I haven’t blogged in quite a while. I’ve been busy with life-type-things. I have really missed writing, though. I find it to be a really good outlet to speak about whatever is on my mind at the moment.
The last post I wrote about how scared I was about asking for help with possible depression. Since asking for help, I have found out that I do, indeed, have depression. I’ve also learned that asking for help was the best thing I could have done for my depression. Now, before I go any further, I am not writing this blog post for sympathy or to complain—none of that. I’m writing this blog post because one in every five people have some type of mental health concern or condition. If this post is read by just one other person who is depressed, anxious, bi-polar….whatever, then it’s served it’s purpose.
I’m going to write about my experience with this mental health condition. I don’t like labeling it as a “disorder,” although, that’s how you’ll find most mental health conditions described in text books. Labeling something as a “disorder” makes me feel like I’m “abnormal” as if I am “lesser than” someone else who happens to not have a mental health condition or issue. I feel a lot of others out there struggling can relate to that.
So how did I ask for help?
Well, it was terrifying. Keep in mind, I didn’t think I had depression. I just felt like I was losing my mind. I didn’t feel like myself at all anymore. I didn’t know WHO I was anymore. I asked for help by ways of going to a medical professional. If you read my last post, you’ll know all about my Medicaid struggle to find a mental health provider. My experience with the medical professional….well it wasn’t the best. However I feel it’s still important to share because, well, it happens. Some people, even medically trained, highly educated individuals, don’t see depression as a “thing.”
I went to the doctor and told the nurse as she was taking my vitals that I was coming in because I had been feeling depressed. The nurse told me that there was a social worker on staff and that she’d be in to speak with me before the medical provider came in. I breathed a sigh of relief. I had no idea they had social workers at the facility and I thought, “Finally, I can get real help.”
The social worker was extremely nice and just asked me to describe how I was feeling.
- Lack of motivation/concentration
- Aches and pains
- Loss of appetite
- Sleeping too much
- No interest in anything, even things I used to love doing
- Just not feeling like myself
She quietly listened and nodded her head periodically as I explained a few personal life-things as to why I thought I could be feeling this way. After a minute she smiled a gentle smile at me and said, “Well, you just named off all of the most common symptoms of depression. If there was a checklist, you just hit all of the points.”
Even though it was scary to finally have a diagnosis for how I had been feeling for so long, it was also such a relief to know what it was. No, I wasn’t crazy. I just happen to be a person who has depression.
Then. The doctor came in. She ruined it. She kept saying that I was pretty and had no reason to be “sad.” And she said it about 25 times. The ONLY reason I stayed was because of that social worker. She set up a session with me for later that week. I strongly believe that had she not come in before the doctor, I would have gotten up and left without any treatment.
Depression isn’t sadness. It’s not something you simply “snap out of.” Depression doesn’t care how educated you are, what you look like, how much money you have, etc. It’s a chemical imbalance in your brain. Some people are more pre-disposed to it than others.
I am a person who happens to have major depressive disorder, post traumatic response, and generalized anxiety disorder.
What’s happened since?
I go to regular counseling sessions, bi-weekly, with my social worker. It’s very cognitive-behavioral based. It’s just a fancy way of saying “therapy that changes the way you think about stuff.”
In addition to therapy, I was prescribed an anti-depressant. I’ve been on it for about four months now and it has made a huge difference in my depression. I’m slowly starting to feel myself again and semi-normal. I’ve gotten back to doing the things I like to do, seeing people I love to see, being motivated, laughing more.
This isn’t to say that every day is all sunshine and rainbows. It’s not like that at all. Some days I have to struggle through the motions of all that depression brings. The way I liken it to is running uphill underwater. You struggle so much just to move, it's exhausting, but you keep going. Some days I feel like I’m nearly back to square one with this thing and other days I feel like I’ve got this. For the most part, as of right now, I I've got this.
I plan on peridodically making mental-health related posts because it’s important to me to open up a dialogue on this topic. It’s not a big deal to talk about. If someone had a broken leg or the flu, no one would bat an eye in order to say, “feel better soon.” However, when someone has a mental health issue…it’s somehow “unacceptable” in some eyes.
If you or someone you know is struggling with depression, please remember that there are always options out there. It may not seem like it at times, but there are. Take me as an example. I thought I was never going to get help because of my health insurance and the insane waiting list as well as the lack of mental health services in my area, among other things. Going to the doctor was just the last thing I had to do in order to get help for myself. I had no idea they would offer me on site counseling and I'm so thankful I'm finally talking to a professional.
In other news: Look for more frequent posts in 2016. It’s a new year and I really want to blog again.
I hope this was helpful.
Don’t forget to breathe.