I often think of the series of events that brought me down to the depths of my depression as though I were a fighter in the ring. I’ve always been able to take the blows of life, get knocked down, but always find a way to get back up. But this time was different. This time life’s blows seemed to have me down for the count. And no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t get back up. It wasn’t just one thing, but a series of punches that slowly brought me to my knees.
- After leaving my 12-year career as a TV health reporter, I felt a bit lost. It was all I knew and it was a huge part of my life. I was having a major identity crisis.
- I moved across the country to a new city for the second time in three years. Leaving behind friends and starting over again and again was tough for me. I worked from home which made it hard to meet new people. I didn’t realize at the time how isolating that was.
- The recession hit. I lost my main source of income as a freelance video producer. I did random freelance work to try to make ends meet, but it wasn’t enough. I had to take money out of my 401K to pay bills.
- I knew my depression was building so I went to a therapist. It wasn’t a good fit but I didn’t have the energy to try to find another one, so I tried to just cope on my own.
- Nearly 30 years of on-and-off excruciating, debilitating pain from endometriosis was on again. This time, it had spread to my ovaries, bladder and colon.
- This year was a doozy. My life seemed to unravel before my eyes. My husband started law school while he worked full time. That meant very little time together. He was my best friend and I was lonely.
- I had my fifth surgery for my endometriosis. I was extremely anxious about it and was sick of my body failing me.
- The surgery somehow triggered a horrible skin disease, lichen planus. It itched and scabbed like crazy. I felt hideous and self conscious. I wore long sleeves whenever I could (even in the spring and summer) and couldn’t stand to look at myself in the mirror.
- I also started a part-time job, working in cosmetics. It was hard feeling ugly in such a “pretty” business. But it was definitely good to get out of the house, and I started making new friends.
- I tried to cope with my depression on my own by reading self-help books, working out, and eating a healthy diet. But it wasn’t enough. I was constantly sick – sinus infections, hip bursitis, migraines… and the lichen planus was still prevalent – it itched for 18 months, and left me scarred, physically and emotionally.
- I finally found full time work which helped financially and socially. I was still struggling mentally, but I tried to hide it.
- My body was trying desperately to get my attention. Within just a few weeks, I had an extreme case of vertigo (vestibular neuritis) that lasted three months, uncontrollable nosebleeds and more. I cried every single day.
- I finally squeaked out the strength to go to a new therapist. I was down in such a dark hole. All I wanted to do was sleep. Sometimes I thought the only way to stop hurting was to sleep so deeply that I wouldn’t wake up. I had fleeting thoughts of suicide.
- Months and months of hard work in therapy started to help, but I was definitely still in a pretty dark place and quite vulnerable. For a long time, I would take two steps forward and one step back.
- Months and months more of difficult, yet helpful therapy.
- I didn’t know it at the time, but in November of this year, I created what has become my life preserver and my light – #IChooseBeauty
- I officially finished therapy in February, and left with great tools to help me cope on my own. I thank my psychologist and his treatment method – Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) – for teaching me the coping skills I now use every day.
I am doing much better – like a different person, really. I finally have more good days than bad. But because I am genetically prone to depression, I have to constantly make an effort to fight it and the negative thinking that can easily pop in my head. I still have times when I struggle, but I’m determined not to let myself go back to that dark place. It definitely takes a lot of work: Here’s what I have to do to be happy living with depression.