I was diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder in December 1993. My diagnosis came about because I knew I was on death’s edge. I had already attempted suicide with sleeping pills, failed, and was again collecting more pills for a final try. For one last time, I tried for help.
I was extraordinarily lucky to have had a humble internist as my doctor. He told me that he was not qualified to pursue treatment with me and instead immediately referred me to an experienced psychiatrist. I was put on Prozac, and despite experiencing severe side effects, my condition improved, encouraging me to stick with it.
I stuck with Prozac until the mid 90’s when I was moved to Effexor by a new psychiatrist who also provided me with counseling. That was the best thing ever. Where Prozac killed off my emotions, Effexor allowed me to feel again without fear. I could live.
Oddly enough, through all of that I was never ashamed or frightful of others finding out about my mental illness. I was also constantly baffled by people who would approach me and whisper condolences. I came to understand that for the majority of people that mental illness was something to be hidden, covered up, ignored, and to ultimately be ashamed of.
We have nothing about which to be ashamed. We live with an illness, but that illness does not make us weak.