Depression has plagued me since I was about 15 or 16 years old, possibly earlier. I never sought treatment, mostly for two reasons. First, I grew up in a family that doesn’t believe depression is real. They would refer to someone being chronically sad as having a pity party and they should just suck it up. Life is hard; get used to it and move on. Second, as a single mom with no support system close, getting treatment meant time away from my kids and risk losing them to CPS (or so I believed). I didn’t have anyone to watch my kids when I needed to be in therapy. I spent so much time away from them already I couldn’t spare more time. Also, I didn’t have the financial means.
Fast forward through pneumonia, cancer, job loss, empty nest, moving outside a state I’ve lived in my whole life, a bunch of things I won’t share publicly, insomnia, and a shit ton of stress, my untreated depression could no longer be treated with only a healthy diet and exercise. I felt the depression getting stronger and more consuming all of last year. A friend told me she could see when it started getting worse. I was so consumed that I battled the urge to commit suicide.
I went to see a new doctor, in a new city, in a new state, about what I believe to be thyroid issues. Depression is a symptom of thyroid issues. That doctor refused to listen to me and discuss anything beyond my depression and suicidal thoughts. Her treatment of me triggered an anxiety attack which lead to an overwhelming urge to commit suicide by overdose. I didn’t trust myself to be home alone.
Thank God my husband happened to call me that day. He stayed on the phone with me until I got admitted into an ER. From the ER, after psychological evaluation, I made the decision to commit myself to in-patient treatment in a behavioral health hospital. I spent 7 days there and started anti-depressants and sleep meds. After those 7 days, I moved onto partial hospitalization wherein I spent the night at home but returned to the hospital to continue group therapy.
Since I left in-patient on January 30th, I have had two days of feeling depressed and one anxiety attack. I am continuing group therapy for another 3-4 weeks. Social anxiety now keeps me from doing social activities, including work, without someone I know by my side. Therapy is helping me learn coping skills to work through the social anxiety. My official diagnosis is major depressive disorder, severe, without psychosis.
My goal is to get my thyroid treated to lessen the depression and continue therapy. I want to be able to manage my depression through healthy diet, exercise, and dramatically improved self-care as a whole.
Rarely did I speak about my depression. Too many people close to me thought of suicide as a selfish act. I couldn’t adequately explain how being selfish was the furthest from my mind in the moments I wanted to take my life. I chose to not talk about it or reach out to anyone when I had those urges. Speaking about the depression wasn’t an option because I didn’t want my kids seeing me as broken or weak, I thought. I didn’t want to be treated differently by coworkers, family, or friends.
Since getting treatment and therapy, I have come to understand the extreme importance of being open about depression. It is the only way we will kill the social stigma and make others feel safe and comfortable reaching out for help when they need it. I hope my story will help at least one person have a little more strength in talking about their depression and reach out for help.