Happy Tuesday, friends! I wanted to get a little bit serious during today's post and address something important to me: clinical depression and how it affects people, even people who have it all together. I am usually talking too loudly and laughing obnoxiously — most people describe me as outgoing and friendly after spending time with me. My Twitter bio used to say, "Always loud, always laughing." And it's true! I have an amazing family, a doting husband and abundant resources at my fingertips. And I'm bound to smile if I have iced tea in front of me.
But I take four medications to help with my mood, and medicine allows me to navigate my daily life. Without medication, I'd likely end up hospitalized. Even though my life is great, my brain is imbalanced. I'm often happy, but I'm always clinically depressed. That's because clinical depression can be exacerbated by difficult situations, but it's not as simple as having a hard, sad life. I continue to meet people who don't understand why I have depression. It's not an on/off switch —if I had a switch, I'd never turn it on, believe me!
I am quite lucky because of the fact that I have both the money and the emotional support to handle hospitalizations, therapy, and expensive meds. (I wrote about privilege + mental health a few years ago for the Tampa Bay Times.) I'm not rich by any stretch of the imagination, but because I'm able to bear the financial burden of my illness, I'm better off than people without support or insurance, which says a lot about how our nation views mental health care.
I guess that I'm getting at the complexity of mental health. When I'm smiling in pictures or hanging out with friends, it's a good day, a reminder of all of the beautiful things that surround me. But the not-so-good days don't usually make it on social media, and the cloud of depression still hangs over me. I don't need sympathy. My life is pretty great, all things considered, but it's because I am well-medicated and in therapy (and have been for six years).
I've been speaking out since I received a diagnosis, and it's because I think the reality of depression needs to be discussed. It isn't just something that happens to loners or people who have a hard time socializing. Millions of people are affected, and it touches everyone from the famous to the faceless. So if you're someone who has no "reason" to be depressed but has a mental illness diagnosis, know that you're not alone. And if you do have a life that's difficult, I'm here for you, too! We're in this together, y'all.