Let’s Talk About… Depression

Let’s Talk About… Depression

This isn’t an easy post to write. I’m about to get super-real with you, peeps. But I feel that this is a really important conversation to have. So, let’s talk about… Depression.

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I have suffered from depression since I was a young girl. But it wasn’t until April 2013 that I finally started taking medication for it. The reasons for my delay were these:

  1. I had been misinformed / ignorant about the different types of depression that exist, and therefore didn’t feel that I was a candidate for medical help. I didn’t fit the description of someone with major depression — though, I did have some of the symptoms — so I didn’t think anyone would take me seriously.
  2. I had long been under the impression that antidepressants are habit-forming, so I didn’t want to take them for fear that I would suffer awful consequences when I tried to go off of them.

What changed for me is that, in 2013, I read an eBook called, “Pros of Prozac” by Beca Mark*. In it, Beca outlines her own struggle with anxiety and depression, and how much taking antidepressants had helped her. Reading Beca’s story, I could relate to so much of what she described of her life before taking medication. As such, I started to –once again– really research depression and antidepressants.

Side note: I’ve also struggled with anxiety and panic attacks since 2001, so I have done a lot of research on these topics over the years.

Thanks to my new research, though, I learned two things that I’d missed before, that made all the difference for me:

First, antidepressants are not habit-forming. If you follow your doctor’s instructions for how to take them, and for how to be weaned off of them, there shouldn’t be any major issues.

Second, I have what is called, Dysthymia, also known as chronic low-level depression. That’s why, although I have some of the symptoms listed for major depression, I don’t have all of them. Yet, my form of depression is no less serious, and can still benefit from the use of antidepressants. Here is the description {source}:

Persistent depressive disorder, also called Dysthymia (dis-THIE-me-uh), is a continuous long-term (chronic) form of depression. You may lose interest in normal daily activities, feel hopeless, lack productivity, and have low self-esteem and an overall feeling of inadequacy. These feelings last for years and may significantly interfere with your relationships, school, work and daily activities.

If you have persistent depressive disorder, you may find it hard to be upbeat even on happy occasions — you may be described as having a gloomy personality, constantly complaining or incapable of having fun. Though persistent depressive disorder is not as severe as major depression, your current depressed mood may be mild, moderate or severe.

Because of the chronic nature of persistent depressive disorder, coping with depression symptoms can be challenging, but a combination of talk therapy (psychotherapy) and medication can be effective in treating this condition.

Armed with this new information, I went to see my doctor to talk with her about trying antidepressants, and she wrote me a prescription.

It took a while to figure out the proper dosage, and which brand of antidepressant worked the best for me (turns out, it’s Zoloft). But I just have to tell you: choosing to go on antidepressants was the best thing I ever did for myself. It has made a world of difference in my life. Some of the benefits include:

  • I can have important conversations with my husband, or family, without falling into tears, and then being unable to continue the conversation
  • I’m no longer irritable, grouchy, and snippy with everyone all the time
  • I can respond, rather than react, to stressful situations
  • I don’t cry over the stupidest little things
  • I have battled my anxiety and panic attacks… and (still, by the grace of God), I won! {see below}

This isn’t an exhaustive list, but these things are the major highlights, for me.

When I first started taking the medication, I didn’t tell my husband about it. Reason being, he is one of those people who doesn’t agree that depression is a mental illness. He thinks it’s just “all in one’s head” and can be overcome through “mind over matter”, diet and exercise {side note: yes, a healthy diet and regular exercise have been shown to lessen the effects of Depression, so they’re still highly recommended}. In order to “show” my man that I actuallywas helped by the medication, I waited a few months of being on it before I let him in on this choice of mine. And, when I finally did tell him, I asked if he’d noticed a change in my personality over the previous few months — he had. So, he agreed that maybe this was an important choice for me to have made.

Unfortunately, there is still a lot of stigma attached to depression and antidepressants. There is a lot of misinformation out there, and also a lot of misunderstanding. People who have never suffered from anxiety, or never had a panic attack, don’t fully know the horror of it… the feeling of being so very out of control, and the feeling of utter terror. Anxiety and panic attacks are not just “all in your head”… they are physical manifestations of a chemical imbalance in your physical body. You can know all of the statistics and information, but your body is going to react (usually there are “triggers”), regardless of your level of knowledge.

For example, in 2001 I had my first panic attack. My family and I were eating dinner, when all-of-a-sudden, I heard a helicopter flying over our house. And much as I knew it made absolutely no sense (mentally), I was utterly convinced that that helicopter was going to come and crash into our house. I ended up excusing myself from the table to go to the washroom, where I collapsed into a shaking puddle on the floor, sobbing uncontrollably. I was scared-to-death, because this had never happened to me before, and I had never heard of panic attacks. I thought I’d completely lost it, and that I was going to have to be locked away in some mental institution. I’d gone off the deep end. (Thankfully, this wasn’t the case!)

From that point on, I couldn’t hear any aircraft going by overhead without seizing up in a fit of anxiety. My heart would race, my fists would clench, and I couldn’t think of anything else.

Thankfully, my faith has helped a lot with this… I’ve learned to pray through the attacks, asking God to protect both my family, and those on the aircraft.

fear of flying

Mind you, the 9-11 attacks certainly didn’t help. Especially since I’d had some eerily “prophetic” (for lack of a better term) dreams about them before they even happened! Put it this way: I saw what the people in the World Trade Center must have seen, seconds before the plane went crashing through those windows.  This still shakes me to my core.

Anyway. Like I said, my faith has really helped me in overcoming my anxiety and panic attacks. But I also believe that the antidepressants have, as well. As proof, I can proudly say that — thanks be to God! — I was able to get on a plane and fly out to visit my sister, last summer … and I didn’t even have to take anything (tranquilizers) for the trip, either! Was I still scared? Absolutely! I was very, very nervous. But, would I do it again? Yep — in a heartbeat!

To wrap this up, let me just encourage you in a couple of things:

  1. If you, yourself, suffer from anxiety, panic attacks, and/or depression (in any of its forms), please don’t hesitate to get help. Research it, if you need to. Talk to friends or family, or go see a counselor. Talk to your doctor. It’s not worth it to continue to suffer alone. You don’t need to… Heck! Send me an email if you need to talk, and feel you have no one else! I’m here, okay?
  2. If you have, or are considering suicide, PLEASE call this number, right now:  1-800-273-TALK (8255). Reach out — you are NOT alone!
  3. Ignore the haters and those who tell you that it’s “all in your head”. Do what you feel is the right thing… for you. That’s all that matters. You are the only one who truly knows your body, and what you need. You are the only one who needs to make this decision {with the help of your doctor, of course}.
  4. If you aren’t opposed to it, seek God in the matter. Tell Him what you’re struggling with (He already knows, but He wants you to come to Him with this). Ask for His help in overcoming this. It IS possible… Did you know that the Bible encourages us by saying, “Do not fear”, 365 times?  You could also go talk to a local pastor or priest. They are trained counselors.
  5. Help spread the word! The more people who talk openly about mental health issues like Depression, the more we can get rid of the “stigma” that surrounds it, and the more we can help those who truly need help.

HAVE YOU GOTTEN HELP FOR DEPRESSION? DO YOU TAKE MEDICATION FOR IT? SHARE WITH US A BRIEF SNIPPET ABOUT YOUR STORY IN THE COMMENTS! LET’S SHOW THE LOVE!



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2 thoughts on “Let’s Talk About… Depression

  1. Thank you for sharing your story. I have suffered from low level depression and anxiety, which I have always been able to manage with counselling. After my second child I had severe PND and was in a very bad way. I was reluctant to take medication because I’d never needed it before and because I didn’t want to be a “quitter”. Eventually I took it and I’m so grateful.
    I think we need to bring mental health out of the shadows.

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