This is the Face of Depression

depression, anxiety

I was curled up in bed in my darkened room, watching television. I should have been in class that day, but didn’t feel like going.

That day was April 20th, 1999 when 13 students and teachers were murdered at Columbine High School. That tragedy only fueled the sadness inside me. I was overwhelmed. Anxious. I couldn’t sit still. If I tried to relax, something inside would jump or twitch. It was awful.

Who knew one person couldn’t handle two part-time jobs, church activities and a full-time class load? It broke me.

The process of getting “better” was just as difficult as the illness. The shrink told me I had OCD, anxiety and depression and they each required different medications. (I recognize now that the OCD was a misdiagnosis. I don’t have any compulsive behaviors. I actually have generalized anxiety disorder, but the medication for OCD has been beneficial with irrational fears I have.)

Daily 30-minute drives to therapy in Lexington.

Yes, daily.

Multiple medications, several of which I still take today. Visits to the university’s disability services office to drop some classes and make arrangements for others.

I was positive that everyone in my economics class was staring at me, judging me. So I was offered the final exam in the career center, alone. Despite knowing this accommodation was available to me, the night before, as I was studying, I fell to the floor weeping uncontrollably.

I thought I’d fail. I figured all of this studying was worthless. I was only wearing a t-shirt and underwear, but I didn’t care when my dad came into my room and tried to comfort me. That moment is still so vivid, thinking about it even now almost 15 years later, it brings me to tears.

Of course, I got an A in economics, confirming my fears were completely irrational.

Then there was the night I was standing near my dresser, pills in hand and quickly had the thought, “I wonder what would happen if I took all of these pills?”

Knowing this was a bad sign, I told my psychiatrist and they immediately put me into a 3-week hospital day program for having “suicidal thoughts.” They had enough trust in me to know I’d make the drive into town myself, every weekday.

Some days it was boring. Who wants to sit in tiny rooms from 9 a.m. until Lord knows when in the evening? But it would be my first introduction to cognitive behavioral therapy and Lorna Doone shortbread cookies.

The aftermath of Columbine was weighing on all of us as a nation still, but I had to recover. I could tell I was getting better. I wasn’t as disillusioned with school or with doing…well, anything. I’d have relapses, like that next summer when I studied and worked abroad in Australia, and I became painfully homesick.

Then, as with all of us, life went on. My first experience after college living away from home was a bit of a bust. Losing a classmate from my study abroad program on 9/11 didn’t help. To this day, I still avoid footage of the attack.

After my Mom’s cancer diagnosis, I became a serious homebody. Most of my friends accepted this. Some didn’t. But I lived. I lived as much as I could.

My illness is manageable, and I’m considered “highly functioning.” My symptoms are internal, so it’s nearly impossible to tell unless you spend a lot of time with me. (Poor hubby, LOL.)

Some days I can’t tell if I’m depressed, fatigued or just being lazy as they all “feel” the same. Being an entrepreneur is not exactly the easiest life  for me, haha. I require structure and most days I don’t create schedules for myself. But I’m growing my business at a pace that’s comfortable to me.

I’ve felt overwhelmed lately, so I incorporate more breaks, maybe a nap. Of course, the guilt creeps up, but I try to push it away. I still see shrinks and take meds. It’s a part of my life now, and each therapist over the years has told me it will probably always be this way.

Also being an introvert, being around other people is exhausting. I love to laugh, but I have to practice being social and be intentionally positive. It’s not easy, but I do it. This is why I’m purposely doing more networking events and speaking engagements – to get over that fear and to dispel some of the melancholy I generally feel.

This is the life of someone who is depressed. Only a few people knew the whole back story until today. Robin Williams’ death spurred me to do something…anything.

I hope this encourages someone to continue living as well as they can, because each day there is something to live for.


7 thoughts on “This is the Face of Depression

  1. Unfortunately Wileshia I share a similar story. The years were 200-2002 (at least that’s where the diagnosis came in). How knows how long I had really been depressed. The really hurtful part is that people that love and care about you sometimes dismiss it as a few bad days or some other reason that they choose to believe

    1. Thanks for sharing Charita! I wonder about that too. I know I had always struggled with anxiety, but I wonder how many years I suffered. Glad you’re okay! 😀

  2. I can’t begin to tell you, how much I appreciate your transparency in sharing this. This is real. It is an invisible suffering to casual onlookers. I applaud you for getting help.

    1. Thanks! It’s become such an afterthought in my life. You don’t walk around thinking, “Gee I hope no one can see my anxiety!” LOL I expect to have irrational obsessive worry every day. But suicides just jar you, you know? Thanks for reading.

  3. I am sooook very proud of you for sharing your experience! We have more in common than you know beautiful girl! That darkness is very real! Awareness and understanding are desperately needed! One sometimes never knows what analysts of pain an individual can hide behind a smile. It takes courage to share your 1999 and let others know that there is no quick fix! There is no miracle pill and “just get over it” does not exist when you dwell in that void. Thank you for using your voice to let those who are unaware know that finding the light takes work. It is a job in itself! Depression is an invisible illness that too many people name “lazy”, “weak”, “uninterested”…. I know all too well the many descriptive terms non sufferers choose. My battle with depression is combined with another illness, Idiopathic Hypersomnia. I am at war everyday. Thank you for sharing your voice, fellow soldier, and keep marching strong! You are an inspiration! Maybe you could guide me in the future into your blogging world. I write constantly and the beauty is, in today’s world, my words could be shared from the comfort of my couch. 😉 Maybe, one day, I can choose bravery as you have. What is a voice if it is never heard?!?! Again, crossing paths with you and your hubby continues to be a blessing! Forever grateful!

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