This is What Depression Looks Like – Guest Post by JD Bailey

I am so honored to have JD Bailey taking over today.  She is an author, blogger, and the creator of Honest Mom, where she writes about raising her young daughters and managing her depression. With real candor and a good dose of humor, JD blogs to connect with other moms and create a space for women to both vent and laugh.  I really connected with JD and her post today as I struggled with depression the year after I was diagnosed with breast cancer.  I wrote extensively about weaning from the anti-depressant Effexor XR and seriously consider somedays if I should still be on medication. Enjoy.  – Wendy  
this-is-what-depression-looks-like-jd-bailey
“I had no idea you deal with depression. You seem like you have it all together. You seem so … normal.”

That is essentially what I hear when I confide in someone that I battle depression. They’re always so surprised. Because on the outside, I look like a regular, suburban, 30-something mom of little kids. I generally look put together. In a decent mood. You know … normal.

When I’m depressed, I don’t look sad, angry, anxious. Like I feel like I’m falling apart. Like I’m ready to scream at my kids for every little thing they do. Like I’m worrying I will blurt something that will make their little faces crumple in sadness or worse – fear.

I also don’t look dirty, frantic, or bizarre. I don’t act erratic or crazy. I look and act like me. Just maybe a little quieter, a little sadder, a little less of myself.

When I am struggling with depression, I look normal on the outside. Because I AM normal. I just have depression, too.

If there is one thing I want people to understand about depression, it’s this: Depression often – usually – looks “normal.” Because “normal” people struggle with depression.

Some people will bristle at a comparison I am about to make – and honestly, I’m not sure why – but I think my depression isn’t different from many other chronic diseases. I have friends, acquaintances, and relatives who deal with lupus, fibromyalgia, Crohn’s, and other awful diseases that flare up and seemingly go away – just as my depression does.

I am not always depressed, nor do I always have to be on medication. My depression comes and goes. When it’s here, I take meds for it. When it’s gone, I don’t.

And yes, I know that many, many people have constant depression and have to take meds and go to therapy all the time. And you know what? I think their depression isn’t any different from any other disease that needs to be constantly monitored and cared for and medicated so the person who has the disease can feel as normal as possible.

(There’s that word again.)

It bothers me that there is such a stigma about depression. I can understand it – anything that messes with our brains is scary – but it still makes me mad.

And it makes me sad that I still worry what people think of me when I tell them about it. I am very open about my depression on my blog, but not in “real life” – because the stigma is there, and I have to be careful about being too open with the wrong people.

But I write about depression and advocate for women who deal with depression, and I won’t ever stop doing so. Because if I can help some of you out there feel less alone in your battles, and if I can help some more of you understand that regular people deal with depression – well, it’s worth taking the risk of putting myself out there.

If you have a friend or family member who confides in you that they struggle with depression, I hope you remember this: They’re just as normal as your friend with diabetes or your cousin with lupus. And they’re still the person you know and love.

I’m walking proof of that.

And if you’re struggling with depression, know this: You are not alone. There are tons of regular women just like you who are dealing with similar stuff. There is no shame in getting help if you haven’t yet, and if you do get help, it will get better.

I’m walking proof of that, too.

honest-mom-guest-post-buttonIn addition to her blog, JD Bailey is a co-author of the humor book, “I Just Want to Pee Alone,” and her writing has been featured on the Huffington Post, Scary Mommy, Bonbon Break, and soon, Postpartum Progress, as part of their Mother’s Day Rally for Moms’ Mental Health.

In addition to her writing, JD is an outspoken advocate for moms who deal with depression. She was interviewed by Katie Couric about the topic and was featured in a recent Parenting Magazine article about parents and depression.

When she’s not writing or mommying, JD can be found spending too much time on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest, getting dirty in her gardens, or reading a really funny book.

Read more from JD Bailey here: Goodbye, precious lovey. Hello, first grade, How being a mom is like being on a soap opera, and Here’s why I freak out for a few days every month.

Comments

  1. I think I love you.

    This part : “If there is one thing I want people to understand about depression, it’s this: Depression often – usually – looks “normal.” Because “normal” people struggle with depression.

    Some people will bristle at a comparison I am about to make – and honestly, I’m not sure why – but I think my depression isn’t different from many other chronic diseases. I have friends, acquaintances, and relatives who deal with lupus, fibromyalgia, Chrohn’s, and other awful diseases that flare up and seemingly go away – just as my depression does.”

    I wish people would get that depression is a disease just like anything else…and it requires treatment (meds, therapy, both, etc.). I hate the stigma, too. I also hate that even though my husband is a physician, he doesn’t seem to get it and wishes I would just snap out of it. Well, I have thyroid disease, too, and I can’t just make that go away, I TAKE MEDICATION!

    Thanks for saying so well what I wish I could!!

    xoxox

  2. Im so glad you wrote this, and grateful for women who speak out on depression. I’ve done a lot of writing about it as well, and share your struggle. I’m currently unmedicated for the first time in several years and doing ok. Thanks for some validation in what you had to say. *HUG*

  3. I wanted to let you know that I suffer (yep, suffer is accurate) from both lupus and “situational” depression – the “situation” being lupus, hello! And I do not take offense at all at the comparison. In fact, I find it amazingly apt, in a “why didn’t I think of that” way. My lupus flares up, reducing my activity level and leaving me weaker and less healthy, which triggers a depression flare-up, during which I am even less active. It’s a cycle I am trying to break slowly, with a puppy of all things. She needs constant attention and has me walking more, even when I don’t feel like it. And studies have shown that 20 minutes of snuggle time with a pet releases more endorphins and does more to balance dopamine and seratonin levels that a steady prescription of antidepressants. I’ve lost three pairs of boots to teething, but so far it’s worth it.

    • Hi Misty – thanks so much for sharing this. My cousin has lupus and she has a really tough time during her flare-ups. So sorry you deal with that. :-(

      I, too, think about getting a puppy for the exact reasons you describe! We will probably wait another year but I am excited about the idea. We’re already doing our research into breeds but we might just get a good old mutt. :-)

  4. Thank you for these beautiful and honest words.

  5. JD, thank you for this. I find it so frustrating when people take the attitude of “get over it” or “it will pass”. It completely disregards the fact that depression is a disease. That has to be managed. You don’t just “get over it” one day. Thank you for putting a “normal” face on this disease and letting everyone know that there shouldn’t be a stigma on mental illness.

    • Ashley, thanks so much for commenting. You are 100% right. And that’s exactly why I write about depression so much – so people who don’t know a lot about it can understand that it’s really like lots of other diseases, and not something to be feared.

  6. Great article!

  7. This was great. I have never heard it compared to those diseases. I do feel like I understand it better now!

  8. I sure appreciate your posts on depression and on Effexor weaning. Trying to wean from Effexor onto celexa and am experiencing trouble.

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  1. […] that same vein, I saw that JD Bailey from Honest Mom (who also happens to have guest blogged here last Friday) had confessed on her Facebook page that she rarely leaves the house without applying […]

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