I can tell you now that I’ve always had anxiety, even as a child, and I can pinpoint signs of depression as early as middle school. Either that or I was facing some wild ass hormones, compliments of puberty, although my cohorts didn’t seem to have it that bad.
When I was in college my Mema passed away after a battle with colon cancer. It was very hard on me and I started seeing a therapist. It was during therapy that I knew I’d always been sad but I didn’t realize – or maybe I was in denial – about having depression. I didn’t continue therapy, I just dealt with my problems with what I now know to be negative coping skills: binge eating, compulsive shopping or skipping class and trying to sleep my anxiety and stress away.
Unfortunately those “skills” are still employed when I’m stressed or going through a depressive episode, which is a lot. Don’t worry, I’m in therapy weekly.
There I was in my mid 20s. I was so sad most of the time. I was constantly anxious. I thought it was normal because nobody else ever told me it wasn’t. I knew I was more emotional than my friends, but I had always been emotional since childhood.
Finally, after I had graduated college, got a job and health insurance I saw a doctor who told me – you have depression and anxiety.
Where am I going with this? Depression and anxiety plagued me almost my entire life yet I knew nothing about it except that people who look antidepressants were crazy (so said family members and friends). I told nobody except a friend in pharmacy school that I was started on medication. I definitely didn’t tell my parents. When I quit my first job and was back on their health insurance I said I had PMDD, premenstrual disphoric disorder, (which I do have but didn’t know then) but it was easier to explain that I had severe mood swings during my period than depression.
Now my parents know. I think being hospitalized for suicidal thoughts tipped them off. And while they’ve never experienced depression and may not understand how it feels, they are very supportive. I’m just sad it took me so long to admit that I needed help.
Again, that’s why this blog exists. The stigma of mental illness keeps people from seeking help when they need it the most. It prevents people from being educated about one of the most prevalent diseases in the U.S. and I simply want to shed light on it.
So, let’s talk.