The Face of Depression

I’ve spoke of this many times before but feel the need to reiterate it now: depression isn’t always hiding under the covers, frowning or crying all the time. You may be sitting at work next to someone now who is fighting depression or you may pass someone on the street who offers you a smile, all the while fighting their own demons and wondering how they’ll make it through the day.

It’s not secret that I’ve had my own off-and-on battle with depression, I think it’s something I’ll always have to deal with. That’s partially why I haven’t written lately…I wasn’t really sure what to say. So many things have happened around me in the past 6 months that relate to mental health and suicide and I just couldn’t bring myself to write. Until now. I saw this video Chester Bennington’s wife posted on Facebook months after her husband died and I knew I had to share it. Maybe you’ve seen it, maybe you haven’t, but it’s a good reminder that depression doesn’t isn’t all tears and staying in bed, some people are better at hiding it than others. So use this as a reminder to hug your friends & family and always be open to lend a shoulder or a listening ear to someone who may need it.

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Keeping Your Memory Alive

As I drove home from work last night I tried to remember where I was 6 years ago. Thanks to apps like TimeHop & Facebook’s On This Day, I have a slight memory of where I was and what I was doing. I couldn’t tell you much about my mindset on July 6, 2011 but I can tell you this:

I was recently 21, working a summer job at a radio station, which included working a summer event series called Nitefall on the River with this guy named Adam who, on this particular night, walked with me up to the steps of the state capitol and we talked about life, dreams & goals. From there, my mind is a little blank.

It didn’t need to soak up all of the events of the day or the week, the emotions I was feeling or anything else because I had no idea that, in hours, my entire life would be turned upside down.

Six years ago I was broken. My world had stopped spinning and I couldn’t focus on anything in front of me. I wrote last year about how I could still feel everything from that day six years ago; that’s still true today. And, thanks to technology, the messages I sent out six years ago still have the ability to transport me to my broken, 21 year old self who wasn’t sure she could make it through the day.

I reluctantly looked at my apps this morning and saw messages like this:

timeHop

Technology can be a beautiful and terrible thing.

I wasn’t sure if I should write this year. As many of you know, I recently got engaged. And, as the rest of you know, much of this blog is about the life lessons or heartbreak I’ve endured since my boyfriend killed himself six years ago. For many people, those are conflicting. Shouldn’t I have moved on by now? Should I no longer feel heartache for someone I truly loved? I’m sure you all have your opinions. Luckily, I have mine too.

Shortly after Luke died, I got a tattoo of his initials on my foot and, though his mom knew how much I loved him, she warned me that someday I’d move on and it might be tough to explain that to the new man in my life. But I didn’t care, and I don’t care, and I’m lucky enough to be in a relationship where my past is respected and understood.

These blog posts are therapeutic to me and are the best way I can keep Luke’s memory alive. Though years have passed and I’ve opened myself up to loving and being loved, it doesn’t mean that I can’t mourn a love I lost; a best friend who left this Earth long before I ever wanted him to.

I wrote earlier that six years ago I was broken. The year following that, I was just as broken, if not more. I’m not standing before you six years later telling you that I have it all together because I don’t. If we’re being honest, I had a breakdown on Monday night and another one last night. I’m not perfect, I hurt and mourn for people who are long gone and a big portion of me thinks that parts of me will always be broken but it’s that brokenness that reminds me of how much, and who, I’ve had to love in this life.

Luke

 

Give Me a Stick

My sister shared this with me today from Post Secret’s Facebook page and it really resonated with me, so I felt compelled to share.

PS

For those of you passing out sticks, thank you. For those of you asking for them, your fight is worth it.

 

We Must Tell The Truth

DepressionHow many times a day do you tell a lie? And yes, we’re counting the little white lies. Once? Twice? Maybe you’re a better person than I am and you don’t tell a single lie in a day. But I’m going to bet that, more often than not, we all tell at least one.

What if I told you that someone took a moment in their life, probably one of the biggest moments in their life to date, and told the truth when it would have been So. Much. Easier. to tell a lie.

A friend of mine passed along an article to me today and I can’t stop thinking about.

A woman wrote her sister’s obituary. Let me stop right there and say that’s a much more difficult task than you might think. I went to journalism school & was taught to stick to the cold, hard facts when it came to obituaries. Know what we didn’t cover in school? How to handle a suicide. I can tell you it was hard enough writing my mom’s obituary and she died from cancer, something that is much more well-received than a suicide is. Not only did this woman write her sister’s obituary but she came out and told her sister’s story the way it played out IRL.

Aletha Meyer Pinnow, 31, of Duluth, formerly of Oswego and Chicago, Ill., died from depression and suicide on Feb. 20, 2016.

Eleni chose a time when her and her family were hurting. She could have chosen to discuss this matter at a later date or speak out about suicide and depression when their hearts weren’t so raw. But she didn’t. Instead, she started a conversation & asked others to join in too.

And that is something that I have so much respect for. I urge you to read this article.

Depression lies, but we can tell the truth.

 

Sometimes It’s the Little Things

I came across this self-care card on Facebook today and it really struck a chord with me. Sometimes, life can be this big, scary, overwhelming thing that we start to believe we can’t handle. A project at work, combined with weight gain, financial stress or a fight with a loved one can all snowball into a giant nightmare that we think we can’t handle. But we can.

Sometimes all you need is to take 5 minutes out of your day to relax, focus on yourself and then re-examine the task(s) at hand.

My challenge for you today, even if you’re feeling great about yourself is this: Complete one of the steps on this self-care card, take a couple of minutes to do something special for yourself and then share it with someone who you feel could really benefit from this. We all have tough days, some worse than others, but it’s important to remember that you really are stronger than you think.Copyright Sinope (eponis.tumblr.com), 2015.

Holidays

http://blog.cookingchanneltv.com/2012/11/13/easy-thanksgiving-table-decorating-ideas/Holidays.

For many the thought of bright lights, tables overflowing with food and family come to mind.

For others thoughts of loneliness, desertion and heartache come to mind.

I’m a combination of both.

Three years ago, after celebrating Thanksgiving with my family, giving thanks for my mom’s health and time spent with family, my mom was hospitalized and died shortly after. Before my mom died I associated Thanksgiving with the death of my high school best friend. While others were excited for time away from school/work, food and time to see cousins who live far away my mind was on the people that I lost. Thanksgiving for me is one of the hardest times of the year. But it wasn’t always this way.

I grew up in a family where holidays were everything; we had decorations for every miniscule holiday and made food weeks in advance to the actual holiday. Growing up I loved holidays but now I find myself dreading them; I count the days until they’re over and life can go back to normal.

Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s a great time to reflect on all that you have and are thankful for this past year, but try to remember that some people are only able to think of the hurt that this time of year brings around.

This holiday season I challenge you to reach out to someone you haven’t talked to in a long time or someone you think may really be struggling this season. Tell them how much they mean to you and that they’re appreciated because, for many people, the holidays can be some of the loneliest times of the year.

 

Postpartum Depression

This subject keeps popping up in my life this past week. First, with news that someone in my life was suffering with this issue and then again today when I heard the news of actress Hayden Panettiere seeking treatment for her postpartum depression. So, I felt inclined to educate myself and write about this.

As a woman who is not a parent, I will be the first to admit that I had minimal knowledge about this type of depression. While I understood it was real and affected many new moms out there, I didn’t know how broad the spectrum of this really was.

There are two issues many moms deal with after having a baby:

  1. The “baby blues”
  2. Postpartum depression

The “baby blues”

Being a blonde hair, blue-eyed female, people have approached me throughout my life talking about my bright “baby blues” (referring to my eyes). While this is being used in a semi-creepy but lighthearted way, the term which we’re about to discuss is very serious.

The “baby blues” are a mild form of depression and mood swings that occur post-baby; it’s been noted that up to 80% of new mothers experience this. Instead of celebrating their new baby, the mom may feel like crying. The “blues”, as they’re referred to, are spoken of as a part of becoming a new mom and are caused by hormonal changes after birth. These symptoms often occur shortly after giving birth and can last up to a few weeks.

I feel for anyone experiencing this. Not only is that individual expected to care for another human being now but they’re also faced with something that might make a simple task, like getting out of bed, difficult.

However, I have an issue with this term. “Baby blues”, to me, implies that this is not taken seriously; that this is just a hormonal issue that new moms experience post-birth. While this, in fact, may just be a stage in that woman’s life referring to it as the “blues” seems demeaning. It’s just as bad as telling anyone with a form of depression that they just have a case of the blues and will get over.

Too bad it’s not that simple.

Postpartum Depression

Postpartum depression can often look like the “baby blues” but is often more serious, according to some sources, and differentiating between the two may be difficult.

The symptoms make look the same between the “blues” and PPD but the main difference in the two is often the severity of the symptoms and the amount of time these symptoms last. Postpartum does not always arise initially after giving birth; it can take some women days or weeks to begin feeling these and can last months. If the symptoms have lasted longer than 2 weeks, it’s probably a good idea to get you, or your loved one, in to see a doctor.

Signs & symptoms to look out for are:

  • Mood swings
  • Anxiety
  • Sadness
  • Irritability
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Crying
  • Reduced concentration
  • Appetite problems
  • Trouble sleeping

In Panettiere’s appearance on “Live! With Kelly and Michael” she said:

It’s [Postpartum depression] something that needs to be talked about. Women need to know that they’re not alone, and that it does heal … There’s a lot of people out there that think that it’s not real, that it’s not true, that it’s something that’s made up in their minds, that ‘Oh, it’s hormones.’ They brush it off. It’s something that’s completely uncontrollable. It’s really painful and it’s really scary and women need a lot of support.

Health.com

Postpartum depression. Image from Health.com

Moms have a special place in my heart. I applaud the women who choose to sacrifice their bodies and their lives to bring another human into this world. But it’s important for the rest of us to look out for these women, too.

I’m thankful for the people who are willing to open up and talk about their depression. This week, I was challenged to educate myself and I encourage you to do the same.

Let’s Talk.

As summer nears an end and many students and teachers are gearing up for another school year, it’s important to recognize the symptoms of depression.

With the rise of social media incorporated into everyone’s daily lives (mine included) it can be easy to display a confident, happy façade. Instead of pretending that the world is full of butterflies and rainbows, let’s focus on having real conversations that matter.

I read stories about depression and suicide on a weekly basis, each one hitting close to home and reminding me of a time and place in my own life when these thoughts and feelings were all too familiar. Today I read a New York Times article shedding light on depression and suicide among students. It pains me to see that, since 2007, suicide rates among 15-24 year-olds have increased. I forget sometimes that, as willing as I am to talk about these subjects, they are still very much taboo, especially to our youth.

That’s why I love reading about non-profits like Active Minds or TWLOHA becoming more and more active on campuses across the U.S. I love reading articles like this one, a major newspaper, willing to tackle topics that are so important to talk about. We’re all aware that these topics make so many people uncomfortable and can be hard to open up about, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have the conversation.

This article focused heavily on the use of social media and the effect it has on youth. Sure, a smiling selfie might look great, but do you really know what’s going on in that person’s mind? Instead of constantly posting on Facebook or Snapchatting, have a conversation with the person sitting next to you. Open up about your bad days with your roommate or close friends. I’m guilty of closing off others in light of having a difficult conversation, but maybe this is something we need to challenge ourselves with.

Talk about the things that hurt.

Share the things that upset you.

Ask for help when you need it.

And take the posts you see on social media with a grain of salt. Maybe we’re all just trying to put on a Face to make it seem like we’re not living in some dark, tortured world. Maybe our lives aren’t as happy and perfect as we make them appear on Instagram. And if that’s the case … it’s okay.

If you see someone shutting down, please speak up. If you don’t have a story of your own to share, then share Kathryn DeWitt’s story or share mine, but we need to keep talking about suicide and depression. We need to let the youth of this world know that there is a life possible outside of depression and suicide does not have to be the answer.

Always Keep Fighting

I was surprised when I opened up my Facebook today and saw an update that had “depression” and “Comic-Con” in the same line. I was confused and intrigued, so I read on.

Over the weekend the ever-famous Comic-Con took place in San Diego. During one of the breakout sessions, fans lit candles in support of Supernatural actor, Jared Padalecki, and his battle with depression.

Months ago, the actor launched his first Always Keep Fighting campaign with proceeds going to To Write Love on Her Arms. I wasn’t aware of Jared’s story but have spent a good portion of my morning researching his battle and how he has taken his platform as a celebrity to speak out about issues that really matter and to share his own story.

Stories like this always bring a smile to my face and I love that stories like this are seeing more and more press coverage and encouraging others to speak out about depression and the struggle that many people face on a daily basis.

Always Keep Fighting

Five Years in the Making

One of the best aspects of my life over the past three and a half years, has been the opportunity to listen to people’s stories. Everyone in this world has an amazing, inspiring, but often, tragic, story. I believe that by sharing our story with others we not only gain strength, but empower others to share theirs as well.

For some of you, today might just be any other day, but for one particular person reading this, it’s a step to a new life. It’s a step to working through the depression and the events that life has thrown their way and turning the page.

Earlier this week I was approached with the story below and, with their permission, I am sharing this with you. Thank you for being brave. Thank you for sharing your story.

Dear Friend,

It’s February again. I keep waiting for the depression to seep in. It always follows me around like a dark cloud on a rainy day this time of year. No matter how busy I keep myself, no matter how much I try to distract myself from the negative thoughts and emotions, the rain cloud grows and grows and grows until it reaches its peak on February 25th, the day I was raped five years ago.

Five years ago, I didn’t understand what had happened to me. Five years ago, I didn’t know how to deal with what had happened to me. Not much has changed today.

I will spare you the specific details, but there are some things about my rape you should probably know. It happened in my own house, in my own room, in my own bed. The person who raped me was a friend, someone I had once liked.

After it happened, I immediately started shaking. I felt physically and emotionally dirty. After he was gone, I texted my best friend and explained to her what had happened. I told her things had gone too far. She told me I was raped. She told me I needed to go to the hospital. Instead I put my sheets in the washing machine and went to school. I sat through my classes and acted as if nothing had happened. I came home from school and did my homework and ate dinner with my family as if nothing was wrong. Meanwhile, depression and confusion were numbing my entire body. I wanted to explode from the guilt and regret I felt.

I dealt with what happened by binge drinking and cutting. They usually went hand in hand. I would drink to numb whatever pain I was feeling, but instead it would intensify those emotions, and at the end of the night I would slip into a nearby bathroom and delicately cut my thighs or my forearms.

Today, I have completely stopped cutting. Although I consider myself a healthier person emotionally, I still don’t know how to deal with what happened to me. Maybe that’s why I’m writing this letter, as a way to cope.

I think the hardest part for me is not feeling like I have anyone to talk to about it. I have tried to open up to friends, but no one has seemed to understand or support me the way I wanted them to. Even after I confided in some of my friends they still continued to make rape jokes or make light of rape while I was hanging out with them. This made me want to run from the room screaming but instead I would usually sit silently or pretend to laugh it off with everyone else.

The word “rape” makes me cringe or freeze up. Regardless, I still find myself immersed in books, movies, and news stories that deal with the topic. Maybe other survivor stories will help me to understand my own. And maybe my own story will help another survivor.

I’m not sure if the emotional pain from my rape will ever go away. Sure, it has dulled with the years, but it’s still there. And every February, it soaks back stronger than ever, maybe just as a reminder that I survived, and that I’ll keep surviving. Here’s to making it through another February.