On this depression…

I have depression.

For years I have only talked to family and close friends about my depression.  For the most part, I keep my depression private.  However, within the last few days someone I love has been hit with depression.  So now – I am out.  I plan on staying out.

My depression hit when I was in 8th grade.  My mother found me hiding underneath a counter in our bathroom.  I still do not know why, but I could not move.  My mother had to coax me out.  Two weeks later, I was seeing a counselor for major depression.  I had a good home life.  No one had hurt me.  I had depression.  In 8th grade, I began taking anti-depressants.  It was hard on my family.

When I was a freshman in college, I tried to kill myself.  I swallowed a bunch of pills with a bottle of vodka.  My friend (thanks Shane) found me and carried me to the hospital.  Because I tried to kill myself I had to spend three days in a mental hospital where I received a TON of medicine and a TON of therapy.  I tried to kill myself because I felt alone and like I had no support.  My father called me crying and asked me, “Stephanie, can you please never do this again?”  My suicide attempt hit my father the hardest.

Two years ago depression hit me again.  I was in a rough marriage and again felt alone.  One day I sat on my bathroom floor and cut my legs again and again until the blood ran over the bathroom floor.  I decided to see a counselor.  I started taking medicine again.  This is the first time I have ever admitted to cutting.

Depression is like alcoholism.  It is real.  It is hard.  And when it hits – it hits hard.  I, most likely, have a chemical imbalance.  Due to that imbalance, if I do not monitor how I am doing I am susceptible to bouts of depression.

However, I am still alive.  Frankly, there is no reason I should still be here today.  I should have died my freshman year of college.  But by the grace of God – and because of the love of family and friends – I am here today.

So what do I do?  What do I do to live with this?

First, I admit that this is a problem for me.  If an eighth grader has depression but has a good home life – odds are they are not a miserable sinner being punishing by Satan. Thinking that mental illness is caused only by sin is STUPID, and does nothing to address the problem.  My depression is difficult, but it is not more than me.  It is a part of me, but it is not all of me.  I am bigger than this.

Second, I accept help.  I see a counselor if I need to.  I take medicine if I have to (by God’s grace I have been off medicine for over a year!!!).  I let my friends (thanks Bri) or family (thanks Mom) call me every day if I need it.

Third, I understand that I cannot do this alone.  I talk to God.  I talk to friends.  I talk to family.  I have a great group of people who are here for me.  It is really hard sometimes, but when I need help – I have learned to ask.

I hope for two things when it comes to depression.

First, I hope that people stop being such judgmental jerk faces about it.  Less than a month ago I heard a co-worker bash counseling and say that going to a counselor makes you “Weak.”  That mentality, in my opinion, is what pushes people toward suicide.  Depression is real.  It is a problem.  People need to see that.

Second, I hope that people can find ways to live with depression as I have.  It is manageable.  People will help.  God is there and will always be there.  Depression is big, but it does not have to be bigger than any person.

If you have been judging people with depression – stop.  Depression is real.  And people with depression often feel alone.

If you have depression – stop.  Find help.  Depression is real.  And you do not have to do this alone.

Thanks to all of my family and friends who have been with me over the years.  And of course, thanks to God.  For grace.  For life.  For second chances.