Life has been busy since June 6th's post. Brief recap.
June: I turned 29. Hubby turned 30. K came home for the summer (a drive that I was lucky enough to help with again). Saw Barenaked Ladies at Summerfest.
July: Aside from the traditional July 4th festivities with K, not much in July. We did go camping (which was great) but I forgot batteries for my camera (which was NOT great). Hubby's cherished project car (the '81 Camaro) burned to the ground. Oh, saw Paul McCartney at Miller Park! That was epic.
August: Went to State Fair. Hubby and I went on vacation with the puppers (road trip to/from Medford, OR). Fall semester started at the end of August.
September: Hubby and I celebrate our 3 year wedding anniversary (by going to the zoo, of course).
Sprinkle a few Brewers games, a lot of grilling out, and a few more zoo trips and you're pretty much caught up. Ta da!
The real reason I wanted to write today is that it's World Mental Health Day/National Depression Screening Day. Obviously I've written about my depression before, so I (hopefully) won't bore you by repeating myself too much.
Depression blows. Seriously. And it so frequently goes undiagnosed. Sometimes because people think what they're feeling is normal. Sometimes they don't recognize the symptoms. Sometimes they believe that it's something to be ashamed of, which is the saddest of all to me.
So, let's look at those 3 quick. (Yes, there are other reasons, but this is my blog. Deal.)
1) It's normal to feel like this. Sometimes, yes. Everyone feels sad sometimes. And sometimes we feel so sad, we refer to it as "depressed" (because I think we like to use longer, more complex words for more serious feelings... or maybe that's just me). If you feel down after an upsetting experience (a loss, maybe), that's "normal." (I usually hate the word normal, but hopefully you can see why i have to use it here.) It's normal to cry and hate the world and want to curl up under the covers until things get better. But what about those times when nothing all that bad has happened and you feel that way? What if it lasts for weeks or months at a time? Does that seem as normal? Doesn't that sound like it warrants looking into?
For example, when Hubby and I lived in our apartment (which now seems like AGES ago), I would have episodes of depression in which really (and I mean really) trivial things made me feel worse. I once dropped a box of macaroni on the floor and wound up sobbing and screaming over it, convinced I was an epic failure and couldn't do anything right. An appropriate reaction might've been swearing or being pissy about cleaning it up, but I had a breakdown. That's not "normal."
2) It's not like I want to kill myself or anything. Suicidal thoughts are only one possible symptom of depression. And you don't even have to want to actively kill yourself... you can want to die without wanting to take the action to do so. But even if you don't have thoughts about your own demise, there are a bunch of other symptoms that could indicate you have some kind of depressive disorder. Sleeping too much or too little. A major change in appetite. Having no energy or interest in doing things you usually enjoy. Feeling like you're worthless. Problems with concentrating and making decisions. Even physical things like unexplained aches and pains.
Right before I went back on fluoxetine in 2008, I was experiencing a lot of these other symptoms. I was sleeping every chance I got and was still exhausted. I wasn't motivated to get out of the apartment to do things, and I usually lacked the energy to do much anyway. I pretty much always thought I was worthless, and I let Hubby make as many decisions as possible; everything else I just kind of ignored. (What should I wear today? Meh. I'll stay in my pajamas.) Even though I didn't want to kill myself, I was definitely experiencing some depression.
3) I can't go to a therapist/doctor. I'm not crazy/sick or That would be so embarrassing. Newsflash: Therapy isn't just for the "crazies" anymore, friends. Even if you are completely free of mental illness, you probably still experience some stress and/or worry (and if you don't, please let me know because I'm pretty sure the scientific community would love to study you). And if this stress, worry, sadness, or whatever is at all impacting your life in a negative way, you could probably benefit from a visit to the doctor or therapist.
I took myself off of my medication when I was younger because I didn't want to have to rely on it to be myself. And I was (mostly) OK for awhile. But when an episode hit, I wasn't really prepared to handle it. These days, if I drop the macaroni now, I just curse, clean it up, and grab the next box or look for another option. My medication allows me to function like a normal person, and I wouldn't have the meds if I hadn't sought help. And while I'm not in therapy at the moment, I'm definitely not opposed to it! Certain therapies can be more effective than medication, particularly in the long run... it would be nice not to need the antidepressants for the rest of my life, but they work well for now.
So where do you start? Wherever you feel comfortable. You can do some research or take an assessment. You can talk to someone you trust, or make an appointment with your primary doctor. And if you need immediate help and don't know where to turn, don't forget that there's always someone to listen at the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255).
Well, I hope I didn't sound too much like a bad PSA, and I hope you took something away from it! If nothing else, please remember this: No matter how you're feeling, who you are, or what you're going through, there is someone out there to offer love and support. You're not alone. Hey, you've got me, right? :)