My Battle and How I Prevailed
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I’m here to talk about something that’s “frowned upon”. Something that people don’t like talking about or admitting that they might have it and need help. Something that some consider being a sign of “weakness”, or “just something that you can snap out of.”
These are all thing that I have felt, heard, worried about and done.
Depression. Anxiety. Postpartum Depression.
There are an estimated 19 million teens and adults who deal with this on a daily basis. You aren’t alone. You aren’t crazy. You most likely cannot just “snap out of it”. And, it is an illness, it’s a chemical imbalance. It can be caused by a number of factors including genetics, stress, grief, hormones, etc.
I’m going to jump back almost 11 years and start from the beginning here and share my battle.
It was Friday, April 7th, 2006. I was 21, young, carefree and happy. I was very outgoing, loved being the center of attention, and very loud and talkative.
I got a phone call from my dad at 5:30 pm. This wasn’t unusual, we talked over the phone ever week or two. What was unusual was him; he didn’t sound like himself. The call was pretty short, which was also unusual, but he’s a busy guy. We had small talk and then said our good-byes. He ended with, “you take care of yourself, okay?” Which was odd.
The rest of the evening and all of Saturday I didn’t feel right. I couldn’t stop thinking about my dad. I couldn’t stop wishing I’d asked him if he was okay. And, to top it off, I had a horrible headache.
Saturday evening (April 8th) came around, and my then boyfriend, some friends and I went to the little bar in town. We weren’t there for very long and he got a phone call and took off outside. He came back in with a worried look and told me we needed to go NOW. He raced across town and wouldn’t tell me what was wrong. He headed to my grandma’s and I started freaking out that something was wrong with her. We pull up and there are sheriff cars out front. I jump out and start asking about my granny and they tell me she’s inside.
At that moment, my heart sunk.
I walk in and my granny is sitting on the couch and reaches out to me. And, I knew, I knew in that moment that my dad was gone.
My dad, the most important man in my life, committed suicide on April the 8th, 2006.
The next few days and weeks I learned so many things I never knew about my dad. My dad had attempted suicide when I was smaller and he was still married to my mom. But the gun malfunctioned. My dad had battled depression pretty much his whole life but never admitted it or got help. All those stereotypes of depression were ingrained in his head. He was too proud. Too strong. He was a man, he didn’t need help.
This is when it all started for me. I waited 2 months before going to the doctor—for a lot of the same reasons my dad did—but I finally went and got medication. It helped, not completely, I just lost my dad to a self-inflicted gunshot wound, so I didn’t expect it to. I only took the medication for 8 months before I decided I didn’t need it anymore. I should have spoken with my doctor first, but I was stubborn.
I was on a downward spiral for the next few years. I drank more than I should have. I slept all day. I messed up my credit, friendships, relationships with family, jobs, you name it.
Then I met Chris. I still did most of the above things but not in excess like I did the years prior.
Then, I had my saving grace! I found out I was pregnant with Elliana. I truly believe she saved me. She saved me from myself and the depression that I wasn’t getting treated for.
Miss Elliana Grace came into this world 5 weeks early on April 8th, 2012. Exactly 6 years, to the day, that my dad took his life.
Logan followed in June of 2014. He was 6 weeks early; his delivery was rough and an emergency. The weeks to follow the “baby blues” were pretty bad. I couldn’t shake them. I cried for every little thing. I loved my son but felt like I should be more connected. I wanted to do nothing but sleep. I felt guilty Ellie wasn’t an only child anymore. I was on edge and afraid of everything. I worried excessively. I checked on him to make sure he was breathing. I was afraid of going places and doing things because I was afraid of freak accidents happening to the kids or me. My head would think of the most random accident; I would think I wasn’t doing enough or things right for my kids. I was far from myself.
At my next doctor’s appointment, I brought it up to my doctor. He confirmed my suspicions and I started antidepressants. Thing got better in the weeks to follow. Looking back on the time I had Ellie, I am almost positive I had postpartum depression then, also, but was too afraid, too naïve to say or do anything.
Nine months after Logan was born I was 5 pounds away from the weight I was when he was born. I was unhappy with myself, physically. I was still depressed—even though I was still being treated. I needed something to change. I needed to feel right, like myself again.
I decided to try the 21 Day Fix EXTREME with Shakeology, despite me turning down Chris’s offer to get it for me for a while, because of the price. But, I was so ready to feel good again. I told him to buy it.
I am an emotional eater and being depressed didn’t help my weight and self-love. I hated working out and eating healthy but I told myself with was only 21 days and it had the containers to make the eating easy to track. Just 21 days, Monica, you can do this.
Within a week, I felt SO much better. Physically and mentally. By the end, the changes were amazing. Plus, I lost 11 pounds and 10 inches, so my self-love and confidence were better, also.
Nutrition and fitness were my missing link.
Now, do I eat 100% on plan, every day? No. It’s more like 80-20. Some days are more, some are less. But, I am human and, well, food is delicious–especially carbs and cookies. I do a workout for at least 25 minutes a day even if it is just yoga or stretching. I can tell when I don’t do this my days are not the same.
Do I love to workout? No, well not all the time. I do LOVE the feeling afterward, though.
I still am treated by my doctor for depression. It’s something that was agreed upon by the both of us. Since I have a history—and a family history—of depression the chances I would relapse being off medication was greatly increased. I feel great right now and have no want to feel like I was before.
Am I the same person as I was 11 years ago? No. I don’t like being the center of attention. I am a home body. I am more reserved. I guess you could say I am an introvert. I quit drinking when I got pregnant with Logan and I have no want to drink. Some say I have turned into an “old lady” because I don’t “go out and drink” and keep to myself more, but I am okay with that. I have been through one of the greatest loss that one can go through. I can’t expect myself to “just snap back”.
Why did I choose now to share this?
With social media, phones and easy access to blogs, news stories, etc., I see so many stories of people with depression—some stories good, some bad—I see the stigma that is still placed on depression. If I help ONE person with my story then it is all worth it.
You aren’t alone. You aren’t crazy or weak. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. It’s an illness just like diabetes, the flu, and allergies. You wouldn’t push these other illnesses aside so why do so with depression?
While some need medication others can manage depression with fitness and nutrition. Some, like myself, need both. Talk to someone. Talk to your doctor.
And, more importantly, don’t be ashamed.