A personal account of depression
Editor’s note: The Newnan Times-Herald continues a special focus on depression and suicide and how those suffering in Coweta can get help.
The topic of depression is often the metaphorical elephant in the room. No one wants to discuss it, but everyone knows it is there, and, in truth, most have even been affected by it.
Depression is an affliction that can sneak into a person’s thoughts. If you are not careful, the weight of sadness can change your outlook on everything.
For me, depression began when I was 15. My family moved to a new state and a new school. I felt lonely and worthless and my self-esteem suffered.
Worst of all, I did not believe I could bring myself to explain my state of mind to anyone. I wasn’t certain as to why. I have a great family, and don’t remember ever feeling afraid to tell them anything, but this was one topic I couldn’t talk about.
I simply wanted to be alone and somewhere inside of myself I felt as though opening up about my depression would somehow make it worse.
Despite the high school angst, the changes and pressures, I found a way to suppress my feelings, push out my chin, and carry on.
High school ended well, and I went on to college, moving to several different places throughout the years, and experienced the ups and downs of life.
Some valleys were average. Things like dating and money woes brought me some anxiety and sadness, but other times seemed almost more than I could handle.
Through the ups and downs, I continued to push down those negative feelings – until eventually, it all seemed to bubble back up to the surface.
I was on a teaching fellowship in South America. It was the pinnacle of my graduate school experience. I was able to work in another country, represent my school internationally, and work with a global organization. All things I had wanted and worked hard for.
I should have been happy, but instead, I was miserable.
I was unable to focus on anything positive happening in my life. I could see only the negative. I was far away from home and everything around me was different.
I finally revealed my struggles to my mother. Without my having mentioned my suffering before, she seemed to have known. Moms usually do.
My mother had known I was struggling and had already set about finding me the help I needed.
I met with a professional as soon as I arrived home. The doctor was able to quickly diagnose depression and prescribed medication.
With the support from my mother, medical assistance and medication, I was able to embrace life again. I accepted the challenges of the work I was doing, and I was able to connect with my students and others I met.
It ended so much better than it began, and to this day, the whole experience is one of the best of my life.
These days, I wonder how my life might have been different had I been able to share my struggle with depression sooner.
The recent tragedy of Robin Williams’ death saddened me, as it did many of us. I had so many questions. How could someone who brought so much happiness to so many be silently struggling inside? If depression wasn’t such an elephant in the room, and if he had talked about what he was feeling, would he still be alive?
More awareness needs to be brought to the topic of depression.
Lives depend on it.