Did you realize that 1 in 5 women suffer from clinical depression? Welp, I am that ONE. For the past 8 years, I have suffered with Major Depressive Disorder (that’s the medical term), yet I’ve never really written or talked about it publicly before. But not because I was ashamed or embarrassed. The truth is, that I just didn’t want to take the energy to explain it to folks.
Why I Don’t Talk About My Depression
When I was first diagnosed, I used to try to explain people what I was going through. I used to say “I’m depressed”. And they would ask “what are you depressed about?” Then I would launch into an explanation of clinical depression which always drew a blank stare. People just couldn’t wrap their brains around the fact that my depression wasn’t situational. Then I tried the “I suffer with clinical depression” approach. I would usually get some barrage of suggestions like “get out of the house” or “look on the bright side”. It was clear to me that people really thought that I was making a conscious choice to be in a depressive state. I soon realized that no matter what I said or how much I explained, most people just thought I was making excuses and my depression was within my control. That just made me more and angry and anxious, so…. I just stopped talking about it.
How I Was Diagnosed
It took me 3 years to get diagnosed because truthfully, I had NO idea what was going on. For a few of weeks here and there throughout the year I would lose my natural desire to thrive. My usual workaholic tendencies would fade and I would withdraw into a world of endless TV dramas and food binges, only allowing in the occasional friend when I felt clingy. Once or twice a week I would force myself to call clients and push back deadlines so that I didn’t look like a total loser who was just too lazy to finish a project on time.
When the diagnosis came, my first inclination was that the doctor was full of sh*t! I didn’t have ANY reason to be depressed!! I was smart, successful, funny, popular and in love. What the hell did I have to be depressed about?! Nonetheless, I took those little pills she prescribed just to prove her wrong. Within days I was I was better, or at least different. I think I went into happiness overload. I became the chick that could find a silver lining in at funeral. My usually snarky quips were replaced with chirps of euphoria. It’s safe to say that I had moved to LA LA Land and bought fabulous mansion. And I had NO desire to return to reality. That was until my body decided it didn’t like those little pills and went a little cray cray on me. I was directed to discontinue the anti-depressants immediately, and I did. I felt just fine after that, so I decided the good ole doc had been wrong.
Months later, when my mood turned dark again, I knew my diagnosis had been correct. But this time I opted not to try any more prescriptions and go the homeopathic route.
What Has Worked For Me
I have not found any permanent results, but I have found some fairly consistent tools that help me manage my depression without medication. The key word here being manage, not cure. There are several factors that contribute to my “dark moods” and some of them had to be addressed through therapy and coaching. I had a lot of unresolved emotional distress in my life, that I eventually had to face. And like many women, I have a hormonal imbalance that also feeds depression. By the way, my official diagnosis are Clinical Depression and Mood Disorder. Translation… “sad, raging b*tch so get the hell out of the way!”
The things that work for me most consistently are:
- Sunlight. I have a big window in my office, so even when I’m not outside I get lots of sunshine
- Finding happy. I take time to relish the little things that make me happy. I love to watch baby and pet videos on YouTube, it always lifts my mood.
- Human interaction. I have a few select friends that ALWAYS bring positive energy. I try to keep them on speed dial because just hearing their voices sometimes lifts my mood. And I can never get enough HUGS!!!! Physical Touch is my #1 love language.
- Exercise. This one is hit or miss, but it works best for me in the winter months (who the heck knows why)
- Change of scenery. Sometimes just a quick trip to Smoothie King can totally improve my day
- Give joy to others. Something as simple as sending my brother a text that I know will make him laugh can do it for me. Seeing other people joyful goes a long way to helping me find my own happy.
DISCLAIMER: While I have been able to manage my depression with holistic treatments, I am only one case. There are many people that require medication or other professional treatments. Additionally clinical depression can be caused by many things. I am sharing my story, not prescribing for anyone else.
Listen, I don’t have this thing figured out, and I know I’m not alone. I thought it was high time to start a NAKED conversation about this topic.