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Depression and Learning to Heal

The rate of depression is increasing again in the US, afflicting children as young as in their teens. Just when we thought we had this epidemic under control since the pandemic, the numbers have reversed and another crisis is brewing.

How did we get here and why? Depression can be triggered for several reasons. It could be genetic, carried over generations by families prone to it. Lifestyles may also be a contributing factor, as well as stress and anxiety. Life changes could be another reason, or the inability to cope with certain behaviors or physiological factors.

As someone who’s been battling depression since the age of 14, it was all of the above reasons. Depression was genetic in my household, then came the debilitating anxiety, the post-partum depression, and finally the divorce. I’ve spent the past few years peeling off the layers of betrayal, disappointment and anxiety that has mentally and emotionally overwhelmed me throughout this time. It hasn’t been easy, but I’m a prime example of what can be accomplished when you take the time to care for your mental health.

Not that I had much of a choice. My depression eventually led me to lose a lot of things that were replaceable, except for my self-esteem. I’ve had to work on rebuilding that as well.

It took me a while to come to terms with what I was feeling, but then the gloom and sadness started affecting my kids, so I took the initiative toward healing.

I’ve been told for most of my life that I wear my emotions on my face, but not when it came to depression. In fact, the deeper I fell into the pits of sadness, the more I smiled and tried to put up a facade for my kids. Having witnessed my mother’s own depression, and the negative impact it had on me, I didn’t want to put them through that too.

That was part of the story. I did reach out to a few of my closest connections, including family, and confessed that I was in a dark place, but they didn’t want to hear it. I can’t tell you the number of times I heard that I’m not the only one. It was disheartening.

Then there were obvious behavioral patterns that so many people ignored. I would be erratic or incoherent at times, but for whatever reason, no one close to me wanted to admit there was something wrong.

What finally broke me was the abuse I experienced throughout my marriage and the hardlined stance my family took that I was to save my marriage at whatever cost. It was then that I knew it was up to me alone to get myself out of the unending brutal darkness I found myself in.

Not everyone can be as strong or lucky, frankly. For those who claim that they never saw any signs or clues of depression in friends or family are lying to themselves. They were there all along, but for whatever reason chose to ignore them.

We have to work harder to stand up against depression. Our lives are at stake and so are our children’s. If we don’t take that first step and learn to cope, then we are losing the ability to teach those closest to us to cope as well. I thought I was doing my kids a huge favor by hiding my sadness, but that was a big mistake. Honesty and confrontation, followed by taking the appropriate steps to heal through counseling and medication, is the only way to stop this madness.

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