The “D” word
Imagine a woman laughing and smiling; her makeup is flawless, her clothes the latest fashion, and her hair expertly coiffed. Now follow her home, watch her as she walks up a steep set of stairs, bypasses the bathroom and gets into bed. What about her makeup? Sometime within the next 48 hours she’ll grab a moist wipe and rub it off. Whoo! That was tiring! Keeping up the illusion of happiness is hard! But, now she’s where no one will bother her, she’s in her bed where she will remain for the entire weekend, “resting” and safe. She was me before I faced that monster we call Depression and won.
LET’S TALK FACTS
Before I get into my personal experience with this life-stealer-called-depression, did you know that women are nearly twice as more likely to develop depression in their lifetime than men? Why are we so susceptible? There are many reasons why women may develop depression, but the main three that make the most sense to me are biological, sociological, and psychological.
Biological: Our hormones have a lot to do with our emotions. Yes, cringe, eye roll, we have periods and our hormones change within 30-day periods. With this chemical imbalance, there can be an imbalance of our emotions can leave us a lot more open to the long-term blues.
Sociological: “Ugh, I’m so fat!” “I look like crap!” are just some things we say to ourselves. The pressure to be perfect and look perfect is overwhelmingly high for women. Society has made it too hard, in my opinion, for us to just be. It’s no wonder and no surprise, that this has a lot to do with why women are more likely to develop depression than men.
Psychological: Women tend to ruminate more than men. This means we think about things more. From the moment the day begins, we’ve already figured out what’s for dinner, what we plan to tell our bestie, and all of the day’s logistics at work.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, there are two common types of depression: Dysthymia — a mild but long-term sense of sadness and disinterest, and Major Depression — a severe and persistent feeling of sadness. There are other types of depression that are less common but each type can alter your life in a dramatic way.
You can absolutely be depressed without being suicidal or even have that sad feeling. I didn’t know I was depressed for a long time. I thought I was just tired all the time.
The symptoms of depression include more than just the ones we hear all the time. A lack of concentration and, from my personal experience, anger are also symptoms.
I will add if you’re reading this and you feel unloved and like you want to give up, from the bottom of my heart, please don’t! Your life matters and you can and will tear this disease a new one.
I can’t pinpoint one specific thing that caused me to become depressed. All I know is that one day I realized that I was unhappy and angry at everything and everyone. I was also exhausted and the only answer for a long time was simply to go to sleep. I was eventually diagnosed with depression. The turning point for me was when my son, who was 5 at the time, just straight up told me, “I don’t like sleeping because you do it all the time.” He cried and asked me why I was always sleeping.
For me, that was the motivation to get up. After a while though, I realized that (as selfish as it sounds), I wasn’t going to be able to really start to get better until I did it for me. I got to the point where I needed to really show myself some love. It took practical steps, such as taking a social media break, disengaging from anything that I thought was toxic, and the hardest thing — looking at myself and asking, what do you want? What do you need to feel loved?
I ran with that last part. I took that self-examination and self-love like an Olympian with a torch and ran, and for close to a year, I took care of me. I started taking medication to help me cope until therapy helped me to develop the tools I needed to deal with all that life throws and eventually I didn’t need medication anymore.
Life, Love and Gonads
It’s not easy to overcome depression, but you will heal and it will be worth it. If you’re stuck or having trouble, please talk to someone. Don’t believe the lies we tell ourselves — that no one cares or understands. Thousands of people choose to become a therapist because they care (there’s rarely big money in becoming a therapist). And there are people like me, total strangers who cry with sadness when we read about a person who is struggling and we cry with happiness when that same person wins.
Unplug from the things that cause you to compare and feel less than, find a place where you are greater than. Let yourself off the hook, and take care of your mind, your powerhouse. Grab the bull by the ‘nads in baby steps — half a baby step, if need be — just don’t give up. Do whatever you need to do to take care of YOU.
The national mental health hot line is 775-784-8090 or text ANSWER to 839863
Or if you want to you can throw me a shout at firstname.lastname@example.org
Have any of you beat depression? Let us know in the comments below. 🙂