never will.
Life can be difficult and more so for some. Depression is not something to be ashamed of or to hide away. You are not less than anyone else, you are stronger than you think and needed more than you know. So please seek assistance if you need to and if you can relate to this post………
Follow the 4 A’s
Acknowledge there is a problem.
Accept you have to do something about it.
Advice – seek advice from a medical professional.
Advise those close to you that you need their support.
Life can be full again, it is to be lived and you can’t live a full life if you are always hiding.