Teresa, age 59
“Seek help. Get over the stigma of depression. 'Loony. Nuts.' You're not! Get over these words. If you had a broken arm, you'd see a doctor. Depression is kind of like your brain is broken, so you see a professional for that, too.”
Teresa, who lives with and manages major depression, responded with the above words of advice to those who are reluctant to seek help. But she also admits the hardest thing for people to understand about her mental illness is that it's not her fault. “I didn't ask to get depression. It just happened.”
For Teresa, depression began gradually in her teens. Her tipping point for getting help came at age 27 after she called off her wedding because her fiance was violent towards her. The stress of all of this made her depression far worse: she didn't sleep or eat, didn't get out of bed, and missed work for a couple weeks. It wasn't as easy as simply getting out of bed. After about three months of disruption to her life, she sought help from a therapist. Teresa credits this therapist as being integral to her becoming more stable.
When I asked Teresa what her depression feels like, she said it's like an “endless, barren road of ups and downs.” Life is easier today because she can identify when the depression is coming. If she can help it, she doesn't let her life get too out of control by confronting the problem head on. What impressed me most about Teresa was her determination and her humor; she is a strong, competent woman.
When asked the advice she'd tell her younger self, “Accept where you're at and enjoy the small happy tidbits of life — turn crappy and make happy.” Advice all of us can use!