I am not ok

*I wrote this about 6 months ago and have been indecisive about sharing it. My belief in the importance of reducing the stigma of mental illness has pushed me to go through with posting it.

My name is Jalyss and I have depression.

When I was first diagnosed with depression it felt like some big secret. Like a lie of omission if I didn’t tell people. During all of my normal interactions I felt this bizarre compulsion to blurt out, “by the way I have depression!” The past year and a half of my life was finally making sense to me and I wanted everyone else to know why I was the way I was for those 18 months. How the me they knew wasn’t the me I knew. It was important to me that they not judge me on who I was while I was at my lowest. I felt like the label “clinical depression” suddenly justified my struggles and I didn’t realize how deeply I needed that justification until I had it.

My name is Jalyss and I have depression.

The first few days after seeing my doctor and starting medication I told some close friends. “So I guess I have depression after all”. I said it as much to tell them as to convince myself. They already knew, they had been telling me for some time. They were the reason I got help. As the meds kicked in I realized I did in fact, have depression. I didn’t need to convince myself anymore- because things were changing dramatically. And I don’t think anti-depressants generally have that effect on people who don’t have depression…

I needed to tell people. It was a huge thing in my life and it felt weird not sharing it. I am a sharer. I wanted to shout to the world, “Depression meds are great! Please, if you are struggling, see a doctor! Don’t wait!”

I don’t know why it is so hard to see things clearly when you are the one involved. During the time I was avoiding seeing a doctor I convinced two friends to get counseling for depression. Meanwhile my friends pointed out the irony.

Despite having struggled for a year and a half I just didn’t feel “depressed enough” to get help. I didn’t want to overreact, didn’t want to waste anyone’s time. When I used the term depression to describe how I was feeling I felt like an imposter. Like I was insulting people who actually had depression. I also felt guilty for not being happy, so there was a part of me that was still trying to convince myself that I was. Either that or convince myself that being unhappy wasn’t actually that bad. After all, things were better than they had been in the months before, so I would be OK. I just needed to give it time. Be grateful. Be stronger. Suck it up! It would be fine. I was fine.

It took some hard conversations to realize just how fine I wasn’t and how it wouldn’t be fine if I didn’t get help. Untreated depression is possibly not the easiest way to start your marriage.

My name is Jalyss and I have depression.

I have no stigma against mental illnesses like depression. Getting professional help for depression is as sensible as seeing a doctor for a broken bone. I think meds are often an important part of treatment. Depression is not a character flaw. It’s not “unspiritual” or being dramatic. It is a medical condition and should be treated. Depression can be strictly a chemical imbalance, a combination of chemical and situational factors, or chemical changes in the brain brought on by a situation. It can be triggered by severe stress or by nothing at all. You can have a predisposition to depression, it can run in families, or you can develop it with no warning. Depression can be life-long or a one-time episode. Chronic or acute. Debilitating or just really damn difficult. Depression comes in many forms but all forms should be taken seriously. Depending on the type of depression it can be treated with medication, lifestyle changes, or counseling (and various combinations of the three). So with that said I am pro meds! I am pro counseling! I am pro doctors and getting help. I feel these things should be talked about far more to normalize and reduce stigma. Yet…

When it’s you it is so hard to see.

It’s hard to see that having days where you feel like you can’t possibly muster up the energy to speak so you type out conversions with the person next to you, is not normal.

Hard to see that your constant preoccupation with what you have lost is not a normal part of homesickness.

Hard to see that your inability to see any positives in life is maybe not your fault. Not a character flaw. Not just a rough patch.

Hard to remember that crying regularly for no identifiable reason is not normal.

Hard to accept that losing 20 pounds when you don’t have 5 to lose is a problem.

Hard to see that your friend having to create a step by step itinerary for your day that includes “get dressed” and “eat” does not point to the likelihood that you are fine.

Hard to see that when the thought of being alone for any period of time terrifies you.. When it’s hard to remember what it’s like to just feel content, have energy, not be anxious… you are not ok.

When it feels like it will never get better it’s time to take a serious look at your life and ask, “Am I really OK? Do I want to live like this? Is this healthy for me? For my relationships?”

And if the answer is no, it’s time to get help.

My name is Jalyss and I have depression. If you think you might, don’t put it off, don’t try to rationalize or make excuses. Get help, it’s worth it.

According to the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance nearly 7% of individuals will experience depression in a given year. Unfortunately, 2 of 3 people will not actively seek treatment.

*I am currently 2 months on a combination anxiety, depression, chronic pain medication and I feel clearer, happier, more energetic, and more myself than I have in 18 months. I am optimistic that this will continue. Depression runs in my family and mine seems to have been set off by a particularly stressful time in my life.

**I want to say a massive thank you to a few close friends and of course my husband who have been a huge support to me through all of this. From listening to me process to insisting I eat dinner. From making me get dressed to Skype interventions. From prayer to mind numbing Netflix binges. I am immeasurably grateful for you guys.

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2 thoughts on “I am not ok

  1. Thank you for posting this – so many people need to read this. I’ve been battling myself a fair bit lately and can really relate – and I’m sure many others will too

    Thanks again – Lx

  2. Jalyss says:

    Thanks for your comment Lisa, and your support. I’m sorry to hear you have been struggling. I hope that this is a reminder that you are not alone or “dysfunctional,” just human xx.

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