Today, we talk about depression.
It's a bit of a dirty word, isn't it? It makes us think of brokenness, shame, unlovability.
But people who live with depression are not broken or shameful or unlovable - they are FEELING, and that is an incredibly powerful thing in the end.
I was first diagnosed with clinical depression when I was 12 years old. My dad had just been forced out of his job as a pastor, my mom started going to a psychiatrist, and I was being bullied and shut out of my friend group at school.
It was my first real heartbreak, and my first battle with the dark moments of depression.
I started seeing my mom's psychologist (who was honestly a terrible fit, but more on that in a later post), but I began to get used to talking about my hurts and my fears. From then on, therapy has become a normal, if not totally regular, part of my life.
Since that first run-in with depression, I have faced those ugly thoughts and feelings what I count to be three more major times since: once in my sophomore year of college, overwhelmed by an excessive course load and multiple extracurriculars on top of being away from home; once after college and after a brutal, emotionally and verbally abusive relationship with my first producer; and then again, and quite surprisingly, this past week.
I can't speak for anyone's depression but my own, but my depression hasn't often come as a result of any one thing. It is an accumulation of things, with one moment being the straw that breaks the camel's back. It builds and builds in the cracks of my healthy days until something snaps, and I fall through the chasm in the sidewalk I thought I was so carefully tending. It comes as an ambush: In a moment of silence in my often whirling life, I open my eyes and realize I've wandered too far into the wood.
Last week, I talked about emergency self-care because I was implementing those things at that very moment myself. I will share a few more tips to close out this post.
This last week, it really helped me to get my life together. To do my laundry, my dishes, my grocery shopping - the mundane things that keep my little world organized and sane.
I changed up my eating. I cleared out the sugar and alcohol in my house and replaced those items with healthy, rejuvenating alternatives.
I went to the gym. I didn't want to go. I sat in the parking lot for a good minute, but I got in there, and it made a huge difference.
I rested. I put aside my emails and watched The West Wing in bed and it was just the right thing.
I saw my therapist, who reminded me that I am not alone or unique in these feelings.
I went to the beach. I danced. I got dressed up and went to a show.
And we're rising out of this thing.
You can, too.
Depression may be caused by an event, or it may be a deeper mental state, sometimes hereditary, that may need to be treated several times over a lifetime. If you feel persistent sadness and a general loss of interest, you may be depressed. There are therapists and affordable counseling clinics in your area, as well as other means of coping in addition to therapy. Remember, you are valuable and you are not alone.