I Am Not Depressed

This is a post that has been sitting in my mind for a little while now. I have re-written it many times and changed the title even more. I’ve even debated whether or not to hit publish on it. Fact of the matter is that I want to get more real on this blog and this is about as real as it gets.

I still remember when a close friend of mine told me they thought I might have depression. It was my second year at Bible College and I remember trying to make light of the situation but all the while thinking about how that made sense. It’s not that I felt depressed necessarily but I didn’t feel happy and I had a lot of the symptoms. That was the first time that the way I felt was given a name. I had felt that way for a long time.

I pinpoint the changing time being when I was in grade 6. Memories from my childhood are spotty, there aren’t a whole lot, but I do remember my grade 6 teacher taking me out into the hallway to ask me if I was okay. He had noticed that I never smiled and wanted to know why. I don’t remember what I said but I do know that I didn’t give a reason. There wasn’t a reason, I just didn’t feel the need to smile.

I did go through a dark time in my teen years, I struggled with making and keeping friends because I really wasn’t interested in a lot of what they were. I didn’t want to go to parties, I didn’t want to drink, I didn’t really want to be social or be around people. The closest friends that I had from grade 6-12 were those who were actually a lot like me. Looking back I see that while we were quite different, we were still a lot alike. We were all dealing with something and connected because we didn’t have to put on that happy face and pretend like everything was okay. We could just be. Looking back on some of those years I would definitely say that I was struggling with depression.

When I started Bible College I felt accepted for the first time. It was a fresh slate, I could be myself and I was actually liked for it. I made friends and I had a lot of fun. I was happy. Something felt different when I started my second year, it started to feel more like before. Why was that though? Everything was good. I had close friends and was still enjoying myself, but something was different.

I talked to a doctor after my friend suggested it could be depression and I was put on anti-depressants for a short time. It was only a couple of months later that I decided to go off them. I made the conscious decision that I was going to control this by myself without having to rely on a pill. If I was feeling unhappy I would make a change, whether that was making new friends, trying something new, or later down the road quitting a job when I could feel myself getting pushed lower and lower.

I think a big reason I went off it, other than not wanting to take the pill, was the stigma surrounding it. People asking me why I was depressed, what happened in my life to make me that way, or even how can I be depressed if I am a Christian and believe in God? The fact is that nothing in my life has caused me to have depression.

A lot of great things have happened in my life these past years. I’ve had some great adventures, met all sorts of new people, fallen in love and even have a job I love. I’ve also had all sorts of accomplishments like this blog, writing for a website, fitness related accomplishments and so much more. You know what? I have a pretty awesome life and I’m glad it’s panning out the way it is.

I am not depressed, but I’m also not happy. In fact, my emotions feel pretty flat most of the time, I’m rather indifferent towards most things. That’s not to say that I don’t feel joy or sadness, but I don’t necessarily feel them in the way someone else might, or in the way that would be considered the “societal norm”. I’m not gong to get into all the symptoms I have but I realized there had to be a connection between everything.

I went to the doctor and had my thyroid checked because the symptoms could have lined up with that. They still might. My levels came back normal but there are more and more studies being done that show that there can be thyroid issues without it showing up on a test. There is something else that can cause a lot of the symptoms that I have though, and that’s depression.

I don’t have depression, but I am on anti-depressants. 

The fact of the matter is that someone doesn’t have to have depression to benefit from anti-depressants. I don’t feel depressed or sad or angry at life. The stereotypical idea of what depression is does not exist within me. There has been no circumstance in my life to cause me to have depression or to feel the way that I do. This is just who I am, how things in my brain and body lined up.

My body does not produce serotonin in a way that would be considered ideal. It really is as simple as that. Taking anti-depressants is a way to increase the production of serotonin in my body, a way to feel healthier, more energetic and more stable. The pills may be automatically associated with depression but they actually help a wide variety of neurological problems.

Whether or not the medication I’m taking will make a difference still remains to be seen but I have no problem admitting that my body might just need anti-depressants and there is nothing that anyone or anything can do about that. There is no change that I can make myself to change this fact.

I’m not sure if there is really a point to this post. Maybe it’s don’t think less of someone just because they might need medication. Don’t assume there has to have been something traumatic that happened. Not all health related problems have an easy fix. The list could probably go on. You can take from this post what you want.

  • The Nickel Nook

    Well said!

  • YES for real posts like this! Sharing your experience may help others find the courage to get help, even when they think they don’t need it.. or can “fix it on their own.” My family has a history of mental illness and anxiety. My mom has been a huge inspiration for me. She opened up about her own struggles with us (her kids) and has sought medical attention for it. She never makes it sound shameful or embarrassing, but more “matter of fact.” That it’s just part of a chemical imbalance that she needs help controlling. It’s helped me to feel empowered to seek help when I think things might be “off.” When my husband and I moved last year, I went through a deep situational depression for months. I had the support of my mom and sisters to try pills, and I almost did, but I saw the light at the end of the tunnel and I conquered it. I just needed “roots” in our new state to feel okay again.
    Sorry I just gave you my life story — haha! Anyways, yes, these are important conversations to have. Thank you for being courageous and sharing this!

  • This is perfect! So many of my family members have this exact story. They feel shamed so they stop taking anti-depressants, when in fact, the pills are just helping them reach normal levels, hormonally. The freedom they’ve found in recognizing this fact is indescribable. Thank you for sharing your journey so honestly.

  • Katy

    There was a graphic I saw on Twitter a while ago that I always think of now. It’s the first one in this post: http://www.buzzfeed.com/annaborges/depression-101-yo#.aj2kn7vXq I’m sure it’s not everyone’s experience but it’s just so true for me. Most of the time depression just kind of feels like nothing. Thanks for sharing your story!

  • I love posts like this! It’s important to shed light on a topic that many Christians don’t want to discuss. It’s so true that depression does not have to be circumstantial, and it is not necessarily a spiritual issue. It is a chemical imbalance in the brain. Sometimes it just…IS.