I’ve tippy toed around a particular topic for the entire life of this blog and for a big chunk of my adult life. I’ve flat out denied it’s existence, telling myself, and anyone who questioned me that it was just a phase that a good lawn mow will fix. I guess my biggest struggle was that I never really wanted to face the cold, hard fact of the word. The connotation alone was enough to make me feel dirty, and not OK or acceptable in society. I felt worthless, more worthless than I already felt each time the word was discussed or directed towards me. I wasn’t depressed! I was just feeling low, or yeah, maybe I WAS depressed, but not clinically, and it was sure as shit something that I should have been able to dig myself out of. And I tried. For years. And when I couldn’t, I felt more unworthy and inadequate and more depressed.
Looking back onto things, I will pin the tail of this story onto my one ex, as it was truly our break up that sent me seeking help from someone outside of my own brain. She ended up freaking me out with her eye twitching and incessant throat clearing and at each session, she offered up the same stale advise that it was OK to grieve the death of a relationship. She barely remembered my name, couldn’t remember a detail from a previous session and genuinely seemed that she didn’t have my best interests at heart. I decided that I was cured after 6 sessions. I started seeing my current, wonderful, amazing, soul saving therapist about a year after that, when I realized that grief alone shouldn’t take this long to heal. My first step towards a healthier self were taken in March of 2008, so I guess we celebrated our Leather anniversary this year, and I can honestly say that I would not be in the place mentally that I am today if it were not for her. She patiently listened to me spill about my ex boyfriend, my previous therapist and slowly made me realize that no matter how much I wanted to merely WILL away the depression, it just wasn’t going to work that way.
I grew up with a nurse for a mother which made it incredibly difficult to fake the “I don’t feel good” routine to get out of school. She always checked my temperature with a real thermometer and most often, threw some tylenol down my throat and told me to take more when I got home from school. During the relationship that I think sent me over the edge into the black hole of depressive misery land, my mom was really amazing and was able to listen and be there for me in ways that I didn’t feel safe allowing anyone else to be. Despite our closeness, it still proved to be painfully difficult to explain to her how I was feeling and that I couldn’t MAKE myself get off the couch, much less walk the dog. I wasn’t just LAZY, I was physically unable. It was all I could do to take a shower daily and get to work – I’d come home, fall back onto the couch and remain there until I had to go to work the next day. My mother suggested physical exercise, which sounds well and good and is proven to be an antidepressant, however, when you can barely climb one flight of steps because your emotionally taxed body feels like it weighs ten times it’s actual weight, taking a jog around the neighborhood just isn’t going to happen.
Finally, I decided to give myself a break. I stopped pinning stereotypes on me, I stopped imagining what people would think of me if they knew, and then I gave up my pride and asked for help. After meeting with my doctor over what ended up being the most tear infested 90 minutes of my life, she wrote me a prescription and here I am, a year and a half later, laughing more often than not and feeling closer to ‘normal’ than I have in about 8 years. I still have bad days – some, I still struggle to get off of the couch – but I do it, and the next day is better and I don’t have another bad day for a while. Hell, I feel better in general just knowing that I don’t want to turn into the incredible ass-couch monster anymore. I spent my entire life self medicating, or being medicated by my mother, I never went to the doctor’s office when I was a kid. If I had conjunctivitis, my mom would call her doctor friends and get a prescription. If I had an infection, she’d get me antibiotics. I don’t have a fear of doctors, but I grew up taking my mothers suggestions and advise in the way that I would take a doctors.
I can tell if I forget my pill for a day or two as I usually feel emotionally down, I’m easier to irritate and more anxious. The medication doesn’t make everything better magically, but it gives me a perspective that I didn’t have before, and in fact, if I hadn’t lived it myself, I don’t know if I would believe anyone who tried to explain the change in thought process to me. I am able to focus on things that *I* do instead of externalizing my problems out to others. I am aware enough that I can tell when my negative thinking is getting the best of me and I can stop the downward spiral before it hits the ground. I don’t get into those circular thoughts of why I’m not good enough for anyone and instead, I can identify and stop the negative progression before it throws me into the emotional abyss. I’m not advocating that medication is the best choice for everyone, or that the average experience is to only try one medication and feel it make a huge difference, but that’s how it happened for me. In hindsight, my only regret is not having done something about my depression sooner, but part of healing is letting go and trying not to carry the weight of the world on your shoulders. It’s about accepting things for what they are and knowing that no matter what, I will ALWAYS be OK.