*Please note this may be a trigger for your own depression or other mental health concern.*
I was deeply saddened to hear of the death of Robin Williams this evening. I’ve read posts on how he impacted people’s lives through his comedy and acting. And I have also read about more personal and closer to home battles with depression among those I am very close to.
One friend spoke about being pushed to the edge. But that thankfully she was able to step back from taking her own life. Today she is married to the love of her life and I must admit I am much better for having her in my life even if we only touch base via the internet and now through letters. But her post as well as Mr. Williams passing has brought me to think about my own struggles with depression and anxiety.
Most people “in the know” about my depression/anxiety would tell you it began around 2004. But they’d be wrong. I first saw a therapist when I was a sophomore or junior in college. I was going through a breakup with who I thought was the “love of my life” at the time and to be honest…my friends advice was not cutting it at the time. In fact I found it extremely hard to talk to them about what was going on in my life. I was also five long hours away from home which left me feeling very alone all while surrounded by friends. But I made it through. How? One day for some reason I happened by the college counseling center and knocked on the door.
I’ve never been more grateful that someone answered that door. Which was not the first time I was grateful someone was there to open a door when I knocked, or pick up the phone when I called. But Dr. L. did answer the door. In fact she saw me through a great deal in the time we spent together. To say that she saved me is an understatement. She probably had a lot to do with why I stayed at a college five hours away from home. I am forever grateful to her and was saddened to hear of her passing a few years ago.
At that time I didn’t consider that depression. From what I knew about any type of mental health concerns (thank you shitty college psychology classes) it was only a problem if your needed medication and at the time I didn’t. Boy was I wrong.
In 2004 all that would change. Again I was going through some serious relationship issues as well as some potential life altering medical testing stuff (the medical stuff turned out ok). But there i was in my early-mid 20’s not feeling like myself. I didn’t know what I was really feeling, I just knew that it wasn’t good. So I called my mom. Who thankfully was only an hour away this time. I remember clearly telling her “I don’t feel like myself, and I need to see someone.” She was outside my dorm room in an hour.
This was the first time I was prescribed lexapro, it would not be the last. I went and talked to my family doctor who prescribed the medication with the provision that I agreed to speak to someone. Which I did, another school psychologist. Let me tell you she too was a miracle worker. Then again maybe that was all me. But I had talked to her about things going on in my life. Which included not thoughts of taking my own life, but thoughts of what life would be like for others had I not been here at all.
Obviously, this wasn’t the best thought to have either. But we talked it out. I kept on with my medication for close to three years. I was quiet about being on the medication before as I did feel there was a stigma to being on something like that. But the people I shared it with turns out were also taking medication for their own battles with depression/anxiety/etc. It was like we had found out we all belonged to this really shitty club. But we also realized we had each other. That was something.
Like I said I was able to get off taking the lexapro once the medicine started to not make me feel like me anymore. Which was my hint that I didn’t need it anymore and honestly things were pretty great for quite a while. Until August 2012. By that point we had lost one pregnancy and I was about to find out that I was losing another. My husband’s cousin (and best man at our wedding) had been killed the very same day we found out that our unborn baby had no heartbeat. August 22 does not exist in our book. Fuck that day is the motto in this house.
That’s when depression and anxiety started to creep back into my life to make me feel worthless and to remind me I was a failure because I could not sustain a pregnancy past 6.5 weeks. The worst part was I listened. I LET it reach in and put down roots for close to six months. Then we got the best short lived news ever, we were expecting again. With that news the feeling of depression seemed to go away. The same thing happened with with baby number three. This time the depression and anxiety were there and waiting to cover me like a blanket. They made me think of them as old friends and that this was how life was going to be and that that life was ok.
And again, I let them until one day at work I called my husband in tears and told him I needed to see someone. I knew I needed to get back on the lexapro again and I needed to see someone to talk again. Thankfully the one good thing my former primary care doc did was give me Dr. H’s number. She has been a fantastic therapist. She along with my family and friends have seen me through the worst of my feelings of depression. So much so that I again was able to drop the lexapro. I do have a bottle of fast acting anxiety meds – just in case that I have taken twice in the six months I’ve had them. I’m grateful that I have the tools to help myself. I’m grateful for the friends and family who continue to be there for me in person, at conventions, online, or even in an email or a letter.
But it also reminds me that not everyone has the supports in their own life that I have in mine. There are people you can call if you are in crisis or just need someone to listen. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be reached 24/7 at 1-800-273-8255. In most cases they can also assist in giving direction on where or how to get further help. Please call them if you need to talk to someone. I know it isn’t for everyone, but it is one option. Talk to your friends and family. Hell talk to me here on the blog in the comments or hit me up on twitter (@galinthegreyhat).
The most important things I have learned in my past battle with depression and continued battle with anxiety is that they lie ALL THE TIME. I have also learned that I matter, and I want you to know if you are reading this that YOU matter. YOU are important and YOUR life means something.