On Depression

I take medication for depression. I’m fine. Don’t worry. But for awhile, some time after my son was born, I wasn’t okay. I dealt with being not okay pretty well, and kept up the facade of okay until one day when the facade cracked and I threw a bowl of blueberries across the kitchen and threw a folk into my kitchen cabinet and scared my kids.

What they didn’t know was that I had been scared for a while before that. Scared of the thoughts that popped into my head. Scared of how I would double over, wheezing and unable to catch my breath, panicking for no reason while totally safe in my own home. Scared of why I never wanted to get out of bed.

Some time after that – too long after that, in retrospect – I called a doctor’s clinic and, fighting back sobs, I asked for an appointment at the walk-in clinic that day. The receptionist asked why I needed to be seen and I choked out, embarrassed, “I think I have post-partum depression.”

“Oh,” she said, “We don’t normally see people for that at the walk-in clinic. Do you have a regular doctor I can book you with at their next available appointment?”

“I…I really think I need to see someone today.” There was some crying involved when I made that statement, and there’s a teeny bit now as I type this out, and remember it.

“I can get you in at 4:30.”

God bless that receptionist, and the nurse practitioner I saw that day. The nurse had five sons and understood that not sleeping for two years is a kind of special torture. She handed me kleenex and a stop-gap prescription for Sertraline and got me booked in with my now regular doctor for follow-ups.

Some time after that, I stopped having scary thoughts pop into my head unbidden. I was able to stop drinking too much wine as a kind of sick self-medication every night. I re-found the joy in raising my wonderful children.

It’s weird to talk about depression. It’s not like I had anything to be bummed about. I had (and have) a great husband, healthy kids, a great life. I go for walks, I practice active gratitude, I eat healthy fats. All that crap should have made me sunny-side up, all the time. But depression isn’t being sad. Telling someone with depression to just cheer up is like telling someone without a leg to just walk it off.

Why am I talking about this? Even as I write this, I don’t know if I’ll publish it. It’s a private thing, it feels private, and let’s face it – I’m a garden blogger. Who cares what I have to say about mental health? Plus, I imagine the barrage of not-helpful suggestions and comments and emails I’m opening myself up to – “you should try meditation not pills!” – because trust me, people have their opinions.

And yet…Robin Williams died Monday at his own hand. You don’t even have to be a fan of Mr. Williams to feel his loss; he was just part of the fabric of our collective consciousness. This man who made us laugh, this man who was outsized in his personality and in his life, this voice of fucking Disney characters was, according to news reports, battling severe depression. I know nothing about his personal life, of course, but his death says to me that he was awfully tired of that battle.

People all over are reading about Robin Williams and his suicide right now, and they are asking why? But I know why. People who know depression, they know why. The details and the individual differences aren’t that important; that big dysfunctional brain chemistry is common core. Nothing – not fame, or money, or prestige – can outrun brain chemistry.

Statistically, about a thousand people with depression will read my blog today. That’s a thousand people who have that scary, deep-bone understanding of why, and they probably don’t want to talk about this either. But still they know. Maybe they’ve had scary thoughts, too. Or maybe they just have enough experience with depression and enough imagination to extrapolate.

If you are in that thousand, and you are battling depression, please, please get help. The people who work with depression – doctors, therapists, naturopaths – whatever you’re comfortable with – they have seen it all before and they won’t laugh or judge or anything. And things can get back to normal, they really can. Depression is terrible. It is a terrible, scary, insidious mind-fuck. It’s not because you aren’t trying hard enough or aren’t “looking on the bright side” aggressively enough. Many things can trigger it, and it’s not your fault, and it doesn’t need to be forever.

And also, everyone go read this. It’s the most brilliant, hilarious, true description of depression I’ve ever read.

Rest in Peace, Robin Williams.

 

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Comments

  1. sharon thumann says:

    Erica,
    Thank you for sharing, I KNOW how hard it is to share something like this and I applaud you! Please, people, if you need help.. SEEK HELP!

    -hugs-
    Sharon

    • No offense, but it’s isn’t always enough to tell someone who is being sucked down by darkness to “seek help”. I “sought help” for many months with therapist who never even knew I was suicidal. She wasn’t the one for me and I luckily found a way to deal with depression. But if someone had said to me, “you need to find help” and left it at that, I might very well not be here to write this response. I think the message needs to go beyond what I’ve read here and so many other places lately. Often, “Seek help” needs to be expanded into, “It might be dark today, but there will be a day that is light. Please keep fighting. You are worth it.”

      • Mary, you’re right. “Seek help” isn’t enough, but it’s part of the answer. Talking about this stuff, destigmatizing it, helping to educate the people who deal with depressed people so they don’t do stupid things that make it harder for the depressed people are all part of the answer. There’s more I’m missing, I’m sure. There’s so much we have to do to make this better. As for you, I hope you’re doing better. I hope you’re still fighting. I hope you’re finding your answers. You’re worth it.

      • I can somewhat understand what you are saying here, but we can not slap the hands of those who at least attempt to help us. If someone cares enough to recommend me to seek help that is enough. Yes, more could be done, but don’t criticize someone who actually is willing to offer help, as minuscule as it may be. We need to get away from thinking there are only certain avenues to travel to good health or that what we offer is never enough. All of us who suffer from depression have to find our own path to recovery ourselves and we can’t expect those who support us with love and compassion to magically know that path before we even know it ourselves. Don’t shut out the people who offer help, even if it may not be enough. Talking about our problems, even at the most basic level, is better than nothing at all.

        • Very wise, Toni. Very wise. I think sometimes people in the depths of depression feel like there is no right answer. It’s so frustrating–frustrating for them, frustrating for the people around them. I’ve been on both ends of that equation, and it feels like a no win situation all around.

          I’m so grateful though that we’re having this conversation, because if we all start talking about it–what’s the right thing to do? what’s the wrong thing to do? –instead of everyone just trying to struggle through these nearly impossible situations in isolation, maybe it will get easier all around. Or maybe that’s just my antidepressants talking. :)

        • Good call, Toni. I recently figured out I was struggling with depression after a long period of just thinking I’d turned into a boring, fearful, tired person. Some of my friends noticed a change in my behavior but didn’t feel comfortable telling me about it and instead withdrew from me. Had someone had the courage to mention, even a little, that I seemed like I could maybe use some help, I might have been able to seek some intervention sooner. Not everyone’s the same, but for me, with my first bout of depression, I really didn’t know that I was messed up; I just thought joy had receded from the world and was preparing to live without it. Gloriously that’s not the case. But I agree, while we may need more than ‘get some help’, a little notice is a first step for those of us who are unable to see beyond the fog of the depression on our own.

      • sharon thumann says:

        Sorry. I suffer from depression. I do understand. And this is the very reason I do not post often on blogs. I will remove or ask that it be removed should I offend anyone else. Have a nice day.

        • No, no. Keep talking Sharon. We understand. :) Good luck Sharon. Keep fighting.

        • No, you’ve done nothing wrong. Thanks so much for your comment. The more we all share, the better. Good for you to speak up!

        • You are right on Sharon! Don’t berate your decision to talk, since that is what needs to happen more often! No one is discounting any opinions of anyone else and open discussions are the only way for us to gain more understanding of our own issues and those of others. Keep fighting the fight!

    • Sharon, you are absolutely right. I remember secretly and desperately wanting someone, anyone, to recognize that I needed help, and wanting someone to suggest that I should seek treatment. It was like I needed permission.

  2. Thank you for writing this. How amazing that you can reach 1000 people with just one post. I’ve been there too and am so grateful to you for writing this for others.

  3. Thank you, Erica. For others reading, helpful books to use as tools are written by Julia Ross and Trudy Scott. Look them up and that can be a starting point for progress in addition to professional help.

    • I second the recommendation for Julia Ross’s The Mood Cure. Good god…without that book… I’ve since passed it on to two other friends who have all made great strides forward!

  4. Hi Erica, seems that you are so much more than just a (make that my favorite) garden blogger. Thanks for this great post!

  5. Erica, I can’t tell you what a beacon of hope this post is to me this morning after another long night of the insomnia that has coupled itself with my current round of depression. You are one of those bloggers I wish I personally knew, one I respect very highly, whose values and goals most closely match my own.

    The most annoying and shameful facet of depression, at least for me, has been exactly what you said: it’s not like I have anything to be bummed about. No horrible trauma, no sickening lack gives me a reason for the feelings that overwhelm. And when failure is already your most defining self-descriptor, that lack of reason only strengthens the sense of worthlessness.

    I came across a particularly painful and angry article about Robin Williams last night that blamed him violently for his choice to leave his family in so much pain. Reading it felt almost like physical blows raining down on the one mantra that has carried me through this: I can’t leave my babies without a mother.

    A few weeks ago, when I opened up to my own mother about how I’d been feeling, she seemed unsurprised, observing how little joy I seemed to find in my children. What a wrench to a (depressed) mother’s heart. It’s been like that with everything, though, and I’d never realized how much the joy of simple tasks pulls me through the work of the day.

    If you, strong, committed, life-filled woman that you are, can feel this way and talk about it openly, then maybe there’s nothing wrong, nothing shameful about the fact that I feel this way, too. Thank you, thank you for sharing.

    -Sarah

    • Yes, even the most well meaning of things can become one more reason we suck. My husband, for months, would go out of his way to give me space to garden or go exercise, or whatever – the many things that historically would have made me feel better – and those opportunities, in my mind, just became yet another thing I was failing at when they didn’t change anything. I always loved my son, but in retrospect I should have known that something deeper was wrong when I had to remind myself to talk to him as an infant. I never shut up around my older daughter, but with my son I just felt so heavy so much of the time there wasn’t much room for joy. You’re not a bad mom, it’s not just you. Go talk to someone. Don’t wait. For real – the joy can come back, I promise.

  6. Thank you for sharing this. Sometimes people who are depressed are good at hiding it. Very good. I was very good. I hid it from my friends and family and co-workers, and each day, I would think of ways I could kill myself. Every day. But I was very practical in these thoughts–probably my only saving grace–and the only thing that ever stopped me was playing out how my daughter would find my body. That thought was what always halted me actually carrying it though. Sure, I told myself, the kids were adults and they’d eventually get over the suicidal death of their mother. (Or so I told myself.) But, having my daughter find my body wasn’t something I thought she’d “get over”.

    So, instead I worked hard to pull myself out of the darkness that had consumed my world.

    How I did this doesn’t really matter, as this process can be different for every person, but what does matter is that I’m here.

    • Yes me too Mary P. For me it was the thought of my beloved wife attempting to cope with my loss. I believe I am alive today because my concern for her was barely enough to overcome the hopelessness. I applaud this post and all the sharing in comments. Thank you.

  7. You are so brave to bare this in your blog. And why is it that we are embarrassed by not feeling “normal.” Whatever that is. Hang in there. There is never a need to justify or quantify to anyone how you are feeling. It just is. ~Juile

  8. As a Depressed Person, much of your post could have come from my thoughts. I thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for writing this.

  9. Bravos for a brave, honest, and timely post. Thank you for speaking out.

  10. Thank you, thank you, thank you. After (another) long, sleepless night, I ‘wake’ to find this in my inbox. Tears of commiseration and acknowledgment are streaming down my face. (No, I don’t cry. Guys don’t cry, right? Must be somebody else.)

    Thank you for having the courage to share these personal thoughts.

    We love you and thank you.

  11. You are a brave and wonderful person. Thank you for posting your story.

  12. Wow. You really hit home here.

    I went through everything you talked about many, many years ago. So long ago that I’d forgotten – not that it happened – but what it felt like. I have tears in my eyes right now. Tears of compassion for those who are in that place right now, and tears of relief and joy that I am not. I don’t mean that flippantly or selfishly, but I guess this is my “aha” moment for how far I’ve come. It was a LONG road, but definitely worth it.

    To those still in that place: DO NOT GIVE UP. DO NOT GIVE IN. DO WHATEVER YOU NEED TO DO TO KEEP GOING. It is SO worth it in the end. My prayer for you today is that you’ll simply hang on and keep going. Every moment that you do this brings you one step closer to the freedom and fulfillment and joy that is waiting for you. It’s there, I promise.

  13. Extremely well said.

  14. This is probably the most important thing you have ever written. Of course we all read your blog for gardening information but by sharing your story you have shown how depression can be managed. I am sure you have helped you readers more than you can imagine. Even those not depressed probably has a relative, friend or co-work that is. The more we understand depression the better able to be supportive.

  15. Yup. Good job.

  16. Yes. A thousand times yes. I’m sorry you, too, understand.

    That link is one of my favorite depictions, too. Especially this panel of “Look guy, I don’t know what it’s like in I-Still-Have-Meaning-In-My-Life-Land, but every direction looks like bullshit right now.”

  17. If there’s any good that has come from Robin Williams’ death, it’s the national conversation we’re having about depression. It’s amazing how many people suffer from it at one point or another. Throw in the people who love those people, and it really touches almost everyone really deeply. It’s amazing we function at all. How have we not been talking about this more?

    And as best as I can tell, depression comes in different forms. I think it’s important we understand that. There’s no one size fits all here. In some cases, it’s a genetic thing that people suffer from their whole lives. In others, it’s something that hits them later in life like a shit ton of bricks. In some cases, it’s a void of nothingness. In some cases, it’s a raging mood swings. I’m sure there are other variations too.

    In my case, depression is genetic. For most of my life, I thought differently. I figured my parents had just had shitty lives and that’s why they were depressed. When I started acknowledging the symptoms in myself (notice I didn’t say “seeing” the symptoms, because, really they had been there all along), I just told myself some positive thinking or force of will or some bullshit like that would sort it out. It wasn’t until my daughter was an infant and I wasn’t sleeping much and it really started getting worse that I told my husband that I wanted to go see our family doctor. It went against all his good Irish “buck up” instincts, but bless his heart, he made the appointment for me right away. Glory hallelujah, the doctor found the right medication for me right away, and things improved very quickly.

    That was about 7 years ago now. I’m happy to say that it’s hard for me to remember what being depressed is like now. I’ve been on medication ever since and I feel like a “normal” person. For most of my life, I’ve had two reactions to situations–my intellectual reaction (the one I thought through and felt was appropriate to the situation) and my emotional reaction (the one controlled by the raging, blazingly insane hormonal imbalance in my head). For me, a simple pill every day lets the intellectual reaction “win” the vast majority of the time now. What a relief.

    My one word of caution is that in the beginning, the doctors liked to tell me encouragingly “you don’t have to be on the medication forever.” I think they thought I would be distressed about having to take them for the rest of my life, or they were thinking that I was the type of depressed that’s temporary. I was too shy at first to say “I want to be on the pills forever! I’m finally the person I thought I could be my whole life. Please don’t take it away from me.” Since then, I’ve since had that conversation, and I’ve been assured, I can stay on the antidepressants forever if that’s the right solution for me. Don’t be shy with your doctors. They are there to help, but they need you to tell them what’s going on.

    Erica, bless your heart for posting this blog. You have proven once again that you are the bravest of emotional souls.

    • Your comment about wanting to be on the pills forever is so funny. See, I was really resistant to medication for depression/anxiety, and when I started them I kept asking for assurances from the doctor that I could get OFF the drugs as soon as I was feeling better. She did not offer that assurance, and as it turned out once I was on the meds and my outlook improved, I was able to see just how much better I was functioning with them and how sick I was before. It was amazing, and now I never want to be without them either.

      (Longtime reader, first-time delurker. Thank you Erica for sharing your story).

  18. You were very brave to open yourself up to this exposure. Thank you and the many others who are being honest about the topic that hits so many. Best wishes.

  19. Funny, isn’t it? Peculiar, not ha-ha! When someone has diabetes, they are not expected to meditate their way out of it. If their thyroids aren’t functioning correctly, it’s OK it take Synthroid. Sheesh, even if they have acid reflux there’s no stigma in taking one of the ‘purple pills’. But have dysfunctional brain chemistry and it’s a different story. I want to yell, “Get over it, you judgemental idiots.” The brain is an organ. The pancreas is an organ. The thyroid is an organ. The body is a collection of complex systems and processes. When one of them isn’t working well, we find a way to ‘fix’ it. If a temporary fix enables the body to heal itself, wonderful. If the body needs continual help for a ‘sustainable’ future–great, we have the technology.
    Be careful, those of you who love to be Stronger Than Thou. Karma has a way of biting us all on the butt. Learn to be empathetic and supportive before you are in need of someone to be those things for you.

    • The diabetes metaphor is exactly what I’ve used for years. When I realized I had depression I was completely open about it to coworkers as well as friends and family. I refused to be stigmatized by a physiological problem that could happen to anyone. Result? Many people opened up with their own stories, including a veteran battling PTSD.

  20. Federal Way Mom says:

    This wasn’t an easy post to write, I’m sure. And I agree with Claudette. The resulting conversation after such a tragic death is long overdue. I’ve battled post-partum for three years now. We Moms don’t talk about it. It just doesn’t seem as important as losing all the baby weight, breast feeding until the kids are teens, and then talking about the appropriate age for smart phones for our kids.

    It’s long overdue. And considering what you blog about, personally, I think YOUR opinion is far more important than the talking heads on TV. Thank you for write this post. Thank you even more for sharing it with us.

  21. Heather in Oregon says:

    4yrs ago, after many years of depression and two babies I was finally diagnosed with bipolar II. This means that while my highs don’t reach mania level (they’re called hypomania), the depression is just as severe (suicide rates between those with bipolar I and bipolar II are basically the same). When unmedicated I had what is known as rapid cycling which means that you have a full bipolar cycle (depression-’normalcy’-hypomania) 4 or more times a year. I had one every 3-5 wks and the depression phase generally lasted from 5-10 days. I was suicidal just about EVERY ONE of those depressive phases for over 15 years. The only reason I never committed suicide was because my depression left me so exhausted and unmotivated that I couldn’t summon the energy to go through with it. There was a woman from a town neighboring the one we used to live in that I had met her once through a friend. Almost 3wks ago she disappeared only to be found a couple of weeks later to have left home to commit suicide. Her family and friends did not know she was depressed and suicidal. She left behind her husband and two young sons as well as her extended family and friends. This hit me so hard because had I been able to summon the energy, so many times over, that would have been me. I can’t speak for her but for me not only was the combination of pain and extreme apathy unbearable but I believed that I was tormenting my husband and children by being in their life and rather than my death being a terrible, agonizing thing for them, I believed that it would bring them relief. I am so grateful that I was never able to go through with it. My wake-up call came when my husband and I were having a discussion about suicide (not specific to me) and I made some comment about how everyone people feels suicidal at some point or another. He looked shocked as said that no matter how bad things ever got he had never thought of it and many people he knew never had. He then asked me how often I had felt it and when the last time was. When I admitted that I felt it regularly and as recently as a couple of weeks ago he quietly started to freak out and made me find a counselor the next day. I had seen her within a week as an emergency call and she told me she thought I had bipolar but that I would need a formal diagnosis and treatment plan from a psychiatrist. 2 wks later I had seen one, was formally diagnosed, and started the long process toward trying to get me appropriately medicated. 6 mos later, for the first time in over 15yrs, I was stable. I was enjoying my children consistently and they were not afraid of me. I had never physically hurt them but I would have such rage during the transition between hypomania and depression that I would scare them. It doesn’t go as smoothly for everyone, some people take years to find the right diagnosis and/or treatment plan. Just seeking help is rarely the solution. It is often a combination between treatment, dedication to a balanced lifestyle (eating well, getting outside every day, and regular exercise, all things we should be doing anyway) and careful attention to where you are at. I would also argue that being transparent with the people in your life is vital. They cannot help if they do not know. I didn’t want to tell people about my diagnosis because I didn’t want to be thought of as a drama queen, unfit mother, or someone who simply didn’t try hard enough to be okay. While I rarely bring it up on it’s own, I am willing to tell anyone about my experiences and diagnosis because I want it to be de-stigmatized and I want people to feel okay about finding help.

    Thank you for this. The more people who are willing to acknowledge the issue, the easier it is to find and often to be willing to accept help.

    • Heather, you are so brave to tell us your story. Thanks for that. I’m glad you’re working your way through it. Bless your husband’s heart for latching on so quick when you casually mentioned suicide and for acting so quickly.

    • Thank you for sharing. I am so glad you got help, and sorry about your neighbor.

    • Thank you Erica for sharing this. Thank you Heather for sharing your story as well. As I read through Erica’s blog post to much hit close to home. But because I go back and forth from depression to feeling great I’ve been hesitant to look for help. A close friend has suggested many times that I may have a bipolar disorder and should look for help, I always shrug it off and say ‘things will even out eventually’. Now I’m not sure. I don’t judge those who use medication, but I’m not sure if I could handle that (very resistant to medications due to other personal experiences) Don’t really know what to do next, but I should try something. Surrounding myself with life has been my way to cope, not to make me feel better but to have living things rely on me. 1 dog, 2 cats, a boyfriend, and family. Knowing the dog needs feed and to be let out is often the only thing that gets me out of bed.

      • Heather in Oregon says:

        Cyclical depression, even if your high points aren’t significantly higher than your ‘normal’ phases can indeed be a sign of bipolar. Because I didn’t know this I was repeatedly diagnosed (by primary care doctors rather psychiatrists) with depression and given anti-depressants. That can be disastrous for people with bipolar disorder because it can easily throw you into a manic state. The only times I have had full blow mania rather than hypomania have been when I was on anti-depressants. Even though people with bipolar disorder have such pronounced depressive phases, they actually still have an excess of seratonin, which SSRI’s are designed to raise. There are three major neurochemicals that play a part in your mental balance- seratonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine and too much or too little of any or all of them can cause major problems. Factors that play a part in creating those imbalances can be excessive electrical activity in the brain (sometimes called brainstorms), genetics, traumatic events, and lifestyle- in particular if it includes drug use. I would encourage you to seek a formal diagnosis. Unless you are a danger to yourself or others to the point of requiring involuntary hospitalization or a formal guardianship you cannot be forced to take medication. There are non-medication ways to at least lessen some of the symptoms but they require a dedication to them that can be pretty hard to follow through with when depressed and people often think they don’t need them when they are in a hypomanic or manic phase. It would be very important to have a support system that would be willing to really push you to maintain them. They include fish oil (Carlson’s liquid, 2tsp a day has a much higher content of omega-3′s, DHA, and EPA which are the relevant components), meditation, getting outside EVERY DAY no matter the weather unless it’s truly dangerous, getting regular exercise, vitamin D supplements, and eating almost entirely whole foods. I was extremely anti-medication but I was afraid of what I was doing to my kids and decided that the possible benefits outweighed things enough that I was willing to try. I was lucky enough to be considered a good candidate for one of the medications with the least side effects and so far it has remained effective at the same dose for the last 3 1/2 years. Choosing whether or not to take meds is a very personal decision but if you can bring yourself to try it for a year or so you might find that it helps immensely and no long feels personally threatening to you. However, there is no guarantee of that and I totally understand that you simply might not be able to overcome your past experiences in order to do it.

        • Thank you so much for all that information. I will follow through with a diagnosis from a psychiatrist along with all the lifestyle changes and supplements you suggested (it will be a challenge but I am lucky to have a support group and a stubborn nature). This was a good push along with my family and friends being concerned for the past few years. I’ve been in the ‘I dealt with being not okay pretty well’ stage for a long time now. Truly, thank you all. For those who are in the same situation as I am, this shit sucks and it’s not your fault.

      • Tacoma Grama says:

        @Kay — As with everything human, all of our brains are different. Finding what brings YOU to *wanting* to walk the dog without running him (?) to exhaustion, or feeding the cats without thinking they would enjoy catching the fish, is the work of a professional assisted by YOUR input and feedback. But that work is critical, even essential!!! All too often we need to ask someone to make that first call, and to hold our hands through the trial.

        The sky comes in many guises, but we know that all of them are needed for the garden to reveal its many colors and secrets. So, too, each of our brains requires different inputs to bring out the various wonders within us.

        Erica, thank you so much for writing this! And @Sarah, @Bruce, @Emmie O, @Heather, and all of this wonderful, caring and sharing community Erica has gathered — thank you for being there!!!

  22. Thank you. Well said.

  23. Henrietta says:

    You managed to say everything I’ve been thinking about Robin Williams death, AND link to my favourite, the most accurate description of depression I’ve ever seen.

    I am one of the thousand. I’ve fought since around age 12 until now 38, and have accepted that the fight will continue for the rest of my life. Like you, I sought help, like you I take medication, and like you I’m just fine because I continue treatment. It’s just a condition I deal with, like some deal with diabetes. But it’s seldom something I talk about because there’s still so much stigma.

    Thank you for helping to break down the stigma. Thanks for your bravery, humour and big heart.

  24. Thanks for sharing the link…..it is eye opening

  25. Thank you for explaining that. I have some friends who are on meds for their depression and I’ll be sure not to every try those tactics that are in the cartoon. BTW, that blogpost with the cartoons is the funniest thing I’ve seen in years. I know it’s a serious topic but I literally blew water out my nose.

  26. thank you

  27. Erica, Thank you so much for sharing your story and adding your voice to those who are speaking out about depression. I love everything about your blog, but especially how candid you are. Very much appreciated and I wish you the best. <3

  28. Thank you for sharing this. I’ve been un-treated for a few months now, as I left a therapist who wasn’t working for me. It’s become clear that I need to find someone, and I have a mental health nurse practitioner lined up to call, but my fear of calling and my anxiety about having to find childcare so I can go to therapy have made it hard to actually do it. Maybe today I’ll be able to make that phone call.

  29. Would you permit me to reblog this? I have not suffered this way but was married to a man who was clinically depressed and refused the help that was needed to try to work through it. There was little anyone could explain to me how he was feeling and you did a great job. I would also add on my blog that help IS needed and can most likely really help.

  30. Anne Figge says:

    This makes it into the top ten of youe blog posts in my book. Thank you. And by the way, you’re not just a garden blogger.

  31. Thank you for posting this. And big ((((hugs)))) to you. I dealt with depression as a teenager but we didn’t have the resources to seek help. I’m glad that as an adult I haven’t had to look at that darkness again, but it is one of the many reasons I don’t want to have children. I don’t want to risk going back to that place.

  32. Thanks for posting and for the link. Genius. Love you.

  33. Thank you for your grace & honesty. I suffered from depression for a brief moment in time.
    Takes courage to talk about it. I appreciate you. The link is good too.

  34. Melissa Jamison says:

    Erica~ I love this post and love you too sister!
    You are such a blessing to those of us who have suffered with depression and for the loved ones who have to watch us suffer.

    Bless you “)
    Melissa

  35. Thank you for your candor. I wish more people like you, and like me, were able to speak these truths into the collective imagination. Mental illness is stupidly taboo and therefore isolating to the millions that feel that they are suffering alone. Thank you for your words.

  36. It takes great courage to publicly discuss such deeply personal issues, and I applaud you for hitting the “publish this NOW!” button – you may never know how many people you may have just helped – or even to better understand someone they know; what they’re going through. But if it’s just one person you just encouraged to seek help, and perhaps saved their life…BRAVO!! I applaud you for taking the leap of faith into the unknown, not knowing what sick assholes might make stupid comments – fuck them – it takes courage to do what you just did, and I thank you.

  37. Thank you for sharing something so personal. I too have had my ups and downs with depression in my life. I’m so grateful for the support of my husband and adult children, as I’ve gone through it. It’s not something we have control over. Unfortunately, people who have never been in our position think all we need to do is just think happier thoughts and cheer up. My own mother used to tell me that I just needed to relax. Oh! If only it were that simple we would do it in a heartbeat!

    It is sad that Mr. Williams ended his life, but I hope that he has brought out how terrible it really is to be depressed, and that more people reach out for help because of this.

  38. I think no life is untouched by depression. It may not be “you” but it sure is someone you love, if not you. I have lost someone I loved dearly to suicide, because of depression. I appreciate your reaching out, your willingness to put it on the line in other areas on your blog, gives substance for folks to listen when it is not a post on gardening or cooking with what came from the garden. Thank you.

  39. Crying…. actually it was good to flush my eyes so thoroughly. The smoke from the NW wildfires has really been bothering my eyes!

    Erica, thank you for sharing and especially for sharing the link to Hyperbole and a Half. That is the most accurate explanation of how depression can feel that I’ve ever read.

    I didn’t have post partum… but my depression/anxiety hit a point where I started meds when my son was a toddler. I can remember packing for a trip on Christmas Eve and NOT panicking, NOT having my stomach in knots… That’s when it hit me “The meds are working!”

    When I (and my husband eventually) started taking anti-depressants we’d say stuff like – “My life isn’t that bad, (or complicated, or whatever) what’s wrong with me that I can’t handle it?” I wondered if it was just modern life and the demands we put on ourselves.

    But then I remember my mom drank. And reading a number of memoirs I’ve seen a lot of women drank – or otherwise self-medicated. And men drank too.

    And, Erica, you alluded to drinking too much wine. So I decided I’d rather be on a prescribed medication with doctor’s oversight than self-medicating. I have to go talk to her at least once a year before she re-prescribes (and I’m proud to have decreased my dose as my kids have become more self-sufficient!)

    My husband has periodically asserted that he ‘shouldn’t’ need meds. But depression, anxiety – whatever you want to label it – is an illness or chronic condition. And we medicate for allergies, asthma, diabetes… so why shouldn’t we allow ourselves to medicate for mental health issues?

    As far as talk therapy, meditation, exercise to relieve the mental issues. It may be ‘preferable’ to meds. But adding another appointment into an already BUSY overbooked, life just creates more anxiety! My SIL used to harp ‘you need to exercise” YES, I do, but exactly who is supposed to cook dinner or pick the kids up from band practice?

    So, anyway, hang in there Erica. Anyone else who could relate to what she wrote, please don’t be afraid to seek professional help.

  40. Thank you for your honesty and courage and for opening our eyes to depression.

  41. Nancy Sutton says:

    You have always been more than just an exceptional garden blogger… you have epitomized the courage to be one’s self… and share one’s story… inspiring more of us to be/do the same. (Maybe more of a gift than the very valuable garden advice.) Thanks, again.

  42. I sincerely appreciate the courage it took to revisit your past and summarize uber complex situations and emotions. Depression comes in so many different forms and I feel like everyone will be able to relate one way or another in different seasons of their lives. The death of Robin Williams has sent such a humbling wave that left us standing in awe of the fragility of life and the humility it takes to be a fully awake. I don’t think that wave has finished its business.

    Nanu Nanu.

    Nadia Q

  43. Thank you for sharing this.
    Its amazing how much ignorance there seems to be surrounding this issue.
    One of the most appalling things I have been reading are the grossly insensitive comments written by people who think that depression is a coat you can take off and say that people who are suicidal are just “bitching out”.
    I mean WOW. Maybe its fear that causes this sort of reaction in people? I don’t know but essays like yours here are brave admissions which can help to move all our collective consciousness about these issues in a more positive direction.
    Thank you again

    • Sometimes I think that the people who say the nastiest things are trying to push the fear of their OWN depression away. Shakespeare had it right…”Methinks…..” I was diagnosed with depression about 20 years ago, also an anxiety disorder, and started taking Rxs. Life is much better, but, truly, the struggle does continue. I remind myself daily that life is good and worth sticking around for, no matter what anyone else has to say.

  44. Laura Johnson says:

    I think that through out life things happen that cause depression. I had baby blues 52 years ago. There was no term or treatment then. Finally snapped out of it. But, I remember.
    Had a cornea transplant a few years ago – that went wrong. Could not read or drive for 5 months. Felt like my life, as I knew it, was over. And then just getting older, bouts of ,”what am I going to do the rest of my life? But they pass quickly with a new idea.
    So, it happens. But, when there is not a reason, like a baby, operation, etc. What is the cause?
    I really appreciate your blog. I just never knew .

  45. Marie Ogier says:

    Thank you, thank you for this article. Mine started after my second child. The name “Depression”, “Anxiety” & “Panic Attacks” leads us to believe it’s our own failing and I tried eating right and forcing myself to work out. After all I’d Firewalked, mind over matter. I could tackle this, Right?! Finally with medication I got well enough to realize it was bio-chemical and not my mind. I came forward with it because I was working with hundreds, if not, a couple thousand women at the time. All said, “No, Marie, not YOU!” I considered myself a 17 year survivor. My specialist said, “You test my self image as, ‘The Answer Man’”. I had the thickest file in his office. For me, after a year, I was finally able to get off medication by going Gluten Free. Sure wish I’d known about that 25 years earlier! My kids would have known a much different Mom. There is help out there, Folks, and you are not alone!

    • Wow, interesting that getting off gluten allowed you to get off your medication. I wonder how many other undiagnosed food allergies or other intestinal/gut problems are a root cause for others.

      • Christina says:

        Toxin overload from Lyme Disease can also be a usually undiagnosed cause of depression that we don’t hear hardly anything about, just FYI.

  46. Dear Erica,
    You made me cry, in a good way. Thank you. Really, you are a brave woman.
    I know what it means to be there. And having horrible thoughts. It really wasn’t about not wanting to live, it was about not being able to see other options anymore. Like your mind goes into a one way tunnel of exhaust and fear. One needs help to get out of that tunnel and look around in life again.
    I think you helped a lot of people today…

  47. Thank you for sharing.

  48. Margit Van Schaick says:

    Thank you, Erica, and commenters, for being so brave, to acknowledge pain and suffering, to share experience, to actually be part of building a COMMUNITY, wherein we can help each other through sharing knowledge and love. Reaching out to get help and to help is to begin the process of healing. Progress is being made in understanding how the brain works. In my work as a Social Security Disability advocate, I see many people with severe depression. Just recently, I learned that genetic testing can also sometimes resolve deep depression: a genetic mutation can interfere with frolic acid being properly absorbed by the brain, causing depression. It’s quite easily treated. Wow! Amazing blessings of modern science.

  49. Thanks so much for sharing your story. The more we normalize mental health problems, the less the stigma overshadows sufferers, and more people can hopefully get the help they deserve. I’ve had issues with anxiety and depression, and the thing that really used to get me is that it seemingly MAKES NO SENSE! But it does. It’s an illness, just like any other. And there are treatments. And knowing that other people are going through the same things really helps. So speak out, everybody, and listen.

  50. Great post, very brave. I highly recommend the book Nutrient Power by Dr William Walsh, who is at the forefront of determining what is going on with a person’s brain chemistry, and more importantly, how to correct it as naturally as possible (drugs are used where really necessary). In his book I read that much of post-partum depression is linked to an incorrect copper:zinc ratio that is due to the copper that was needed during pregnancy being released as no longer needed once the baby is born. Some people aren’t as good at getting rid of the excess copper (largely genetic), and it can lead to PPD. Hope this info helps someone! Meditation, etc can only get you so far, at some point the body’s chemistry needs to be corrected too.

  51. This blog and all of the comments are the most important information I have ever read on the internet. Thank all of you!

  52. Ceitllyn (Katelyn) says:

    Lovely, honest post and very relate-able especially the throwing things. Gratitude abounds for the people who opened the way for you in seeking help and for compassion and empathy. I do not make light of any of it, I have been here most of my life. You have my sincerest compassion. Best to you.

  53. Erica also says:

    Thank you, Erica, for your courage in posting this. I was just diagnosed with “major clinical depression”. All this time I thought I lacked willpower and discipline and was beating myself up for being such a failure. On the one hand it’s a relief to know that I’m not a total fuck up – there’s a biologic/chemical reason why it’s so hard to get out of bed every morning. On the other hand, I am devastated that I have this diagnosis – so much stigma attached to it. Thank you for being the wonderful person that you are – you have affected my life in a very positive way.

    • Erica, your comment has been sticking with me since yesterday when I read it: “I am devastated that I have this diagnosis – so much stigma attached to it.” I finally realized this morning what I wanted to tell you. For me at least, the whole stigma mattered at lot when I was depressed, but now that I’ve been on the right antidepressants for quite a while, the stigma thing doesn’t bother me much at all. I think it’s one of the results of “getting better.” One of the effects of the antidepressants is that they have made me much more confident in my own skin. It’s not that I tell everyone I meet or anything, but if they find out, I’m not going to stress about it too much. I’m pretty comfortable explaining “it’s a brain chemistry thing,” (i.e., it’s not my fault). I hope this makes you feel better. Good luck with your journey.

  54. Thank You for your bravery Sistah! Just keep swimming, just keep swimming~
    Hugs,
    Lesli Townsend
    Townsend Country Soaps

  55. Thank you.
    <3

  56. Cynthia S. says:

    Thank you, Erica, for a courageous and inspiring post, and thanks to all the commenters who have responded with gratitude and kindness. It helps to know we are not alone.

  57. Thank you for writing this. My best friend struggles with depression and is hesitant to get the help she needs because of “the stigma associated with depression”, If more people are open about their struggles, hopefully, more people will be less afraid to seek the help they need. I am very glad things are better for you now.

  58. I’m one of the thousand, too. Thanks for posting. And thanks for linking to Allie Brosh. God, I love her!

  59. Bless you. Thanks so much for posting this. It’s good to have these conversations in the most unlikely of places (you’re more likely to reach the people who need to consider).

    I appreciate your honesty.

  60. I don’t know if you’ve ever read Lev Grossman’s The Magician’s series. On Goodreads, it’ll either get five stars or one star. I’m pretty sure that the dividing line is whether you have experienced depression and can recognize both the humor and despair of going through the darker side of life…or not.

    The thing that surprised me about losing Robin Williams is that I have always thought he understood what meant to have that dark side and keep living and growing and producing. I have felt that I have gotten much, much better at managing things as I grow older..good food, exercise, importance of friends…it is scary to know that it could still go back the other way.

  61. Like all the other commenters, I too thank you for sharing your thoughts on depression. I use low blood sugar as a way to explain depression to folks who don’t understand that’s its a brain chemistry thing. When genuinely hungry or low on blood sugar, most people get a little cranky. Small things become big things and any conversation is terse. The hungry person is feeling “off”. Its the body’s way of alerting you that it really needs fuel, you’re blood chemistry is out of synch. Its low on glucose. One turkey sandwich later..the hungry person feels normal again. Chemistry problem solved. Depression is the same thing happening inside your brain. Of course its a lot more complicated and won’t be solved by a turkey sandwich (at least not for most) but its a matter of getting the chemical balance corrected inside the brain. Finding that chemical balance again can be difficult and differs for each individual – the fact that much of the public doesn’t understand what depression really is, makes it even harder on the sufferers. Having more frank and open discussions about depression will hopefully make it a less shameful topic.

  62. I did not read through all the comments, so this post may be a repeat of what others have said. However, I would agree that the advice to get help falls short. I also battled with postpartum depression after the birth of my first child. I didn’t know that I was depressed. I couldn’t see it. I couldn’t reflect on anything. There was no ability to analyze. There was only the sadness, anxiety, the fear, and the absolute present moment in which I was trapped. No past. No future. Only right now. I couldn’t have helped myself even if I had wanted to, because I didn’t know that anything was happening to me. Now, when I learn that a friend is expecting a child, I congratulate them and I chat with them about the joy and the excitement of expecting the baby, but I also asked them if they have talked to their spouse or their parents or their siblings about postpartum depression and what they might do should they observe changes. It is a conversation they should have with those who will be around after the birth of the child, because it will be the people around them that will be most able to recognize a problem and guide them toward getting help. I did not have that conversation with my husband. Thank God that he had courage to reach out to me and talk to me about what he was seeing happening to me. We did have a conversation about it as I prepared for the birth of my second child, though thankfully I did not experience PPD again.

  63. Elizabeth says:

    I’ve been there, too, but I’m not brave enough to write about it on my blog. Thank you for sharing, and thank you for being brave.

  64. Christina says:

    I too, like many others, thank you for this courageous post. I am an acupuncturist, herbalist, and homeopath and as such I would like to take a moment to address your “you should try meditation not pills!” I suspect you are correct you will get a lot of that advice, and I can say that there are good things to be said for the tools of alternative medicine, good diet full of healthy fats and nutrient-dense foods, as well as spiritual practices (where I include yoga, mediation, prayer, etc.). But I also want to say that those don’t always work for everyone; nothing always works for everyone! Sometimes antidepressant drugs are really the only answer; certainly in the short term immediate emergency. I would also like to alert folks that sometimes it’s something odd you would not expect like parasites, Lyme disease, or a genetic variation that makes toxin excretion difficult, and more. I say please do what you need to do to save your life in the immediate emergency, but also please follow up with a Functional Medicine doc (MD) to check for some of those ever-increasing, used to be odd-ball, causes. I would also recommend adding in some alternative medicine therapies that may be enough to help alone, or may just be beneficial as an ancillary, adjunct support along with whatever allopathic (MD) therapy that is indicated to keep you among us. To those of us who battle depression I say: Fight on! Never give up! You are worth it, our world would be much the poorer for the lack of you.

    • Great points on the many things that can cause depression. I had changed birth control pills because the ones I was on were causing dark spots on my face. I believe it was the new prescription that caused my depression. Our company closed and I had another job lined up with a wonderful company but I quit it after 3 days. I didn’t know why but I just couldn’t be there. I just felt desperate all day long and constantly though about how I could leave without upsetting my great new boss who had given me the job. I spent the next several weeks on the couch crying for no apparent reason. I felt helpless and hopeless. Fortunately I had already stopped the new prescription as I suspected it might be causing my depression. It took about 6 months being off of them before I felt normal again. Years later when I was telling a friend about my experience she said she had the same reaction – but to the prescription I had originally been on. She was fine on the one that gave me problems.

  65. sharon thumann says:

    I forwarded this to a friend as soon as I read it this morning. I’ve been his ear for many years and encouraging him to seek help. He made the calls today and has set up appointments to talk to people. He needs medical attention as well, he talked to someone that is helping him to hopefully get approval for all of his needs.

    Thank you, Erica! We’ve been worried about our friend for so many years and to know he is finally reaching out… there were many tears shed.

    Thank you so much for all you do on this blog!

    Love and blessings,
    Sharon

  66. I appreciate your sharing this. I know it wasn’t easy, but in some way, opening up about it contributes to your wellness. I’ve been there, and come out the other side. It took years before I could talk about it, but I can now because I’m so totally different than the suicidal person I was in the 80′s who had no idea how to get help. After a botched suicide attempt, I saw the look in my children’s faces and promised myself I’d never put them through that again. It took work, but now I’m happy, healthy and mostly at peace (there will always be some degree if guilt).

  67. Erica, I was interested in your query about whether you should post this because you’re a ‘garden blogger’, and the assumption that this is what your readers come. And yes, you should (if you feel you can). And if they feel they can, so should the craft bloggers and the real estate bloggers and the mom bloggers and everyone who has a story to share. Because what we know is that seeking help is so hard, we might need to stumble across a story of depression and successful treatment – we might not look up a mental health blog, or a depression web site. But we might, when we’re looking at the blog site of an awesome mom and gardener, see that this is a universal story of a common, albeit horrible, experience. And that is the key – it can happen to anyone, and that help is at hand (even though this also may take time, patience and tremendous courage).

  68. For people with depression or who are bipolar, the suicide of Robin Williams has been brutal. You know…you know and feel that god awful feeling you know HE was feeling. If that makes any sense. I have been in tears every time I see his picture the past two days. Erica, it is so brave of you to write this. It isn’t easy to do…Talk about depression. You are not alone.

  69. Thank you for sharing. I appreciate and honor your strength!

  70. You’re a good lady, Erica. I know exactly why you did this column. You thought – “I might be able to save a life. Going to go do my best. Not going to hold it back for commercial reasons. Going to try.” by the way, I just LOVE this column!

  71. If you never write another word or blog post again, this – This – will have been enough, Erica. Deepest thanks from those of us who hear that lower voice that undermines the essential beauty in life. If I never say another prayer in my life, let this be enough – Thank you.

  72. Erica, thank you……I will only say that the “corn under the fridge that made start to give a fuck” where my chickens, well my chicken Beatrice actually. I have that cartoon and read when needed :) You rock sista, and No one is more qualified to blog about depression than one who’s been in it’s fog……..

  73. Thanks for your post. It’s so important for people to talk about depression – I’ve experienced enough glimpses of it here and there throughout my life to have a feel for what people with serious, prolongued depression must be battling. Kudos to you for discussing your experiences, and I also hope Robin Williams is resting in peace. He did not deserve such a sad ending.

  74. Perhaps, only when we can talk to each other about this kind of crap, as easily as we talk about planting peas, will there be real community support available to those in all kinds of distress. We are not designed to live as little islands, we are designed to be part of bigger, cooperative groups, where there are many aunties and uncles to assist with the challenges.
    Sleep deprivation is a special kind of hell to add onto disrupted brain chemistry due to hormonal and life change. Sleep heals so much. Good luck in your journey and in building the community for yourself that we all need.

  75. I have dysthymia, which means that I am always depressed. Sometimes it’s better, sometimes it’s worse, but it is always there with me. There is no getting better for me, I have had to learn how to cope with it. I have rarely had suicidal thoughts and have never acted on them, but when a depressive suicides, I can understand that it’s because everything feels so bad and the sufferer just can’t see a way out of it, ever. Suicide is giving up the fight, I guess.
    I plan to never give up, and I am getting help. Thanks for sharing, the more we talk about this, the more it will be understood.

  76. Thank you for sharing Erica. We are all in this together.

  77. Mental illness is insidious. Four of my 8 siblings have it to some degree – one ending her own life after years of depression. Another sister developed schizophrenia at 18- she is now 60. For years I never mentioned my siblings, knowing that most people have a limited understanding of mental illness. But now I do, and I try to tell people that mental illness is a physical disease that manifests itself behaviorally. People can’t ‘snap out of it’ when they are depressed, and unfortunately we now have an example of someone who seemingly had it all, but was still not able to get the help necessary to prevent his ending his life. I lost a friend quite suddenly – she took her own life. She had twin boys , 12 yrs old, who she adored. I tried for years to find a reason as to why she did this. I finally just accepted it, accepted that I will never have an answer. I wish I had something profound and helpful to say. I am just left again feeling shocked and sad about a loss that I cannot make sense of.

  78. I have something I want to post–
    But I want everyone to know that I FULLY realize that my story is not necessarily your story. And that the causes of depression are multicausal. Meaning this isn’t going to be true for everyone. And I understand that. But I want to post it–because if it turns out to be true for someone else, like it was for me, then other people should know about it.

    This is my story (in a nutshell):
    I know what depression feels like. I’ve experienced it.
    Sometimes you feel sad because something sad is happening to you, and sometimes you feel sad because something is working on you spiritually, sometimes you feel sad because you just need some dang sunlight, sometimes you’re sad just because you’re having a crappy day. But sad is different. Sad usually has a reason.
    Depression has no reason. It just is. It’s physiologic. No matter what you do to try to “rally” from it–you just keep coming back to this baseline. Because that’s what it is–your physiologic baseline. It sucks beyond anything I’ve ever experienced.
    I’m really lucky though. I experienced depression enough to know exactly what it is, but in short enough periods of time, that I only had to endure it for awhile.
    The first time I experienced depression was for a 3 month period when I was put on birth control pills by an endocrinologist for PCOS. (polycystic ovarian syndrome–something I’ve had since I was 16)
    It came on so insidiously, that I didn’t even realize what was happening. But by the end of my three months on the pill, I was in such an awful funk of depression that I was ready to stop studying for my tests and flunk out of school. (I was in my third year of veterinary school. I had busted my butt for more than 8 years solid, and literally…after all that, with 3 months of depression, I could almost care less if I didn’t graduate). The best way I could describe it was ‘emotional castration’. I felt asexual, without drive, without color. The world was grey.
    I sat in lecture one day, just wondering to myself. What is wrong with me? What is wrong with me? A small voice in my head popped the question–”maybe it’s the pill?”
    I stopped taking the pill that night.
    The next day I was normal. Literally. Not just ‘better’. I was normal. Only 3 months…and I had almost forgotten what being normal felt like. But just like that…like magic it felt like…I was totally normal. (Note: “normal” isn’t like crazy happy smiley exhuberant…it’s just “normal”. No awful grey, just normal healthy person with normal ups and downs. Normal is a person who can actually ‘choose’ to be happy. Someone who is depressed can’t necessarily do that, at least not in any long term way).
    I can’t tell you the amazing relief I felt. There was actually a REASON for what had been happening in my body. It was one of the most wonderful and thankful discoveries I have ever had.
    The second experience with depression lasted longer than the first. And it didn’t have to do with medication.
    Right around the time I graduated from veterinary school I began to feel myself moving into a depression again. It wasn’t as profound and awful as the birth control experience, but it was sure and steady, and always there. I began to think maybe I had damaged my brain with too much studying. Maybe I was just totally burnt out after so much school. Maybe I was depressed because I was still single. Maybe I was depressed because I was scared about working full time as a professional after entire lifetime of studenthood. Maybe I was depressed because I hated my job. Maybe I was depressed because I was fully an adult now, and adulthood sucks.
    My mind was constantly turning over different hypothesis, and none of them really added up. I was functional, but sometimes just barely. I began to wonder how anyone ever really did anything with passion and zest, when my overwhelming feeling was one of despair and darkness.
    This went on for a solid year and a half.
    Long enough that I know what it feels like to survive and cope.
    I never went on medication, because I never told anyone, and I also didn’t want anyone to put me on medication. Because I didn’t want to treat this like it was long term or permanent, even though all signs were pointing to it.
    Even though it seems unrelated, I should mention that around the same time this year-and-half-long bout of depression set in, I also began to get weird “adult onset” hayfever. I kept getting itchy itchy eyes, post-nasal drip, sinus headaches etc. etc. I was on Zyrtec constantly, I had CT scans done to see I had sinus infections, I took aspirin and motrin for my headaches.
    This relates to the rest of the story, trust me.
    Toward the end of this year and half something happened. I was at that point engaged to be married, and looking at starting a family. I mentioned the PCOS thing…well this can be a real fertility problem. So I was worried about it. My sister had just been diagnosed with celiac disease. She had read somewhere that celiac disease can be familial, and that it can also be sometimes associated with infertility. I decided to get tested.
    Turns out I was positive for gluten sensitivity. Really positive.
    In my fanatical enthusiasm for experiments, I went totally cold turkey off of wheat and gluten. I had been a serious baker of whole-wheat-everything for my entire life up until that point–so this was not easy decision. But I did it, and I did it with gusto. I researched everything containing gluten–from soy sauce to breakfast cereal, and cut it out of my diet completely.
    And here was the miracle:
    Within three days, THREE DAYS…everything went away. Everything. The depression, the hay-fever, the headaches, the itch eyes…everything. It was like that entire year and a half of emotional abyss hadn’t even happened.
    It felt like the most indescribably miracle.
    And like an extra bonus, a bunch of other crazy things went away too, thing that I had had since I was a teenager. Like my PCOS, my awful athlete’s foot, seasonal eczema, and weird fluid retention and edema. Those things went away over a period of 3-6 months. It seems that the first things to show up first in my life as clinical signs took the longest to go away, and the clinical signs that showed up the last were the first to go away.
    But can I tell you how amazing it was to find out that there was a cause for my depression? Of all of the things that were resolved with my discovery of gluten allergy, the thing that meant the most, by far away, was my cure from depression. Nothing is harder than depression. At least nothing that I have yet to experience in life.
    I feel so so deeply for Robin Williams.
    I feel even more deeply for him–because of what he DID while he felt that way. In fact, knowing what depression is–I am in awe of him. How he managed to live his life, build his career, inspire, uplift, try….and the entire time, he was dealing with the awful cloak of depression.
    His story makes me realize he was probably a better man than anyone actually knew. I don’t think I could have accomplished anything close to that during my year and a half in hell.

    I feel very very lucky. And I know that I got some divine help in figuring out my problem.
    My point is this– for some people, there may be a straight forward reason for what’s happening to you. There was for me. And maybe I’m just really lucky, but I have a feeling that I’m not so unique that there aren’t at least some people like me.
    Sometimes the simplest answer is the right one. And in this case it was simple.
    Something I was eating was jacking up my body’s chemistry, and I had to stop eating it.
    I hope this helps someone. Maybe someone out there has similar issues, and just doesn’t know it. It is more than worth a try if you haven’t done so already.

  79. Thank you for speaking out about this. I, too, suffer from post-partum depression. It took me longer than it should have to seek help, and it was because I felt like I would be laughed at and told to “buck up”. Making that first call to my doctor to get help was the best thing I ever did – but I didn’t do it alone. If my husband hadn’t helped, I probably still wouldn’t have made that call. People with mental illness can’t necessarily ask for help themselves, but if they have a trusted person they can talk to and can help them get the help the want and need, things can turn out much better.
    It really does get better, but you have to ask for help!

  80. Thank you for sharing.

  81. Tracy Floeh says:

    Thank you so for being so very brave and sharing your inner-most secrets. I’ve learned that what I thought was too dark to share, once shared, had a heck of a lot more light and resonance for others than I’d realized as evidenced by the ensuing conversation that so often brought me even closer to friends rather than keeping them at a distance because I was hiding my thoughts. By sharing my sadness, I became vulnerable, and that allowed people to relate to me! And here I was thinking I needed to be strong for others when all I was doing was creating an island around myself and keeping others out who really could see thru me, and yet I was the only one on the outside — until I shared….then I found others felt the same or could relate to me in a better, different way. Thank you for sharing your not-so-dark, very relatable story that I’m sure has drawn many to you because of your vulnerability which truly is a strength. Love and blessings.

  82. Your vulnerability is an enormous gift to your readers. I’m so glad you’re doing better. Between that, significant sleep deprivation and your eye surgery, you had a few seriously hard couple of years!

  83. I know why…
    Erica you are doing heroes work with this. Thank you for your courage and passion.
    After 20+ years depression is my constant companion – yes, medicated and managed, but never far from my thoughts. I fear for my grown children. It’s hard to live with the possible consequences my illness may have had, or will have, on their lives… their children.
    Maybe its because I’m a writer, but every time I read an articulate – even strangely beautiful – accounting of someone’s depression I find it a tiny bit more manageable on my end. William Styron wrote “darkness visible”. I always hand that small book to people who need an insight into something so difficult to communicate, especially when one is in the throes.
    Like I said – I know why. Weeks like this when the topic is brought into the light of day are both terrifying and comforting. Not everyone wins this battle. I’m thankful I have thus far.
    I can’t thank you enough~

  84. Thank you. Another great blog that also talks about depression, and anxiety disorder, and still manages to make me laugh out loud (which is really hard to do) is thebloggess.com.

    Many, many years ago I lost my favorite uncle to depression, and Robin Williams’ death has brought all those feelings back. I understand now better than I did back then, since now I live with depression too. I will not self-harm because I know that the depression lies, that the darkness will fade into the background again for a while, and that I will once again feel normal.

    If nothing else, hopefully Robin’s death will let us talk about depression for a while, and hopefully some lives will be saved. A co-worker and I were talking the other day, and she said she didn’t know any one with depression. I said “You know me”, and I think it was a real eye-opener for her. As she said, I am one of the most upbeat, positive people she knows. I fake it really well in public. She has another friend that she is worried about, and we had a great talk about how to bring the subject up, how to reach out to someone you care about, and how insidious depression can be. I saw a description online, and it said that depression was arthritis of the soul. Apt, I think.

  85. Just wanted to add my thanks and support for voicing your story. I’m a firm believer in sharing our stories with one another, especially the ones that feel so loaded with stigma. I’ve shared similar parts of my own story on my little blog. I’ve been on antidepressants for the past two years, and will continue taking my daily pill (thankfully) if that’s what’s needed to keep me and my family safe and happy.

  86. Erica, thanks so much for sharing this. It’s always a huge help to those of us who have traveled that dark and scary road to know that we aren’t alone.

  87. Erica, I’m proud of you for posting this. I’m pregnant right now and struggling with severe antenatal depression, and likely PPD in a couple of months. This is something nobody prepares you for, and there’s such a stigma around discussing it. We’re supposed to keep it quiet and never admit that it’s hard, that we feel broken, how terrifying it is. Well honestly, fuck that noise.

    We SHOULD talk about this and support each other, and get rid of the stigma that keeps moms bottled up about this. It doesn’t mean we’re weak or stupid or anything negative – it means we’re human beings who have valid health issues, and there’s nothing to be ashamed of!

    I’m proud of you for seeking help and realizing you weren’t okay. I’m not okay, either. I’m on Zoloft, too, and it does wonders. You should never, ever have to suffer, and you did a brave thing by reaching out for help.

    It takes some serious balls to admit publicly you’re dealing with stuff like this, to encourage others to seek help if they need it.

    There is no shame in needing help. You’re an amazing author, a wonderful mom, and a lot of us look up to you. I sure do, and I find myself really looking up to you more now that I know you deal with this, too. <3

    Stay strong, and remember that you're not alone!

  88. THANK you.

  89. Thank you for posting this. I have been living with depression since my senior year in high school (which was nigh on fifteen years ago) and what you wrote pretty much hit the nail on the head. Not everyone who is depressed has something to be depressed about. I had nothing to be depressed about, and yet there were times that getting myself out of bed was an insurmountable goal. It does get better, it has gotten better, but when you’re wandering aimlessly through that dark valley and its next to impossible to even imagine that something good could happen again, that is often when people choose to give up. It helped me when I was depressed to hear the stories of those who were once as sad as I was, but were now laughing and thriving again. It helped me to hang on. I hope your story will help someone else to hang on too.

  90. svseekins says:

    Thank you.

  91. April Alexander says:

    Thanks so much for sharing so openly about this topic. I’ve had my own issues with this horrible monster, so seeing people “out” it is really encouraging. From your blogging over the years I would never have known you were going through this. Some people simply shrink away from society, (myself included – yeah, that’s where I went for a while), but to keep connected during all of that says a lot! I can’t help but think that it impacts your writing only for the better, as well as your compassion of course. Also, I think an urban homesteading blog absolutely IS the place to discuss mental health issues! We need to talk about it more, everywhere. Anyway, good work, and congrats again on all of your recent accomplishments! I love stopping by your blog to see what you have cooking.

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