I am now 29 years old, successful and happy, and have been on my medication for 12 years. I am fully content with that fact, as the medication was indeed a lifesaver. Here is my story:
When I was 17, my brain revolted against me. On the outside, things were perfect. I was the lead in a show, had my first boyfriend, and was about to go to college. Slowly but surely, however, out of nowhere, all hell broke loose. First, I wasn’t able to go onstage without being nauseous, and then eventually without throwing up beforehand. I stopped being able to eat anything. Then I stopped liking the things I so obviously and consistently liked. Disney, baby animals, baby humans, among other things. I not only stopped liking these things, but I literally couldn’t remember what is was LIKE to like them. I was an alien in a world I didn’t understand, watching people who cooed at babies, laughed at television or pet dogs like I were an anthropologist on another planet. That’s the part people don’t realize about depression. It not only takes the things you love from you, but it makes you forget having EVER loved those things. I only intellectually knew that I had once enjoyed them, but I could not remember how. It didn’t seem like me— I’d question it because I couldn’t fathom having any sort of fondness for the cute and the fuzzy and the happy and the musical. It actively grossed me out. Horrible, intrusive, repetitive thoughts raced through my head on replay every second of every day. Violent, awful dreams, debilitating irrational fears. In retrospect, the only way I can describe that month before my angel doctor put me on live-saving medication, was that I was “possessed.” I understand 100% why people once believed in demonic possession. I was taken over. The scariest part, however, is that I thought it was just me. That I had changed. That this dark, numb, alien me was the real me. A depressed brain does not recognize that it’s been invaded, except for in tiny bouts of clarity highlighted by the thrashing tears of feeling trapped by the evil version of itself. It wasn’t until my 3rd week of medication that real Jessica started to poke her way out of the thorny brambles, bruised and bloody and ECSTATIC that she could smile at a baby. Depression is not simply being sad. It is the ultimate monster, turning a person into a shadow of his/herself and taking things that person once loved, and turning them into enemies. Your brain knows exactly how to attack, because it’s YOU. A broken arm keeps a person from using his arm. A broken brain stops time dead in it’s tracks. THERE IS NO SHAME IN NEEDING HELP. I owe my life to the help I got. I encourage anyone and everyone to be upfront with times you have suffered from depression or anxiety or debilitating mental trouble of any kind. You are not alone, and the more we share stories of humanity, and the inherent hope present in someone who has gone through the same struggle, the fewer people will be able to get to the point of ending their own lives, because they will recognize, even if only intellectually, that they are not alone.
It gets better when you recognize that it’s ok to need help, and that you are inherently of value. No matter what your brain tells you.