I read once that, “you have to be still with your pain before you can offer it up and use it to serve and connect with people you don’t know.” I have been still and I am ready, now, to tell my story.
My story is intended to bring hope, connect, and to tell you that you’re not alone.
I have dealt with depression and anxiety on and off for 15 years. Through the cycle of emotions and medication, depression became a routine part of my life.
For a few years, I was symptom free and starting to adjust to life without symptoms. But when I gave birth to my second child a few years ago, depression popped up again.
I was irritable. I'd snap at my 3-year-old daughter and beat myself up for it over and over again. I vividly remember when I realized how depressed I had become. That day was dark and it was the day that even the giggles of my children didn't elicit the warming response they once had. I couldn't even smile at the two most amazing little people that I had waited so long for.
Despite my downward spiral and finding no relief from medication, I knew I had to keep going for my kids’ sake.
My son is now almost three and I've yet to shake this "episode." I've learned that I suffer from atypical depression and that normal, first line medications don't work for me. I've cycled through more medications than I can count. I'm still in a trial and error period, but I have faith we are getting closer to the correct treatment. The goal of treating depression and anxiety is, of course, remission. That, I feel, may not be the case for me. I've come to realize that there is no endgame here. I will revel in the good days and fight like hell on the bad.
My depression and anxiety are constants. They are overwhelmingly heavy. The weight of them almost knocks the breath out of me; it takes everything I have just to move and function.
The anxiety is exhausting. The racing of my heart and the pressure on my chest make it difficult to breathe. There are days when I feel like I don’t have anything left that anxiety hasn’t already taken.
The depression is scary. The scariest part of depression is the lies it tells. Depression tells me that my family would thrive without me. Depression tells me that my kids deserve a better mother. Depression tells me that if I take my own life, my pain and anxiety will all go away. I'm tormented by these thoughts. But everyday I fight that pain with a quote I read once which says, "suicide doesn't take away your pain, it only transfers it to those you leave behind."
I've been lucky enough to have an incredibly supportive husband, family and friends. Most would look at my life and privileged upbringing and say I should have nothing to be depressed about. I wholeheartedly agree, but depression doesn't care. Depression does not discriminate.
I am very vocal about mental illness and now I'm ready to become vocal about mine. I've learned that tragedies happen when we stay silent. Tragedies happen when stigma takes precedence over human interaction. Don’t avoid a potential life-saving conversation. Don't be silent. Mental illness is no one's fault. I hope my story encourages women, especially those with child, to know that depression during and after pregnancy is very real and it's ok to seek help.
If you've made it this far, thank you for reading my story. Love and peace to you.
DO YOU NEED HELP?
To Write Love on Her Arms is a nonprofit movement dedicated to presenting hope and finding help for people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury, and suicide. TWLOHA exists to encourage, inform, inspire, and invest directly into treatment and recovery. For more information on TWLOHA, click HERE.
September is Suicide Prevention Month, with World Suicide Prevention Day on September 10th.
If this is an emergency or if you are worried that you or someone you know may be at risk for suicide, please call your local authorities (911). The hotlines below are 24 hours and are confidential.
Crisis Text Line: TEXT TWLOHA TO 741-741
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1.800.273.TALK (273-8255)
For hearing and speech impaired with TTY equipment: 1.800.799.4TTY (779-4889)