The main focus of my blog is to help others but I also want to provide insight into the way life really is, so I’m sharing something deeper than usual today. I’ve been battling major depressive disorder, on and off, for almost three decades. In fact, it’s the reason I wanted to become a psychologist and why I’m driven to help others.
Note: This post includes discussion of depression, self-injurious behaviors, and suicidal ideation. I don’t go into gory detail but it is mentioned so if that is something that is triggering for you, I’d suggest not reading on.
My History with Depression
Ever since I was 10 years old I’ve battled Major Depressive Disorder, often referred to simply as depression. I won’t go into all the reasons it was triggered but I just remember at age 10 contemplating suicide, envisioning how I’d do it, and I haven’t been the same since. This likely was also around the time that my autoimmune disease Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis was triggered, though I wouldn’t officially be diagnosed with that until I was 29. Izabella Wentz, PharmD published a very informative article about the connection between Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis and Depression, which explains a lot.
My depression was the worst from ages 13-17 when I was engaging in self-injurious behavior such as cutting, and was often suicidal. I spent years in therapy, including two weeks of out-patient therapy when I was 14 where instead of going to school everyday I went to the hospital for the entire school day for therapy, group therapy, art therapy, and completing my school work on my own.
With all the bullying I endured following that from ages 14-18, I wish I could have completed my education on my own at home instead of in person, but back then, that wasn’t an option. Had that been an option, I think I would have come out of my initial yearslong depressive episode much sooner. I stopped cutting on a daily basis when I was 17 on July 24th, 2003, after many previous failed attempts to quit.
By the time I was 21 I had found a new way to hurt myself and make my brain shut up, alcohol. I was a ‘functional’ alcoholic from ages 21-25 (almost 26). During which time I graduated from college, attained two graduate degrees, and started my career. I was still able to ‘do it all’ even though I was basically poisoning my brain and body every night.
I haven’t had a drop of alcohol since March 18, 2012 and have been happy overall from the time I was 26-32, mainly due to being with the love of my life. Even while I endured significant health issues, had my first child, left my career I worked so hard for to stay home with him, I stayed rather happy. I was even off my antidepressants for 5 years from 2014-2019.
However, when I had my twins in 2018 and postpartum depression roared in and almost took my life.
I’ve done a lot of work on myself, self discovery, therapy, meds, etc. since then but I’ve never been the same.
Just like most people I assume, life can be great but sometimes all the chaos of life throws us for a loop.
Sometimes I ‘Break’…
Decades after I first was diagnosed, depression still lurks within me no matter what I do or how hard I try to get better.
This morning I’m embarrassed to say I had a big outburst that was a long time coming and it brought out the absolute worst in me. This outburst left me feeling broken, exhausted, ashamed, and briefly suicidal. Yet again.
The important part is no one got hurt but me.
Hours later, I’m still reflecting, thinking through what happened, and angry at myself for what happened.
I know what the trigger was, I know what had been building within me for weeks, and I know what the straw was that broke the camels back. Typically I can use everything I’ve learned in therapy and my extensive training in psychology to control myself but sometimes, I can’t.
Yes, I’ve gone through many rounds of intensive therapy.
Yes, I’m on the highest dose of antidepressants I can be plus an anti-anxiety med due to my dual diagnosis.
Yes, I typically am rather happy and can do it all, but sometimes, I break.
It doesn’t matter what led up to it, it doesn’t matter exactly what happened, because honestly there is no convincing anyone else in the world that it was ‘warranted’ or worth it. Why? Because it wasn’t. It shouldn’t have happened. I should be able to do it all, all day everyday, and keep it together like it seems everyone else can.
But I can’t. I’m apparently just not built that way. Heaven knows I wish I were.
Last month my diagnosis was updated to being Recurrent Major Depression in Full Remission since I was doing so well. This one incident doesn’t mean that I’m back where I started but it is frustrating that I keep ending up here. I really hope that other people don’t have this lifelong struggle like I do.
Depression and Poetry
As a very depressed teenager I wrote over 1,000 poems in a few short years. It was the healthiest way I was able to get all the intense feelings out of me anytime I needed to. I always carried a composition notebook with me anywhere I went so I could pen a poem at anytime.
I still have all of those composition notebooks full of poems in my closet. I’ve considered putting them all, or at least most of them, on my blog but didn’t think it’d be all that helpful to others which is my main goal in life. Maybe I’ll change my mind at some point, we’ll see.
For now, I wrote a bit of a poem after the incident today as I reflect on the past almost three decades of being in and out of a depressive state. My poems don’t always rhyme, as true poetry doesn’t have to, despite popular belief. This one does on and off, with how my mood is right now I wasn’t able to keep it consistent.
Depression is Always Lurking Within
No matter how much intensive therapy I go through,
No matter which type or how successful it is,
No matter how happy I seem or feel a sense of renew,
There is still depression lurking within me,
Just under the skin.
No matter how much I try to keep it all together,
No matter how much I actually do,
No matter how much I work on being a good mother,
No matter how much I want to see it through,
There is always depression lurking within me.
No matter how much I throw myself into my chosen work,
No matter how much I love what I do,
I always get in a rut to the point I hate myself again,
Trying to do it all and yet getting nothing done.
The uncertainty and feeling that I can’t succeed is just under the skin.
No matter how depressed I get,
No matter how mad I get at myself,
No matter if I hurt myself,
Or contemplate suicide,
I won’t let depression ultimately win and take my life.
The Way it Really Is
Quite honestly, after publishing this I’ll probably regret it. I have over 50 blog posts partially written, some with very personal information in it such as this one, that I don’t publish because I’m afraid to or feel like they’re never complete enough to publish.
This one though, I’m going to publish for now and we’ll see if I keep it out there. Granted, with how the internet is, no matter if I take it down it’ll never be fully gone forever.
I hope I didn’t upset anyone by being so frank. This is something that’s been heavy on my heart and I felt the need to share it.
Please know that no matter how bad my depressive episodes get, my children will always be safe and I won’t commit suicide.
If I were going to kill myself, I would have as a teen when I felt there was no other way out.
I’ll be ok, I always get through it somehow.
Referenced Blog Posts
- How I Discovered I Have Hashimoto’s Disease in Addition to Hypothyroidism and What I Did to Feel Better
- 10 Years Sober, What I’ve Learned and How Far I’ve Come
- My Experience with Postpartum Depression
- How I Started Blogging and Turned my Dream into Reality
- Fun Hobbies for Busy Moms
- Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255
- In the U.S., call or text 988 to reach the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline, available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Or use the Lifeline Chat. This is free and confidential.
- Major Depressive Disorder from the Mayo Clinic
- Find a Therapist from the Psychology Today Website. You can search by state and specialty.
As a mom of identical twins and a son two years older, I have gained invaluable experience in the realm, and chaos, of parenting. With a Master's Degree and Education Specialist Degree in School Psychology, I spent years as a school psychologist, helping children navigate through their educational and emotional challenges. Now as a stay at home mom and professional blogger, I combine my areas of expertise to help you in your parenting journey.