God hasn’t healed me from depression yet.
That’s what I’ll write instead of “I struggle with depression and remnants of post-traumatic stress disorder.”
Back in the day, depression wasn’t acknowledged or discussed, because it was shameful to have mental illness. In fact, some elderly people I know, who have clearly experienced depression, do not interpret their experience as symptoms.
But in recent years, depression has been acknowledged, treated, and destigmatized to the point that it’s a very common plight here in America. Perhaps also stereotyped and misunderstood, but make no mistake, depression is a real beast. Partially because it’s hard to pinpoint and somewhat invisible. It’s like toxic radiation that silently descends in an area, and the only clues are the mysterious lack of well-being, taxing health problems, and most of the focus turning to how to fight a beast you can’t see or control.
As a public service announcement, I will take a quick moment to let all of you who can’t relate know that we depressed cannot “pull ourselves up by our bootstraps,” or “snap out of it.” It’s like telling someone with cancer the same thing. Which would undoubtably be cruel. For now, I have a medication that helps my body process a neurotransmitter (Serotonin) more efficiently. I am a COMPLETELY different person when the medication is working in full force and my stress levels are moderate. I go from being preoccupied with finding meaning to my existence to a fully-functioning person sowing into “today” and my future. I go from feeling disoriented, slow, and hopeless to feeling alive and like life is a manageable and worthwhile pursuit.
For me, depression has it’s genetic and biochemical roots, but it is also magnified right now because of certain things going on in my life – namely not having a lot of time and space to myself. I know what cures me:
Time to think and just be.
Coffee (and sometimes chocolate).
And having a good balance between being alone with myself and connecting with others.
But, for now, I will use the life-saving medication to help me through this season. I will also lean on my amazing family and assume that they can bear the weight of my burden with me. I will trust and have faith in my future even as I cannot feel it or believe that it exists. I will take today in little manageable sections, one at a time.
Here’s a helpful link on depression and one on post-traumatic stress disorder. If you would like to talk with me more about my experiences or perhaps get some advice, please don’t hesitate to contact me. One of the joys present after suffering is being able to help others out of it.
Meet another musician advocating for mental health: http://www.heathermccready.com/
See how Glenn Close is fighting stigma: