Preface: This wasn’t written for sympathy or pity. I just wanted to share my experience with a very real issue.
Not too long ago, someone I went to high school with posted a status complaining about social security paying disability for those with depression and anxiety. The way the status was worded disregarded the conditions as “real” problems. I read it and got angry. But I kept my mouth shut. Two weeks later, it’s still bothering me.
For ages, I had undiagnosed mild depression and anxiety. I was always able to deal with the depression on my own and, after a short amount of time, I would feel like myself again. I started noticing that the periods of depression would last longer and longer. Last year, it began spiraling out of control, which also intensified my anxiety.
When I started having chest pains (from the anxiety) I finally saw my doctor and he put me on anti-depressants. I also started seeing a therapist around the same time and she helped immensely. It’s still a struggle each and every day and some days are harder than others.
I truly believe that if I did not work from home and didn’t get help when I did, I would have lost my job. I was already pretty close to seeing if I could go on medical leave to try and get myself together. Just to give you an idea, here is some of what I experienced:
It was absolutely a struggle to get out of bed every morning. And, I don’t mean “Just 5 more minutes, mom”. This is an I-never-want-to-get-out-of-bed-for-the-rest-of-my-life feeling and being dead serious about it. It doesn’t matter if you have a meeting at work or if the dog has to go out or you have a doctor’s appointment or the house is on fire. You can not get out of bed.
I stopped doing things I love to do. My most favorite thing to do in the whole world is to take photographs. Just hearing the shutter click fills me with so much happiness it’s almost ridiculous. My therapist said I absolutely lit up when I talked about it. When my depression was at its worst, I couldn’t even pick up the camera. Whenever I did actually try, I felt like a fraud and a failure so I put it back down again.
The person who was always happy and smiling was missing. I was either crying or angry ALL the time. Sometimes both and the mood could change in a split second. I didn’t even recognize myself at times and definitely didn’t feel like myself. I thank God that my husband, friends, and family all dealt with me and supported me at my worst.
Those are only a few of the things I experienced. While medication and therapy have helped me on the road back to being myself, there are people who are not that lucky. For many, medications don’t work or, even if they do work right now, there’s a chance that they’ll stop working in the future.
No matter how mild or severe depression gets, it’s a struggle. So many people go undiagnosed and never get help. I know many people who cover the spectrum and for some it’s taken years to find the right combination of therapies to begin healing.
If anything is learned from my post, I hope it’s this: Don’t automatically disregard something because you don’t understand it. It’s very possible that someone you know is quietly suffering.Love yourself and one another, Jenn