Sharing Depression

I recently talked to my parents about the fact that I have a tendency towards depression. I admitted that I’ve had it since I was a teenager. It wasn’t something I could put a name to at that point but looking back after all of the experiences I’ve had living with it, it was there just waiting for me to fall into its pit. Somehow, even with these feelings constantly swirling around me, I managed to get all the way through my 20s before it became a major issue. And finally with all of the right elements in place, it did become a huge issue.

I couldn’t get out of bed on those days. Food wasn’t meaningful. Every day was such a huge struggle that life was beyond hard. I must have cried so much in that time frame. Because of the constant therapy and the fight I finally decided to put up against it, I did make it through.

Even though life was infinitely better and more well-rounded through my 30s, it would still linger in the background. For a while after having each of my children, post-partum depression definitely made a strong appearance. Luckily, for me, it wasn’t as bad as it could have been. Eventually, I even got to a point where my life was starting to feel good because I was getting more time to chase my dreams.

Then, covid hit. Everything went backwards. For a while, it was fine. It took almost a year and a half but then the little pieces of it added up. Somehow, without noticing it, it became bigger and bigger until just earlier this year, I realized that depression was back. Not just a hint or a faint scent but full-fledged back.

It’s not like I shut down. I didn’t. I couldn’t. I have a family to take care of. I have businesses to run. I can’t lay in bed for hours, eating candy, and hoping to feel better. I have to continue to function this time. So I did. I kept pushing forward. What choice do I have?

You know when I realized it was depression? When I realized I couldn’t feel excited about anything. When joy seemed to be nowhere in sight. I wasn’t laughing anymore. Things feel like they’ll never be better. Sometimes, you end up floating around in that black cloud that makes you question “what’s the point?”.

The best decision I made when covid hit was to get back into therapy. So now, I’ve been doing sessions throughout the last year which means I haven’t sunk as fully as I could have. I’m also aware and grateful for the support I do have around me because I know that they keep me afloat in what could have been that bottomless pit. Just a few moments of calm each week with people that love me keeps me holding on.

So I told my parents all of this. My parents have been pretty supportive with the whole mental health thing. They’ve tried to understand why and how I feel as I do. This isn’t always the case with South Asian Indian parents. Mental health is still a stigma. Depression is a stigma. Anxiety is a stigma. Everything that isn’t able to be physically seen is a stigma.

The biggest question that comes out of it is “How can you be depressed when you have everything?” I do have everything. I’m luckier than most. And the biggest blessing I have is the ability to communicate openly how I feel. I know I’m not alone.

So this is how I answered the question, “It’s because I had everything that it wasn’t or hasn’t been worse. I survived because I had the family support. I survive daily because I am able to talk about what I’m going through with my spouse, family, and friends. I get through each day knowing the next might be better because I don’t have to hide that I don’t feel okay.”

That’s it. Just being able to share that little piece, being able to cry when it’s not all okay, is enough to make sure I don’t drown when things are hard, when the world in general is hard. That’s how I know that one day I will get through it. It’s hard thing to consistently believe but I have had better days and for now, one day at a time is all I can do.

The Next Step

Last week, I wrote about mental health and yesterday, I mentioned how it’s important to be able to cope with the feelings that you might be having.

I also wanted to dedicate an article to what the next step is.

If you don’t feel like you figured out ways to cope and actually feel better, it might be time to seek help. There is nothing wrong with needing professional help. As I mentioned before, if you are willing to see a doctor for your body, why would you feel bad about seeing a doctor for your mind? It is a part of who we are and it also needs to be taken care of.

So what’s the next step?

When I finally admitted that I needed help, I literally just got on the phone with my insurance company. A lot of insurance companies have a phone number for mental health on the back of their card. And when I say I got on the phone with the company, I mean that my friend and I got on the phone because I still needed the support. It was a hard decision to make. It made me feel like I failed at something because I wasn’t able to deal with my issues by myself.

Sometimes, you need someone to help you stand yourself up again. And it’s okay.

So I called the insurance company’s mental health line and asked them who they covered in my area. They literally started at A and gave me 5 names and numbers. I called the first number on the list and made an appointment.

It’s important that you like your therapist and feel like they can help you. I needed someone to listen and to help me navigate my murky feelings. I needed someone who could help me take steps to become me again.

I was lucky that the first name that I called was the first person I saw was the therapist I ended up seeing for the next 4 years. Even when I felt better and more like myself after a year or two, I kept on seeing her every so often just as a tune-up. I saw her as I went through a few other phases in my life and she helped me get through them.

The only reason I stopped was because I moved away and physical distance made it difficult. I haven’t found another therapist because I haven’t felt the urgency to see one yet. After having 2 kids though and not quite feeling like myself for a while, I am thinking about finding one near me.

I want to be the best version of me I can be and be able to give that to my family. So I’ll do what I can to find that person again.

Coping

Life is hard sometimes.

I don’t want you to feel like just because you have everything you physically need that it can’t be hard as well. Many of us deal with emotional issues on a daily basis. And it’s just as important. It’s easy to argue with ourselves and list down the positives that we have and therefore, ignoring the things that are difficult for us. I believe that you should definitely acknowledge the positive but instead of ignoring the negative, find a way to deal with them. Find a way to make it better.

Me, I’m constantly struggling to feel my value in this world. My brain can argue with my heart and list 100 different ways I am valuable to many people. But I really need to feel that contentment. I have been diagnosed with depression at least once in my life. I haven’t felt the need to see a therapist again about it but I am aware that I probably am fighting against it constantly.

I cope with this struggle by exercising. Not only does it help me get out from inside my head and heart but it makes me feel good about myself physically. Dance is also a big one for me. Just being able to fall into the music and leave myself for a few hours is really helpful. I’m not thinking about anything except what my body is doing. I’m not really thinking about anything. I’m just feeling.

I have a sister who does a lot of coping by being out in nature. It helps her to deal with whatever she needs to deal with in her life. Whether it’s hiking or traveling, just being outside helps you to realize how much positivity there is in the world. I once did a hike where I had no cell service the entire time. It felt good to disconnect and emotionally recharge.

There are a lot of ways to cope with the emotional anxieties that we face. These are just a couple of examples that work for my family.

I hope you find whatever helps you cope.

Yeah, It’s Out Of My Control

We, Indians, are perfect. No, really, we are. We are all intelligent, beautiful, and successful.

Ok, let’s talk reality. No one is perfect. Yes, we might have a lot going for us.

However, there is a lot of us have things that we don’t talk about much, things that are out of our control. Many of us have a weakness that we don’t advertise. But it’s there.

My weakness is epilepsy. Unless you’ve seen me popping my medication or have actually seen me drop into a seizure randomly, you probably don’t know that I have epilepsy.

It is super frustrating for me because while I know the triggers, I hate having to change my life to cater to my condition. I do take care of myself though because I don’t have a choice. That doesn’t mean I don’t slip every so often.

My most recent seizure happened during my sister’s wedding weekend. I was lucky that one of my sister’s friends knew what to do. I woke up, got ready, and went to my sister’s wedding rehearsal.

My other sister asked me why it didn’t bother me that it happened. I told her later that it did. But I had 2 choices at the time. I could sit and dwell on it and be upset it happened or I could move on and enjoy the weekend.

We all have something or we will have something at some point in our life. And we can curse our bad luck or we can accept that this is our reality. We can figure out how to live with it. We can ask for help if we need to.

There is no shame in anything that affects your health, whether it be physical or mental. We are human.  There is a lot we have to deal with. And absolutely everyone has something that they can’t control. Everyone has something that takes work, that we have to adjust to. Dealing with epilepsy didn’t just take a neurologist. It took a therapist as well.

Yes, it sucks. I’ve felt that over and over again. I probably will be taking medication to control the seizures for a long time. But since I don’t have an option in the matter, I can only learn to have a good attitude about it. I can be upset or I can have fun.

And I choose to have fun.

 

Getting Help is Hard to Do

We’re Indian. We’re self-sufficient. We never need anyone to help us with anything.

Right?

Why is it so hard for us to ask for help when we need it? Whether it’s from people we love or professionals in the field? Do we think it makes us weak? What happens if people do see us as weak? The world must end, right?

I am a big believer in therapy. Enough that even though I am past the really black hole I used to be in, I still go once a month just to get whatever thoughts I have in my head out. And of course, I didn’t choose to go even though at the time it was strongly recommended to me. It took a good friend of mine giving me no choice and forcing me to call around that got me there. But I have to say it helped. I recently went through another bad experience and I honestly believe that because I learned how to cope better through therapy, I didn’t stay down as long as I would have before.

Our society and culture tends to look at something like therapy a sign of weakness. Plus then, people know there is something wrong with you and your family. It takes people a while to really understand the value of going plus the value of getting help. We are all human. Asking for help is acceptable. There will be people who don’t know how to help or don’t give you the attention you need. But there will also be people who will be there no matter what.

The more people accept that getting help is not a bad thing, the more acceptable it will be to get it. It’s time to stop worrying about what our society might think and do something that is good for you. If this helps you figure out your life and get support and make you happier, who is to say it’s wrong or bad to do it? Those who say that it makes you weak or looks bad on your family don’t fully understand your situation. Who are they to say what you do or do not need? Life is a complicated, sometimes overwhelming journey. If you can get through it completely on your own, you might actually be a superhero. Wait, I’m pretty sure Batman and the Hulk could have used therapists as well.