I logged on to Facebook today and my mom's status was this...
"Depression is not a sign of weakness, it is a sign that you have been trying to be strong for too long. Put this as your status if you are someone, or know someone who has or has had depression. It's mental health week, spread the word. 1 in 3 of us will suffer from depression at some point in our lives but its a highly curable disease if you take the right actions."
How appropriate for something that has been on my mind, but where do you start to talk about something that is so close to you?
I work at a high school that has earned the title of a "survivor school" and it's not something you're proud of or hang plaques for. Survivor school means you have survived a suicide or in our case a string of suicides. We now have several professional development sessions offered to us for suicide prevention. I decided to take one given by a recent graduate of the school who had suffered/was currently recovering from depression. She talked about wanting to die, thinking about how she would kill herself, and how she would talk herself out of it because it would be inconvenient to someone other than herself along with all of the other depression symptoms. I sat listening to her thinking "Big Deal! Everyone gets upset and down sometimes," but I started to look around the room and people were crying. After the girl was done, I was sitting with my colleagues and they were absolutely shocked that anyone could feel that way and that they didn't know she felt that way. I thought everyone felt this way... am I depressed?
This was my wake up call and hopefully the turning point. I had had mono in high school so whenever I felt down and worn out I just attributed it to a relapse. Even if that was the case, I had no excuse for thinking about wanting to kill myself or even worse... for planning it. I would think constantly about driving my car off the road. I would look for good ditches to crash into. I knew what parts of the highway didn't have a barrier so I could drive into oncoming traffic. It came to the point that I didn't want to be alone in the car because I knew that I wouldn't want to hurt someone else in the process especially my daughter. If it wasn't the car, I would lay in bed and try to remember what pills were in the kitchen, but it would come down to not having the energy to get out of bed or not wanting my daughter to find me.
Do I still feel this way? No. Not today anyway. My depression is like a roller coaster. Some days are just rough and I feel like there is no light at the end of the tunnel, but I haven't thought about dying in some time.
So how did I make it better? I don't know that I am better, or will ever be. Now that I know it isn't normal I am definitely more aware of those feelings. I never went to talk to or be diagnosed by a professional. I don't think I could tell a stranger (although here I am telling all of cyberspace). I did tell my best friend (my husband) and a close friend that I knew had her own struggles with depression. I think knowing they are keeping an eye out for me is enough.
Where do we go from here? Well... I'm kind of anti-drugs (Not like don't smoke and don't do crack... although you shouldn't do those either ... Sorry comic relief), but I try other things for headaches and other aches before I call the doctor. So what is my anti-drug relief for depression? My kids, my family and friends. I do anything to keep myself busy because when I stop and fall into a routine I start to feel down and have to change it up.
And the big question that most people will ask...
What caused your depression? I have no idea. Does there have to be a cause? No my life isn't awful, it's actually kind of great. I wasn't beaten as a child, I'm not a single mom, I don't have a shitty husband... That's the thing. There really doesn't need to be a reason, anyone could be depressed, and I am not looking for sympathy. I want people to know that really anyone at all could be depressed, and according to that statistic at the top, if it isn't you, 50/50 it's the next person you talk to.
What if it does happen to you? Talk to someone. Anyone. A friend. A spouse. A health professional. A colleague. Or call a depression hot line. There are two I found doing a national search (or you can do your own)...
1-800-SUICIDE (784-2433) or 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
Now my PSA (in case the rest of this post didn't do it for you)...
You are not alone. There is always someone to talk to.