By Rachael Taylor
Hey there friend,
I've got a juicy topic for you today - I'm going to share with you a piece of my story - the first time I realized that I was in a deep depression. It's raw, it's real, and it's completely and 100% me and my feelings. I'm writing this with the intention of giving you a glimpse into what it's actually like to live with something like depression and how you can help anyone you know struggling with it. Thanks for reading - here we go.
I had been depressed since I was 16 but in that doctor’s office at 22 was the first time the way I felt was given a name.
I filled out the new patient form with the same ease as you would pour your coffee. This was pretty routine for me. Start with my full name, move on to gender, height, weight, etc. scroll, scroll, scroll, emergency contact, email, list of surgeries (can we all agree there’s never enough room here?), list of current medications and doses (hang on let me get my list that my mom wrote down for me, oh good it’s a sticky note and I don’t have to write it out, thanks mom!) I flip the page over to the fun part, and I mean that sarcastically, for the world’s super medical checklist of everything that could be or has been deemed not normal and/or wrong by medical standards. I go down the list and check NO for everything except fatigue, body aches, joint pain, insomnia, and then I flip over the page and I stop in my tracks. There’s an entire section dedicated to emotions, most of them you could call negative. I honestly never realized that having emotions was something that a doctor would be very worried about. I mean sure they always ask “how are you doing?” but it always felt like social protocol and not an actual question. Not to mention that I had become an expert at telling the lie of “oh I’m fine, I’m talking like Jason Bourne spy status of lying.
I know many of you can relate to the power of “I’m fine” especially when it couldn’t be further from the truth.
But back to my list. Looking over all the options I start to realize that I do in fact feel some of them and I start to worry. After all, if it’s on a doctor’s chart it’s a bad thing, right? I’m hovering over checking the boxes next to anxiety and depression and I realize that I’m scared to do it. But “Why?” my inner Rachael asks. Why can’t I be honest about the fact that I’m sad. So unbelievably sad with the fact that I’m in chronic all over body aches and pain all the time. So incredibly sad that I’m always tired and don’t have any energy to work a full time job. So horribly sad that I don’t have any friends, money, independence, or idea of what the he-double hockey sticks I’m going to do with my life. And I’m finally and completely sad over the fact that nothing is helping. No amount of medication makes me feel better. No amount of rest or meditation or activity can free me from this victim state. No amount of hoping or wishing or willpower is increasing my energy levels, mental focus, and stamina. And no amount of love and support from my parents makes me feel better.
I’m 22, I’ve already been defeated, and my life hasn’t even started yet.
I’m welling up as I look at this chart and can’t help but chuckle a little at myself. Clearly there’s some fear and anxiety about telling the truth of how I really feel. So anxiety gets checked off. Now I’m hovering over depression. Am I depressed? I think back to all the things I don’t like about my life. I think back about how I feel about them. I now think about if I have hope it will ever get better. Inner Rachael says “Nope.” OK. So how do I feel about the fact that I believe it will never get better, this is my life, my lifestyle, and there’s nothing I can do about it? Defeated…hopeless…stuck…frustrated…depress-aha! I AM depressed! I check off the box. I finish out the paperwork and look it back over, pausing again at the emotion section.
I stare at the page and wonder how long I’ve been depressed and anxious and the fact that I don’t know immediately starts to trigger me.
Fortunately, a nurse calls me to go to the room and I’m able to focus on our small talk as we go down the hall. Once in the room she looks over my chart and stops at the super medical checklist to see what I’ve marked. Her voice fills with concern and lowers a little as she asks “You’ve been feeling depressed?” I immediately regret marking that box. But I know I have to talk about it. I swallow my now very tight throat, look the nurse in the eye, and say “Yes, I think I am depressed. I have fibromyalgia so I’m in pain all the time and I don’t have any energy. I actually feel worse when I get put on medication and I’m really afraid for my future because I’ve been told that I’ll always feel this way and it’s really scary. I don’t want to spend my life on medication, I don’t like how it makes me feel. And I’m definitely anxious about it all but I think I’m also depressed.” She nods her head along and takes notes as I tell her all this. When I finish I’m welling up again and she smiles with sympathy and compassion as she hands me a tissue.
She tells me that I’m very brave for taking that first step and saying it out loud.
And that's when I realized that talking about being depressed was exactly what I needed in that moment. Talking about it takes away the power it holds over you. It takes away that feeling of shame, the feeling that you shouldn't be sad or shouldn't talk about your problems. So many of us are afraid to share and be vulnerable.
But when you share your story, it gives others the courage to share theirs. Or to feel seen, accepted, and understood.
Talking about whatever you are going through may be the key to waking someone up from their fog of pain and giving them the curiosity and bravery to seek out aid. If you resonate with anything that I'm talking about but haven't spoken up about how you feel, I really encourage you to share it with someone you love and trust. They want to help, I promise you they really, really do. But they don't know how and they don't understand. So it's up to you to make them understand. To share what's actually going on and not be ashamed of it. It's not their job to fix you, it's their job to love, support, and listen to what you're going through. And they will, they really, really will. They just need you to open up a little and be open about how you feel and what you're going through.
If you have something you're going through that you want to share, leave a reply down below and don't forget to like my page Healthy Introvert on Facebook if you haven't already.
There is power in talking about how we feel. And even if you're afraid, talk about it anyway - you could be glad you did.
Today is the day you take back your life.