I’ll never forget the time in my life where I struggled what seemed like an eternity, for several months with postpartum depression. And God bless him, I know my husband meant well, but when he sat down by me and just waved his hands and said emphatically, “just snap out of it!”, I just burst in tears…”Don’t you think if I could ‘snap out of it’ I would?” If only it were that easy. Here’s the deal folks… depression is not a choice and telling people to snap out of it is like telling someone who is deaf to listen harder. They just don’t get it.
Some people don’t understand depression. They think you’re choosing to be sad… that you’re making a big deal over nothing. They certainly don’t understand that their little snide comments here and there don’t help either. So when it came to the point where I had to see a psychiatrist for my post-partum depression, I was so glad to hear the doctor tell my husband, “Depression happens in the brain and is something that people cannot control”. She further explained that depression is a disease, very much like diabetes or heart disease and is very misunderstood.
Furthermore, do know that while depression is a medical condition, like having a broken ankle, finding the right treatment is hard to find. It can include therapy and the right dosage of prescription meds, but more importantly, finding support is often difficult. But it is so necessary for those who find themselves in that dark hole of despair. It is vital that you throw out a lifeline and reach out to those you know who are fighting this ugly disease.
Please don’t lose patience with your friends, family, co-workers and loved ones. Empathy and just plain ‘ole listening’ can be so helpful. Yes, you can encourage them to seek out medical treatment. In fact, it was actually my best friend who saw what I was going thru and made the effort to have a serious conversation with my husband. I finally got relief when I was able to have ‘someone to talk to’ professionally and of course, the Prozac did make a difference in stabilizing the mixed-up chemicals my brain was having at the time.
I would like to think I have successfully recovered from that time in my life. But the reality is that since this is a disease, it can creep back in a heartbeat. Yes, it can go into ‘remission’ with excellent self-care, proper nutrition and most importantly, daily exercise. And I’ve been striving to do all of this. But if your doctor tells you to ‘stay on your meds’, do it. Don’t argue. Think of it as preventative medicine. Trust me, you don’t want to go back down that black hole. And the good news to all of this? I can honestly say with pride and no shame at all that being a mental health advocate in promoting awareness and empathy to those who endure this affliction, is a past-time I don’t mind at all.
Now, go out and have the ‘best day ever’ and do an act of kindness to someone you know is currently suffering in depression. It DOES make a difference. And the best reward is seeing that person ‘smile back’!