My Life With Depression — It’s Not Something You Have to Live With
Would you be surprised to find that I’ve been living with depression most of my adult life? Of course, on the air, I try to always sound upbeat, but much like Pagliacci, I’ve had to cover up for the fact that, from time to time, I fall into very serious, deep depression.
I was first diagnosed with depression the day after September 11, 2001. Now, while the attacks on the World Trade Center sent a lot of people into a feeling of sadness, I was already depressed in general. The tragedy of that day, merely served to deepen the depression and anxiety I was already feeling.
To make matters worse, I didn’t have time to deal with my feelings about that day. Being in the media, meant that we had to go on the air and report the facts and not let our feelings show too much. Add to that the fact that I had to plan a rally that was held at the Civic Center on September 13th and I was appearing in a musical at Lake Charles Little Theater that weekend and the next three weeks. Let me tell you, I felt anything but musical.
"The thing is, depression doesn’t care who you are or how great a life you may have. It’s a chemical imbalance in the brain and it clouds all reason. It comes on suddenly and won’t let go of you until you take the first step to dealing with it."I went to see a doctor because I had had enough of feeling lost and hopeless. That’s about the best I can do to describe how depression feels. Despite September 11 being a catalyst for my deepening depression, I don’t particularly get depressed over situations. True depression is much more insidious than that. In fact, everything in your life can be going great, but there –through it all — you can be deeply depressed.
Now, unlike many people who deal with depression, I’ve never been suicidal. I’m very thankful for that, but I have had many moments when I didn’t care if I lived or died. I’ve never told anyone except my doctor about that feeling.
I do get the, “What have you got to be depressed about?” comment from several people and the answer is, “nothing.” That’s one reason that depression can make you feel so bad. I have a pretty darned good life, yet I still have feelings of hopelessness and sometimes even fear that go along with these sudden and unwanted feelings. I have these “depressed feelings” even though I am, over all, a very positive minded person.
Depression is also more than just being depressed. Along with the feelings of sadness you may feel fear. This is not the fear of normal things that people fear like snakes and spiders. The fear that comes with depression is pretty much a general feeling of fear. You may find yourself being afraid that everything is going down the drain. You may even have a sense of impending doom over some situation in your life. It’s not a fear you can “man” your way through because it will completely overwhelm you.
These fears are usually not grounded in any kind of logic at all. One side effect of that fear is that you may actually make yourself physically ill by dwelling on those fears, but dwell on them you will. Not your fault. I can’t stress that enough.
The thing is, depression doesn’t care who you are or how great a life you may have. It’s a chemical imbalance in the brain and it clouds all reason. It comes on suddenly and won’t let go of you until you take the first step to dealing with it.
"Please. If you have those dark moments despite your best efforts, get some professional help right away, particularly if you have had suicidal thoughts. Don’t be ashamed."Winston Churchill was a famous sufferer of depression and he called it “The Black Dog.” When the “Black Dog” is in your life, you can’t expect to handle it alone. The point of this whole article is to tell you that, if you suffer from depression, don’t be afraid to seek help. I’ve never had anyone fault me for my depression and I don’t really keep it a secret because I can’t help it if some people don’t understand.
Please. If you have those dark moments despite your best efforts, get some professional help right away, particularly if you have had suicidal thoughts. Don’t be ashamed. Share your feelings with your friends and family. You’re going to need a good support group to help you in addition to the fact that you may have to take depression medication for the rest of your life.
I take Zoloft and Abilify and that helps me, but there are lots of anti-depression drugs out there. Don’t be discouraged if it takes awhile to find the med that really works for you. The important thing is to get help right away. If anyone judges you for having depression, they’re not your friend. Depression is not a sign of weakness. I can’t stress that point enough.
If this helps just one person deal with depression, I’ll be more than happy.