I Struggle With Depression And I’m Sick Of Hiding It

On Monday, I was sitting in my therapist’s waiting room when I heard the tragic news that Robin Williams had passed away. I was in tears and couldn’t believe it. I knew he had struggled with addiction and more recently depression, but that doesn’t make his death any less shocking.

I’ve opened up about my battle with anxiety and am happy to discuss that. I have Generalized Anxiety Disorder and get anxious about all kinds of things. I get anxious on the subway and when I feel like I can’t breathe. I get anxious in bad weather. I get anxious when I’m stressed, which is very often. Sometimes I have trouble getting out of my apartment on really bad days.

I’ve been going back and forth on the topic of medication with my therapist. The fact is that I’m managing my anxiety the best I can, and although it’s incredibly difficult, I am doing it. I think I will go on medication at some point, but right now I want to focus on managing my anxiety without it.

But there’s something I haven’t been open about: depression.

I’m tired of hiding it. I’m not ashamed by my mental health problems. They’re just deeply personal. However, I realized that hiding my illnesses won’t make them go away. Being open about them might help someone else, so I’m going to tell you all about it.

A lot of times anxiety and depression go hand-in-hand. Anxiety can prohibit you from doing things because it convinces you that you’re in danger or that something is wrong. It can cause you to turn down the simplest things like watching a movie with your friends because there’s a voice telling you that if you go outside, something bad will happen. The restrictions that anxiety puts on you can lead to depression. More often than not, people that are diagnosed with depression or anxiety are also diagnosed with the other.

Depression and anxiety both run in my family. I’ve seen my loved ones and many friends struggle with these illnesses for so long and never thought that I, who was dubbed “the normal one,” would ever face the same trials. But I am.

I’ve been battling my anxiety for quite some time, although for years I didn’t realize that I was. It makes sense since I’ve been through a lot of traumatic life events. I witnessed death at a young age, dealt with the attempted suicide of my best friend, lost another best friend, almost died several times and survived a tornado. My life has been filled with high-impact situations that have caused me to be anxious about almost everything.

After my friend Macy passed away, I was definitely depressed. I wasn’t eating or sleeping. I didn’t want to get out of bed. I shut myself off. That was the first time I went to therapy, but I hated my therapist and didn’t continue. That depression was situational, which is very common when it comes to loss. At a certain point, I was told I had to get it together. So I did and moved along. Looking back, I started becoming very anxious about death around that time.

After my biggest near-death experience, I was depressed. But everyone, including my therapist at college, was telling me that I had been blessed with this second chance and couldn’t waste it. Instead of processing and taking time to deal with what happened to me, I pushed forward and pretended that I was fine. I, of course, was not fine. My anxiety was controlling me at that point, but I chalked it up to school stress and kept going. I started taking things out on my then-boyfriend, family and friends.

At the end of my junior year of college, our town was hit with an EF-4 tornado that took out pretty much everything. After that, I started seeing a new therapist at home because I was a wreck. I was diagnosed with PSTD and was learning how to cope with my anxiety. But no one was helping me cope with my depression. I myself refused to think or admit that I’ve been struggling with depression because I’m Caitlin. I’m always happy.

When people describe me, they’ll probably tell you that I’m always smiling. I’m friendly and talkative and will make you feel sparkly on the inside. I love hearing that, but I also feel a bit like a fraud because I don’t feel sparkly on the inside.

For the better part of a year, I’ve been really struggling with my anxiety. I was using my previous relationship as a Band-Aid to mask my problems and put my focus on something else. When my relationship abruptly ended in January, I lost it and felt the pull of everything I had been avoiding. My anxiety had spun out of control and flung me into a black hole of depression.

I was afraid to be alone because I had these voices in my head telling me that I wasn’t good enough. That my boyfriend dumped me because I wasn’t worth it, that I did something wrong, that there was something the matter with me. I couldn’t look at myself in the mirror because all I could see was “You’re nothing” stamped across my forehead. I was feeling so much pain that had been building. I had suppressed so many negative feelings and thoughts for such a long time because I was always the person who had it together and who was positive. I hit my breaking point and couldn’t do it anymore.

I wasn’t sleeping so I was taking an over-the-counter medication. I felt so helpless and dark and wanted nothing more than for all of it to go away. I thought to myself that I could just take the entire bottle and then I wouldn’t wake up and I wouldn’t feel anything. That thought scared the crap out of me. I called my brother and told him I was scared and that I was afraid to leave myself alone. He talked me down, reminded me that thoughts are just thoughts and made me promise that I wouldn’t do anything. I have anxiety about disappointing people and breaking promises, so I went to bed.

The next morning, I dragged myself unwillingly out of bed because I had to come to work. I walked into the middle of the street because half of me wasn’t paying attention and the other half just didn’t care. When I made it to the subway, my brain told me that if I just fell in, it wouldn’t matter. I didn’t matter.

The thing about depression that people who don’t have it don’t understand is that you have no control over what your brain is telling you to do. You have a happy, healthy brain that doesn’t tell you how horrible you are or that you’re better off dead. J.K. Rowling explained that Dementors were inspired by her experience with depression, “It’s so difficult to describe [depression] to someone who’s never been there, because it’s not sadness. I know sadness. Sadness is to cry and to feel. But it’s that cold absence of feeling—that really hollowed-out feeling. That’s what Dementors are.”

Depression is an emptiness that paralyzes you and sucks all the happiness out. And sometimes you reach the point, like I did, where it compounds every negative statement you’ve thought about yourself about a million times. The best way I can explain how depression makes you think is like how that necklace horcrux talked to Ron Weasley. It told him he was nothing, that he would never measure up to Harry Potter, that he was worthless. That’s what depression tells you, and you have no control over it.

I was so fortunate to be educated about depression because so many people I know have been affected by it. I logically know that I don’t want to hurt myself. I went home, got back into therapy and am taking the steps I need to manage what I’m dealing with. I am okay. I have good days and great days. I get out of bed and go to work and hang out with my friends. But I also have bad days. I have days when I don’t want to do anything and when my anxiety controls me. I have days when I hear depression telling me that I’m not enough, but I know that I am.

I just wanted to let you know that you are NOT alone. Even the happiest people in the world on the outside, like me and like Robin Williams, can be dealing with the worst possible things. You don’t ever know what someone’s life is like on the inside. If you take one glance at my internet life, you’d think there was nothing wrong. But you don’t know me on the day to day just like you don’t know anyone else.

If you’re feeling depressed, know that it’s not your fault. You are not alone. You are wonderful and wanted. You are enough. And you should talk to someone. Talk to me, talk to a friend, talk to someone at the other end of the phone (call 1-800-273-8255) or a chat line. You can get through it. I’m getting through it every day.
 
Do you struggle with depression? How do you cope and manage? Tell us in the comments!
 
You can reach this post’s author, Caitlin Corsetti, on Twitter and Instagram!
 

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  • disqus_9rcqn9vCe5

    I stumbled upon this article today after searching “Depression, sick or worthless?” on google.

    I’ve been depressed for a very long time, and I’ve always managed it myself. Most of my family has more severe mental health problems, or so I thought, and I always got by.

    But lately things have been much, much worse and so my wife decided to confront me about it. It started with a long fight about how this was all in my head. Which, as a depressed and self-loathing listener, sounds like “You’re weak. This is just one more easily surmountable thing that you should be able to do, because it’s mental, it’s in your control.”

    In reality, she was saying, “You cannot trust your mind, it is sick, and you need help.” She kept telling me that I needed to admit it so that I could make any progress… “What do you mean?” I asked, “I’ve been telling you how depressed I am for years, I’ve never denied that.”

    After the fight came to a peak, we agreed to just stop talking. She put a movie on, one I’d never seen before, called “Call Me Crazy, a Five Film.”

    We both sat in angry silence as the first three scenes went by. The movie explores mental health disorders, a series of five short films each about a different character with their own story and their own problems.

    The fourth scene was about depression.

    By the end of the film, I was a wreck. I had no idea that I had even been in denial. I’d tell my wife how I felt and admit to how depressed I was on a daily basis and I thought that I was working on it and helping myself, but I wasn’t. I had somehow convinced myself that my depression was just another example of me failing.

    Maybe I was just resistant to being “Crazy.” But it finally hit me yesterday:

    I am not actually a bad person. I’m just sick.

    Today is the first day that I’ve felt any kind of hope in a very long time. I finally have some kind of clarity. I finally know that my enemy is this illness, and not myself. I can see, for the first time, what I am actually up against. And it’s really, really shitty, but now that I have finally admitted to myself that I have a real problem, maybe I can find a real solution.

    If you are where I was yesterday, please, go watch that movie. If you hate yourself, and the world you live in, and you think that you are the problem… If you don’t think of your depression as an illness, that it’s just you feeling natural hurt because you fucked up and got trapped in a terrible life that you yourself created… If you think that you deserve to be so messed up, not because you’re necessarily self-destructive but because you are simply paying the price for your own bad choices… watch that movie.

    It might change your life.

  • Brittany

    Hi, I just wanted to say thank you so much for writing this article. It’s a huge comfort to know that I’m not alone. I can’t really speak on how I’m coping because I’m not tbh. But again, thank you so much for sharing.

  • Anna

    Thank you so much for this article. I’ve struggled with depression since I was 13 and I am 24 now, I was heavily bullied at high school and then college too, its very difficult to stop those negative thoughts in your head! it makes you feel so weighted and worthless, but there is hope, never give up and know that you are not worthless, or stupid or ugly or strange or unable.
    you tell those nasty thoughts to suck it! you are worth it. you are able.

  • Emily

    Thanks for writing this. I’ve struggled with depression since I was 14 and I’m 20 now. I also have anxiety and OCD. When I experienced my first depressive episode I was hospitalized because of severe self-injury that took many different forms; I’m still battling that addiction. I still struggle with perfectionism as well. I use a combination of therapy, medication, and lifestyle choices to battle my mental health issues. I’ll always have chronic major depression, but if I make the right choices and take care of myself, I can manage it and survive okay. I haven’t experienced any trauma or near-death experiences, but my issues are mainly caused by genetics. I’m pretty open about my mental health problems and will speak about it if it comes up in conversation; I see no point in hiding it, and besides, I have scars and such so it’s pretty obvious anyway.

  • chantal

    Thank you for this article. It’s 3am but I think I’m going to e-mail my therapist to start seeing her again. It’s true, you always seem so cheerful and upbeat in articles. One of the problems of dealing with depression is that if you act happy people just assume that you are… but they don’t see that it’s almost not an option not to act happy. It’s not “normal” to not smile a lot and seem fine. If someone asks you how you’re doing you just tell them you’re great. No one wants to hear that you’re not doing too good. It’s too personal. It’s uncomfortable. If anything good comes from Robin William’s death, I hope it’s a bigger awareness and acceptance of mental health issues. I’ve already seen many articles addressing it. And yes, I can relate to all of those feelings you described. My best friend died too. Actually, he killed himself 3 weeks ago. I just transferred to a new university and will be starting soon and while I’m excited about that I’m also really scared. Scared that I’ll get majorly depressed again and fail. I know my best friend would want me to succeed but sometimes it’s just hard to get out of bed because all I can think about is him and a big part of me is missing. I want to make friends at this new school but I also have social anxiety and every single interaction is a little draining. I tried to convince myself that I could deal with it on my own but maybe that’s not the case.

    As for taking medication, I’m on zoloft right now. It’s weird… the first month I felt like a new person. I felt like I was finally a normal person who didn’t have to feel like crap all the time. I danced and sang along to every song and felt on top of the world. After the first month I got used to the effects and it became normal. I felt fine. I rarely cry though. Like even if I want to sometimes I just can’t. It’s a little creepy because it basically blocks all those horrible feelings that you’re used to or at least greatly diminishes them. I guess it just increases your overall “normal” mood. You never reach the lowest lows of depression like you did before. You can be sad but you bounce back pretty quickly. Overall I’d recommend it but I understand if you’d rather keep it natural. Again, thanks for this article 😀

  • Olivia

    Thank you so much for opening up about this Caitlin. I can totally relate, I have social anxiety, generalized anxiety, and depression and nobody except my parents and my best friend know. I think I might open up a bit more about it now because you’re right, it’s nothing to be ashamed of. Bonus points for the Harry Potter references by the way. 🙂

  • Strong

    Thanks Caitlin, for writing this. I’m sure it’ll help a lot of people. I suffer from depression myself as well as self harming. I can totally relate to this. I know what it feels like to think you’re a waste of space. I don’t know exactly what causes my depression but I have problems with my family as well as living in a country where there was a horrific civil war. I’m doing my best to fight my illness. I know things will get better soon. I hope you stay strong too. Take care.

  • Annalise

    I was diagnosed with OCD in Fourth Grade at the age of 9. OCD stands for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. I lived a fairly normal life with rare occurrences of much trouble, until one day I went to the nurses office and was sent home with head lice. As simple and harmless as that sounds, that’s what has changed my life forever. I am no longer afraid of getting head lice, but I had to constantly wash my hair and use lice treatments on my hair even though I’ve only had it once in my life. I would never share hair products, I wouldn’t sleepover at friend’s houses, etc. When I was going into my sophomore year of high school, I was diagnosed with Seasonal Affect Depression. Basically, I only experience depression like symptoms in the winter. I live in a four season place, so only one season out of the four I experience living hell. Like you said, people who don’t have depression don’t understand what it’s like. They think they can “cheer you up” or “make it go away”, when in reality nothing can take your mind off of your inner demons. It really sucks. There’s no other way to put it. It flat out sucks.

    I am so sorry for everything that you have to go through. I was torn up about Robin Williams death as well. As someone who has similar thoughts, it especially scares me. Just keep on keeping on and smile through the pain. There is nothing wrong with getting help. DEPRESSION SUCKS, so let’s kick its ass! 🙂