Monday 8 April 2013

About sadness

I have been thinking about writing about this issue for a long time. Since last October in fact. Since I didn't have a blog then I wanted to open up about it on Facebook, but didn't have the guts. It is very personal, and it is easy to come up with a ton of reasons not to do it: "it's private", "nobody is interested", "I don't want people looking at me differently".

The reason I decided to do it anyway is that I got help last October and it changed my life completely.
I hope that this will help some of you to summon up the courage to do the same - it is SO worth it!

I suffer from depression.
Thinking back, I would say it started right around the onset of puberty when I was 14.
But the most memorable and horrible time when I first realized something was wrong was when I was 18. On the outside, everything was fine: I had a boyfriend I adored, fun friends to hang out with and party, was liked by my teachers in school, earned my own money to be able to buy the things teenagers like (mainly clothes - for me it was always about clothes).
It was the time where you have to figure out what to do with the rest of your life, and I didn't have a clue - but neither did my friends, so I wasn't too stressed out about it.

But what I remember vividly was that all the things I liked to do - reading, partying, meeting my friends, rollerblading - suddenly lost their appeal to me. I didn't enjoy anything any more. A deep hopelessness settled over me. I had this strong feeling that everything in life is pointless. The world is a horrible place. Planning for the future? What for?

I felt so alone. Was searching for a reason why I felt so sad and hopeless, was hoping something horrible would happen in my life so there would be a reason for this awful feeling.
Depression didn't occur to me. I had no Internet back then to google my symptoms (which is what I would do now), couldn't talk to my parents since they didn't understand, didn't even think about going to my doctor (what would I tell him?), didn't know where to turn.
So I suffered. That bout of depression lasted a long time, a few weeks, but eventually faded with the approaching summer and I started to feel better again.

Fast forward a few years: Now I'm in Canada, living with the love of my life. Things are good.
On the outside, I look like a happy, bubbly person. I am a happy, bubbly person.
My outlook on life is very positive - I always expect good things to happen, strongly believe that if you want something, visualize it, work towards it, then it will happen.  

But still...
This feeling of sadness wouldn't leave me alone. I might be totally fine for weeks, and then suddenly I'm overwhelmed with sadness. Would start fights with my poor husband.
One example: I had a good day at work, everything was fine. I get home. There are a few dirty dishes on the counter. And from deep inside me I get this overpowering anger, taking over my whole body, turning me into this mad, screaming, stomping mess.

Richard knew all along, he has experience with depression in his family. He urged me for years to seek help, but I thought I can control it; by doing yoga, reading self-help books, positive affirmations. Mind over matter.

It doesn't work that way.
Finally, last year, after a vacation where I cried every day and was deeply unhappy, he sat me down and told me that our marriage is in danger if we don't seek professional help.

Together we went to my doctor and I told him all about it. The mood swings, sudden bursts of anger, the sadness. He was amazing! Listened, and understood. Told me how common it is (a third of his patients have depression!). Oh, the sweet relief!

He explained to me that the most likely cause of my depression is a chemical imbalance in my brain: a shortage of serotonin, a neurotransmitter. No level of positive pep talk can boost serotonin levels. It's a chemical imbalance that can be solved with a drug that boosts serotonin levels.  He prescribed me an anti-depressant: Citalopram, also known as Celexa.

The effect of this drug has been life-changing. And I don't use this term lightly.
The internal turmoil is gone! What before felt like a stormy sea where I was helplessly thrown up and down, is now calm. Peace. Harmony. It's incredible!

When I talked to my doctor I said: "But I function, I have never missed work or stayed in bed all day." And he responded: "I believe you. But life doesn't have to be so hard."
And that's exactly it.

Depression is still hard to admit to. It seems like a weakness, or a "luxury condition" of people who don't have real problems.
But it is a real illness. Thankfully, it can be treated with medication, therapy, or a combination of the two.

The reason for this post is that I hope and wish that someone will read this who feels the same way I used to feel; know that there is help and you can feel a million times better! Don't wait almost 20 years like I did before getting help. 
Life is too short.

xo Miriam



  1. So glad you shared your story with depression and glad for you that the medicine has changed your life :)

  2. Thanks for sharing your story at the Owl's Skull. I've never been prone to depression, but my mother has, and I've watched her suffer with it. You take care of yourself. Much love, Jess (aka Alice;)) Good luck wiht the blog, also!!

  3. Thank you ladies! This issue is very important to me since I know how lonely it can make you feel. I really hope that it will help people who suffer from depression too - life can be so much better!


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