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
“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.
In 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.