Challenging Stigmas & an Imperfect System: My Struggle With Depression

A while back, I noticed I was having a difficult time remembering things. I was having trouble being excited for much. My forgetfulness eventually led to struggling for the right word when I spoke. Then I began to neglect my self-care, showering took every ounce of energy in me. I didn't bother to look in the mirror. I was doing the bare minimum, just getting by. I’d prefer to just stay in bed all day, but I didn’t, and that is worth noting. I continued doing all I could to be okay for my kids. I’d convinced myself I was handling things just fine. It hadn’t dawned on me that all of those things were signs one should seek help. As aware as I am, as much as I would recognize any of those signs as worrisome in a friend, I was waiting. I felt it wasn't urgent, I could probably get better. I mean, I didn't want to kill myself and I was able to walk out the front door. I'm sad to say those were the actual thoughts going through my head. As more than one person has told me, my bar for "Lauren Needs Therapy" is pretty damn low if they are suicide or agoraphobia.

After conversations with friends, I knew I probably needed to speak to someone. I kept telling myself I wasn’t that depressed, but, some counseling wouldn’t hurt. I did have a lot going on, many aspects of my current situation are stressful. I was preparing myself to go to therapy for all the reasons except the very ones I needed to be there for: my mental health. Not just stress or the worries swarming my head lately, but for actual depression. Anxiety. PTSD. ADHD. All those check-boxes I sometimes skip when I see a doctor for fear they’ll judge me. I’ve avoided discussing my mental health up until now on here for fear of losing my children. I’ve skipped out on detailing my mental health struggles in case a prospective employer reads my truths and decides I’m too much of a gamble. If anyone came up to me and told me any of those concerns, I’d assure them that couldn’t happen and for them to continue speaking. Speaking up is the only way to rid the stigma of mental illness. I don’t want anyone in my life to feel ashamed discussing it. I have to keep showing these layers of myself.

It took a while, but I finally realized I’m not defective, no matter how many times I may need therapy or medication. I am still worthy of respect from medical professionals, no matter what it says in my chart. I’m an amazing mother, depression or any other mental illness doesn’t define the love I have for them. I have many gifts to offer anyone who hires me, my passion for activism and my honesty are just two that shine through when I’m here exposing myself like this. So, I have decided to speak up. It is Mental Health Month after all. What better a time? I’d already decided to write about being a teen in a mental hospital, including my friend's experiences with that as well. I decided today though to finally just come out and open up about what I’m going through now.

In March, I had simultaneously built up enough courage to make the call, had taken stock of my well-being and saw how much was lacking and how depressed I actually was, and, thankfully, also had the insurance to afford therapy. I had an intake appointment two weeks after my first call. That day, I truly felt a weight had been lifted off of me. I felt like I was moving forward, after months of stagnation. This was all good. I went to my intake. That was the hardest two hours I've had in awhile. Much of the visit was discussing not only my mental health history but every bad event in my life. It can make one proud to have gone through so much and still be here, but it can also make one wonder when their break is going to arrive. It was taxing to say the least. After that appointment, the social worker decided I needed a medication evaluation. That was scheduled for two days later. Great, I thought, making headway already. My initial therapy appointment, however, wouldn't be for another five weeks. Ugh.

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