Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Depression Is A Disease: Ask For Help

Depression is the monster in my life whose shadow looms over me. At best, with medication, it's barely a blur in my peripheral vision. At worst, it feels like it will swallow me whole. Despite my best efforts, I've been fighting this monster more and more lately.

Maybe my description is dramatic, but it's my reality. And it's the reality of millions of people.

It's hard to pinpoint when my symptoms first began. Though it does run in my family, I have no past traumatic events that would spark depression. Around puberty and the beginning of middle school, crippling anxiety and feelings of isolation took root in my mind. I hated my body and couldn't shake the feeling I just didn't belong. Also, my mom had recently started working full-time and my brother left for college. Suddenly, I felt more alone than ever. I developed chronic stomachaches, cried myself to sleep countless times, and prayed for any reason to stay home from school.

Like many adolescents, I rejected the suggestion that I was depressed. I refused medication because I thought it was for "crazy" people. When my parents forced me to go to therapy, I put up such a fight that they relented after only three sessions.

And so I struggled on until my breaking point at age 18 when I began taking antidepressants. After a few weeks of medication, I could see how I was supposed to feel. Instead of feeling like I was just teetering on the edge of a breakdown, I felt a sort of balance. For the first time in my life, I could manage my stress and keep moving through my lows. Although I lapsed on my medication a few times, I've taken it faithfully for two years now. I have no plans of ever stopping it again. While the antidepressants haven't eradicated my disease (because depression is a disease), they have made it manageable.

Until now. 

The darkness is creeping back and I feel myself losing balance. The stress of my job, daily life, and even this horrible election is piling up. Instead of praying for a reason not to go to school, I pray for a reason not to go to work. I'm having nightmares. A messy kitchen reduces me to tears.

It's time to seek help again. In my case depression can be managed, not cured. Despite the lingering stigma attached to depression, I will make the best decision for my health and my happiness. This week, I will talk to my doctor about my worsening symptoms and seek treatment.

I share my story to offer comfort and solidarity to those who also suffer from this disease. You aren't alone and there's absolutely no shame in asking for help. Sometimes, it takes great courage to seek treatment - you have the courage and the strength to do it. Just as I'm finding my strength to ask for help again, so can you.

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