Depression Has No Stereotype

An artistic photo of despair. A woman made of stone with the sunset in the description.

Photo by GloWill

I want you to imagine a person who you believe suffers from serious depression. What does that person look like? How does that person act? I’m sure most people would imagine a sullen person, with their head down, not able to get out of bed, and withdrawn.

That stereotype is not me. Outwardly, even during my darkest times, I was still able to project confidence, energy, and excitement. Looks can be deceiving.

Recently, I had a colleague commit suicide. He too, was an extremely charismatic outgoing person, but given the right circumstance, chronic pain and mismanaged health, he slipped into extreme depression and did not return.

Four years ago, I was consumed by depression. Many factors led up to this point including a divorce, bankruptcy, legal battles, becoming a single mom, moving to a new town, a new job, and entering into a new unhealthy relationship. At the time, I didn’t realize that I was sliding into depression.

For most of my life, I have kept journals, likely the reason I love blogging so much. With these I can look back at those very depressing years, re-read my words, and try to understand what I was feeling. These keys to my past help me better understand my present. At times, I can’t believe the words are mine and my current state of wellness is so far from the person I was writing about. Other times, I read the words and think, “Nothing has changed. I am still battling the same demons.”

I’ve clipped a few excerpts from my journal during my most depressive times. My point in sharing these excerpts is to let everyone know that:

  • It’s ok to talk about depression;
  • Many people suffer from chronic depression and many people suffer from situational depression;
  • Depression has no stereotype and may be affecting those who are skilled at projecting a very upbeat exterior;
  • Admitting depression is the first step in getting help; and
  • There is nothing wrong with seeing a therapist or even taking medicine that can help control your depression.

The journal entries were written when I was at the pinnacle of my depression.

My Journal Entries

August 15, 2014

I don’t feel well today. But that could be the result of the three glasses of wine and two temazepam to help me sleep last night. I did sleep. I did not want to get out of bed. I forced myself to get out of bed.

August 22, 2014

I have no appetite. Last night I was hungry but just didn’t feel like eating. I’ve lost five pounds in four days. My intestines are a wreck. I ate a hot pocket for breakfast. It was in the freezer at work. Hopefully it was my hot pocket. I don’t remember.

September 1, 2014

My mood was especially difficult today. I don’t even remember what was said and what wasn’t. I don’t know what emotions are real. I can’t go with my gut because I don’t trust myself. My reality is like a carnival fun house full of mirrors. The mirrors shift.

September 4, 2014

I fake a very good smile. No one would be able to see the pain inside my head. I am a very good actress. Although, it is getting harder to keep everything wrapped up in a pretty little package. I am afraid the tape is getting old and everything is going to fall out. Not sure if everything will fit back in the package.

September 8, 2014

I have succumbed to Apathy. Just like the Yin and the Yang, there must be darkness and light.  The darkness is drowning the light.

I miss the light.

Moving Forward

Soon after these entries, I started taking anti-depressants to help me climb out of my extreme state. The medicine was successful. My extreme depression was short lived and was able to change certain aspects of my life, seek counseling, end my unhealthy relationship, and regain my mental health. I am very aware of my inner struggles and my propensity for depression. The long cold winters of the great white north have been very hard on my mental stability and I am working on ways to manage that aspect of my mental health.

 

About Melissa Schaar

I am a scientist, teacher, student, friend, and mom. I am on a journey to my ultimate vitality. That journey includes living to the fullest, loving everyday, laughing whenever possible, and a constant state of learning.

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