Depression sucks. Depression really, really sucks. How do I know? I have clinical depression. It runs in my family and unfortunately it’s just one of those things that I was (insert sarcasm) lucky to inherit. Depression is something we don’t talk about enough. People hear the word and they think “Oh my God. That’s so bad. We can’t talk about depression! How DEPRESSING!” Well, okay. That makes zero sense. With all of the social media and internet capabilities in our hands today, it’s my belief that those of us who have suffered from depression should speak out about the struggle and what helps us cope. For me, it’s my dogs.
My Battle with Depression
I first started dealing with depression when my parents got divorced. I was about 17 years old. Looking back, I was definitely more depressed than I let on. I didn’t want people to know I was struggling, but really, there were days when I didn’t even see the point in living. My perfect world had come crashing down as I watched my parent’s seemingly perfect marriage come to a sour end.
That bout of depression lead me to anti-depressants, and they worked! It took a couple of months, but finally I was feeling better. Instead of wanting to isolate myself and crawl into a dark hole, I was beginning to be myself again. I’m glad I had the medications, as my support system was severely lacking.
Since then, I’ve dealt with depression on and off. But the thing is, it comes and goes when it wants. Life can be super great, but I will still fall into the cave of depression. Sometimes major events trigger it, other times it just happens. What many people don’t understand is that people who suffer from depression can’t help it.
That’s right – we really can’t help it.
We’re not sad. We’re not angry. What depression really means is losing interest in things we enjoy. We don’t want to socialize with people we love. Depression is a medical illness and luckily it’s treatable.
The best treatment for me? My dogs.
In January 2015, my brother left for Ft. Benning, GA after being home on leave for two weeks. I was fine when he left because I was going to be flying out to see him a couple of weeks later for his Army basic training graduation. After a very stressful, sad trip to Georgia, I hugged my brother goodbye, not knowing when I would see him again. I walked away with so many unanswered questions; Where was my brother going? Would he be close to home? Can I travel to see him? What’s he going to be doing?
When I got home, I fell into a deep depression. It dragged me under faster than quicksand, and I felt the downward spiral. I wanted to sleep. I didn’t want to talk to anyone. I didn’t want to do anything. I remember even acknowledging to myself and Matt that depression was kicking my ass, but all I could do was wait. I hadn’t been on anti-depressants for years but I had hope that I’d crawl back out out of my hermit cave, so I didn’t opt to go back on them.
All the while, I still had my dogs. My dogs loved me. My dogs cuddled with me. My dogs didn’t judge me for my sadness and lethargy. Although Matt was 100% supportive of anything I needed, I pushed him away because I was depressed! It came down to wanting to isolate myself again.
I remember Wynston still wanting to spend time with me. He wanted to play like any other day. His spirit was alive and thriving although I was not. He saw me as his mom, no matter how I was feeling.
I would sleep. I would cry. Wynston and Khloee were there. They never put me down. They didn’t tell me to cheer up because I had so much to be grateful for. Trust me, I know I have a lot to be grateful for but guess what? Depression doesn’t care and it gets in the way of any positive emotions.
Society puts this awful stigma on depression, as they do on many other mental and physical illnesses. There are so many different types of depression, and sufferers need help. We don’t need to be discriminated against because we already feel horrible! I have clinical depression. It’s genetic and ongoing, although it’s not consistent (and I’m very thankful for that!). Events like my brother leaving and my parent’s divorce stir up all of the negativity in my mind and it causes the onset of my depression. The case differs from person to person.
What I do know is that although depression isn’t present in my life at this moment, it will be again. I don’t know when, but I’m not going to sit and dwell on it. I will cross that bridge when I come to it.
In the meantime, I have my animals. They get me through everything. Our pets truly love us unconditionally. Whether I’m happy and stress-free or depressed and exhausted, my dogs and cats love me the same.
Animals can be therapy for everyone, no matter what you’ve been through. Dogs, cats, horses, hamsters and bunnies only want to love us. It’s been scientifically proven that animals can lower blood pressure and promote healthier living.
If you’re suffering from depression, just know that you are NOT alone. I bet you anything that someone you know battles some sort of mental illness and you have no idea. If you need help, please get help. Please tell someone. There are many resources that can be of assistance. If anything, I am here for you!!!!
Suicide Prevention: 1-800-273-8255
In loving memory of my friend Eric.