How I Survived My Latest Depression
Updated: Apr 16
My last post here was five months ago and I thought I'd tell you why.
In the middle of a fun and hectic Christmas season with For the Love, our family-run charity, I became inexplicably nauseated. This mysterious, miserable condition stretched from days to weeks to months, right up to early April. Doctors never could explain it. Dietary modifications didn't change it, but I did lose 15 pounds. Some people (and professionals) thought I was making it up, and my primary care doc didn't think my condition ever warranted a referral to any sort of specialist.
In February, my mental health crashed. I began to feel that my physical issues would never end, and my efforts to improve were not sustainable. Then I lost hope that the crushing depression I experienced would abate. I was in a deep, dark hole and could see no way out.
To say that I felt despondent would be a significant understatement.
After some weeks in that black place, I needed extra help. I had been attending weekly therapy sessions since January, but I began to stay in touch with my psychiatrist. I became religious about self-care, taking daily walks, eating as well as I could manage, and staying on top of sleep and hygiene. Literally all of the self-care things you can imagine became my priorities. (This is what happens with ten years of therapy.)
I also assembled a team of close friends and told them, one by one, what was really happening with me. I asked for their support. The reaction of each friend was unique and special, but the common theme was: "Thank you for telling me. I love you and want to help."
How have they helped? They have gotten me out of the house or helped me clean the house. They have made me laugh or they support my heavy emotions. They have reached out to say hello, invited me to do things, and brought me treats or pampering goodies. Individually, the gestures might have seemed fairly small and mundane. To the girl who needs people on good days and bad, these friends' offerings have been beautiful gifts that I treasure.
In early March, I tried some new medication to help control my dark thoughts. It was on one of the early days of that experiment that I happened upon an Instagram story from RiverBend Counseling, a local therapy practice. Therapists there were looking for people to share mental illness experiences on their podcast. For reasons I still don't understand, I applied to be on the podcast. When they asked me to record an episode with them, I realized I had absolutely nothing positive to say!
The experience ended up being rather transformative. We discussed finding hope in darkness. Since I still felt very much in the dark, determining how hope functions during my depression was enlightening (no pun intended). A month later, I still regularly ponder my conversation with Jesie and and Brooke.
Now it's mid-April and I am at last on the other side of the black chasm. (Side note: After all these years, I still struggle with the reality of my dependence on psych meds, but I am very grateful for modern medicine.) Today my therapist reminded me that for months, I lamented that my horrible depression would never end...but it did end. In this calendar year, I have been stable, depressed, and stable again. I made it through.
I made it.
Despite the body of hellish evidence that I believed doomed me to a life of pain and sorrow, I survived the harrowing experience and walked out the other side. I found hope in tiny things that gave me the strength and courage to keep going.
You might be thinking this sounds brave or inspiring. Maybe it is...but the journey to writing those hopeful declarations included a lot of ugly thoughts and feelings and tears. I will probably need one of you to remind me during my next depression that I truly can endure such a horrible phase. I might not believe you for a while.
That's why I need my people.
Can I be one of your people?