September was Suicide Prevention Month. Today, in Sacramento, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is holding its annual Out of the Darkness Walk to Fight Suicide.

If you suffer from depression, you are not alone. You may feel alone. You may feel like no one else could possibly imagine how you feel, but I promise you, you are NOT alone. According to research by the National Institute of Mental Health, in 2014, an estimated 15.7 million adults aged 18 or older in the United States had at least one major depressive episode in the past year. This number represented 6.7% of all U.S. adults.

I am one of those adults.

My Journey

I denied my need for medication for many years. I thought I was stronger than that. I was too ashamed to even bring it up to a doctor. I thought depression was a sign of weakness and something to be embarrassed about. I thought it was just a mental block I could get over if only I tried harder.

I had always known my dad suffered from depression. He had been on Prozac for about … forever. It was a part of him. Just about everyone on that side of my family took or takes something for depression, anxiety, OCD, or all the above. So, one day, I was talking to my dad on the phone about it (he was the only one I discussed this with back then) and he told me, “Look, if you had diabetes, would you feel ashamed for using insulin? Of course not! It’s the same thing. Your brain is not functioning properly. It’s not all in your head; it’s a physical disorder.” Even though I believed him, I couldn’t bring myself to scheduling an appointment for that. I could not bring myself to actually call and say that I needed help.

What I did schedule an appointment for was my chronic migraines, which had recently added what my Nana called “silent migraines” to their repertoire. They’re actually called ocular migraines, I later found out. I had already tried several prescription migraine medications, without much success. The doctor told me some people have had success in preventing migraines by taking SSRIs. I saw my opportunity and I jumped on it. I still never told her about my depression and anxiety and OCD, but the difference in just a few weeks was night and day. The prescription helped so much that in a matter of about six months, I went from literally crying and shaking at my desk simply because I was accepted into a temporary position that I ASKED to be in, because it meant I would have to interact with trainees just a teeny bit by walking around and answering questions during a training session to joining the training team and TRAINING a class – by myself. Until that happened, I thought I just had a simple case of stage fright. I had never heard of social anxiety until after mine was gone. I also stopped thinking about how everyone would be better off if I was dead and got up the strength, courage, and energy to finally permanently sever all ties with my mentally and verbally (and in the end, physically) abusive long-time boyfriend.-

Over the years, I’ve tried a few times to wean myself off of it, and in 2013 I successfully did so without too many physical problems. However, my depression is not occasional, nor is it situational, and it came back with a vengeance. Of course, whatever is going on in my current situation in life can have an effect on it, but it’s always there, lurking in the background, waiting to envelop me in its dark cloak, and that’s exactly what it did in late 2013. After wanting to die for a couple of weeks, I accepted the fact that I will take this, or something like it, for the rest of my life and you know what? I’m okay with that now. It’s just a part of me.

How About You?

I am not alone and neither are you. If you suffer from depression, reach out. Talk to someone who can help. Maybe you need medication and maybe you don’t, but you don’t need to suffer alone or in silence, and no matter what, there is help. If you are too embarrassed to talk to someone you know, talk to a stranger. If you can’t do it face-to-face, call someone. Email someone. Post anonymously online somewhere. Reach out to someone. It does help, and it does get better. It might be the most difficult thing you have to do in your life, but you can do it.

If you ever think you might hurt yourself, PLEASE Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Don’t do something you can’t undo.

Take care, be kind to one another, and be kind to yourself. ♥

You are not alone

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