I’ve read a lot of books about depression. I have a degree in a mental health field, and I have worked to help depressed individuals. Knowledgeable about depression? Yes, but I didn’t gain insight into how a depressed person thinks and feels until it happened to me.
I denied my depression for a long time. I was too proud to admit anything was wrong, because, after all, I was the counselor. The way I felt caused me to be embarrassed. I was ashamed. I had the same feelings all depressed people do. I felt worthless.
I didn’t become depressed all at once. At first I felt tired, as if life was dragging me down. But it was a kind of tired that rest didn’t help. Rest was hard to come by, though. I had trouble sleeping. I’d lie awake unable to sleep, then what little sleep I got was interrupted by waking up much too early.
I talked to my doctor about my physical complaints, and she recognized the problem right away. She suggested I see a therapist. I told her no thanks, I’d be fine.
As time went on, my energy left me. I found it harder and harder to smile. I felt weak, and my feet turned to lead. I had to grab the rail and pull myself up the stairs at work. Listening was difficult because I couldn’t concentrate. I no longer took an interest in dressing well. My clothing became a repetitious black or gray. I started to withdraw from friends. I found excuses to skip church, but then I felt guilty because I didn’t go.
The day came when getting out of bed was almost impossible, but I didn’t want to stay in bed, either. What I wanted to do was to crawl under the bed and stay there. I wanted to be where it was very dark and quiet.
I knew I could not continue this way. I remembered my doctor’s words. Feeling beaten and downcast, I went to see a therapist.
The therapist wanted to know why I had not come sooner. So I told her how I was not supposed to need help. I told her how embarrassing it was for me to be there now. I told her I felt ashamed I could not get better on my own. She listened. She was compassionate. She helped.
I was diagnosed with a bout of major depression. It took medication and a year of therapy to be well again. I’m grateful to have my life. I almost let it slip away, all because of embarrassment and shame. I was afraid someone would see the counselor sitting out front in the waiting room, now a patient. I was afraid of being judged as weak. I wasn’t thinking clearly when I was depressed. I know how serious depression is, and I know it needs treatment, yet at the time my judgement was clouded. Depression can happen to anyone.
Afterward, when I was back to my functioning self, I realized the grip depression has on a person. Thoughts are out of whack. The body is not working right. Even though I had adequate knowledge about depression, I had difficulty with the concept of asking for help when I needed it. The decision to ask for help prevented my life from going any deeper in a downward spiral. Both my smile and my strength have returned. Depression knocked me down, but not out.
Now when I encounter a depressed person, I feel that I have both knowledge and understanding of the condition. I understand much more about how hard it is for a depressed person to ask for and accept help. A depressed person needs a helping hand. If you are depressed, please get help. If someone you love is depressed, please encourage them to go for help.
Bio: Anita Stafford enjoys writing for both children and adults. She makes her home in the peaceful rolling hills of northern Arkansas, and she is a wife and the mother of a son and two daughters. Anita has worked both as a third grade teacher and a school counselor in public schools. She is also a Licensed Professional Counselor. Anita enjoys collecting cookbooks and baking.