Hello everyone! It’s been a long time, hasn’t it? I almost feel like the Tin Man here, stiff with rust as I try to type out a new post. And as the topic of the day is depression, a character without a heart was probably a subconscious piece of symbolism as I pulled out the oil can, and fired up my laptop. I’m not sure how this will go, but I woke up this morning, and felt the urge to write try again. To try to put together a few words and reconnect with my blog community. Maybe it will feel good, maybe it won’t. But I do know it felt good to want to write again. So here goes…
A few months back, I began writing about some of the hardest times in my life. It felt good to get it out there, finally, and lend voice to the painful things that had happened. Campus rape is an epidemic, and yet I felt like I was the only one in the world who was suffering. I needed to write the truth and put it out there. I needed to lean on writing as a way to help see me through. But slowly, the therapeutic benefit of writing began to lessen, and I started to feel like my ability to write was slipping away. Writing used to come so naturally to me. I would have an idea, sit down, and the words would just pour out. It was a comfort as well as a source of pride. But staring at a blank page became more frustrating than I could handle. And it was more than just writers block. It was a lack of energy and emotion needed to put my story to paper.
It’s a classic sign of depression; the loss of energy and interest in things you used to enjoy. And turns out, I’ve been struggling with depression on and off for the better part of my adult life, unbeknownst to me. Until recently, I never really knew what was happening, or how to fix it. I typically resorted to self blame. Like there was something wrong with me that I just couldn’t be happy with my life. My life was fine. I’ve always had a job, friends, family, and first world privileges like travel, and Starbucks and gym memberships. What was so bad about my life that I couldn’t be happier?
But self blame is also a classic sign of depression. And over the years, especially the last few months, I’ve learned that depression is a finicky beast. It can skew your perspective and take away the ability to rationally see the people and world around. Depression manifests in many different ways in many different people. For me, it’s always a feeling of not being good enough and feeling like a burden to world at large. A common problem for women. What’s not as common is when that feeling changes from a nagging kind of nuance, to a life changing, maybe even life threatening, lack of desire and inability to move. And until I experienced it first hand, I always assumed people suffering from it simply weren’t trying hard enough to get better. But this couldn’t be further from the truth. Depression is not something that can simply be willed away. It is a disease that needs to addressed. And as I researched statistics on depression, I learned some shocking truths. According to Healthline.com, 1 in 10 Americans experience depression at some point in their lives. And women are twice as likely as men to experience symptoms of depression. But what surprised me the most is that 80% of people who experience symptoms of depression, go untreated. If we put it into perspective, mental health problems are no different from physical health problems. If you have a broken arm, no one questions why you go to the ER to get a cast. But the social stigma around mental health often prevents people from getting the help they need for fear of what their family, friends, and coworkers will think.
That realization is probably why I am writing today. Don’t get me wrong, I’m terrified to expose something so personal, and to be this vulnerable in such a public space. It’s a hard thing to talk about, given the stereotypes that surround mental health. But I believe the landscape is changing; and that it will only continue to do so when because people like me face their fears, and are willing to share their stories. I’m lucky that I asked for help when I did, and found a really wonderful therapist and a doctor who listens to me. And I have a few people who’ve really stood by me as I navigate this journey. It’s really important to find good people who can help hold you up when you can’t do it yourself. Not an easy task when it feels like the world is against you, and that hope has been taken away. But as painful and daunting as it seems, trust me, there are good people out there who want to help.
Until next time.