When you meet Theodora, she’s the smiliest person ever who seems to have a secret energy source within her. She kept me laughing during Reach the Beach. But even when someone seems super happy, there can be a lot going on under the surface. – Christine
When I wrote about depression last year, Christine wrote that, and if you saw/met me in real life, you probably wouldn’t guess I struggle/have struggled with depression. I have a silly sense of humor and laugh easily. Often, I laugh until I cry (it’s kind of awkward for my makeup, but whatever.)
But sometimes, I go through life feeling apathetic — not wanting to see friends and family, not wanting to work out, having a hard time concentrating at work, having a hard time sleeping — and just feeling like I’m carrying around a shroud of sadness on my back.
Last year, when I wrote that post, I’d felt like that for too long, continuously. Major depressive disorder is defined as feeling like that for two weeks or more, but I’d felt like that, to varying degrees, for several months…for no external reason. There was nothing going on in my life that indicated I should feel depressed which sometimes made it more frustrating. But after I hurt my back last summer, I realized exercise was what was keeping me hanging on. Without that, I really couldn’t take things any more. I cried for no reason, I withdrew so I didn’t lash out, and I listened to my therapist and saw a psychiatrist about meds, just like I’d see a doctor for an inhaler if I had asthma.
I was so afraid to take psychiatric meds. What that meant. What that said about me. But I finally caved in when I felt talking to friends, family, a therapist, healthy habits — none of that helped. She prescribed me Wellbutrin, which I’ve now been on for about a year. A reader recently asked me how it had affected me, being on it for almost a year. I was afraid it would numb me out, but it really did the opposite, as I was feeling pretty numb when I started it. I’ve felt more stable, and the lows haven’t been quite as low, and I can feel and appreciate the highs better. I don’t want to be on meds for the rest of my life (and actually would like to try going off them sooner than later), so I’ve also been making lifestyle changes and drinking less wine and eating less crap. This is the book I read, and while I take some of what it says with a grain of salt, there’s also some good lifestyle/nutrition advice in there.
In a way, I’m glad that if this had to happen, it was before my mom got sick. I knew I had a solid support team medically and in my personal life, and I had the tools to handle something major like that. In no way did any of this make it easy to deal with, but I feel like I handled and dealt with the situation truly the best way I could have. (And now she’s better!!!)
I tell you this because I attended a beautiful event at Uplift last night — a discussion about mental health as part of their Strong Women Uplift Each Other series.
There was a therapist as guest, but so many beautiful, strong women spoke up about their own struggles with anxiety, depression and mental health issues. I’m partially writing this post because this is what I wanted to speak up to say last night. I’m sort of shy in those situations, but it felt like a really safe space…but they began wrapping things up just as I worked up the nerve to raise my hand.
We talked a lot about the stigma in our society and among other women about mental health. We all like to think we all have it together — or at least appear as such, especially in a competitive city like NYC. But whether it’s chemical or situational, we’re all going to feel like this at some point in life. It’s healthy to some degree. It’s what gets us through tough situations — if we were just chill after a breakup or a job loss, that would be concerning.
It’s obviously not easy to write these posts, but if they help even one person, it’s worth it, truly.