Depression, Low Self-Esteem and Talking Out Loud About It
I read a great article today from Dr. Andrew Weil where he talks openly about his experience with depression. I was impressed that someone in such a public venue would talk about it, and welcomed it as a validation for my personal wish that more people would talk about it.
Why do I wish more people would talk about it? First, I wish I had heard more people talking about it when I suffered from depression. Secondly and more importantly, I see so many people struggling and suffering with it and I want them to know they are not alone.
What triggered my period of depression isn’t important. What is, is talking about how I felt. I was tired, crying, and couldn’t focus. I was even pissed off that I couldn’t intellectualize my way out of it. Reason, sadly had flown out the window.
Then there was the self-esteem. I ate because I needed comfort. Then I felt guilty because I was eating too much and didn’t like what I saw in the mirror. What an overwhelming cycle to add! I can empathize with that terrible feeling like food is the tail wagging the dog.
I’m not a doctor or a medical professional so I can’t prescribe a cure for you. What I CAN do is share my experience with you. I can tell you what a family member told me – depression is an illness. If you had an infection you’d treat it. If you were told you had a blood disorder you would see a specialist. So if something might be wrong with how your brain lets you see and feel about yourself, why wouldn’t you do the same? Your brain is an organ just like any other; your emotions are its output. Sometimes they need to be treated.
For me it was medication and therapy. Just like a healthy living program it was putting one step in front of the other and working through it. The medication helped the medical reason behind the depression. That, combined with therapy gave me focus and helped me understand how this illness had affected me. I re-learned how to change my habits and self-esteem.
That’s where food came back in. I learned eating ice cream late at night or cake for breakfast (yes, I’m REALLY being honest here!) wasn’t really caring for myself. We talked about what self-esteem really means – how to feel confidence in tough decisions instead of a comfortable one. We talked about changing rewards to other things that provide comfort – a new book or massage – whatever starts to feel right for you.
It takes time to heal so don’t be hard on yourself. Take small achievable steps to finding the focus and energy to start getting to know yourself again. It will happen and you can feel better and break that cycle.
The internet is a very public place. Dr. Weil’s article about his experience will never go away. Neither will mine. I’m ok with that, because the more people who write about their challenges with depression, and do so without fear of a stigma the more people will know how to acknowledge and work to overcome it. I can’t overstate overcoming it enough. With time and help it happens. In fact, here’s a long list of people who have.
I have talked about the hard part. Here’s the good part: I am a happy, healthy and intelligent person. I am a wife, daughter, sister co-worker, confidante, friend and fully functional member of society. I want you to know through my story that admitting to needing help – for depression or any other reason for that matter – doesn’t make you weak. Asking for help and taking the steps to heal make you strong and you can be proud you stood up to the cycle. You can get to the good part too!
If you feel you are in danger of harming yourself due to depression, please reach out for help. Please call Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK or 911 immediately. They are there to help you. They understand.
If you feel you may suffer from depression or are not sure, look for support. For additional information on where to get help, visit: