Donna Smaldone
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Thursday / September 22 / 2011

The journey of depression through vulnerability and rain

Rainbow after a South Carolina storm, as seen from my parent’s kitchen window (look closely… it’s actually a double-rainbow)

Depression doesn’t mix well with rain. To me, rainy days are like depressed days, vulnerable and crying. Whether you’re a depression sufferer or not, rainy days tend to be… well, depressing.

The moment I hit “publish” on my post, Dealing with depression: a personal story, a slew of doubts flooded my mind questioning, “Should I have shared all of that!?” “Have I become too exposed?” “Will people look at me differently?”

I was in the car with my husband and daughter when my iPhone vibrated. The first comment was in.

So raw. So honest. So shared.

As my eyes scanned the heartfelt words of James Hood, they brimmed with moisture. I closed them softly and let the hot tears cascade down my cheeks. James gave me the gift of affirmation, reminding me precisely why I shared my story.

Comment after comment poured in on my most vulnerable post. Some on my blog, many in private phone calls and emails. Each with a vulnerability of its own. Each with an affirmation of its own. Each touching my heart as I listened to the stories of so many – of sufferers and supporters alike.

I arrived at work the following day to a group hug from Carrie and Patti, gifting me with affirmation. You see, we’re not just co-workers. We are friends. Sharing-life-together kind of friends.

For me, the affirmation was like a rainbow after the rain. A quiet voice reminding me, “your life is not a mistake. you are not alone. keep seeking help until you find what works for you.” I recognized that even in the darkness of depression, there is a ray of hope, shining – and even if it’s only a pinprick beacon, I want desperately to share it with everyone who suffers.

The number of us who suffer with depression – and with people’s misperceptions of depression – is overwhelming. Here’s the truth about depression:
It is not something you can just “get over”.
It is not a personal weakness.
It is not
a choice.
It is not
a dirty little secret that should stay hidden.
It is not just “all in your head”.
It is not a ‘crazy’ issue – at all!
It is not even a ‘sadness’ issue.

You cannot just ignore it and wish it away. When sadness, exhaustion, and apathy begin to take over your life (like they did mine), you need to seek help (like I did) – even (and especially) if you don’t feel like it.

My friends… you are not alone.
My loves… your life is NOT a mistake.

THERE IS HELP. It’s true there is also vulnerability and rain – but with the rain, there also comes a rainbow.

A great place to start is Too Depressed dot com. For creator Martin, it’s personal. He – like many of us – has experienced how damaging depression can be.

Depression is real and is growing alongside the intensified pace and pressures of life. I urge you to reach out to those you cherish. Listen. Learn about coping with and recovering from depression. Care. It matters.

8 responses to “The journey of depression through vulnerability and rain”

  1. James Hood says:

    Recently on my mind… I get angry when people close to me – who know about my depression and should know better – get frustrated with me and say hurtful things, blaming me for making them frustrated.

    I’m sure I’m not alone with this one…

    I’m proud to be mentioned in your post and happy to have helped.

    Love you, Donna!! Hope to see you soon!

    • Donna Smaldone says:

      You warm my heart, James. I’m so thankful for our friendship.

      Indeed you are not alone with this. In fact I read something earlier today from a someone who wrote the following about coping with depression: “I feel myself slipping once again. I’ve been here before. Loneliness and despair, just me and my thoughts, my private struggle. I don’t want much, just to be free from this darkness, this pain, this fear. I wish people didn’t judge. I’m not ‘weak’! I can’t just ‘pull myself together!’ I wish it were that easy. I wish they understood. I wish I didn’t have to pretend. I wish I didn’t have to hide. I wish I wasn’t me!”

      The, “I wish I wasn’t me!” is the most heart-wrenching part.

      Let’s keep putting the word out there, James. There is help. There is hope.

      Love you, too.
      Love, Donna

  2. James Hood says:

    BTW … Rainy days are the worst!!!

  3. Martin says:

    HI Donna
    Today, for me, started with insomia’s wake up call at 4am and had been getting progressively worse since then.

    Where I live it’s spring, the sun is shining and everbody around me seems to be shining too. The rainy day here was mine alone.

    And then I saw your endorsement of my website and the weather inside started looking up. It means an enormous amount to me that you should recommend my work to your readers.

    I’ve never met you, we’ve never spoken or even exchanged e-mails. But it just goes to show the value of sharing and of seeing that you are not alone.

    One of the worst aspects of depression for me is that it has caused me to withdraw from social life. This is the very worst thing to do I know, since we are are social animals and need human interaction to nourish us emotionally. It’s therefore very good to be reminded of the comfort to be gained from the kindness of others.

    Thanks again.
    All the best
    Martin

    • Donna Smaldone says:

      It is my distinct pleasure to recommend your website to my readers, Martin. The depression help strategies you offer on http://toodepressed.com/ are so valuable – to sufferers and supporters alike. Thank you!

      I’m sorry your day started out “rainy” but am glad I was able to help you see a rainbow. I agree wholeheartedly that the withdrawal from social situations is awful. I, by nature, am a very social, extroverted creature and my depression has interrupted that for me. The hardest part is getting there! Once I get there – (whether it be a walk outside with my pup, a gig at a local pub where my husband is playing, or even a dinner with friends) – I, too am reminded of the comfort to be gained from the kindness of and interaction with others.

      I’m always here as a friend. I hope your day is filled with color.

      Love, Donna

  4. Rick says:

    This is a beautiful series, Donna.

    While I don’t suffer from depression in the ways true sufferers do, I can’t imagine anyone doesn’t know just how bad depression can be. All of us have been desperately sad and down for periods of time, and, if depression is anything like that (I suspect it’s much worse), then we all should all be more empathetic toward what depression sufferers go through. I’m just grateful I paid attention to the programs I’ve watched on TV about depression. As a result, I have a much better understanding of what it’s about and how awful it really can be.

    And, as I’ve said before, don’t worry about putting yourself out there. There really is nothing new under the sun. The only thing new is, for the first time, other depression sufferers know you have the same thing, and they will be comforted knowing they are not alone and there is help.

    Great job.

    • Donna Smaldone says:

      Up until a few years ago, I too was just someone who had been “down in the dumps” before. But you’re right, Rick… that is just a mere glimpse into what depression sufferers endure (as I now understand).

      The fact that you would take the time to better know and understand depression, means the world to people like me. Too often, people hold their ground that you can “just get over it” — and nothing could be further from the truth.

      Thank you for your words of support and encouragement.

      Love, Donna

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