Donna Smaldone
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Tuesday / February 07 / 2012

6 truths to normalizing depression (part II of II)

“If depression is creeping up and must be faced, learn something about the nature of the beast. You may escape without a mauling” – Dr. R.W. Shepherd.

I love this quote currently featured on Martin’s website, TooDepressed.com.

An accomplished writer about depression help strategies, Martin has been close, personal friends with the fear of being stigmatized as mentally ill. He’s not alone.

In Part I of this post, we dissected the stat that 54% of people believe depression is a personal weakness by examining at the raw, honest comments of my readers.

Throughout my personal, laborious journey of depression, I found a lifeline. A lifeline I vowed to share.

I compiled a list of important truths that are crucial to winning the fight against this malady. Whether you suffer with depression yourself or know someone who does, this list is for you.

6 Truths To Normalizing Depression

(1) This journey is not intended to be taken alone. Talk, process, and share with those who love you. Do it NOW. Remember this is new for both of you. Your experience will be built together along the journey. Emanate patience. You are not the only person in the world who feels this way. You are not alone.

(2) Seek help. What a relief it was to learn my condition has a name… and there is help. A request (or cry) for help is a critical part of healing. Depression does NOT get to win. Admission of sadness, apathy, and exhaustion are things you (and a loved one, if available) should bring to your family practitioner, your counselor, psychiatrist, psychologist — or any combo therein.

(3) Find your individual solution. There are no pat answers. What “works” for someone else may not work for you. Just as what “works” for you the first time, may not work the 2nd time, or 3rd. Persevere.

(4) If meds help – TAKE THEM. It’s not important whether you stay on them for a defined period of time or for life — what matters is the help they provide along the way. There is NO shame in taking meds to treat depression, just as there is no shame in taking Excedrin when you have a headache.

(5) Understand “normal” may look differently now than it used to. Your “normal” before depression isn’t necessarily your “normal” now — but in no way is that a bad thing. It’s just something you should be aware of so that nine months down the line, you’re not beating yourself up for “still not being normal”.

(6) Be an advocate. Don’t be afraid to talk about it. It takes education and repetition to catch the light of truth and attention. Let’s let the whole world in on it. [NOTE: before you openly share someone else’s personal story of depression, please be sure you have their permission.]

Friends, let’s change the way the world talks about this illness. Just as we respect the legitimacy of uninvited ailments like cancer and multiple sclerosis, we must recognize and respect the legitimateness of depression. Working together through communication and education, we can “normalize” depression. Thank you for being part of the solution.

6 responses to “6 truths to normalizing depression (part II of II)”

  1. Sue says:

    Thank you Donna for being such a wonderful advocate! Your words, your sharing and your commitment will help many. xo

  2. Martin says:

    Thank you so much for your kind words Donna. I don’t think anyone’s ever called me an accomplished writer before. You are too kind.

    I’ll admit my ignorance here and say that I don’t really know who Dr Shepherd is or was. I just thought the quote was apt for the way that I wanted to approach depression.

    In fact, if I were to be permitted to add a seventh truth if would be to follow the good Doctor’s advice: learn what you can about the nature of depression, because it helps you to maintain some sense of control over what’s happening to you. In short it helps you to feel less helpless.

    As Dr Shepherd also said “you handle depression in much the same way you handle a tiger.” But as you say, there is no one size fits all. We all need to seek our own solutions to help us avoid the mauling.

    By the way, I agree with all your truths and think number 5 is especially insightful. Accepting ‘what is, now’ is big step forward (or, so I’ve heard 🙂 ).

    Thanks again for including me and for these great insights.

    • Donna Smaldone says:

      You are welcome, Martin! And thank you for doing what you do… providing a resource for open dialogue or just listening. You are making a difference and you are appreciated.

      Love the added 7th truth. Thanks for your insights.

      Love,
      Donna

  3. Kathleen Brady says:

    My “normal” before depression was, younger, not a mom, only servicing my needs, single and liking it. I don’t think that is my normal now or will be, except for the single part, and I choose to be single or dating than be in something just because I’m lonely. I like number 5). It’s making me realize that maybe before becoming a mom, maybe I wasn’t normal, just in a different time of my life when I never experienced depression. Maybe I was so active and healthy, that if I was so called depressed, I was just sad. Now that I’m a mom and life is NOT where I thought I’d be both with emotional and physical aspects, that I tend to think that I’m depressed. I have chosen to take a better trip thru life this year and that takes courage and a long look at yourself and being kind to yourself. I’m doing the best I can to stop beating myself up all the time, because that was the trigger that usually spiraled me into depression.

    Thanks for your posts Donna, kathleen

    • Donna Smaldone says:

      Things really do change with time and circumstances, don’t they? I appreciate what you’ve shared with us here, Kathleen. Thank you so much.

      I really like how you say, “I have CHOSEN…” — we cannot choose whether or not we are depressed, but we can certainly choose to seek help — and that is how we gain control (something I’m a big fan of!)

      Thank you for your courage, your willingness to keep learning, and your beauty – both inside and out.

      Love,
      Donna

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