Did I get your attention with that title?! Good- Now we can talk about the topic that I want to discuss, rather than this being a tribute to Dr. Dre & weed (although, lol).
Last month I talked about going through some stressful events in the past year, that had nothing to do with Covid-19. One of them was something that I wasn’t totally surprised by, but was a pain in the ass nonetheless: being diagnosed with Chronic Depression, or Persistent Depressive Disorder. I’ve talked about my mental health journey in past posts, and it’s not something I keep to myself, because, like with my cancer journey- if I can help just one person by telling my story, then I’ve accomplished something.
For most of 2020 I enjoyed “time off” of an antidepressant. It was the first time in almost twenty years that I was not taking something, and it felt good- until those little feelings started to resurface. You know those feelings- a little sadness here, a little hopelessness there, a little crying every now and then. After like two weeks of feeling those things, I knew that something was up, and that I didn’t want it to go any further. Cue psychiatrist.
The psychiatrist that I’d seen for around twenty years had recently retired, so I made an appointment with a new one. The new doctor is an older woman, who is totally kick-ass in what she does, and I consider myself lucky to have found her. After an in-depth discussion of my past experiences, and the medications that I had tried, what was currently going on in my life, etc., she just said it like it is: “After one time of being diagnosed with depression, I’d try another medication for a time. After two or three times, though, I have to say that you have what is called Chronic Depression, and will most likely need a low dose of antidepressant for possibly the rest of your life. No one wants to hear that, but if you want to feel better, you’ll need to come to terms with it.” Whoa. I most certainly didn’t want to hear that, but you know, after going through loss, cancer, etc., I know that going forward I want to have the best life that I can, and that means the best quality of functioning, as well as physical health and experiences. So, my relationship with Effexor XR was reunited- and it feels so good, lol.
My first instinct with all things health is to try and understand what everything means. You know what that means. Google. Now- I know that Google can either lead you to useful information, or needlessly scare the shit out of you, so I went in with my eyes open! What I immediately found was so interesting, and I want to share it with all of you. Now, we’ve all heard of the Seven Deadly Sins, and Dante’s Inferno describes the Seven Levels of Hell, and even Buddy the Elf went through the Seven Levels of the Candy Cane Forest before going through the Swirly Twirly Gumdrops, but did you know that there are SEVEN common types of depression? WOW. Here’s a cool visual I found that names them all:
This representation tells me something that is important for all of us to here: I am NOT ALONE. My story could be someone else’s story- it could be YOUR story, and I want you to know my experience, so that you are not afraid to get help if you need it, and know that it’s okay and normal to feel any way that you do.
So, for May, which is Mental Health Awareness Month- I want you to all know that you are never alone in your struggles, and help is all around. Don’t ever feel less-than for feeling different, and don’t ever be afraid to tell your story- it could end up being the guidebook for someone else.
Love to each of you.
Jennifer Angarano Ricci is a wife, mother & creative soul-searcher. She is a musician, artist, and baker, and runs her home business Baked By Jen, in addition to running her local community theater group. She loves to sing, create and help others and tries to connect all three passions whenever possible.