Depression 101: Myths and facts

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I have spent a lot of time talking to people about depression since my post in February “Suzy Sunshine🌞“where I openly discussed my own depression.  I have absolutely LOVED the feedback and discussions that my blog generated and am so happy I took that huge leap to open up and talk about something that many people struggle with.

While talking to people though, I have realized, even more, how many misconceptions there are about depression.  I am devoting this blog to a few of those but will be writing more blogs on my experiences and knowledge in the future as I can see that people NEED and WANT to talk about it.

The first misconception I will address is that those people you hear say “I am so depressed” do not struggle with/suffer with depression.  I know they are just using it as an expression, but it really kind of minimalizes the pain and suffering those of us who are actually suffering go through.  Those of us who do, do not just randomly use this expression; we suffer in silence mostly and if we do ask for help it is just that.  We say that we are struggling and need some help only to those very close to us who we trust.  This is EXTREMELY hard for us though.  I am better at it now that I have opened up to more people, but those suffering are generally doing it in silence.

The second misconception is that depression is something that you can just “snap out of” with the right distraction and attention.  Oh how I would love it to be this easy!  No matter what people say to us (“everything will work out”), do to distract us (try to get us to laugh etc), remind us of the good things (“be thankful for all you have”) it, sadly, doesn’t help! I wish these heartfelt gestures by friends did help, but unfortunately I end up feeling far worse as I am made to realize that “yes, everything is perfect, so why am I SOOOOOO sad all the time!!!”  I know that these intentions come from the right place in your heart, but the best thing you can do is give me a hug, not ask me how I am (I’ll just break down) and let me know you are there if I need you.  Most people have learned to read me well and for this I am thankful.

I am in the very fortunate position of having a wonderful support network and for this I am eternally grateful!

The last misconception is about taking medications to help in treating depression.  I, as I have been quite open about, am a believer in medication so want non-believers to understand that taking a medication for a mental health illness does not make you weak.  Many people are uncomfortable with admitting they are are on meds but this is ridiculous. People believe the meds will “change you”. If by change you you mean level things out in your brain so that you can deal with life like the average person can, then YES, they do change you. A positive change that helps you cope with life on an even level.They are not happy pills that make you feel numb and happy. If they do you are on too high a dose! Don’t be embarrassed. Be proud that you are getting the help you need.  If I needed help seeing should I be embarrassed to wear my glasses? It’s the same thing❤

I am going to leave it at that for this blog, but those of you who have opened up to me, please pm me any time, and continue to reach out for support.

Your Simply Susan lesson the day! 😄

 

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Suzy Sunshine 🌞

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For those of you who know me personally, would you believe me if I told you that I struggle with depression? Even to my faithful blog readers it’s likely not something you would have figured out, since I like to keep my blogs positive and happy.

With Bell’s Let’s Talk Campaign approaching us, I want to bring awareness to Depression and Mental Illness and encourage people to recognize the signs and symptoms and I thought I would start by telling you about myself.

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That’s right, I am one of the many people who deal with this on a daily basis and have learned to hide it very, very well. Not only that, but I have also learned to cope with it and also learned who truly loves me and accepts me for who I am.

I know this likely comes as quite a shock to many of you who think that I seem like the opposite of someone who suffers from depression; I mostly always have a huge smile on my face, I laugh A LOT, and I always have something positive to say to people! I am often referred to as “Suzy Sunshine”! The thing is, I treat others the way I want, and hope, people will treat me and others. It’s as simple as that. I want to feel good, and I know that when people greet me with a smile and a friendly hello, it can instantly make me feel good. I like to spread the joy and it truly makes me a happier, better person.

I feel the need to bring this out there and deal with it head on as I feel like there needs to be so much more awareness and acceptance out there about mental illness.

I came to terms with it only about 5 years ago now, but know definitely that it is something that I have hidden, struggled with, denied, and coped with since my teen years at least. Depression can be brought on by traumatic life events such as sickness or death of loved ones, or, as in my case, genetics. Because depression is a mental illness, people in older generations have difficulty accepting and admitting to having it as they see it as “psychotic” or “mentally disturbed” among other things. It is not accepted by them as easily. I have tried to educate and show my family member that they also suffer from it and could benefit from treatment, but this was not well received, and in fact it was adamantly denied. I can easily trace it back 2 generations and in my case, it is genetic. Thankfully, my children are now fully aware of it and we have many open discussions with each other and our doctor.

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It is such a very hard thing to come to grips with and accept. For me, I totally recognize that I have a great life; an amazing, loving, supportive husband, 2 incredible, supportive children, a wonderful home, a job I love…..so when I was suffering daily, crying, feeling hopeless, feeling so sad that I thought life would be better for everyone without me, I knew that this was not right. For too long I suffered in silence thinking I just couldn’t handle the stresses of daily life because I was weak. I put myself down, had daily battles with myself, and faked it, faked it, faked it to those who knew me quite well. I truly thought that if I told people, that they would judge me, think I was making excuses and think I was weak. So, I hid it and suffered in silence as so many do.

Once I hit rock bottom…..everything in my life was going very well, yet when I was using one of my best coping strategies (running it out) I was crying uncontrollably and decided that enough was enough, I got home and immediately made an appointment to see my family doctor. She knows me very well, and has helped me very much over the years.

Now I know many people are against taking medication to help them deal with depression. They worry that it will change them or that they will be on it for life and be dependent on it. If you had diabetes and required medication to stabilize your blood sugar would you take it? Of course you would. So why, when you have a chemical imbalance in your brain that can be regulated with medication would you not take it? Medication can definitely help, but is not for everyone. There are so many treatments available to you, you just have to first accept that you need help then speak with someone you trust to see what is out there.

One thing people don’t understand about depression is that just “thinking about happy times” “thinking about all I have, the great life I lead and all I have going for me” or ” watching comedies” doesn’t get me out of my downward spirals. Boy do I wish it were as easy as that! That would be the life! Thinking of those things actually makes me worse because I realize that I have no tangible reason to be feeling as bad as I am feeling and I feel I must have everything wrong with my brain if I feel uncontrollably sad when I have no real reasons to be. I hated myself for feeling the way I would feel and felt so weak and like such a loser.

Negative thoughts are like magnets that attract each other and get heavier and heavier eventually weighing you down so far you feel as though you are in a deep hole that you’ll never get out of. You get a sort of tunnel vision and you just want to bury yourself in a hole and never emerge. Thankfully I am starting to recognize when I am spiraling down and reach out to close friends and my family for help. Now that I have opened up to some people that I knew would not judge me, I am able to get out of my spirals sooner and feel better more quickly than in the past.

I don’t have a tried and tested way for getting myself up and out of these downward spirals, but I THANKFULLY have some very special people in my life who really help me and love me no matter what. It is these people (and my dog Finely of course!!) as well as other factors that get me up and out of the hole I am. Sometimes though I still feel like such a burden that I try to hide it so as not to bring others down with me. I still feel weak a lot of the time for letting things get to me and not being able to cope but am learning to accept it for what it is an not over analyze it as much.

I accept that this is a lifelong struggle I will have, but with acceptance comes happiness…eventually!

WHOA! That was a lot to unload.

I do not want you to think that I, or anyone struggling with depression, uses this as an excuse for being grumpy, cold, moody, or short-tempered, I just want everyone to be aware that things and people aren’t always as they seem. I have become a “master of disguise” and it certainly has fooled others because those who I have shared my suffering with truly had no idea. One of my favourite comedians always comes to mind when I think of people having depression and hiding it well, r.i.p. Robin Williams.

My advice to anyone else out there who thinks they may also suffer with depression? Be honest with yourself and talk! That’s the best advice, talk, be open, accept yourself for who you are, and get some help.

Feel free to comment or send me a personal message. This was a big step for me to admit this in such a big way, but hopefully by reading this I will help at least one person and hopefully many more.

Your Simply Susan truth of the day!

Keep positive and smile on! You know I will.