Depression Should Not Be a Dirty Word
Last updated: February 2022
On the outside, you look like you have everything together. You are back on your own feet for the first time in 5 years. You have a new apartment with new furniture a fulfilling part-time job. You have amazing friends who are there for you at a moment's notice and a family that loves you. There is no reason you should be feeling so down. This is what I started telling myself in the summer of 2021. But I was. Those things didn't matter.
Leaving my career affected my mental health
Five years ago, I was forced to leave my dream career due to my failing health. Despite small savings, no income meant no way to pay my bills. Which meant I had to give up a great apartment and move back home into my childhood bedroom in my parent's basement, which was a definite blow to my mental health. But in the long run, it was honestly the best thing I could have done. I was so grateful that moving home was even an option, even if it seemed like 15 steps back at the age of 31.
Moving out on my own
FINALLY, after being approved for disability and finding a job with Health Union, I had saved enough money to get back on my feet. Which at the time seemed like the best thing ever. I got moved in with the help of my sister and was able to unpack slowly because moving was a big stress on my body. My furniture and other things I needed were ordered, and things were going great until they weren't.
Isolation did not help
Due to COVID, I had become used to being isolated. That was nothing new and something I had been doing since Feb 2020. But being isolated while living with your parents and being isolated by yourself in a small apartment are 2 VASTLY different situations. When I was still with my parents, I had their dogs to cuddle when I felt down. While also having at least some person-to-person interaction every day. Once I moved, that all stopped. It was just me, myself, and I cooped up in an 800-sqft apartment.
At the time, I didn't realize just how much those short person-to-person interactions with my parents and dog cuddles were doing for my mental health. Once I moved, I Face-Timed my family daily, sometimes multiple times a day. I also chatted with my friends around the country via Marco Polo. But talking to someone for a few minutes a day through a screen is NOT the same as having a conversation face to face.
Realizing I was in a deep depression
By the time fall rolled around, I was at my lowest of lows. I never had thoughts of self-harm but also didn't really care much if I lived. My physical health wasn't good, and my pain and fatigue were out of control. I rarely left my apartment unless it was to get my groceries, get take-out/fast food, or pick up prescriptions.
By October, I had hit my lowest. It was nothing to cancel or reschedule all appointments because the thought of having to put myself together was just more than I could bear. I would cancel any plans made with family or friends because I knew I couldn't fake the energy it would take for any social interaction. For days on end, I wasn't leaving my apartment. Most days, I never even bothered to get out of bed other than using the bathroom or eating. Showering and washing my hair required just too much energy, so I just didn't bother. I was the only one here, so why bother. I never opened the curtains, so it was always dark, and I was sleeping as much as I could. Sleeping allowed me to shut out the world and allowed me to forget about how low I was.
Sometime in late October, my mom started to realize what was going on because I had given up trying even to hide how depressed I was. More times than not, our conversations would end with me in tears. She finally told me that I call my dr and get in to see a therapist on my own, or she would do it for me while also encouraging me to get a dog.
Long story short, her tough love type of approach was exactly what I needed. I got back into therapy which has been so good. I am finally dealing with things I have hidden for so many years. I also got a sweet pup who has truly been my saving grace. She forces me to get out of bed, and she forces me to get out of the house and take her out and for walks. Ms. Annabelle also loves me endlessly; she licks my tears and makes me laugh every single day. I wouldn't say I'm no longer depressed because there are days that I still suffer. But I am doing all the things to get through it.
Depression shouldn't be a dirty word or something we feel like we have to hide. Millions of people every day are dealing with it. So you aren't alone. If you are depressed, please reach out to someone. If you don't feel like you can talk to friends or family about your mental health, then reach out to your doctor. Just tell someone
How are you most likely to respond when someone offers you unsolicited advice about your lupus?