Advertisements
Tip Top Lifestyle

Lifestyle Blog

img

3 Women Share the Moment They Knew They Had Depression

/
/
/
0 Views
Bringing you the latest stories and tip from the world. Now go ahead and read what you were looking for, but remember keep checking as we add more and more of the latest articles to keep you up to date.

3 Women Share the Moment They Knew They Had Depression

The symptoms of depression aren’t always as obvious as feeling hopeless or suicidal. Meet three women whose condition looked different than you might expect or was masked by another issue — and who came out on the other side feeling stronger than ever.

“No one would ever call me depressed.” —Meg D’Incecco, 49

Advertisement – Continue Reading Below

depression

Courtesy of Meg D’Incecco

My image of a woman with depression used to be of someone who couldn’t get out of bed, hold down a job or be a good mom. But I have depression — diagnosed four years ago — and I am nothing like that.

For 19 years I’ve worked in a field I love, public relations. I have a terrific husband and son and wonderful friends. I’m fun at parties — nothing makes me happier than being in a big room filled with people and introducing the ones I know to others I think they’d click with. I’m the auctioneer at the annual fund-raiser at my son’s school, where I keep people laughing with my sometimes bawdy sense of humor. Inside, though, I’ve always had to work to keep dark moods at bay. In school, I stayed really busy to distract myself, including acting as the go-to person for friends in need. I also had bulimia, and I saw a therapist to get me through that. But mostly I filled up my life with good things and felt okay.

Advertisement – Continue Reading Below

Then, four years ago, I took a high-ranking job, which came with a lot more pressure. That was when my depression finally caught up with me. I began crying daily, having trouble concentrating, and losing weight. A mean voice played loudly in my head, telling me that I wasn’t worthy, that I didn’t know what I was doing professionally, that I was as fat as a Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade balloon. I was suddenly insecure in a way I hadn’t ever been before — I’d chat with someone and then immediately be filled with self-doubt, picturing the other person walking away thinking I was an overbearing freak. When I inexplicably cried — twice — while walking my son to school, I knew I didn’t want him to see me that way and that it was time to see a professional again.

After interviewing a few psychologists, I found one I could be real with. Over the next six months, I made great progress; I started to feel better about myself and to appreciate the blessings in my life. But I was still having random negative thoughts and bursting into tears almost daily. My therapist mentioned anti­depressants, but I was hesitant. I didn’t think I needed them, and I was concerned that they’d dampen my sex life and numb my emotions.

A voice played in my head, telling me I wasn’t worthy, I didn’t know what I was doing, I was fat.

Then in one session I mentioned that I wished I could start each day with a glass of wine to even out my moods. My therapist said that was the role antidepressants should play, and I started to think I’d been needlessly avoiding the drugs. Major depression is like any other medical condition you treat so that it doesn’t get really bad; you wouldn’t let diabetes go untreated until you went into a coma, and managing this disease is no different.

Now I’m on an antidepressant and anti­-anxiety drug, Lexapro, and I still see my beloved therapist. I also regularly go running or head to SoulCycle classes, where I get an additional endorphin assist. I don’t love that I’ve gained weight since starting Lexapro, but it has neither affected my libido nor blunted my emotions as I’d feared. I can easily feel love and intense joy — I simply don’t have those out-of-nowhere tortured thoughts, and I don’t feel like crying all the time. And if I have a bad day, instead of feeling like my life is a disaster, I realize it is temporary, a bad day like everyone sometimes has, and that I’m going to be okay.


“I’ve learned to manage without meds.” —Shelby Anderson, 31

depression

Courtesy of Shelby Anderson

I can’t recall a time when I didn’t have depression, though nobody calls it that when you’re a child. I was always a sullen, moody and angry little girl, and I remember creating Barbie scenarios with dark themes. By the time I was 11, my parents sent me to a psychologist, whom I loved because I felt I had someone who, unlike the adults in my family, listened and respected my emotions.

Still, I didn’t have many friends or interests, and I had trouble sleeping. I also disparaged myself a lot, sure I had nothing to give to the world. After a few years, when I was 15, I started on medication, eventually settling on a cocktail of the anxiety and depression drugs Lexapro, Wellbutrin, and Trazodone. It definitely helped. I finally felt happier, and I joined the speech team — I was good at it, though still hard on myself when I didn’t win every competition. College was also pretty smooth. But once I graduated and found a job I liked, I decided I wanted to try life without meds. I’d been on them for more than eight years — I didn’t see my depression going away, and I didn’t like the idea of remaining on pills forever. Having to keep track of when to renew my prescriptions was a hassle, and I couldn’t afford the co-pays. My psychiatrist agreed with my plan to slowly taper off.

Advertisement – Continue Reading Below

Advertisement – Continue Reading Below

The past seven years have involved a lot of trial and error in finding techniques to manage my symptoms. I do a ton of self-care, which in my case means going easy on myself to calm the self-criticism and lowering my super-high personal expectations.

I don’t really get sad — it’s more like defeated and overwhelmed.

Still, there are times when I’m like, Shelby, you suck! At the hospital lab where I work, for instance, if I get called out for making a rare mistake, I feel like the worst employee in the world. Once, during a fight with my ­sister, I slammed the receiver down and cried inconsolably. I don’t get really sad — it’s more like defeated and overwhelmed, and I want to curl up under my blanket.

On those days, I remind myself it’s okay that I don’t get to my to-do list, and maybe I’ll have cookie dough ice cream in front of Netflix instead. Running really helps: At least three times a week, I do around nine miles in the countryside near my home. I’ve never gotten a runner’s high, but the “me time” of being alone in nature soothes me. I also learned a few tricks from my years in therapy: I try to view a situation I’m overly upset about as an outsider rather than as someone who is emotionally involved. Or if I’m beating myself up, I tell myself, It’s not that you’re a bad person; it’s that your brain has an issue. Determining whether my emotions are realistic or a sign of my mind running amok helps me respond appropriately. And if I felt I needed more support, I’d get therapy in a heartbeat.

Advertisement – Continue Reading Below

I am lucky to have the life I do — I enjoy my work and spending time with my husband and wonderful friends, and I love performing as a dancer in a local rock band. And I know I don’t need to do everything perfectly — I’m proud of the way I’m managing my condition.


“My hidden depression almost killed me.” —Ana Matica, 36

depression

Courtesy of Ana Matica

Advertisement – Continue Reading Below

Advertisement – Continue Reading Below

I grew up in Miami in a close-knit household, raised by my Nicaraguan mother, my Cuban stepdad and my beloved abuela — my grandma. In the Hispanic community, women are supposed to be strong — to give help, not take it. From an early age, I picked up the message that if you are depressed, and especially if you take medication, you’re weak and crazy.

Being strong was easy when I was young: I had a wonderful childhood, with good schools and family vacations. I dreamed of working for a national health and fitness magazine in New York City. After getting my master’s degree, I did just that — I landed my dream job as an assistant editor at a major publication at the age of 24. Almost immediately, I felt like a fraud — as if, though I’d been an A student in school, I wasn’t as good, smart or pretty as the other women who worked there. Standing in an elevator — 5′ 3″ and curvy — next to the blond glamazons who looked so put-together, I felt totally inadequate.

To outsiders, my life seemed perfect.

Advertisement – Continue Reading Below

I was dejected after leaving meetings in which my boss shot down my story suggestions, even though most people’s ideas didn’t pan out. Worse, the job didn’t satisfy me, which was confusing because this was what I had wanted my whole life. I also began a relationship that appeared terrific on the outside — my guy was tall and smart and looked like a model — but I felt he wasn’t there for me. The relationship didn’t bring me joy.

To outsiders, my life seemed perfect. But inside I felt that I was just going through the motions. It was like a switch had been flicked off and I couldn’t feel any emotions — not sadness or anger, but also not joy or love.

One thing that gave me a high was to severely restrict what I was eating, because this was something I could control. I started dropping weight fast and became unhealthily skinny. Eventually my boyfriend grew so alarmed that he contacted my parents, who demanded I get treated for my eating dis­order. To get them off my back, I agreed to an outpatient program. It was during intake for the program, while I was completing a questionnaire about how I was feeling, that it hit me that my anorexia was my way of coping with and masking my depression.

I completed the program, but my heart wasn’t in it, and I continued to struggle — even more so after my boyfriend and I moved to Indiana. With no friends or family to support me, the depression spiraled down to become so bad that I barely left my home. My weight dropped so low that my heartbeat slowed. I was scared I was going to die, but too depressed to make any changes. Finally, my therapist said she would drop me as a client if I didn’t agree to be hospitalized and go on medication.

Advertisement – Continue Reading Below

Advertisement – Continue Reading Below

That, plus a conversation I’d had with my grandfather in Nicaragua a few months earlier, helped me get over my cultural aversion to asking for help and taking medication. Though it was an open secret that he had depression, it had never been talked about in my family — but during my visit, my grandpa shared details of his disease, including that he’d found that taking medication made a big difference. So I checked myself into the hospital and agreed to go on low doses of Abilify, to even out my moods, and Zoloft, an anti­depressant. I immediately felt better.

It was like a switch had been flicked off and I couldn’t feel any emotions.

Most important, that internal light flickered back on, and I was able to feel things again! I could also process my emotions in therapy. I came to realize that as the oldest first-generation American in my family, I’d been raised to be the golden girl — perfect, happy, successful — but also how it was totally unrealistic for me to feel and be that way all the time. Now I accept all of me: happy-go-lucky me, grumpy-cat me, all-glammed-up me, no-makeup me, screw-up me and top-of-my-game me.

Between the medication (I still take Zoloft) and good psychotherapy, I grew strong enough to maintain a healthy weight, get out of my bad relationship and move back to Miami. Here I have family, old and new friends and a sunny climate that makes me feel good. I’ve also found a job I adore as a writer and editor for a nonprofit organization. It feels satisfying to give back to my community and to be able to write, which I still love.

I won’t deny that my depression occasionally rears its ugly head, making me want to retreat into my hole. When that happens, I follow my therapist’s advice to give myself permission to have fun — go out with friends, do yoga, read a novel, go to church — and the dark mood eventually passes. If I have to take medicine forever to be as fully present for my life as I am now, I will happily do it — I missed out on an entire decade! Even my family has come around. Taking the drugs doesn’t mean I’m crazy — it means I’m smart and sane and have learned how to take good care of myself.

.

How to Deal With Depression

While drugs and therapy can be lifelines, lifestyle changes like these from Alex Korb, Ph.D., author of The Upward Spiral, can significantly help in the treatment of mild or moderate depression.

Advertisement – Continue Reading Below

Get moving: Being active boosts brain-derived neurotrophic factor, a natural chemical Korb says makes your brain more resilient.

Get more sleep: Insomnia and depression reinforce each other — the latter makes it hard to sleep, and the former deepens dark moods.

Eat fresh food: One study found that people on a Mediterranean-like whole-food diet had dramatic improvement in depressive symptoms.

Set tiny goals: A depressed brain resists making decisions, but any choice boosts the brain’s dopamine-reward system, so start small — say, by choosing a new book to read.

Use your body: Biofeedback can teach you physical techniques, such as ways of breathing, to lift your mood and ease stress. (Find a practitioner at bcia.org.)

.

Many women with major depression may also have other issues, such as anxiety, substance abuse problems, eating disorders or ADHD, says James Murrough, M.D., Ph.D., director of the mood and anxiety disorders program at Mount Sinai’s Icahn School of Medicine in New York City. Typically each condition is treated separately, “but sometimes treating one can help fix the other,” he says. For loads of helpful resources, visit the Anxiety and Depression Association of America at adaa.org.

This story originally appeared in the June 2018 issue of Good Housekeeping.

Source link

Advertisements
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google+
  • Linkedin
  • Pinterest

Leave a Reply

This div height required for enabling the sticky sidebar
Social media & sharing icons powered by UltimatelySocial
Facebook
Facebook
%d bloggers like this: