Ok, here it is. The post I've written over and over, but somehow never finish. But I'm done with being vague and wishy-washy about it ...I have depression. Quite the attention-getter, right? Well, it's true. Depression is something I believe I've had probably almost all of my life. But it wasn't until just recently that I was diagnosed and began receiving the help I needed. This is a little bit heavier than most of my posts on here, but I needed to post this, not just write it out and leave it in my drafts folder (again). Sharing this is important, not just for me, but for anyone going through something similar. Every time I read about someone I know (or even don't know) sharing about a mental illness they have, I gain more understanding -about myself, them, and mental illness as a whole. And this even goes beyond mental illness. Adversity shouldn't be suffered alone, and the lessons we learn from it shouldn't be kept secret. I believe that part of the reason we suffer through trials is to help lift others when they are faced with their own. So, I'm hoping this post can do at least a little bit for you as what other's posts have done for me.
I remember standing outside my fourth grade classroom in tears, trying to convince my mom to take me home. I didn't know why I was crying, I could see my classmates staring at me, but I couldn't stop. And I couldn't go to class. I couldn't just go join my friends. I didn't know why. I just couldn't do it. My mom would ask me "what is wrong? What happened? What can I do?" And the only answer I could give was "I don't know." I ended up missing my first two days of high school for the same reason. I've missed work, I've missed parties, I've missed out on whole days. Most frustrating has been that I didn't want to miss out on these things. I didn't want to spend the day just laying on my bed crying. I didn't want others to think they had done something to make me feel this way.
The hardest part of growing up with depression was not knowing I had it. I didn't know why I was feeling so sad all of the time. I had friends, I had a great family, I had talents, I had so many reasons to be happy. And the phrase Choose to be Happy seemed like such a duh solution. But I couldn't do it, so I ended up blaming myself. For some reason, I figured I was choosing to not be happy. I was choosing to be bratty and rude. I was choosing to be anti-social. Looking back now, I see that I never really had a choice. Mental illness is incredibly strong. It's not something you can just will away, or replace with happy thoughts. I've had friends compare it to if you had a physical illness or injury. You can't just tell yourself to be healed. You can't will your broken leg away.
I was at my worst when Camaron and I moved to Utah in 2011. The stress of moving, lack of close friends and family, financial stuff, and trying to have a baby were just too much. I was having breakdowns left and right. Camaron and I knew there was more to this than just me being homesick. I figured I could take care of it myself though. I changed my diet and became vegan for a bit. I tried exercising more. I tried to incorporate art into my life more. But the rough days would still rear their ugly heads about once or twice a month. I finally decided it was time I should see a doctor. But that would require making a phone call, and one of the "quirks" of my mental situation has always been an avoidance of talking on the phone. So time passed and no appointments were scheduled. I didn't worry though, because I felt fine. Why stress out over calling some strange doctor when I was feeling fine? When I wasn't in my dark place, I basically blocked it out of my mind and figured I was over it. But it always came back.
And then I got pregnant. Let me tell you, as rough as pregnancy can be, I wouldn't mind being pregnant a lot more often, because my depression basically subsided during those nine months. Thank you, crazy pregnancy hormones. But I'm not pregnant anymore, and the depression has come back.
So I finally went to a counselor (yes, Camaron had to call and schedule it for me). My first time going was this last December. I was a mess of emotions leading up to the appointment, but I was happier than I had been in a long time when I got home. It was an incredible feeling to have someone validate the feelings and thoughts I had been struggling with. It was amazing to finally know that there was a reason I was feeling the way I was. There was even a name for it.
I continued counseling once a week for a few months. Sometimes I left loving this woman, and sometimes I left despising her. But, overall, I am so grateful for all that she taught me about myself. For what I learned about why I do the things I do. But the most important thing I learned from her was that this trial, my depression, doesn't have to always be a trial. It can also be a blessing -something I can be grateful for. I know that I have my depression to thank for my gift of being a good listener. And the deep empathy I have for others. And it has helped me accept the faults of others, because we really don't know what they're going through -and everyone is going through something. I know I still have a lot more to learn. I am still working on discovering other ways that my mental illness has and can bless my life. It's definitely not something I have overcome by any means. Overall though, I truly believe I am doing better.
For me, counseling was a great help. Talking with my counselor and my bishop at church made it possible for me to gain a broader perspective on myself and my mental illness. I have also tried medication, which was also helpful. Overall though, having a knowledge that I will never be faced with a trial I can't handle has been the greatest reassurance though this whole process. I know that each time I have one of my bad days, it is only temporary. And even further, I know that having bad days at all is only temporary. We all have adversities to face, but that is life. That is the part that helps us grow and develop. The part that makes us stronger. I love how my bishop once described it to me, I am not defined as a depressed person. I am a person who has depression.
If you have any questions for me, I'd be happy to answer them. Also, if you suffer from a mental illness or would simply like to learn more, the article Myths About Mental Illness is great:)