The word depression gets thrown around a lot today. Many people are quick to jump and say that they are depressed when in actuality, they are having a bad day or a bad moment. I have been depressed in my life before, in times where I was hiding who I truly am, but this post isn’t about me today. It is about my fiancée, Samantha.
DISCLAIMER: Samantha knows I was writing this blog post about her and is completely okay with me talking about her mental health.
When we met, I didn’t know it at the time, but Samantha’s family has a history of mental illness and depression. I wouldn’t have guessed by how vibrant, outgoing and confident she is, that inside she carried around a severe amount of anxiety. It wasn’t until later in our relationship that her anxiety would come to the forefront. It all came crashing down on us, when her mother did not support our relationship and essentially kicked her out of the house.
This rejection from her mother heightened all anxieties that Samantha had and sent her into a severe depression. From those outside our relationship, it seemed that Samantha was handling everything in stride. She still found a way to have a good time and seemed to be her outgoing and exuberant self most times. But when it was just her and I, I saw the real pain that she was and, to this day, sometimes is still in. It was hard for her to get up in the morning and engage with the world, it took every ounce of being in her body to get out of bed, rather than crawl back in it. Every day tasks became completely and totally overwhelming, even getting dressed or drying her hair in the morning was a monstrous task. I did my best to support her in any way I could, by helping her put her shoes on in the morning, to checking her emails, to even bringing her to work some days just so she didn’t have to drive.
This horrible time in her life, was exactly three years ago. Samantha could barely see to the next day, let alone try and determine what she wanted for her future. If you had asked her where she would be in three years, I know she definitely would have not said at Quinnipiac University School of Law as a 1L law student pursuing her goal of becoming a lawyer that practices family law and/or juvenile justice. She would have told you you were crazy, that she wasn’t good enough, she wasn’t smart enough, that she couldn’t do it. She felt that nothing was getting better day by day, her depression felt as if it was deepening all the time. She was really struggling and she made it even harder on herself by trying to put on a strong face all of the time and pursue perfection.
Samantha could have given up and given in to her depression and let it dictate who she was going to become. Instead of letting her depression get the best of her, she pushed through each day, she worked hard and I am very proud to say that she is a current law student and, not only is she loving it, but she is excelling at it. She volunteers in class all the time and is happy to spend time with her classmates discussing all things about the law.
How did she go from feeling the world was closing in to being successful now? She got help and she wasn’t afraid to ask for it. She went to therapy, started taking anxiety and depression medications and started to recognize things that brought on high anxiety in order to develop better coping skills. She stopped putting herself in situations where anxiety would increase and understood that some days are going to be better than others.
Samantha feels it is important it be open with her depression to take away the stigma on mental illness and to let others know the importance of getting help.
In her own words, when she texted me recently, she said…
Getting help is so real. My anxiety and depression used to be so bad and now I am succeeding at life. It takes work every day, and it never goes away, but right now I am great. I need to remember the good days when I am having a bad one.
If you need help, don’t be afraid to ask. Know that there is always somewhere you can turn. There will always be bad days, but remember that there will always be good days too. There are plenty of resources out there when you need help, but here is a good one that Samantha used that can be a starting point:
United Way, dial 211 or go to 211.org