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I have spent days in bed, sleeping as many hours as possible.
I have laid on the floor and cried until there were no tears left.
I have drank myself into oblivion, trying to numb my feelings.
I have suffered from depression for half of my life.
Not all days look like this. In fact, most of my days don’t. Most of my days are happy and full of laughter.
Over the past 21 years, I have crossed paths with hundreds of people—most of whom took one look at me and could not tell that I have clinical depression. This disease isn’t always visible on the outside. It’s a common misconception that people with depression are sad all the time. If you’ve ever suffered from it, you know exactly what I’m talking about.
Most of the time—in fact, 99 percent of the time—my depression is manageable. This is possible because of anti-depressants and self-care. I get up for work every day and work all day long. I laugh and joke with my coworkers. I work out at the gym. I spend my evenings with my kids, making dinner and checking homework. On the weekends, I do housework and laundry, spend time with friends or relax and read.
Like I said, 99 percent of the time, I live a fairly normal and boring life.
It’s the other 1 percent that’s a little less tolerable. If I’m not eating and sleeping well, exercising regularly and spending time with family and friends, those old feelings of sadness and loneliness creep up. If I drink too much, I get overly emotional and sad and I reminisce about the harder times in my life. These invasive thoughts and feelings are enough to knock me on my ass. I may spend the day in bed, ignoring social media and messages from friends and family. Sometimes a good, cleansing cry helps me to feel better.
When the days start getting shorter and the dark nights longer, I get really low. I can feel this shift in my mood during September. Both my brain and my body know that a long winter is on its way.
When it’s dark by 5 p.m., all I want to do is sleep. It’s hard for me to keep my energy levels up. I started using a light therapy box after my psychiatrist suggested it, and it made last winter a lot easier to muck through.
I’ve recently started exercising more and feeding my body healthier foods. I have a great support system with my best friends and family. I’ll be unpacking my therapy light today and getting it ready for daily use (30 minutes per day is recommended). I hope that this combination will make the upcoming winter a little easier to manage.
It’s not all doom and gloom living with depression.
If I take good care of myself and take my meds every day, I can live a full and happy life. I know that I am lucky to be able to manage my mental illness fairly easily. Not everyone’s experience is the same as mine.
If you are feeling low or overwhelmed with sadness, please reach out to someone. You don’t need to suffer alone. Please visit the National Alliance on Mental Illness for helpful information and resources.
And please remember to make yourself a priority and take care of yourself.