Depression, it’s a big, dark, ugly word filled with shame by many. Don’t let my smile fool you, I suffer from it, and it’s a daily job to keep it at bay and under control. I learned early on that if you don’t talk about it, if you don’t seek help and find people to turn to it will consume you. You may see me having fun at Universal, or being silly with my kids, but that monster is always there.
Depression can come from so many different places, but the bottom line is, it’s an illness. It is a mental illness, and that word carries such a stigma. Did you know depression is one of the most common mental illnesses in the United States, affecting more than 16 million men and women?
It is a serious mental illness in which feelings of sadness, hopelessness, loss of interest, anger, frustration, or other negative emotions like irritability last for weeks or years and interfere with daily life. It can affect us all in very different ways. My depression causes me to retreat, and honestly not want to leave my bed. Yeah, I have had days where I don’t get dressed until the kids walk in the door.
Depression Is Real
I suffered from severe postpartum depression after my second child, it was unlike anything I ever experienced. I had to be medicated to get through it, the darkness was so real. I didn’t want to take care of my newborn, I didn’t want to get out of bed. I wasn’t sure if it would ever end, but it did. Some mothers can’t afford the help to deal with this very serious issue. It is not just the post baby blues, it is SERIOUS in a way I cannot put into words.
When a personal trauma in December 2017 tore my family apart, I had a choice. Deal with it head on or retreat. I made the choice to deal with it. I sought counseling both personal and pastoral. I regurgitated my feelings to my family and friends non-stop so it didn’t take over my thoughts. (Sorry guys, I know you got sick of it). This helped curb the depression, however it did not curb my anxiety, a close friend of depression. My anxiety shows itself in the form of a panic attack, and I often feel like I am having a heart attack. It’s scary, and I hate it. I have to lay down, collect my thoughts and pray. Yes, prayer has helped me get over many obstacles this last seven months of life. I often find myself pouring myself out to not only friends but God.
My family, friends, church and counselors have kept me from spiraling into a dark and lonely place. My girls faces are the reason I won’t let myself go down that path. But it’s not as easy for others, because depression comes in many forms.
What Is Depression?
Depression is a significant public-health issue. It is the leading cause of disability in the United States for people between ages 15 and 44 and is the number one cause of injury or illness for men and women around the world. People with depression are more likely to die from suicide as well as from other illnesses, such as heart disease.
The most common type of depression is called major depression, and it occurs when symptoms interfere with the enjoyment of life or with daily functions including work, sleep, and eating habits for at least two weeks straight.
Some people experience only one episode of major depression in their life, while others may go through numerous recurrent episodes of the illness (hand raised, yup I do).
In comparison, people with a condition known as persistent depressive disorder also known as dysthymia experience a depressed mood that lasts continuously for at least two years.
Other common types of depression include:
- Postpartum depression, in which mothers experience symptoms of major depression after giving birth. Mood impairment is much stronger, and lasts longer, than the “baby blues” — the relatively mild symptoms of depression and anxiety that many new mothers experience. Feelings of extreme sadness, anxiety, or exhaustion can make it difficult for the mother to bond with or care for her baby.
- Seasonal affective disorder (SAD), in which depression occurs in during winter, and sometimes fall, and is associated with a lack of sunlight. This depression is typically accompanied by social withdrawal, increased sleep, and weight gain.
- Major depression with psychotic features, in which severe depression accompanies loss of touch with reality, such as delusions (false fixed beliefs) and hallucinations (hearing and seeing things other people can’t). These psychotic features can focus on a kind of theme, such as illusions of illness or poverty.
- Premenstrual dysphoric disorder, in which symptoms of depression develop a week before a woman’s period and pass after menstruation.
Don’t Ignore This Disease
We need to stop consuming ourselves with media, celebrities and things that have no real bearing on our lives and start consuming ourselves with one another. We need to care just as much about our neighbors, as we do about what Beyoncé wore to an awards show. Use social media for good, and not tear each other down. This behavior is only destroying others, it FEEDS depression and anxiety.
Would you ignore someone with cancer? Someone who needed a heart transplant? No you wouldn’t, you would start a go fund me, or a viral campaign for the world to see. So why is depression such a secret disease? Because it has the word “mental-illness” tied to it, that’s why.
This is NOT something we need to ignore. We need more insurance companies to cover counseling and medication, and make it affordable for people who suffer from this awful disease to get help. Before it’s too late.
I smile through my depression, but it’s a daily struggle to keep going.