Depression: There is so Much More to You

Flower Girl by Flora at HappyDoodleLand on etsy
Flower Girl by Flora at HappyDoodleLand on etsy

When I first started talking about writing this series on depression, I was nervous. I mean, it really was a kind of “coming out.” But it felt like the right thing to do. I mean, if I can’t find some way to talk about what I went through, if I can’t share some of what I’ve learned with others, what would have been the point?

A good friend asked me early on, “Do you really want to be known as ‘That Depression Girl’?”

Well, no, of course not; there are so many other parts to my life. To each of our lives. But if carrying the label of “That Depression Girl” for a while means that I can share some of what I went through, then I’ll deal with it.

When we go through something big — say, a medical diagnosis and all that that involves — it changes us. For me, depression became that thing that was ever-present in my life. It was the thing to deal with, to treat, to eat and exercise for, and to connect spiritually around. And there was a time when I didn’t really believe that depression isn’t the only gig in town. It isn’t. I also write, edit, plan events, ski, swim, love, bake, sew. . . and the list goes on. Everything feels better when I feel better. And feeling better, though it took focusing on who I am and how I operate, and needs tending, became reality.

Remember that when you’re unwell, it is possible to start feeling better.

You might not move completely on from your symptoms, and you might have to attend to continuing to feel good, but you are so much more than a diagnosis. Remember this.

You are so much more than a diagnosis.

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I am writing this because I had an experience. I am in no way a medical professional. I had an experience, and I have learned a lot from it, and that’s the foundation of all of this. You are reading the last in a series of thirteen articles on surviving depression. Find the first twelve articles here.

9 thoughts on “Depression: There is so Much More to You

  1. Brava Lori-Ann. When you say that if you can’t share what happened to you and how you coped with your life as it was to what it is — the what would have been the point…I agree. Every challenge we face in life is our opportunity to learn something and then to pass on that knowledge and experience in order to help others. When we live through those challenges we often say “why me” — there is usually no concrete answer to that and yet if we choose the answer — because it is a gift and I can use it to help others…then that is the only “why” that matters. Thank you for your strength and your courage.

  2. I think it’s great that you share these insights and advice from the trenches about depression…and I definitely don’t think of you as “the depression girl” at all! What you write about has to be SO helpful to those going through it or who know someone who is. I’m fortunate to not suffer from it, but am aware that it is a very real condition and that it can’t just be dismissed with an attitude of “get over it” or “cheer up.” Just wanted to let you know that even as someone who might not necessarily need your advice, I have a TON of admiration for you writing about it and sharing your very real and honest feelings about it. Bravo!

    1. Lola–your solidarity is priceless. You haven’t been there, but have empathy for those who have. Thank you! (And your bags are adorable!) xo

  3. I was depressed through most of college, and for nearly a decade after I graduated. I went to graduate school right out of college, which is probably not a good idea if you’re already depressed. There are lots of negative and depressed people on university campuses. It’s not the best environment. I really didn’t overcome feeling sad and hopeless until I turned thirty. I had gotten out of teaching, and was temping as a receptionist. It wasn’t a great job. I was extremely overqualified. But, on the very day I turned 30, the fog just lifted. It physically felt like the weight of the world just lifted off my shoulders. I was in a happier place. Not joyful, just not depressed. I felt calm and contented. I guess maybe it could be a hormonal change at the threshold of my thirties? I think at least in part, I just stopped beating myself up for not being more successful in my 20s. I stopped comparing myself to others I had graduated with, who had better jobs, were married, starting families, and enjoying success while I was still struggling and living with my parents. On my thirtieth birthday, I just woke up and realized I didn’t care about all that any more. It was such a relief. I know that depression is real. Women experience it much more than men do. I think part of it is hormonal, and a lot of it is just facing the challenges of living up to everything everyone else in our lives thinks we should be. Letting go of approval-seeking is a big step. Letting go of people and experiences that seem to trigger us helps too. Now I’m in my 40s, I still feel a little down sometimes, due to the economy, and not being financially where I’d like to be at my age. However, I know I’m not alone. Most of my generation isn’t even doing as well as I am (my income is low, but thankfully I have no debt). Still, it helps to manage your environment. I also find I’m happier and more cheerful if I see friends or attend some sort of social gathering at least once a week. I’m not really a social butterfly, but the once a week is good medicine.

  4. Hi Lori-Ann,

    I applaud your courage for sharing your thoughts on depression. This is something I can relate to and read your posts often. I do not feel able to write about my experiences in my blog but I definitely take comfort and inspiration from reading yours. By the way, I do not think of you as ‘The Depression Girl’ at all.

    All the best,
    Elizabeth

  5. I think part of the reason, which is self-perpetuating, that I stay depressed, is that I know that theres so much more to me, and as an artist, I love to work, but it’s so hard to focus, and if I can get started on anything, the seconds after that tick by like, agonising, emotional, torture sessions. I’m either trying to work, avoiding work which seems more natural/comfortable, or working through the torture, which doesn’t last long. I was especially drawn here to Lynn’s testimony. That’s pretty much the chronology of my own depression. I was painfully miserable through university, and till this day, it perplexes me how I didn’t know that my behaviour at the time was not normal. I would wake up in the middle of the night, on many occasions, crying like my beloved had died in my arms that very moment, when nothing I could conceive of, had happened. I was the King and Queen of bitterness and complaining and blaming. It wasn’t till I was well out of university, that I truly saw how miserable I was, but I didn’t pull out of it, I didn’t go to graduate school, I came home, and immediately dove head first into an alcohol dependency that, along with other deep resentments, drove an ever growing wedge, between my individual family members and I. I’m 29 now and still walking around in a deep fog, feeling like my spiritual body is multiple times the weight of my physical body. I know everyones depression is different, but reading your story, Lynn, makes me so hopeful. Its amazing that through the feelings, and, i agree, university is not the best environment for depression, that you made it through not only undergrad but grad school on top of that, and then continued on to work! I mean, I went offline, I don’t even remember a lot of what happened between 2008 and now. I’m on a better path now. Three years ago i began to recognise my symptoms and for two years i have been actively trying to heal, i still haven’t found my formula to recovery but i don’t feel so crazy now that i know more about the condition. I’ve read, cried, and written here, because your story truly resonated. I wish and hope with all my heart that next April, our stories may diverge once more (a birthday wish), if not, I’ll simply trundle along looking for an answer as I’ve been doing over the past two years. I’m grateful for sites like this, and the commenters that share their stories. Thank you!

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