A couple months ago, I went to the doctor for a routine “I’m tired all the time” appointment. And she was pretty dismissive and said it was probably just how stressful life is, etc etc, but she ordered blood tests for me regardless. She said they’d get back to me the next week, but I didn’t hear from them so I assumed I was fine. And then two weeks later I got a voicemail from her office saying I needed to come in for a follow-up. That particular week was insane at work so I couldn’t take any time off to go in and my anxiety about it started to build up.
I called my mom sobbing one night, absolutely convinced that I was dying of leukemia. And she first calmed me down, and then was like, “I think you need to speak to someone about this.”
The call back turned out to be nothing at all (I’m low in B12! As is every vegetarian on the planet!), but my mom made a good point. It’s not particularly healthy to freak out like that. My work has a pretty amazing employee assistance program, so I called their helpline, and they set me up with a counselor, and I’ve started going to her.
I have been depressed, on and off, since I was 20. And I have always just dealt with it myself. I felt like I wasn’t depressed enough to warrant treatment. I wasn’t hurting myself, so it was probably just the way I was. But sometimes it got pretty bad. There have been months when I thought I might never feel happy again.
I saw a counselor once before, in second year. But she told me what I was feeling was temporary, and she thought I would get better on my own. And it did get better eventually, but then it came back. And I cycled through this for years and years. I’ve opened up about to just two people in the past, and they both dismissed how I felt and told me they didn’t want to hear it. After that I felt like it was shameful to feel this way and I kept it to myself. I didn’t tell my family or my friends. The first person I ever said, “I think I might be depressed,” to was my counselor.
And it took just one person saying “You aren’t crazy to feel this way,” to make me feel better about it. It’s like this giant weight has been lifted off me. In the first appointment with her I rated my depression at 7 out of 10, and at my last one I rated it as a zero. I have sad thoughts and sad days still, but they don’t drag me down like they used to. I can always see the light at the end of the tunnel when I couldn’t before.
My counselor has taught me ways to head my depression and anxiety off at the pass. Whenever I start to worry about the future, what people think of me, or how isolated I feel, I’ve started to retrain my thoughts in a much more positive path.
Since I started going to her, I’ve dealt with one particularly stressful situation, and I reacted much healthier than I ever had in the past. Instead of closeting myself in my room, alone with my sadness, I reached out to everyone around me. I talked about how I was feeling, went on long walks to distract myself and never once felt like I was alone.
I’m posting this partially because I like writing about these things and I like people knowing what’s going on in my life. But I’m also writing this because it took my mom telling me it was OK to ask for help to do something about it. I hope that I might be able to do that for someone. It’s just not worth it to have to hide how you’re feeling all the time. Go tell someone, anyone, and keep telling people until someone listens and helps.