“The longer I do this, the more I realize that there isn’t a specific type of patient afflicted by this,” said my psychiatrist. I was in the hospital, recovering from my first and only major depressive episode. Just days after my birthday, the quiet storm of seemingly unrelated events that had been brewing for months – in some cases years – like my lack of motivation, weight gain, sudden disinterest in social activities, and screwy sleep patterns had turned into a tornado of 911 calls and a trip to the hospital, leaving those closest to me collectively baffled.
I had been gut punched by depression and I had no idea it was coming. As an advocate for mental health, I have to say, I was and still am a bit embarrassed. I should have seen it coming. It should not have escalated to the point it did. But as I am taking time to learn about shame from the incomparable Dr. Brene Brown, I know that shame survives in secrecy. And while the more personal details of my story will remain with my closest friends and family members, I think it is incredibly important to use my platform as a flare gun of sorts, letting my readers know that I’m here, that I’m okay, and that there’s danger ahead if you’re not careful.
As I work through understanding what this means for me in the grand scheme of things, I fully admit that I don’t have the answers. I didn’t even want to write this but my friend encouraged me to, even though I have nothing to say. Writing was my first form of therapy, after all.
In hindsight, I suppose I wish I had been kinder to myself, allowing room for error in an imperfect world that I willed to be perfect. I wish I knew that having a six figure income, house, travel plans, massages, etc. was not the true definition of self-care.
But I know now, at least. And I guess that’s as good a start as any.