Mental Health Matters: It's OK to talk about depression. It could save a life.

·3 min read

A friend who struggles with depression and anxiety texted me one day  and asked what I did on the bad days when I couldn’t get out of bed.

It’s a good question. I stared at her text and gathered my thoughts. I’ve certainly had those days, but as I was formulating a reply, tears stung my eyes.

I can’t remember the last time I couldn’t get out of bed. Months? Maybe years? I don’t even remember a day where I was slow to get up even though my son’s internal wake time is 5 a.m.

Just a few years ago, I was faking a migraine attack so I could stay in bed. I made excuse after excuse to my husband about why I couldn’t get up. I slept until mid-morning or mid-afternoon, then fretted about picking up the kids. I could feel the depression weighing down my limbs, but I didn’t notice it had become a ball and chain. I was stuck and hopeless, unable to move forward.

I could only do the minimum with my kids. My husband and my mother-in-law picked up the slack with the kids, which piled on the guilt and worsened my depression.

I was desperate to get help, but my doctor said I had treatment-resistant depression and medication likely would not help. He didn’t mention other treatments so I didn’t realize there were any until my best friend intervened and recommended The Menninger Clinic in Houston.

I stayed there six weeks, and it changed my life. The doctors altered my medication, and I tried electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). I learned coping skills and did intensive therapy.

But I felt so all alone. I knew better, but my treacherous brain told me I was. I didn’t know anyone who was going through the same thing. It took awhile to realize it was the stigma that kept others quiet. It’s that bleak emptiness that makes some want to kill themselves. It did me. I’ve been suicidal more times than I can count, but I’m one of the lucky ones who lived.

Mental Health Matters: Struggle with depression? Remember to celebrate your victories.

That’s why I talk so much about my experience — I didn’t have a guidebook or any clues on how to live with my conditions. But thankfully things are changing. People are talking about mental illness, and the more we normalize it, the more we chip away at misconceptions and misinformation. More people will seek help and actually get it.

Then one day someone will ask about your experience, and you’ll realize how much better, healthier you are. Your answers will write the pages in what will become their guidebook. It won’t feel like needless suffering.

You will sing again. And laugh, even let out a guffaw. You might get depressed and anxious again, but you’ll learn it’s only temporary and that joy can live inside you again. That there’s always hope.

You’ll be stronger than you’ve ever been, the very best version of yourself.

You won’t have to work so hard to get out of bed.

Heather Loeb
Heather Loeb

For more than 20 years, Heather Loeb has experienced major depression, anxiety and a personality disorder, while also battling the stigma of mental health. She is the creator of Unruly Neurons (www.unrulyneurons.com), a blog dedicated to normalizing depression and a member of State Rep. Todd Hunter’s Suicide Prevention Taskforce.

MIND MATTERS

Now more than ever we need to take care of our mental health. Guest columnist Heather Loeb discusses why and explores other important mental health topics in this special series.

This article originally appeared on Corpus Christi Caller Times: Mental health: It's OK to talk about depression. It could save a life.