Today I wanted to talk about something I've touched on randomly here and there, but I've never really gone into great detail about: Depression. Occasionally I'll mention that I'm having a "Blue Day" (that's what my great-grandmother called it/them) or that I've been a little down. I try not to dwell on it, in fact, usually it passes fairly quickly.
I have had major depression in the past though. I will readily admit that I was on several different medications over the course of about three years. I started with Prozac; I think most of us do. That helped to an extent. I finally understood what "normal" might feel like. In other words, not flying off the handle over nothing or crying because I tripped over my own feet. Basically, hypersensitive to anything and everything.
Then I hit a point where I felt numb. No feelings. I couldn't cry. I didn't get mad when I should have. Nada. Nothing. Not normal. And the thing was, I realized it. I knew it wasn't right. I wanted to feel…something. We tried a list of other medications, some with a little success, some with no success, and some with terrible side effects like vertigo. That's always fun, being depressed and then having side-effects like vertigo. That'll really keep you on an even keel.
I finally had enough of the ups and downs just associated with the various medications alone. I knew what normal reactions should be, and I learned to gauge myself better. Self-taught behavioral therapy I suppose. I learned to use exercise to my benefit. I always say running is my therapy. And it literally is - any exercise really.
There are many types of depression. You can have major depression, bi-polar, or even what is considered atypical. While I no longer have the long bouts of major depression, I do have random spells of sadness and overwhelming anxiety - my Blue Days.
Sometimes I can be humming along, feeling great, and then within minutes I'm ready to hole up and cry until I cannot cry any more. It just hits me out of nowhere. A slap in the face. And sometimes it passes just as quickly. It may sound slightly bi-polar-ish because I can go from happy to sad and back to happy within a day, but I'm never manic.
But, sometimes it starts to well up slowly. A quiet building up, like an ocean wave gaining momentum - things piling on bit by bit. Day-to-day stressors, worries, fears, anxieties. And then that wave hits. My Blue Days might be Blue Weeks at that point.
Usually, if I dig down and look for the positives, remind myself constantly of the positives, I'm usually ok. Many people may not even notice that I'm down. What I know about myself is that I feel the urge to workout even more, a need really. Like the desire to take off running and run until I literally cannot run anymore. At the same time, I don't want to go out and do anything in public. That feels too overwhelming, too stressful. I don't necessarily eat any differently though. Food has never been a comfort thing for me like that. I tend to have more insomnia issues though and get really testy.
I guess the reason I am talking about this is because depression isn't uncommon. Yet, it's something people don't often talk about. It still h as a stigma attached to it. And that means people often don't seek treatment, even if that just means talking to a friend, partner, family member.
Depression can be inherited. It can be because of loss, life-changes, or even an illness. I've definitely struggled more with depression since the diagnosis of the blood clot back in December. And then having all the problems with my running injuries certainly hasn't helped matters. Some days I wake up and just feel totally defeated by the pain. Ready to thrown in the proverbial towel. But I remind myself things could be worse, others do have it worse. Suck it up. Move it along.
Other times it's self-doubt that creeps in, little things that happen throughout the day, weekly stresses, you know, the typical trials of daily living. I think I have forgotten to work through everything lately though. I've just been running away, literally. And at some point, you can't keep running right? Yep, that's what I thought.
Again, I'm not writing this for sympathy, but rather for awareness. You never know who around you may be suffering. Maybe we can all learn to pay better attention. We can help ourselves and help others.
Have you ever suffered from depression? Do you still see it as something slightly taboo, a topic to avoid?
Some Facts About Depression
Did you know:
- 1 in 10 people will have a depressive disorder during their lifetime
- Depression is considered a syndrome characterized by a group of symptoms reflecting a sad or blue mood exceeding normal sadness or grief.
- Depressive disorders affect approximately 18.8 million American adults or about 9.5% of the U.S. population age 18 and older in a given year.
- 30% of women are depressed.
- 54% of people believe depression is a personal weakness.
- 41% of depressed women are too embarrassed to seek help.
- 80% of depressed people are not currently having any treatment.