Over the past few days, I have gone back and forth over how much I want to share, how much I am willing to share. On one hand, the topic is controversial and most people have a strong opinion. On the other hand, I have a story. One that could possibly help others. One that might save your family from some of the heartache I, along with my family, have experienced.
So, for this reason, I have decided to share my story. Over the next few days, possibly weeks, I am going to share with you my journey with depression. As much as I would like to say my journey through depression, I can’t. I have not, nor do I believe I ever will, completely defeat depression. That is okay with me, because I have learned to cope and I continue to learn each day.
I ask you to stop right now. Take a minute to decide if you want to read on. If not, that is absolutely fine. For many, what follows will be upsetting and I understand that. For some though, it may be something you need to read.
I was diagnosed with severe clinical depression on Valentine’s Day, 2003. I was thirteen years old. For many people, that is unbelievable. What does a thirteen year old have to be depressed about? Later, I would go on to be diagnosed with grief issues, post traumatic stress disorder, and an anxiety disorder.
Let me tell you a little about me.
I was the standout softball state and world champion, the basketball player, the soccer player, the cheerleader, the class president. I was the popular girl with the popular friends. My parents made good money, I had everything I could possibly need or want.
That is who I was. Who I wasn’t?
I wasn’t the girl all dressed in black. I wasn’t the girl who walked around with a frown that couldn’t be turned around. I wasn’t the loner who sat in a corner to eat lunch and refused to speak to anyone. I wasn’t picked on. I wasn’t made fun of.
I tell you those things, because I want you to understand that to be depressed, you do not have to wear it on the outside. I could look you in the eye and tell you how wonderful my life was. Then, I would go home and stay up all night crying, shaking, unable to sleep, and begging God to take me.
No one in real life knew. Not my parents, not my best friends, not my boyfriend of almost two years. Not a soul. My notebooks full of teardrop stained pages was the only thing that knew how I really felt. I also wrote in an online journal and had a few online friends who knew, but they lived no where near me. That’s why I didn’t mind telling them.
This is only Part One. I have never sat down and shared my story with anyone, so this is something that will take time for me. I am doing this for one reason though. There are signs. If you notice any signs of depression in someone you love or care about, please talk to them. Do not come out and say “I think you are depressed, you need help, etc.” Just ask them how their day is going, if they would like to talk, etc. Do not, I repeat, do not nag them. Be their friend and maybe you will eventually become someone they can reach out to.
Do not let yourself be in denial. I almost died, because even after I reached out, admitted my problems, told someone in my life that I was suicidal, they were still in major denial.. Please do not take this as me laying blame, because that is not what I intend to do. I just cannot stress enough that it can happen to anyone, even your perfect family. So, please, I beg you, do not brush it to the side and say “Not in my family. Not my child.” Depression does not discriminate. It doesn’t care how old your are, what color you are, if you are lower, middle, or upper class. It is a disease and anyone can become depressed. Period.