My Struggle with Situational Depression

Depression is not a sign of weakness. It means you have been strong for far too long.
— Anonymous

If you’ve followed my blogs for awhile, both Divorced at 30, and now, The Splendid Path, you know that I have been vocal about my struggle with my mental health. While I was suffering and was in the depths of my depression, I felt extremely alone, filled with shame and didn’t know if I’d survive. I openly share my story now so that anyone out there who is currently suffering doesn’t feel so alone.

According to statistics, “one in three Canadians will experience a mental illness or a substance use disorder in their lifetime. Yet stigma remains a barrier that prevents many from seeking or offering help. Speaking openly about mental health and providing a safe, barrier-free environment to do so is key to reducing stigma” (Government of Canada).  I imagine that statistics in the United States and in other countries around the world are very similar.

I’m an advocate for mental health awareness because I want to crush any stigma that still lingers. Advocacy for me is about bringing awareness to an issue that affects so many, yet is still somewhat of a taboo topic (for some) to talk about. Recently, I partnered with We’re All a Little Crazy Organization and joined the Same Here Advocate Alliance. The opportunity to share my story on a different platform is why I joined the alliance. I want to continue to share my story, raise awareness about mental health and make it more than o.k. for anyone who is suffering to feel comfortable to talk about it.

In Celebration of Mental Illness Awareness Week, here is my story:

I was always an extremely positive and optimistic person, and generally very mentally healthy. I saw the bright side of most experiences and always expected things to work out positively. I was easy-going and could cope with any hardship I encountered.

However, because of trauma and loss, my world was turned upside down. I was in an unhealthy marriage and experienced divorce at a young age. This divorce resulted in me losing my husband, my house, all my money, family and friends. I was also dealing with an extremely stressful work environment.

The trauma and loss I experienced from these events, and my inability to adjust and cope, pulled me into a deep situational depression that lasted for over a year. I couldn’t get out of bed some days, found myself crying at work even when I wasn’t sad, shut out friends and family, isolated myself, lost a tremendous amount of weight, felt hopeless, worthless, and like I would never feel better again. I saw no way out. 

During the darkest times of my depression, I began experiencing suicidal thoughts and, on more than one occasion, considered suicide an option to end my pain. I remember sitting there, in tears, with two pill bottles emptied on the floor in front of me. On those incredibly dark nights, I had to convince myself not to do what I thought was the only thing that would end my pain.

What I did to Treat my Depression:

Suicidal idealizations was a huge wake-up call for me. I was incredibly fearful of what I might do to myself because an illness had taken over my mind. When I realized I couldn’t cope on my own and my depression was just getting worse, I knew it was time to seek help. I had to do something to start treating my depression and find healing. I couldn’t continue to live the way I was living. It was too painful.

Therapy has been, and continues to be, my savior. It was pivotal to my healing. Even on days when I could barely get out of bed, I got myself to therapy. After every session, I felt like I was inching my way back to a healthy mind. My therapist helped me work through some of the loss and trauma that was at the root of my depression, which helped to heal my depression.

I also found tremendous solace in yoga, exercise, spending time in nature, making time for friends, journaling, writing, blogging, and connecting with other people who lived a similar experience as myself, which was divorce, specifically at a young age. This helped me not feel so alone in my suffering.

The final key to healing my depression was talking to some close friends and family about my struggle. Being open and transparent helped me feel less shame about my struggle with my mental health. Everyone I’ve told my story to has been incredibly supportive. I was surprised and touched by the immense amount of support.

I am so fortunate to say now that I have healed from depression. I am better. I am healthy. For this, I am incredibly thankful. I share this message so that others know there is hope for a healthy, bright future.

To anyone out there who is reading this and is suffering right now, know that it can get better. Healing is possible. You are not alone. At the very least, I am here, another soul who has been rocked by the devastation that is a mental illness. My heart is with you.

Sending you only light and peace.