That is the hardest sentence I have ever written, hands down. It shouldn’t be hard to write or say at all. Mental illness is no different from any other sickness. If had, for instance, pneumonia, I would have no hesitation in saying so. As a nurse I know that we are all susceptible to sadness and that sadness can evolve into an illness. I know that I am no more at fault for having had depression than I am for getting strep throat.
I am writing here today because I keep having the same conversation over and over. I have had it with my co-workers, with friends, hair dressers, in bible study, everywhere. It always goes like this:
Other Person: I have this person in my life that is really sad. I think they might even be (hushed tones) depressed. It is so weird though, because they are not the kind of person that gets depressed.
Me: No one is immune to depression. We are all susceptible; given the right circumstances we can all be overwhelmed by sadness.
I cannot pinpoint for you where it began for me. I do know some factors that lead to my depression. One of them being that after high school I was afloat, without purpose. I am not a person that can tread water. I need a point to swim for, and every day I need to stroke my arms and kick my legs to there everyday.
I also know that my sadness made it impossible for me to really love anyone. Anytime any person during my depression said that they loved me my mouth would say it back but my head would be asking, “Why?” I could not fathom why anyone would love me. The sicker I got, the more I questioned. At my saddest point, loving me became a reason to discount the other person entirely.
The gold at the end of this dreary rainbow is this: I got help. My doctor put me on an antidepressant. My parents put me in therapy. My psychologist saved my life. I will type it again. My psychologist saved my life. I was in therapy for over year. Near the end when I was mainly using my session to crack up my therapist with anecdotes from my daily life she told me that I was better but she asked me to stay a little longer. The purpose being that she wanted to help me find tools to that I could use to take care of myself. So that is what we did.
You know what? They worked. They still work. I left therapy 14 years ago, was able to stop the medication and have done extremely well ever since, even in the face of hard times. Also, when someone says that they love me, my mouth and heart get to say it back, because I love me too.
My purpose in sharing this here is this; if you are sad, please be brave and get help. If you know someone who is sad, do everything you can do to get them help. I am posting one of the best TED talks that I have ever seen on depression here. If you are person with a brain and a heart beat who talks to other people with brains and heart beats, please watch it.