Here are five things I have learned about depression over the past year:
1. You don't have to be sad to be depressed. It took years to admit to myself that something was off with my mental health. And that is because I thought I needed to be sad to be depressed. I never had a reason for the scary thoughts in my head, so I never felt like I had a valid reason to ask for help. When you are in the middle of depression, nothing is clear and it is hard to see the other side. Of course, I had the right to ask for help, you always have the right to ask for help no matter how small your problem may seem. I sure as hell didn't look like those sad and gloomy people on TV commercials. I am and always have been a very happy, outgoing, positive, and optimistic person. But, occasionally I was that same person who also happened to have suicidal thoughts.
2. Hinting to people is not communicating. I kept telling my husband that I wasn't okay - that my mental health was struggling. That was not enough. First, I needed to say to myself, out loud, what was wrong, and then I had to say it to him. My go to daydream included suicidal thoughts. I never acted on them, but it gave me relief to think about it.
3. Telling people is so important. Talking to people about it and being open with family and friends made a huge difference. I needed a little grace as I learned to help myself heal. I needed the extra support. And I needed to let out the secret I had been holding for so long.
4. Side effects are sometimes worth it. My side effects were mild, but I did experience fatigue along with weight gain. Having the opportunity to free my mind of disturbing thoughts was so worth feeling sleepy and gaining weight. It allowed me the relief that I needed to heal.
5. Medication doesn't have to be forever. I had no idea that some medications for treating depression are meant to be a short term, that the point of using them is to correct the hormonal imbalance in the brain and remind your body how it should work. Of course, this is all circumstantial and can effect each person in a different way.
I have been officially off my medication for two months now and things are going well. As I transitioned I felt flutters (like butterflies) regularly, sometimes felt numb or tingly, and had bouts of extreme dizziness. And then, just like that, my energy started coming back, my post dinner nap didn't feel as necessary, and my mind felt clear. Wish me luck that things continue on this great path!