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I have been busier than usual lately, but my depression has prevented me from making good use of time when I find it. Depression is an illness most people won’t talk about. Many do not really understand how it afflicts those caught in its grips. Some want us to will ourselves to snap out of it and be happy. Others say we should stop focusing on the negative and pay more attention to the positives in our lives. Believe me, I wish it were that easy. All my adult life, I realized something was wrong with me. Being married to a man who was anti-psychology prevented me from getting help. So, I pushed aside my feelings and tried to carry on with life. My life seemed wonderful so I could not understand why I would go through periods where I could not bring myself up. Surely, I should not be concerned. “First world problems” is a term I’ve heard a lot to refer to those who struggle with depression. No matter how much one has or how great her life seems, depression can strike.
Despite my soon-to-be-ex husband’s belief that I am a pessimist, I suffer with something I cannot will away with happy thoughts. Neverland is not happening, at least not any time soon. It wasn’t until Robin Williams passed away on August 11th of 2014 that I even looked into depression. He was one of my favorite actors. From The Birdcage, to Aladdin, to Good Will Hunting, to the ever foreshadowing Dead Poet’s Society he made me laugh, cry, and everything in between. “O Captain, my Captain,” I did not know you, but I loved you. I am sorry you suffered and even more sorry that no one could help you. As long as I have a fight left in me, I will “carpe diem.”
Williams seemed larger than life, and it surprised me that he hid his illness so well. He always seemed so happy and lived to make others laugh. Why is it that those of us who suffer the most seem to give the most effort to others? No one summed it up better than Williams when he said, “I think the saddest people always try their hardest to make people happy because they know what it’s like to feel absolutely worthless and they don’t want anyone else to feel like that.”
Because some people are so good at hiding their depression, someone you love may be afflicted unbeknownst to you. Some people do not even realize they have depression. They know they are sad a lot. Many feel hopeless, but they do not realize why. After researching depression with the help of this government site and others in 2014, I thought it was possible I had it. My ex once again talked me out of seeking help so I suffered in silence. If you have a friend who flakes on plans a lot, there is a good chance s/he is suffering from anxiety and/or depression. Of course, there is also a chance that you just have a bad friend. Before writing her off, try to get her to talk to you. People suffering from depression have a hard time opening up to people, but they are more willing to open up to those who legitimately seem to care. For me, I have a hard time talking deeply, even to people I love. Knowing they are there for me and are willing to stand by me means a lot. It means so much more when there are people I thought I could always count on who walked away.
It was not until after my father passed away in January 2017, which sparked a nearly one-year absence from this blog, that I finally admitted I was depressed. Once again, my ex did not think therapy was a good idea. As I fell deeper into the rabbit hole and sensed him pulling away from me, I finally decided to go to therapy. Despite his attempts to talk me out of it, I was determined. My first therapist wasn’t a great match, but I had not given up on the idea. One thing my first therapist did convince me is I was angry with my husband. Of course telling him that I was angry with him did not go over well, and we separated shortly after that. After that separation, I found a great therapist. She helped me learn a lot about myself, the way I process things, and who I am deep down. At the age of 37, you’d think I would know. I didn’t.
With continued therapy, I realized that I am Bipolar. Those of us who suffer with this experience periods of mania and periods of depression. When coupled with grief and rage, depression can last for extended periods of time. I was diagnosed as OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) at 19. So many things clicked after therapy. One was that I experience more compulsions in my mania stage and more obsessions in my depressed stage. Unlike some who suffer from OCD, I do not typically experience both together. The warning signs that I was Bipolar were always there. There were times when my mood could shift quickly. How can I go from being so easy-going and thick-skinned at times to uptight and sensitive at other times? Who was the real me? It was so confusing to learn that both were. A Bipolar person, like myself, can seem like two completely different people.
I’ve been in a prolonged period of depression since January of 2017, triggered by the death of my Dad, moving to a new city the next day, and feeling the loss of my husband (first emotionally, then physically). There are times I want to be productive (my mania tries to pop up), but my depression keeps pushing the mania down. For the past month, I’ve had a hard time being productive at all. While I have taken two out-of-state trips, attended graduations, showed up for several parties, met with friends, spent quality time with family, etc, I have not put as much time as I could into other areas of my life, including this blog. It does not necessarily mean my depression is worse. This is just the way I am coping with it.
Yesterday, I heard of Kate Spade’s death. The day she died was a day I planned to post an article that included something I hauled from her line. I could not bring myself to write and post it that day. It was because writing, even with the mundane things I usually write about, takes time and effort. Giving time and effort on a day where you are fighting a fierce battle with depression is already difficult. Writing the article yesterday also seemed futile. Although I did not know Kate, I understand what she was afflicted with. That connects us in a way I never knew. Prior to yesterday, I only knew her as the designer who created a lot of pieces I like (many of which I have refrained from purchasing due to the cost).
Yesterday, she became someone I can relate to. I am sad it happened posthumously. While sharing one’s health is a personal decision, and I completely respect those who do not wish to talk about it, I wish more people did talk about depression and other mental illnesses. If mental illness lost its stigma, we would be able to openly discuss our problems with people without fear of getting reprimanded or being told to get over it. If I had that kind of mind control to beat depression, I would certainly be a superhero or maybe an evil villain. Okay, I doubt I could ever be evil so I would probably use my power for good.
Rest in Peace, Kate. I hope that anyone suffering can get the help they need before they feel ending it is the only way out. When you are in the grips of depression, those thoughts are easy to come by. If you are suffering with depression and have people in your life who prevent you from getting help, ignore them. Get the help you need. Next time a friend with depression cancels on you without a good reason, or brings up her depression in a conversation, try give her compassion instead of the third degree. Being there for her will make her feel a little less alone. Depression is very lonely, and there is nothing worse than feeling all alone in this world. I hope to write something blog related tomorrow. For now, I hope you do not mind me getting off track and off topic to discuss something so close to my heart and mind.