I was clinically diagnosed with depression at the age of 24. There are only a handful of people in the world that know this fact about me.
The diagnosis used to riddle me with shame. I’m choosing to end my cycle of shame by sharing my story.
How it Began
The depression started a year into my first real job after university. I moved 3,000 miles across the U.S. back home and started over. New job, new friends, new home, new boyfriend… new life. While this looked and sounded quite appealing from the outside, inside I was moving into a very dark place.
My marketing job brought long hours, high expectations, and the heavy burden of trying to prove myself to my colleagues and clients. I fell into the trap of living paycheck to paycheck, which began to put me into credit card debt when I overstretched.
I left all my friends across the country, and wasn’t very welcomed by the long-standing female friendship group already existing at the office. In fact, they stood me up for my birthday celebration, which created feelings of intense rejection.
The apartment I could afford to rent on my own left me feeling quite vulnerable and fearful. Trying to pay the rent and bills was a stretch and feeling safe at night alone in a dimly lit, ground floor apartment was agonizing.
My relationship with my new boyfriend started out with him sweeping me off my feet. Things took a sharp turn when he began showing signs of verbal abuse a few months later.
Then, I hit rock bottom one night.
I found myself staring at my dull, tearful reflection in the bathroom mirror, unable to stop crying. I kept telling myself to pull my sh*t together, but I physically could not stop crying. It didn’t feel real so I kept staring at myself, trying to make sense of my emotions. For two weeks I cried for hours each day for seemingly no reason.
When one of these crying episodes happened in front of my then boyfriend, he left and called my mother, who then called me. She knew something was wrong immediately, and after an emotional conversation she suggested I go see a doctor.
I couldn’t seem to snap myself out of my emotions like I had in the past. It felt as though I was drowning and gasping for air. I had lost control. I remember thinking, “so this is what it feels like to really lose control.” Simultaneously, the heaviness slightly lifted now that someone knew how I was feeling. Almost like a lifeline was thrown out to me.
Therapy and Healing
The doctor I saw prescribed an antidepressant and visits to a psychologist. She explained that the anti-depressant needed to be taken for one year to see maximum benefits, and I could not stop taking it without her guidance. At that time I was quite naive to prescription antidepressants, and decided to trust the doctor and take them for one year.
My reaction to the first prescription was horrifying. It caused debilitating insomnia and a constant ringing sound in my ears. I actually thought I was losing my mind with the ear ringing and lack of sleep, and it was making the depressive feelings worse. After a week I went back to the doctor to get a new prescription. She tested my hearing, which was normal, then gave me the lowest dosage of another pill and I had no side effects.
At my first psychologist appointment, I remember sitting in the waiting room filled with shame. “Psychologists are for crazy people, right? How in the world am I here?” I asked myself. I did not resonate with the first psychologist, who was a well-trained, white-haired, older man who I simply wasn’t connecting with (but insurance was paying for).
I decided to look elsewhere and made another appointment. This time I connected with the psychologist. It was here that I realized how incredibly valuable therapy is. She listened in an objective yet compassionate way. This allowed me to show up as my raw self. She didn’t allow me to suppress my feelings or skirt around issues. At the same time she allowed me the space to heal so I could empower myself again. We faced things head on and I was able to regain my autonomy, which took me out of my depressive state.
Over the past decade I have worked with various healers and therapists from time to time, as well as created my own practices of self-healing. My experience with depression was an inspiration for me to become a Certified Health Coach, which allows me to create a supportive, healing environment for others to heal themselves and thrive.
I never feel ashamed to work with a healer or therapist, and I continue to work with them when I feel called to. It is because of this that I have been able to more deeply heal myself. Therapy and healing has empowered me to deeply connect to myself, to recognize my emotions, to end my depression, and to show up as a better version of myself… one who is able to hold space for others to heal.
My shame has transformed into healing.
Did you resonate with this story? Share it with someone else who can benefit from it. The more we share, the more we can heal.