Monday, January 30, 2012
Warning: Depression Hurts.
I am going to take a minute to write something extremely personal and incredibly sensitive. I am going to take a break from my self deprecating, self effacing humor to talk about a real part of who I am. Because I write these blogs to be brutally honest in the hopes that my missteps will help others to be ok with who they are in their imperfect everyday lives.
I have depression and anxiety.
I have been struggling with it for 15 years on and off.
One thing I learn everyday is that a brave face only masks a hurt heart. Let your pain be the face you wear. It is stronger to show weakness than to pretend it doesn’t exist. I know from experience.
I have lots of friends that take anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medication to manage their everyday lives. And whenever one of us talks to another we always start the conversation the same way:
….please don’t tell anyone I am telling you this….
….I don’t know what to do, or where to go with this…..
Because for some reason we have been taught that depression is self induced and therefore, easily treated by simply pulling our ungrateful-for-life heads out of our asses. And maybe in some instances this is true, but in most, it’s not that simple.
Whether it’s the stress of everyday life, the loss of a loved one, a bad marriage, a financial crisis, menopause, post partum, caring for a sick friend/relative, or a traumatic event that has affected you, depression is no fucking joke. Sometimes, we feel it just because. Maybe you can’t find the match to your favorite socks. Maybe you burned dinner because you were on the couch, curled in the fetal position, crying uncontrollably. Maybe you dropped your keys and just lost your damn mind over it.
Because, that’s how it works. It doesn’t always make sense. Sometimes, depression just is.
And it’s a dirty little secret shared only between people facing the same demon, a patient and her therapist or a woman and her doctor.
Sometimes, when you’re like me, you get lucky. You can be sitting in a doctor’s office complaining of headaches, and he starts asking questions, and you just start crying. And he asks if you do this a lot. And he hands you’re a tissue and puts his gentle, old hand over yours, and asks if you have dealt with depression before. Then he asks how old my kids are and makes a joke about how having teenagers is enough to cause even the sanest person to have depression and anxiety.
And then, he takes out this little piece of paper and his fine tip BIC pen, and gives you your life back. He writes some words on paper that may as well translate to say:
Caution: Contents of prescription should never cause you shame or embarrassment.
Side effects include: laughing with your children again, loving yourself again, waking up with a renewed zest for life, and a calmer sleep because your brain is ok once again. Take with a grain of salt and dose of humility.
Educate yourself. Know the signs and symptoms. Don’t brush it off assuming you don’t have time to get help. You don’t have time to not get help.
I would rather feel like a total schlep and the world’s biggest douchebag for asking for a tiny pill that will make me feel less like jumping off the roof of my house, then to be too proud to be the kind of person that my children need me to be.
I know what my skeletons are. I know exactly where they are in my closet and I deal with them daily. I will probably continue to do this until the day I die, but it’s ok. Because that which has yet to kill me, has only made me stronger.
Face your demons, because they will eventually confront you head on. Depression is nothing to be ashamed of. Not recognizing it and depriving yourself of a life, is.
Consider this my PSA for 2012 and give me my damn Lorazapam!