My battle with depression began as a teenager when I lost a person who was almost like a second dad to me. I couldn't eat or sleep. My parents knew there was something wrong and tried to help me but never put me in therapy. After I met my first boyfriend and was socializing more, I felt much more like myself.
Fast forward nineteen years after I had my second daughter. I was overwhelmed leaving a three-month-old to work FT at a job I disliked. My job also involved working at home and not much time for my four-year-old either. I began suffering from intense migraines that had me in bed for days at a time. About a year later, after missing much work and being fired, a therapist told me I had depression. All the tests and blood work showed I was physically fine. It was late-onset Post-Partum Depression. My daughter had just turned two. Everything in my life improved after this but it was a long journey.
I went on a low dose of Lexapro and had frequent visits to my primary care doctor. I also started therapy weekly. I began exercising more and reading about depression. My husband was a huge support during this time. I left my job and started working part time. I am now self-employed which is a godsend with my daughters in terms of having a flexible schedule. After several months of weekly therapy, I had a very unpleasant depressive episode around my daughter's birthday. I turned some comments by other parents at school regarding my children into a verbal attack with my husband and family. I had to increase my therapy sessions and I switched therapists. I was fortunate to find a wonderful social worker who specializes in Post-Partum Depression. She has helped me so much. We now only speak every three months. I make sure to take my medication and exercise daily. After doing some research, I now take vitamins to prevent migraines and help with depression. I haven't had a migraine in two years. I learned to reach out for help as soon as I need it. I also have to self-monitor daily to make sure I get enough sleep, eat right, acknowledge my feelings, and simply take care of myself. I also now have more help with my children so I have more time for myself. I started to do yoga which really helped me with meditation and gaining a sense of peace. Writing in a journal helped me gain some perspective as well.
I tried going off my medication on my doctor's recommendation. After a few weeks, I woke up one day feeling suffocated and awful. I couldn't take care of my daughters. I had to go back on my medication that day. It was tough at first to realize with my doctor that I have to be on it for the rest of my life. He was cheering me on to try to go off it and it just wasn't working. I now came to terms that this is part of my life. If I had diabetes or another medical condition, I would need daily medication or maintenance. Depression is no different. At my worst, I felt that I was stuck in quicksand and couldn't get out. I felt irrational, lethargic, and hopeless. Now I am truly happy most days.
I now know the importance of the mind-body connection. Sometimes it's such a frustrating struggle to constantly be vigilant about my health. I think of the alternative if I don't care for my body and mental health. I think about how my daughters and my husband are positively or negativity impacted by my actions. Sometimes I worry that my daughters will suffer from depression because it is hereditary. My mom and my grandmother both had depressive episodes and migraines. I also fear my daughters will think less of me because of my depression. I do feel the need to be truthful with them when they are older. I know the signs to look for and my husband and I would seek help for them immediately if need be. I feel very fortunate to have been on this journey and to have the support of my family and friends.