Welcome to Live Free Creative, the podcast that provides inspiration and ideas for living a creative, adventurous, and intentional lifestyle. I’m your host Miranda Anderson. And I hope that each time you listen, you feel a little bit more free to live your life exactly the way you want to live it.
Hello there. Welcome back to the show. I’m your host Miranda Anderson and you are listening to episode 140 of the Live Free Creative Podcast: Hey, Google, Am I Depressed?
I am excited to share this episode with you because, even though the topic is tricky, I think that it’s important and something that we need to talk more about.
Mental health is real health just as valid and important as our physical health. And today I’m going to share some personal experiences with this topic.
Before I dive in, I want to share a quick pause for a poem.
Pause For A Poem
They say happiness will find you,
But I think sadness will find you too,
It sneaks up on you in darkness,
Just when you think you’ve made it through,
It opens holes in what was solid ground,
The kind you never know are there,
Until you go to take another step,
And find you’re standing over the air,
The world around you passes by,
In blurs of colour and sound,
Nothing around you making sense,
As you continue you plummet down,
You can’t remember how it started,
And you don’t know when it will end,
But you know that you’d give anything,
To stand up on your feet again,
Sadness is that feeling,
When the falling doesn’t stop,
And it saps your life of meaning,
And of the good things that you’ve got,
So when you finally hit rock bottom,
And you look back up at the sky,
What you once had seems so far away,
The only thing left to do is cry,
People all yell out “save yourself”,
Calling things about “happiness” and “hope”
But they’re too busy with their lives to realise,
It’d be a lot quicker if they let down a rope.
Sadness by Erin Hanson.
Sadness as Power
What a beautiful poem. It reminds me a little bit of that Disney Pixar movie Inside Out. Do you remember watching that movie and being surprised in the end that sadness was such a key role? Although happiness wanted to just be there all the time and solve everything and make it all right all the time, sadness was important and valid and worth discussing, worth exploring, worth listening to.
That the end of the poem, the poet offers the idea to let down a rope to those experiencing sadness or depression or anxiety overwhelm, mental health problems. And this episode today is my rope. To those of you who are listening, who need to hear a little bit of encouragement and a little bit of a personal candid experience, a friend inviting you to get the help that you need if you need it.
There was a lot of you listening for whom this might be an interesting story, and some insight into the world of mental health that you didn’t know before. And it won’t go a whole lot deeper than that.
And there’s maybe a handful of you listening who really need to hear the personal experience of someone that you listen to, someone that you trust, letting you know that there’s more help available to you than just the message of happiness and hope and taking care of yourself and taking long baths and self care.
But that you may actually need some psychological help. You may need some therapy. You may need some medication. And that those things are all as important as positive thinking.
A Depressed Optimist
This episode is an interesting one for me to share, because I like positive thinking. I’m an optimist. I believe in the power of positive thinking, the power of gratitude, the power of mindset and self-management and taking care of ourselves in little ways, like getting enough sleep and drinking a lot of water and exercising and hiring a babysitter when needed.
It has felt difficult for me to acknowledge and accept on a very personal level that those things are not always the whole picture, not always the total answer. For as much as I’ve been a mental health advocate in the past, these last few months I’ve had to take a really close look at my own inner beliefs about mental health care as it pertains to myself.
That can be different than saying, you know, it’s good for you, but it’s not necessary for me or not as important for me or not as real for me.
And I am grateful to have had friends and family supporting me. And letting down that rope to remind me that even though I love positive thinking, I love making attitude lists and there is research as well as personal anecdote to support that those things make a huge impact, there’s also a necessity to recognize mental health as the holistic picture of physical health.
Our brains are part of our bodies and just as we would care for a broken arm or our hormone imbalance from our thyroid, we also can recognize and not need to be afraid of, or ashamed of, taking care of balancing our physiology as it pertains to our mental health as well.
A Personal Story
Eight weeks ago, I was laying in my bed. It was probably 7:30 or 8:00 at night. We had finished dinner and I told my family, “I am done for the day. I’m going to go up and go to bed.” And I laid down in my bed and I started to cry. I was overwhelmed. I was sad. I was stressed out. I felt a heaviness that I hadn’t felt before in my life.
Of course, I’m not immune to sadness. We all experienced the ups and downs. And this last year has been especially trying for so many people. And I lay there. Counting my blessings and thinking of all of the things that are going right in my life. And yet this heaviness persisted.
I rolled to the side and I picked up my phone from its charger next to my bed.
I opened up my browser to Google and I typed in the words, “Do I have depression?”
Clinical Diagnostic Criteria for Depression
And what popped up was a bunch of links to the clinical test questions, the diagnostic criteria for depression.
Now, these weren’t unfamiliar to me. I’ve looked at them before, during different times in my life where I’ve had some persistent sadness or kind of wondered “Is this an ongoing feeling of sadness or is it something that I should do something about?”
But if you’re unfamiliar with the diagnostic criteria for depression, I want to just read some of these questions to you.
All of them start with this question:
Over the past two weeks, how often have you experienced the following…?
Because clinical depression is diagnosed by persistent feelings of hopelessness or sadness over a two week period. So if it lasts longer than two weeks, that’s when you start to get into possibly needing some treatment.
Over the past two weeks, how often have you experienced the following:
- Having little interest or pleasure in doing things;
- Feeling down depressed or hopeless;
- Having trouble falling or staying asleep or sleeping too much;
- Feeling tired or having little energy;
- Poor appetite or overeating;
- Feeling bad about yourself or that you’re a failure or have let yourself or your family down;
- Trouble concentrating on things such as reading the news or watching television;
- Moving or speaking slowly that other people have noticed, or the opposite being so restless or fidgety that you’re moving around a lot more than usual;
- Thoughts that you would be better off dead or of hurting yourself in some way;
- Feeling nervous, anxious, or on edge;
- Not being able to stop or control worrying;
- Worrying too much about different things;
- Trouble relaxing;
- Being so restless that it’s hard to sit still;
- Becoming easily annoyed or irritable;
- Being afraid as if something awful might happen.
Which one of the following symptoms is most challenging for you right now:
- Trouble sleeping,
- Low energy,
- Difficulty concentrating.
How much are your feelings interfering with your ability to participate in social activities, like hanging out with friends?
How much are your feelings affecting your ability to get along with your family and friends?
How much are your feelings affecting your ability to focus and be effective at work in school?
How much are your feelings affecting your ability to participate in and enjoy daily activities?
How long have you been feeling this way?
So I answered those questions honestly, and surprised myself with some of the self-awareness that it forced being able to look at not only the past two weeks, but the past several months for me, maybe even the whole past year in sections and seasons. I realized that the way that I have been feeling, the heaviness that I’ve been feeling, really has been affecting me.
Despite all of the things that I’m doing to take care of myself, despite feeling like I am aware of my mental health and consciously exercising, consciously writing in my gratitude journal, consciously making time for myself, making time for relationships, loving my family, loving my life.
And at the same time, not liking it very much.
Loving My Life, But Not Liking It Very Much
Realizing that all of the things that I really, really love have felt kind of like a drag lately. I haven’t been as motivated or interested in things that are a big part of my normal joy and excitement in life. And I clicked that last button after honestly answering all of these questions and my Google diagnosis popped up that I had moderate to severe depression and it encouraged me to seek medical attention.
Well, my slow weeping quickly increased to dramatic sobbing as I felt the sinking confirmation that I was not doing okay. We all want to do okay, right? We just want to feel good and we want to be productive and be moving through our lives with fulfillment and satisfaction and joy.
And as those things over the last several months and over the last year have slowly been harder and harder to come by, the acknowledgement that there was something wrong, that it wasn’t just in my head, but that it was in my head, that I needed help.
I know a fair amount about mental health and mental health disorders.
In fact, we’ve often joked in my immediate family that we have very strong physical health genes, but we’re all a little bit mentally ill, which is not much of a joke. I know it’s kind of bad to joke like that, but we, in my immediate family, have a lot of mental health diagnosis.
We know my siblings and I, and my parents and our children. We acknowledge that and we know there’s a family history and a genetic component to depression and anxiety and ADHD and bipolar disorder. And these things are part of my genetic code in one way or another.
And even for people who they’re not, who don’t have any family history of mental illness, these are clinical diagnoses that go beyond just feeling sad or feeling like you’re having a hard time. Everyone has a hard time every now and then. And sometimes there’s a biological component that can’t be overwritten by lifestyle changes.
As I lay there sobbing, trying to figure out what to do next, I was surprised by the idea that I didn’t really know exactly what to do next. When Dave came up to bed and checked on me and found me, you know, red faced and was so worried about me and so kind and loving and thoughtful.
And we sat there and I said, What do I do? What do I do now? And he said, well, you probably should talk to someone. Do you want me to call someone for you? I could call it a therapist or we could call your doctor.
And I said, I don’t know.
Isn’t that funny that I don’t know who the right person is to talk to. And then actually, this is interesting because this isn’t my first experience with depression. Although this was the first time that I had had Google tell me that yes, in fact, I was currently moderately to severely depressed.
My History of Depression
Just to give you a little bit of a background, I was severely depressed during my pregnancies, but I had no idea. Because while I had learned so much in nursing school and from the media and from my midwives about watching out for the signs and symptoms of postpartum depression, no one had ever mentioned perinatal depression, no one had ever mentioned the possibility that I could be clinically depressed while I was pregnant.
And so I suffered so greatly during my pregnancies, not understanding that all of the symptoms that I had. Feeling so down, so much lack of motivation, so much lack of interest in my life and inability to take care of my other children.
When I was pregnant with my second child, I moved home for like four months because I couldn’t physically take care of my toddler while I was pregnant. I was so sick. I had suicidal thoughts while I was pregnant. Not thoughts of harming myself, but of wishing that I was no longer alive.
And that was all very real. And yet not something that I ever talked to my doctors about, because I didn’t know that it was valid. I didn’t know that it was something that I could be experiencing.
And then when I had the babies and I immediately felt better and felt the cloud move from above me, I thought, Oh, how great that I don’t have depression, which I’ve been, you know, on the lookout for. And like, Oh, I’m just so grateful that I don’t have depression.
How silly because I did have depression and it wasn’t until I heard about perinatal depression being an actual thing, and that there was help and medication and therapy that women could do during pregnancy, that I look back with such different eyes on my experience and realize that no one threw me a rope and I didn’t know.
And how can you know unless someone tells you? How can you know how to take care of yourself if you don’t know that what you’re experiencing is real?
How Can You Take Care Of What You Don’t Know?
There is a couple other shorter time periods in my life when I can look back and say I definitely was experiencing some depression, but I had never sought out medical attention or psychological help.
I–even believing that mental illness is real and that mental health is important–I never took myself to that next step of acknowledging that there was something that I could or should do about it. Other than within myself. I would seek out positivity and slow things down and take a break where I needed to.
And all of that is good. And all of that is important as well.
And what I wanted to share in this episode is that sometimes that isn’t quite enough and that’s okay.
Back in July
A funny story. Back in July when we had been experiencing the pandemic for six months and my kids had been out of school that whole time, I had been managing and coping with all of my skills.
I was just using everything that I could. Positive thinking, gratitude, journaling, spending a lot of time outside, exercising, eating well, drinking a lot of water, being in the sun, making sure that we are doing things that we enjoy doing, taking a lot of pressure off myself so I wasn’t super stressed out.
I was just like managing as well as I could. Functioning as well as possible. And you know, this is after I mentioned in an episode several months ago, how I think I spent most of April and May just in bed. Like I would get up for some things.
But my kids weren’t going to school. I didn’t have any appointments. I didn’t have anything really I needed to do. And so I just sort of didn’t do anything.
I was definitely experiencing some depression there. I had felt like with the summertime that I was coming out of the clouds a little bit and I was feeling pretty good and pretty hopeful because a lot of schools had announced that the kids were going back in person.
And I remember that our district was going to be making a decision about this. And so I got onto the school board meeting virtually and was watching and I watched as they voted down the initiative to try to get kids back in school for the 2021 school year.
And I broke down. I just was so sad and at that point where you feel like I can do it right now, but if it gets any worse then I can’t do it anymore. That’s how I felt. I’m just treading water. And when they voted it down, I felt like someone pushed my head under the water when I was looking at this next year that I was going to be trying to manage.
Again just this hard year right? We’ve all experienced the difficulty in different ways.
Dave, my sweet, loving, supportive partner said, “I’m going to call someone for you. Can I call someone for you?” And so he looked at our insurance and called a psychiatrist and I had an appointment a couple of days later and I got on this zoom appointment.
This is the first time that I had had an appointment with a psychiatrist or any sort of mental health professional. And she was going through her sort of initial questionnaire.
And because of her focus in psychiatry, there was a lot of questioning about, Do I hear voices? Do I see things that aren’t there? The criteria that she was looking at was definitely a lot more serious than what I was experiencing, like some sadness and overwhelm looking at the year ahead.
And it just wasn’t a great fit and maybe I wasn’t what she expected. And she wasn’t what I expected because the end of the conversation, she was like, “I think it’s all normal. I think you’re fine. And we’re all feeling the same way. I have kids that aren’t going to school too.”
And we ended up having this chat.
The other thing that happened, that’s so interesting, is that at that moment that I was talking to her, I didn’t feel as sad. I felt okay. I had kind of like pulled myself up and thought, “Okay, how are we going to do this?”
And I had come up with a bunch of ideas for homeschooling and had kind of found some enthusiasm around it. And so when I was speaking with her, I had kind of pushed all of that down. The deeper feelings. So of course, it was really easy to act like everything was totally okay.
Which I have to say it has been okay. And not okay. Depression for me hasn’t felt like every single day I don’t want to get out of bed. I’ve been able to get up and to do things and to plan things for work and to move forward with projects around the house and I’m able to muster up excitement for things.
And at the same time, I’ve had this baseline deep grief and deep weight, a heaviness that I can sort of come up from. And then I feel like it pulls me back down.
In this moment, this night of Googling, do I have depression? We didn’t make any firm decisions, except for that maybe I should talk to someone and I didn’t know exactly who that is.
Someone Offered Me Help
Luckily, a couple of days later I was on a phone call with one of my good friends, Rachel Nielson. You all probably know her from the 3 in 30 podcast. And Rachel has also had experiences with mental health, with herself and with family members and she has some great episodes about it.
And as I was talking to her about just candidly how I was feeling, she said, “You know, Miranda, you probably should call your doctor, just call your regular doctor. Tell her about how you’re feeling and ask her if there’s something that you could take or someone that she recommends talking to.”
It was having Rachel offer me this rope when I was at the bottom of my pit that gave me the confidence that I needed to say, okay, I can ask for help. I do want to help myself. And the way that I help myself is by seeking out the attention that I need.
I expressed to Rachel how it was really easy to feel like a fraud, like my whole message is about seeking out a life of intention and adventure and creativity. And how could I represent that as also a person who experiences clinical depression?
How can I tell people to think positively and to be grateful and to use all of the tools that I share about the advantages of optimism and looking on the bright side, finding silver linings, learning from our experiences, trusting the process, when I am not okay all the time?
It Is Scary To Ask For Help
It has felt like new water to not only have to talk the talk, but also walk the walk of taking care of myself in the way that I encourage you, my listeners, to take care of yourselves and to advocate for yourselves. To say, I need help and to seek it out is a little scary.
I have to just acknowledge that it’s scary and it can feel like you did something wrong. Like you’re not strong enough. Like how can you be a happy person and also have depression.
The next day I called my doctor and I made an appointment to go in and sit with her. And that day that I went in, I felt fine. I had gotten up and gone on a run and I’d taken a shower and gotten dressed and had my makeup on.
Actually one interesting thing is that I had had a physical a couple of weeks before, like two weeks prior. And when she asked about how I’d been feeling, I said, well, as well as can be expected, you know, everyone’s kind of going through hard things right now. So it’s been a hard year, but I’m feeling I think as well as can be expected.
I think it was me downplaying that like everyone must feel the way that I feel. And when I brought that up I said, you know, when you asked me a couple of weeks ago, how I was feeling, I said, as well as can be expected, but I have since talked to some friends and took this online depression quiz and talked to my husband. And I think that some of the things I’m feeling maybe aren’t normal, they maybe aren’t just the same sort of overwhelm and stress that we’re feeling collectively as a community. But that may be some of it’s a little deeper.
And I went on to explain some of the feelings that I’d had of persistent overwhelm, persistent sadness, disinterest in things that I normally love. And also this kind of weird feeling that I’d have of wanting to escape and kind of like numb out. I think I’ve been using fiction novels as a way to just escape and not have to think about anything, which is I’m going to say totally healthy and fine coping mechanism.
But recognizing that I wanted to spend all of my free time in a book because I could escape some of the sadness, some of the weight, not even just like sadness, but just heaviness and weight.
And in the spirit of candidness in this episode, and openness as I’m sharing personal information with you, one of the things that was a little bit interesting and unusual was that I kept having these fantasies about taking drugs.
I have never taken drugs. I grew up in a very religious environment where drugs were morally and legally wrong. And I’ve never really had a lot of interest in them. I don’t have much of an addictive personality and I throughout the pandemic have had this thoughts of like, I wonder what it would be like to just like take drugs and be floating in the ether for a while or to just numb out and not have to feel anything and just know that it was all fine and have everything fade away for a while.
And I don’t even know like what drugs I would take or how I would get them. It was just this weird thought of like, Gosh, I can totally see why people escape into drugs and alcohol as a numbing mechanism when things are hard because the ability to physiologically wipe the slate for a while has some appeal when your base level of emotion is difficult.
My doctor said, you know, it sounds like you would benefit from a low dose of a serotonin uptake inhibitor. That hormonally physiologically prevents your brain from absorbing so much of the serotonin, which is a hormone that helps you feel well. It helps you feel happy and have a positive outlook.
And when there is not enough of it in your body, in your bloodstream, you can feel some of that hopelessness. And clinical depression is linked to low levels of serotonin around your body. And so when you take this antidepressant, it keeps some of that serotonin in your system so that you can overcome the feelings of sadness.
It’s a hormonal imbalance that can be corrected through a low dose medication. And I said I was willing to try it. And she also recommended that it could be helpful to talk to someone as well. I have to mention that I have a coach, a mindset coach. I have good nutrition. I understand the importance of sleep. I love to exercise. I have friends.
And yet hormonally, chemically, it is possible to have periods of depression that may require medication.
I started taking a low dose of an antidepressant. And the next day it was like a switch flipped. And I felt like myself. And over the last two months, as I’ve taken this tiny white pill every day, I have come home to myself.
I have been able to feel like myself, that weight is gone. And the persistent sadness, heaviness, disinterest, and desire to escape is gone.
Now, of course, my life still has the ups and downs, but it’s the ups and downs of who I actually am. The ups and downs of my normal life without being underwater.
I’ve been thinking about this whole situation a lot. And one of the things that has come to mind for me as a visualization of what’s going on for me is that all of the difficult things in our lives, we respond with some level of coping. There’s healthy coping mechanisms, and there’s unhealthy coping mechanisms. Now, over the last year, especially situationally, collectively, we’ve all experienced some things that were unexpected and difficult, and that has affected us differently.
Some people are more effective than others, but I would say globally, there has been a situation that has affected everyone on some level. Now add to that, whatever is challenging in your regular life.
For me, some of the things that I know have been difficult are the winter. I know that I’m affected by the winter.
There is a form of clinical depression called seasonal affective disorder that I’ve always sort of said that I had. But in the past I’ve been able to use my coping mechanisms like traveling in the winter to warm places or making sure that I have lots of interactions with friends and family, gathering people together, having fun dinner parties, doing book club.
I’ve had all of these available coping mechanisms to help counteract some of the difficulty of my effectiveness in the winter.
The schools being closed has been really hard for a lot of moms, including myself, having the amount of time under quarantine. You know, we’ve talked a lot about hitting this burnout, the pandemic burnout, the pandemic wall, and that affects us all differently when it feels like that a lot of the coping mechanisms that we have in our regular lives have been taken away.
I’ve had some business burnout. Some of that has to do with the pandemic. Some of it has to do with generally as an entrepreneur, a lot of energy is required creatively, logistically, managerially self-management wise. I mean, you do it all, especially when you’re a solo entrepreneur and that can feel like a lot sometimes.
I think of like a layer cake where there’s all of these different layers of things that are difficult. I mean, cake isn’t difficult, right? But imagine this. All the different layers of things that are difficult. And then if you can stack up the coping mechanisms next to them so that they balance.
You have all of these things that are affecting you. And then all of the things that you do to counterbalance that. That’s where the positive thinking, the gratitude, the sleep, drinking a lot of water, being in generally good physical health, trying to avoid stressful situations, and the mindset work, all of those things balance.
And at some point, if the difficulties, the situation, or your physiology are more than your coping can reach, then there’s more that needs to be done that might not be able to be done just with your own self. Maybe you need extra help. Maybe you can’t dig yourself out of the hole. Maybe the ladder only goes up halfway.
And you can get to the top of your ladder and you can be helping yourself so much and still need a little extra help. That’s the point that I felt like I have been at.
And I want to acknowledge, too, that sometimes you’re at the bottom of the ladder of helping yourself, but because you hormonally need some additional motivation, like maybe you don’t have the motivation to exercise or to try to take care of yourself because of depression itself.
Maybe you start with medical help, that then enables you to help yourself even more.
Another way that I’ve been thinking about this is in terms of my experience with diabetes. I worked as a nurse as a full-time diabetes educator for many years and diabetes. If you’re unfamiliar, I mean, I think a lot of people are familiar with diabetes itself, but particularly Type Two Diabetes happens in people when their cells stop responding to insulin, they become insulin resistant.
Now just a quick physiology lesson, insulin is created by your pancreas. It’s a hormone that helps carry glucose or sugar into your cells. And glucose is one of our cells major forms of energy. So our cells need glucose. Insulin helps ourselves absorb it. It’s kind of like it packs it together so that our cells can absorb it.
So if your cells are insulin resistant, that means that they won’t absorb the glucose, then the glucose is higher in your bloodstream. That’s basically like a very nutshell version of type two diabetes.
Now, when I was working as a diabetes educator, I would have patients come in who had all of the symptoms of type two diabetes and had been diagnosed. And they said, I really want to manage this with my lifestyle. And so we would say, okay, let’s try.
We do a nutrition plan. We do an exercise plan. They’d come in every two weeks for a couple months and we would monitor their hormone levels, their blood sugar levels, their A1C, and we’d see how it, how it works.
All of those things can be effective and their cells would be a little bit more receptive to insulin. Some of that insulin resistance would decrease as their exercise increased. Of course, nutrition affects the amount of glucose that you have because you get glucose into your system by eating mostly. And so we would see an in some patients we would recognize, okay, this is what’s happening hormonally in your body. And with these lifestyle changes, you can manage it well.
And so, you know, carry on. And I had patients that we would say, okay, this is what’s happening on a cellular level with your hormones. And we’re trying to manage it with some lifestyle. And sometimes that still wasn’t quite enough.
You could do all the management that they could. And on occasion they still needed to either take a medication or take insulin. There was something medically necessary in addition to lifestyle changes.
And I have been thinking a lot about how clinical depression and mental health disorders are like that.
You can do therapy, you can do a lot of things to help improve your mental health on a lifestyle day-to-day basis. And what happens if hormonally, physiologically, those things don’t completely solve the problem or correct what’s happening.
It Feels Different When It’s Personal
It’s really easy, because of the stigma around mental health, and I know it’s getting better, but generally, I mean, just from personal experience, being aware and feeling like I care a lot about mental health and I would encourage anyone who needs help mentally to seek it out.
Yet still, when I was the one who needed help, I had to hesitate and I needed a lot of encouragement and I needed friends and family to say, it’s okay for you to get this help. That it’s okay to not do it all yourself without that help.
That tells me that we still have a ways to go if I say, Oh, it’s okay for everyone else to take antidepressants if they need them, but it’s not okay for me because I’m stronger than that.
Or I don’t want to be someone who’s taking an antidepressant because that means that I failed. If you relate to that idea of like, it’s great for other people to take care of themselves. And yet maybe I can do this on my own, or if I’m struggling, that means I just need to do better. That means I need to think more positively.
I would encourage you to consider that if you are having a hard time persistently. If you are struggling regularly. If the feelings that you’re having of overwhelm and sadness and grief and frustration, or feeling like a failure, feeling like you’re not doing it well enough, are persistent.
It’s okay if you need extra help.
I want to encourage you–if you’re listening and you’re like, yeah, I really could use some help–to get it.
And if you’re listening and you’re like, you know, I’ve never really felt like that. And I don’t struggle with that, but you see people around you who could use that rope, who could use that support and that encouragement, know that you can help by not only saying I believe how you’re feeling, I validate that. I know that that’s real for you. But also I encourage you to seek out whatever help it is that you need.
I love as I’ve talked to Dave about this. Over and over again, one of the things that he keeps coming back to is the type of help that you need doesn’t matter. What matters is being able to feel good, being able to be interested in your life, and enjoy your life and the regular ups and downs of life without the added difficulties of that sadness, that persistent weight.
Different Clinical Diagnoses
Depression itself has many different faces and many different solutions. I want to just quickly list some of the different clinical diagnoses of depression. I was talking to a friend earlier this week who said, I didn’t know that you could take depression medication for a short period of time. I thought that if you were clinically depressed, that was a persistent long-term mental health disorder. That it didn’t have a cure and you are depressed, you get on medication and you never don’t take it.
And I said, no, that’s not actually the way that depression works. You can have situational depression. I’m planning to take medication for six months and see how I’m feeling without it.
After I went into my doctor two weeks after I started taking it and said, You know, I feel great. I think it’s working and I think I’m better. And she said, you know, I think the reason that you feel better is because of the medication. So let’s give it six months and then you can stop if you want, see how we feel.
I also asked her about seasonal effective disorder, knowing that the winter has always been difficult for me. And she said there are lots of people who take medication just during the winter because of their seasonal affective disorder. They can take a low dose medication. They can use a happy light or a therapy light. And then when the summer comes, the sunshine heals.
You can have of course, perinatal depression, where you are depressed during pregnancy. We all know a lot about postpartum depression and yet still, I think some people don’t acknowledge it. They feel all of the weight and hardness, and they also think, of course, this is hard. I have a new baby.
Thinking something is hard and difficult and being able to manage it or cope with it is different than feeling like it’s hard and difficult and feeling yourself slowly fading away, feeling yourself slowly being pulled under.
There are people who have persistent depression disorder, which is having depression that lasts longer than two years. Persistent depression, or chronic depression, may require longer term medication and therapy.
There’s bipolar disorder, which is bouts of depression with bouts of mania or high energy. That is a more of a long-term situation.
There is psychotic depression that has different hallucinations and delusions.
There is premenstrual dysphoric disorder, which is PMDD. It’s depression at the beginning of your period. So not PMS, but PMDD, where you have all of these really difficult feelings around your period.
There is situational depression, which isn’t a technical, psychological term, but trouble managing a stressful event or stressful events in your life. And psychotherapy and medication can help you get through that. It gives you that added boost, just a couple extra rungs on your ladder, to be able to get through difficult situations.
Get The Help You Need
Experiencing depression doesn’t necessarily mean that you will always experience depression. It is helpful, though, to know that if it’s something that you struggle with, that you may want to be more aware of that, your tendencies and acknowledge that at some points I may need help with this. I can do all of the things that I can do by myself. And at some points I may need a little extra lift. I may need a little extra help.
My purpose in sharing this episode is, like I mentioned at the beginning, to hand a rope down into the hole, for those of you who may need that help now. Or a ladder.
Maybe right now you feel fine. And maybe at some point a situation will come along, or something will happen in your life where you will feel a burden too heavy to bear on your own. And you may need to be able to think, Hey, I know that Miranda has struggled with that before. And not only did she go on long runs and listen to great books and talk to friends and drink a lot of water and get enough sleep, but also for awhile, she needed a medication and some therapy to help her out.
And that it worked and that it helped her feel great, like herself again.
If you’re struggling, the most important thing is that you get help. That you talk to someone. Whether that’s friends or family, or whether that’s your doctor.
And while I wouldn’t always suggest Google as your first source of medical information, it was really helpful for me to just take that step and ask myself: Is what I’m feeling normal? Is this how I want to feel? What can I do to get back to feeling like myself? What can I do to get back to loving my life and liking it?
I hope that this episode has been helpful for some of you in bringing some awareness to mental health, to its reality. Sometimes the strong thing isn’t doing it on your own. Sometimes the strong thing is acknowledging that you need someone else to help.
I want to thank you so much for listening in and for your love and support. I appreciate all of you.
And if you’re new to the show, there’s a lot of goodness and a lot of honesty happening over here. Go ahead and subscribe so you don’t miss an episode.
If you are loving Live Free Creative, and you’ve been listening for a while, and you’re not yet supporting the show on Patreon for just $6 a month, you get a bonus episode, you can join our digital book club, and it also just helps me continue to produce these shows by myself in my bedroom, in my pajamas.
So thank you so much for your support. Go to patreon.com/livefreecreative if you want to offer your pledge.
Finally, I want to invite all of you to grown-up summer camp. There’s just a handful of spots left, and it would be so fun to be able to hang out with you this summer in Idaho. Visit livefreecreative.co/summer-camp. And I hope to see you there.
Have a wonderful week. I’ll chat with you next time. Bye-bye.