Admitting it out loud… I’m depressed.

“Heather, why are you here today?”

“I can’t hear my heart.”

Silence.

This was the conversation with my endocrinologist, gynecologist, primary care physician, functional-integrative physician, psychologist, numerous energy healers, massage therapists and anyone that had an opinion on how to make me feel normal again.

“I can’t hear my heart.”

Technically yes, my heart was beating. It just no longer helped guide my thoughts and actions. And as “aural” and “new-age” as this may sound, it was pretty damn dark.

What I should have said is….
I can’t look at myself in the mirror.
I remember one day making eye-contact with myself in the mirror briefly and immediately broke down crying… on my hands and knees on my bathroom floor sobbing.
I can’t make decisions.
And I’m talking about silly little ones like, what toothpaste should I buy?
I can’t be by myself.
There were moments in my car or in my bathroom where I sat scared and confused just being by myself.
I’m anxious to be around other people.
I didn’t know what to say, how to interact, and truthfully how to hide the truth.
I can’t sleep.
My husband had to hold me down some nights to calm my body and after he’d fall asleep I’d stay awake staring at the ceiling, praying for my mind to stop.
I don’t have a reason to get out of bed in the morning.
Every morning I would lay in bed and try to find a reason to get up. My daughter would have to push me out of bed– it pains me to even admit this.
I can’t work.
And here’s where I thank my fitness instructor colleagues for saving my ass. I felt like such a hypocrite telling students to physically, mentally, and emotionally move their minds and bodies. Hell, I could barely brush my teeth.
I’m scared.
I felt like I was in a shell of a different human, trying to escape and find my original home in my mind and body.
I cannot find joy.
This was most scary because I could typically look at my child or hug my husband and find immediate joy. It was completely gone.

And if things were a little different in our society I probably could have said,
I’m depressed.
Yet for an entire year, I said, “I can’t hear my heart.” So I’m saying it now: I was in an epic battle with depression. And now I’m winning.

I prefer ACTIONS over WORDS. So I tried what I believed was everything (except meds). I eliminated the obvious culprits: gluten, sugar, caffeine, alcohol, and dairy. I added natural supplements, wrote in multiple gratitude journals every morning and evening, exercised, and meditated, (a nearly impossible activity when one cannot focus). I exercised including cardio, strength-training, and yoga. I spent time in nature, drank 12 glasses of water a day, and saw my therapist weekly. I changed my cosmetics and the cleaning supplies in my home to more natural products. I made social plans, went to work, and even volunteered. Still, I couldn’t hear my heart.

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I had been depressed before, but it didn’t feel the same; in fact, those episodes were short-lived — situational depression. Yes, I also experience sadness, but this is an emotion that I can move through quickly by talking to someone or meditating. No, this year-long battle was heavy, debilitating, and critical. After trying everything in my power, and after beating myself up for not being able to control these feelings or talk myself out of it, I found a way out.

With the guidance of my doctors I went on meds and within two days I began to feel a difference. After a week, I returned to my therapist and dove right into some serious work that I call “the fire”. A year later I can proudly say that this formula is right for me. Meds + intense weekly therapy (+ supportive family and friends) = a mentally, emotionally, and spiritually healthy me. This is NOT to say it’s right for you, or it’s what you should recommend to someone you know. I’m sharing my story because I tell it frequently with others and the reactions of widening eyes with, “me too!” are powerful. I am not alone… YOU are not alone. Mental illness is as real as a broken bone; yet, it feels like it’s something to be ashamed of or admitting a huge weakness. And quite frankly, it’s challenging for those on the outside to rally around someone who is so dark.

If you know of someone who may be battling a mental illness, let me tell you from experience that your presence alone is enough. You won’t say the right words and you certainly cannot fix the problem. And if you think you may be experiencing depression, you do not have to continue living your life in the dark. You deserve to live in the light.

Looking back on these two years I pause on a daily basis to give thanks for being alive. I am confident that if I didn’t find this mental health formula, I wouldn’t be writing this today… arms wide open and living in the fire.

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26 thoughts on “Admitting it out loud… I’m depressed.

  • Heather, Heather, Heather…. its like you took the words out of my brain and threw them on paper!! I suffer from anxiety, and thought I could get through this on my own , food and exercise.. didn’t do it. Got on Celexa…. my husband came up and kissed me one night and said Thankyou for making yourself feel better… yes I did it for me but most importantly for my family!!
    Thank you for sharing your story. I think depression and anxiety are 2 things people don’t want to talk about our don’t believe they exist.
    So thank you again!!! If this helps one person you’ve done your job lady!!!!

    • Betsy, thank you for sharing your story with us. We are incredibly lucky for so many reasons and hearing the support from your husband makes me smile. My husband said those same words to me. And a huge YES to healing for yourself and your family. Mental illness is real and it won’t go away by ignoring it. Love to you, my friend!

  • I have tears in my eyes reading this. You are one of the most spectacular people I know, my friend. In every single way. You inspire and give so much to so many others and you mean so much to so many! Never forget that. I’m grateful you’re doing better. You deserve to feel all the happiness and light you put out into the world. I treasure you and our lifelong friendship and I hope you know that I am always hear to listen and support you in any way I can. I LOVE YOU!!!

    • Your presence was tremendous in my healing…. and I know you know that. You inspire me in so many ways and that is why I am able to open up like this. We’re so lucky to be in this red tent together. I cherish you.

  • Heather,
    How beautiful this is, that you opened up your heart and exposed apart of your life that you could have hidden. I just want to say thank you, I think on some level everyone has challenges with depression. I have 2 siblings that face daily. Thank you for speaking out loud.
    Andrea Williams

    • Thank you, Andrea, for sharing your experience with this. Sending healing love to your siblings and especially to you for standing beside them. xo

  • This is awesome….. I am so happy you are better and sharing your experience, strength & most of all hope.
    I had a situational depression two years ago….. I got over it with grace but it was paralayzing.
    Love you

  • Great reading Heather. Thank you for your courage to help people understand they are not alone and there is cure. I admitt my spouse has anxiety and depression. He is been on a treatment for 20+ years. Ignoring is not the right treatment. Love and care is not enough, and it doesn’t go away on its own. It also affects the closest family members. As a wife accepting out loud the illness is in a way part of my life, and present in my household, provides me and my family with tools to support and practice tolerance at home. I thank you all the positive words of encouragement. Blessings!

    • Betty, thanks for sharing you and your spouse’s struggle. Now that I’m better, I can see how my sickness truly affected my children and husband. I said to my husband last night, “I cannot imagine how you felt while I was so dark,” and then thanked him for never leaving me. You are such a warrior to stand beside him. Thank you. I’m holding space for you and your husband with an immense amount of love and strength.

  • Heather, I was depressed for a little bit more than year, 4 years from now and is something that you don’t understand unless you live it. I was alone in that time far from family and friends and it was tough. Now I’ve got a ” ; ” tatoo to remind me that in that “trance” i have the chance to end with everything, “a final point” but something inside makes me instead put a ” ; ” and make my story continue. Congratulations for having overcome yourself, you are a survivor and life now has another meaning now.

    • Marco, THANK YOU for sharing your story! I’ve heard of (and considered) the “;” tattoo… it’s a great reminder! Congratulations to you, for continuing your story, for being a survivor, and for letting people know that they’re not alone. Love to you!

  • Thank you, Heather. I’m in both sad and grateful tears. I have been going to your classes for the past four years as my “therapy” session to try to control the anxiety that is obviously getting worse everyday. Since June I have been softly crying while in savasana…shamefully thankful for the low light and sweat to mask the red eyes and tears as I attempt to stuff everything back into its box of “I’m just fine. Next week will be better. You’ve got this.” I am not fine. And it is nearly unbearable to think that maybe, just maybe, we were both feeling the same way at the same time. Both of us pretending and hiding that we were/are being silently crushed by our own thoughts and emotions. Thank you for giving me hope that I too can come out of this. It is time to say depression aloud and ask for help. Thank you for sharing your story and the awesomeness that radiates from you every time I see you.

    • Abbie, I hope to see you tomorrow in class. Fridays have also been my therapy, so thank you for helping me. Just so you know, you’re not the only one crying in savasana and you’re certainly not the only one being “silently crushed”– what a beautiful way to put it. I hear you, I see you, and I feel you. Any awesomeness you feel is truly a reflection of you. Thank you, Abbie, for saying aloud what you’ve been stuffing back into the “fine” box. Fine is fine, but I’d rather experience the darkness and light. (Maybe that’s because I’m not in the darkness right now.) You are loved.

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