Yesterday, I was talking with a psychiatric patient at the hospital I work at and he said to me that he had been told before by a friend that “the scary thing is you have a smile on your face and a broken heart”. He went on to tell me something to the effect that he is one of the last people that someone would expect to be depressed.
I shared with him that I believe their are many faces to depression and that it looks different in different people. I have come to this insight not only from my education and my experiences with clients/patients, but also through my own personal experiences with depression.
The first time I knew that I was depressed was the summer after my freshman year of college. I spent that summer and the majority of my sophomore year in a major depressive episode. I worked that summer, and in the fall took 17.5 credit hours along with being in a leadership roll part of the semester. I got a 3.6 GPA that semester. Yet, I was sad, overwhelmed, at times having suicidal thoughts, wanting to be left alone, angry, wishing God would just take me. It took all that was within me just to get out of bed and go to class, but the majority of the time, I did it. None of my professors knew at the time and only my parents and close friends knew.
Thankfully, during the spring semester, I slowly started having the depression lift. I made some changes to take pressure off myself, including taking 12 credit hours and moving in with my granny.I was in therapy and taking medication that actually seemed helpful. By that following summer, I felt much more like myself.
I had what I would consider my second episode of major depression more recently about 3 or so months ago, and it was significantly different from my first. It started out first with me feeling just very stressed and overwhelmed with trying to hold down what I sometimes referred to as 2.5 jobs in the mental health field. Soon, I started feeling super discouraged because I did not picture my career path looking anything like it had up to that point. Then, I started having such anxiety and depression that I could barely even work. It got to the point that I was physically and emotionally exhausted and had to- for the first time in my life- take a 2 1/2 week medical leave from work.
My depressed mood was almost as low as it had been during the first episode, including the occasional suicidal thought. Yet the odd thing was that my mood was not constantly depressed. The first time around, for about 6-9 months, I spent the vast majority of my days in a depressed mood. However, this time around, it was different. I didn’t know from week to week or even day to day what mood state I would be in. Some days I felt pretty ok and like I was going to be able to cope with life. Then other days felt quite dark and bleak.
Also, this time around it seemed like the episode only lasted for 1 or 2 months rather than the majority of a year.
Again, I was/am in therapy and on medication. This time multiple quick changes in meds then a reduction in meds actually seemed to play a significant role in the exasperation and subsequent reduction of symptoms.
I share my story for a couple reasons. 1. I find healing and freedom in sharing my story. 2. I shared because my story shows that not all depressed people appear the same way and that even the same person’s depression can look different over time. Depression is not a cookie cutter diagnosis but rather a cluster of symptoms that affect people in a large variety of ways.
*Note:This post may not be as well organized from a writting/gramattical standpoint as my other posts due to the difficulty of expressing a personal account in a structured manner*