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    Posted September 26, 2012 by
    Delaware, Ohio
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Are you living with depression?

    I am your best friend

    ...or your coworker. Perhaps your kid's friend's mom. Next to you in the grocery store, behind you in traffic. I could be your neighbor or a social media friend or any other person that you interact with or think you know. What you don't know is that I have seen the world differently than you have since I was old enough to remember.

    I consider myself a good social chameleon. Logically, it doesn't benefit me in any way for people to be aware that I have been diagnosed with depression and I am on a few medications for that. There is a stigma. I am crazy. Or perhaps I couldn't be trusted. Or maybe I wouldn't focus on work. These are the assumptions I have faced and those that I fear as I move forward in my life.

    I have tried to end my life in the past. And after each of my children was born, especially my second, I experienced depression of horrific proportions to the extent of needing an anti-psychotic medication. My children helped however, and caring for them was grounding and gave me hope, even when post-partum destroyed my already frayed marriage.

    I do see the world differently, I just wish I knew exactly what that difference is. The closest I can come to it are the exceedingly rare moments where I think I felt elated. When I got married. When I saw my kids. I wondered, 'Do others feel this on a regular basis?' And then when I secured a fantastic new job I wondered, 'Would other people be excited about this?" So, I fake it. I am ever-chipper at work, always making a point to say good morning, and I look people in the eyes as much as I possibly can stand, despite feeling so very inferior. Always feeling as though I am not qualified for my job, I try to over-perform and have received some awards for my efforts. My work ethic has been complimented, even though I feel that I am lagging behind others. Ever I analyze and compare myself to those I work with, and every day I come home feeling like I just barely survived. That I just barely made it through another day. Many times I turn to some alcohol for its calming affect. But that stuff is certainly not known to improve anyone's mood.

    Depression is very exhausting. It's taken years, a lot of doctors and a lot of medicines for me to realize that depression caused my lack of motivation and energy. When the sun is shining and I am outside, perhaps with my kids, the clouds part a little. But then I go back.

    All of this is being stuck in a world of me. Inside of myself, introspective, critical, frightened and solitary. The loneliness doesn't cease in a crowd of people, and worse, crowds make me presume that I am less than those around me and I want to run as if from fire. But I have to make myself interact and speak and smile, when I want to mutter an apology and go home to safety. Because I don't see the point of socializing, and I don't see that I could conceivably have something to say to those who are not self-focused in "the cave".

    It is like gray skies and drizzle for you, maybe. If it happened all the time, coinciding with bad news. I am guessing. But it is ever-present, unwelcome, and takes a tremendous toll on mind and body. Relationships have suffered. I have called off work because I couldn't leave my house. Once I even just stopped going to work.

    The doctors. The hospital stays. The outpatient counseling. Being a guinea pig for all manner of medications, one of which left me stuck in my work bathroom sobbing, on the phone to my doctor, in a psychotic episode. And my doctor simply declared it an allergy and prescribed something new.

    I lost my relationship with my parents for years, I lost my marriage, and I have lost good jobs. This is to summarize the tangible things people can relate to. But my own self esteem is nonexistent. I live assuming the worst. I live afraid.

    And more than anything, I have wanted to know WHY. Just because I can stand back and take mental stock of my life and write everything down and know that I have a good job, some money in the bank, no credit card debt, wonderful kids, a loving fiance, a new car, a pretty place to live.... all of these things should be wonderful. But I presume I don't deserve it, I will lose it, I will be left, etc etc and on and on.

    Even my best friend does not know that periodically I feel that everything and everyone would be better if I could vanish. Take my complication and moodiness with me. Or if she does, she doesn't bring it up.

    I don't have the words to explain to my mom that simply holding a job is an act of sheer will! And a lenient manager.

    I can't tell my kids' friends' parents in casual conversation that I am afflicted with sometimes debilitating depression. How much longer would the kids be allowed over?

    I can't tell my employer that I have this disease, because they would not consider it a real reason to leave for a doctors appointment, and presume that my work would be suspect.

    For anyone who knows anyone at all, there is a good chance you know someone who is hiding this dark secret. It's a curse and stigmatized, and they are very well afraid. Deathly afraid of losing everything and all, yet balancing that against this belief it may be a foregone conclusion and deserved.

    I wish we all could be accepted. Understood and loved. Forgiven and trusted. Because we are good, mindful people that care deeply for others, just less so for ourselves. We are not stereotypically shy and reserved as we can learn to play the game. We're not irresponsible. Not selfish. And some of us are very stable as a result of our act of will to fit in. To feel less apart from everything that is happening around us.

    We're your friends, family, babysitters, coworkers, bosses, employees, fellow drivers, and that person with the coupons in the grocery line. We're just people who live in rain and gray skies and thunder, ever fearful that you might see right through us.

    I am a person who has experienced depression her entire life. I have the rest of my life left to experience it as well. I hope that you will realize that this is a disease, and I hope that what I have said will inspire you to consider the humanity of those who carry this weight. I hope awareness, understanding and compassion will spread.
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