Depression


I was diagnosed with depression in November of 2012, at the age of 32. But I have lived with it since the onset of puberty, roughly in 1994. Why did it take me 18 years before I asked for help?
Because I was ashamed.
I was ashamed for feeling sad if I had no reason to be sad. 
I was ashamed for bursting into tears in public, unable to stop it.
I was ashamed for being unable to control my emotions. Surely, with more willpower, I would be able to do it? Other people could, and I couldn't, so it must be my fault. 

But the sadness wasn't the worst of it. My depression's specialty is sneakier: it likes to either cover me with a heavy blanket of numbness - or red-hot, searing anger
I don't know which one is worse. 
To describe what the numbness feels like, I will quote a friend of mine who described it perfectly:
"I do nothing, go nowhere, see no one, I have no emotion, I'm no one"
That's exactly what it feels like. You are dead inside. The world has gone grey. You enjoy nothing, you can't feel anything, you can't imagine ever feeling alive again. All the happiness has been sucked out of you. 

The anger is a different story. Oh, you're feeling emotions now! A rage that's all-consuming, and impossible to stop. It will come out of nowhere. You may have had a perfectly fine day, when suddenly, the rage is set off by something insignificant. My most vivid memory of the rage is when I came home after work one day. I was in a good mood, after having had a great day at work. My husband was watching TV. I walked into the kitchen, and there were a few used dishes on the counter instead of in the dishwasher. I lost it. A massive wave of pure fury crashed over me, and I was powerless to stop it. 
I started screaming horrible things at my husband, throwing dishes, slamming a drawer so violently that I cracked it. I felt hatred in that moment. Hatred at him for never doing what I ask him to do, hatred at the dishes, hatred at the world. Why couldn't things go my way just once?
It was completely irrational, and very frightening. 
The rage would disappear as quickly as it came, leaving me dazed, unsure of what just happened, and deeply ashamed. I would feel like the worst person in the world. 

Like I said - I don't know which one's worse, the numbness or the rage.

But I know this: None of us deserves to live like that. We deserve better!

If any of this sounds familiar, I want you to remember: Depression is an illness. It's a chemical imbalance in your brain, and you are as responsible for that as you are for the colour of your eyes. In other words: It's not your fault. You didn't choose it. You don't need to feel ashamed of it.  

The first step is recognizing that something isn't right. That's hugely important! You may not know what's wrong, but we'll worry about that in due course; for now, admitting that something bigger than you is taking over your mind and body is the most important step. If you do that in less time than 18 fricking years, you're way ahead of me!
The second step is talking to someone you trust. For me it was my husband (who did an intervention on me, or I may still not be officially diagnosed), and then my family doctor. Trying to figure out the confusing world of shrinks was too overwhelming for me at the time, so I went to my doctor first.
If your doctor is one of those who tries to brush you off, insist. Or better, go to a different one. Take a friend with you for moral support; when we are in the grips of depression, we usually don't have the strength to stand up to other people. Let them help you! 

Don't be scared of medication. I know that there is lots of controversy about taking antidepressants, and you may feel like a failure for needing them; please don't. I'm not saying that medication is the right course of treatment for everyone - that's for you and your doctor to figure out.
But I know how much antidepressants have helped me. I have been on Citalopram for over 5 years, and it has changed my life. Seriously. The horrible numbness and terrifying rage are gone. When I'm PMS'ing I can feel shadows of the rage returning, reminding me that my depression is still with me; but it's nothing compared to what it was like before.

Below I have linked the diary-style posts I've written over the years that are influenced by, or about my depression. Please, please know that you are not alone. According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, about half of the population will have experienced mental illness by the age of 40.
50%! Every second person! People are still reluctant to talk about it, which is why you may think nobody else suffers like you do. But they do.

There is an army of us out there. And once we start sharing our stories, we will slowly remove the stigma around mental illness. Together, we can do this!
Start the conversation. Share your experience. Ask for help. You deserve to be happy, and you deserve any help you need to get there.
You are worth it. 

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Is the honeymoon over?
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My word for 2017
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The best people
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Get out of your story
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Not being yourself?
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The ghost of Christmas
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Brave?
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Manic
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The monster inside me
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Beating Blue Monday
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One year later
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Angels and demons
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Dear September
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Sad.
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About sadness
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