Sunday, September 21, 2008

Let's Talk

So, yesterday I made the connection that I promised a new post Monday and I don't get a chance to turn on my computer until about 2 in the afternoon. I didn't want to let you all down on the first "real" day of my blog, so I'm typing this Sunday night. I'm still figuring out how to make this work so I may end up posting on Sunday and Wednesday nights instead. But you can for sure look for it Monday and Thursday mornings.

Anyway, many of you have already touched on what I think is one of the most important things in rising above the grey clouds. That is, tell someone how you are feeling. I'm not an expert on any of this, but I have thought a lot about it the last several years as I've gone through it. So, most of what I have to say is going to be from personal experience. But since the topic is talking about it, I guess it's just walking the talk, right?

I can pinpoint almost to the day when my depression began. That's because I'm 99.9% positive that it was brought on when I started taking the pill. For the first couple years, my husband was the only one who knew that I was dealing with depression. I did a pretty good job of putting on a happy face for everyone else and I was in denial as well. He tried to get me to find help, but I refused.

There were a lot of reasons, but mainly I was horrified at the thought of anyone finding out that my life wasn't perfect. I "knew" that people relied on me to always be cheerful and happy. I "knew" that I would disappoint everyone if they found out that was far from true. But then we sort of reached a breaking point and my husband called my parents. I was furious at the time but inexpressibly grateful now. My mom kind of knew about it so she was mostly surprised by the depth of it. My dad was pretty much in shock. He was one of the people I had most feared to tell because I hated to let him down ever since I was a little girl. Guess what? He wasn't disappointed at all. I could tell he hurt for me a lot, but of course he wasn't disappointed in me. What parent would be? He loves me. And all he wants is for me to be happy. To be happy for me, not for him.

I got a therapist around that same time and finally admitted to myself that I really did have depression. It was all so liberating. It was like taking a deep breath after holding my breath for so long. I saw that no one around me thought any less of me when they found out and everyone managed to go on with life too. No one's life was ruined by my revelation, or even close. I gradually began telling other family members and a few friends. And not only was no one disappointed, often times they seemed to almost think more of me. Not because I have depression, but because I carry on in spite of it.

And as I've become more and more open about, that is the same response I've gotten just about everywhere. I've only encountered one person who responded negatively. And I know him well enough to know that he meant well, he just had never dealt with depression on any level. Everyone else has been incredibly supportive and very understanding. I'm sure you've read the other comments on this blog. We are all in this together.

I'm not sure if I'll do a challenge with every post, but this time I'm challenging you to tell at least one person this week. If you haven't told anyone how you're feeling, tell your significant other, or whoever you are closest too. You need their support and they need to know. You'll be amazed at what a relief it is. And of this, I know. You're all reading my confession! However, my challenge is for each of you to tell someone in person--not here. It's not the same. If you're worried about what the response will be, reflect on how you felt when you found out I (or someone else you know) deal with depression.

We all walk around feeling guilty and ashamed for not being happy all the time. Thinking that if anyone else knew, they would judge us harshly. And the truth is, most women that I discuss this with are relieved! There is so much comfort in knowing that you aren't alone in your situation. That's why we're doing this blog. So we can support and lift one another.


Meg said...

I totally agree. I went to group therapy for anxiety and depression during Winter Semester at the beginning of this year, and it helped me SO much to be able to talk to other people with the same problems. They understood me so well because we were all going through the same thing. And it also helped that we made goals together, because I knew that it would be just as hard for them as it would be for me to accomplish them.

Ketchesons said...

After I had Elena I had postpartum depression and it was so hard to admit because I always wanted children and I didn't want to say she made me unhappy. After some encouragement from my dear Dave I went and got counseling and at a testimony meeting I shared my problem with our RS. It was so AMAZING! I was so embarrassed afterward but everyone came to my aid. I have never felt so love by so many people that I barely knew, they all sent me notes and offered their help, they even prayed for me. I have never recovered so fast from depression!

Anonymous said...

My problem resides in the fact that my husband doesn't believe that you need to seek help for depression. He firmly believes that you can overcome it on your own. This is hard for me because it makes me feel like there is this area of my life that I don't talk to him about. I keep those deep dark feelings that I have when I am at my lows to myself and it feels awful to think those things about my husband and not be able to talk to him about it and have him understand. If he only knew how hard it is for me. Maybe then he would believe me when I say I need help.

Anonymous said...

I can also pinpoint the exact day mine hit. Depression runs pretty strong in my family, but mine hit the day I went off the pill - it can do nasty things to you. I crashed and burned and had no idea what was going on. The physical symptoms were pretty bad - my whole soul: body, mind, and heart hurt. My goal each day was to survive, and thanks to an awesome support system, I made it through each of those first horrible days. I've never made a "full recovery," but I'm okay with that right now. I'd rather accept and learn to live happily with my condition, than to struggle everyday to overcome it. I've seen many relatives take that approach, and I respect everyone's different desires/approaches to dealing, but that's just not for me. I don't tell everyone I know that I suffer from depression/anxiety, but good friends and family know. I get different reactions, but I'm dedicated to letting my generation be liberated from the secrecy that shrouded the older generations in my family. It's just like you said - it's not something to be ashamed about, it's real and no one asks to have it. My heart goes out to the woman whose husband doesn't understand. I hope that with time he will come to learn more about it.