• http://xanga.com/madewyn ~Mad(elyn)

    I couldn’t read all 700+ comments. However, I read enough to know that folks are sending you kudos on this post.

    DITTO!DITTO! DITTO!

    You tell ‘em, Heather!

  • http://secretlifeofx.wordpress.com the unexpected

    Now I know why you close comments. Looks like you forgot this time.

  • http://dearhearts.org Joey

    I’ve always felt that my blue moods (I can’t even bring myself to call it depression) are a fixed part of who I am. I know it doesn’t seem logical, but taking steps to change them (even for the better) would change me, and I didn’t want that.

    And then last year my brother killed himself.

    One of my first thoughts was “Damn, I guess that’s no longer an option for me, now”.

    I’m coming around to the idea that making changes isn’t such a bad idea, after all.

    Thank you.

  • http://www.mommountain.blogspot.com Alison

    I’m a lurker.
    Thank you for this post. I was diagnosed with ppd after my daughter was born. I tried Wellbutrin and didn’t like it. It didn’t help me. Therapy worked WONDERS! I cannot tell you how much I owe to my therapist.
    I have been studying to be a counselor for 2 years and it took me forever to bring myself to the point where I was ready to get help. I, the therapy student, couldn’t see that I desperately needed therapy.
    Thank you so very much for sharing.

  • http://sanctitysabbatical.blogspot.com/ Strizz

    That made me cry. Thank you. Doesn’t it feel good to actually feel good?

  • Andrea

    YES!!!!!!! Thank you Heather for sharing this. I agree 100%, there is too much negative stigma about asking for help or being prescribed medicine.

    Depression and other diseases in the mental health field are just that… diseases. They require medicine and assistance just like any other health concern. It’s time to take away the negative connotations about taking a step towards overall health.

    Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  • http://pineappleluv.blogspot.com Jamie

    This is an absolutely beautiful post. This is true giving and I am sure a lot of people needed your gift.

  • http://mchat.comicgenesis.com Not Your Typical Mama

    Brav-O, Heather! I have been reading your blog for so long, and I just have to say that you and your family are amazing.
    What you said spoke so clearly to me and I cannot even articulate how much I TOTALLY relate.
    Thank you for being brave enough to tell your truth.
    I will always be a loyal reader. Seriously, I *heart* you.

  • http://talesfromthedadside.blogspot.com/ SciFi Dad

    I have been reading your posts for over a year now, but have rarely commented. However, I felt like I should say something here.

    It’s nice to see the “real” Heather. And I mean no disrespect in that. I realize you’re likely sarcastic and self-deprecating in real life, but I doubt you’re like that 100% of the time. Yes, I get that humour sells (or gets readers) but I must admit it’s a nice change to see something so real. I know you write the letters to Leta every month, and I enjoy them too, but there’s a difference between the stuff you’ll “say” to your daughter and this post.

    I just wanted to thank you for that, in the hopes of encouraging you to do it more often, if you’re so inclined.

  • http://triloquist.blogspot.com Ron

    BRAVO, Heather!

    You’ve got the biggest gonads I’ve ever seen on any human being!

    And THANK YOU!

  • sara in boston

    How therapeutic was it to write that?!?

    Thanks!

  • Sarah

    I just wanted to comment again about the problem with health insurance and depression. I know my health insurance is good and I’m thankful for that. But it is December and my insurance no longer covers my therapist visits and can no longer afford to see my psyhchologist for the year. Both of these people have helped me immeasurably, I can’t imagine the people who don’t have health insurance who can’t wait a month to see their doctor. Something is wrong with the system.

  • Kay

    I just want to say I love you and I finally went to a psychiatrist for my depression after reading your blog over a year ago. I grew up in a religious home and Faith was the only thing you needed to get through the trials of life. I started taking Wellbutrin and instantly I was better. I never new what it was like to feel “normal”. You rock and I am so glad that you have this site, I don’t miss a day. My family does not understand, but thank God I have a fiance that has supported me and actually helped to pay for my treatment when I didn’t have insurance. Anyway, you keep doing what you do, because you’re wonderful and I am so happy that you have found the right combination to live a happy life.

  • Anonymous

    thank you.

  • http://www.shamelessripoff.blogspot.com karla

    One of my friends has been in a dark depression for as long as I have known her. For some reason she thinks it makes her “weak” for having to take medication. I think this post might be the thing that helps. Thank you for being so vulnerable.

  • Nat W

    Right on. Everyone with mental health issues should shout it from the rooftops. I’m OCD and have been taking meds for it since I was 16–I’m not ashamed of it, and whenever my obsessions/compulsions hit, I take that opportunity to educate people about OCD. No, we’re not all germophobes (you should just see my room). Yes, we’re able to function if given the right tools–MEDS. So here I am, shouting it to the Internets: I HAVE OCD! I AM NOT ASHAMED OF IT, NOR OF THE FACT THAT I HAVE TO TAKE MEDICATION TO FUNCTION SOMEWHAT NORMALLY.

    (God bless Luvox, I don’t know where I’d be without it.)

    Also, for the record, for the people who won’t take meds because of the side effects, Luvox is an SSRI, and I have had zero negative side effects in the seven years I’ve been taking it.

  • http://sanctitysabbatical.blogspot.com/ Strizz

    Also I never tell people what they want to hear and frankly they come to me knowing that I will likely spurt the first thing that comes to mind at them and it will always be the honest to goodness truth of the matter. That is what true friends and real people do. Blurt it out.

  • Karen

    Bravo! You are a brave woman and I commend you. Lexapro saved my marriage and my soul. I wish more people would understand. My own mother doesn’t know I take the drugs because she would just tell me to “get over it”.

  • Anonymous

    This will, absolutely, be your most important post.

  • Grateful

    I needed to hear this tonight. I’ve spent the week off of work with the “flu” when in reality I couldn’t get out of bed because it’s all so overwhelming and exhausting and scary. Thank you.

  • http://www.zanthan.com/gardens/gardenlog/ mss @ Zanthan Gardens

    I think the following link from Intueri, explains why many people are afraid to face the concept of mental illness in their own lives.

    http://www.intueri.org/2007/12/06/violence-and-psychiatric-diagnoses/

    As more and more people like you stand up and say, there is nothing to be ashamed of, I hope that we will see a change.

  • http://thediscriminatingsun.wordpress.com Masontae Louis

    Skin cancers and melanomas are the curse of God against white people for their skin sins and continued evil of today. In Daniel, Isaiah and Revelations God warns He will curse the evil with the Sores That Do Not Heal. Skin cancer and melanomas are these sores.

    Based on their skin color, whites exalted themselves above everyone else on the planet and called everyone else: ugly, evil and inferior.

    Now, that giving everyone else life burns whites’ skin.

    That giving everyone else life is God. The sun is God. The sun hates white people. God Hates White people.

    God has fixed His holy light to discriminate between black and whites so that it burns the whites.

    Ultraviolet light is the fire of the 2nd Rapture burning evil from the earth.

    Thank God!

  • justme

    thank you. thank you. thank you.

  • Alice

    I think it’s possible to say to your friend, “hey, I had some similar problems and I tried these things and this worked for me. It may not work for you, but if you want to talk about some options and what they’re like, I have a latte and an hour (or two) waiting for you.”

    My best friend went through some very rough times in college and although I was always there for her, I didn’t really understand. But just by being there – 4 years of college, roommates for 3 – she let me in, trusted me, and I learned so much about depression because she let me know what was going on. When I had depression myself after graduating, I really could see myself through what she had gone through. It helped so much to know someone else’s experience.

  • Anonymous

    I was in tears reading this entry. I had a friend who was suffering from severe post partum. She also had a family history of bi-polar disorder. I tried to convince her to get help, a Dr, medication, therapy, anything. Her husband thought she should just suck it up. She told me not to tell anyone about her problems, but I was afraid of what would happen if i kept my mouth shut. She found out I had talked to someone about it and said I violated our friendship. She chose to end our friendship because of it. I think about her almost everyday and pray that she has found a way to cope with her depression.

  • http://www.hopelyn.com HOpe

    I’m sure your story will help people. I was so against going to therapy. I figured I was always known as the strong one who could handle anything, I didn’t need anyone’s help. My mom died suddenly when I was 17 and I had to help raisemy 6 year old brother and help run a household. Nope, no therapy for me because I can handle anything.

    Ten years go by and my husband up and leaves me. I was a complete disaster and was hitting rock bottom. When I couldn’t leave the house for days at a time and was becomming more and more suicidal, I bit the bullet and went in for therapy. You know what? I liked it. I liked my doctor and after a while it felt good to unload all my crap on her, big or small. I could complain and not feel guilty! And afterwards, things would be in perspective so I could deal.

    I also started medication and it’s changed my life. I didn’t know how low I was until the meds kicked in. I still feel every emotion, I can just deal with them and the things around me much better. I quit the drugs cold turkey last summer and I was a mess. Luckily a friend sat me down and said this wasn’t the right thing to do or way to do it and I went back on. I’m thankful every day I have the meds to keep me sane and the therapy as needed when things get a bit too much for me.

    For anyone who’s dealing with these issues, get help, the help that’s right for you.

  • http://www.jimmyandrod.blogspot.com/ Erinn

    Heather…What you said is dead on correct. It’s exactly the way I feel. People don’t get it when I say I will NEVER go off meds. I did it once, and why the hell would I ever do it again? I’m not human when I’m not medicated. (well, I’m not human anyway, but that is besides the point). Thank you for putting it into words so perfectly.

    Erinn

  • Karen

    I was having through the roof anxiety last week after minor surgery. I had to come home from work, I was freaking out my friends and I couldn’t calm down.
    I went to my shrink on an emergency squish in appointment. She asked if I was taking my anti-anxiety meds.
    “I didn’t know if I should,” I said.
    It took her a few minutes to convince me.
    She saves my life every time my shrink. She brings me back from the bizarre edge of anxiety-driven confusion every time.
    It took me years and many counsellors to find her but here she is.

  • Anonymous

    Medication and therapy have helped my mother and sister. I know it is in the family and would take advantage of it if I ever needed it. I proudly support everything you have said!

  • Danielle

    Thank you so much for sharing. It took me about 6 months to admit to myself and my mother that i had all the signs of depression, and another 4 months to break down and see a doctor for medication. What’s so crazy is that i have a degree in psychology, and have worked with people with mental health issues for about 6 years, so i KNEW that i needed meds, that i couldn’t fix it on my own. it still amazes me to this day just how far down in a hole i was. so glad im not alone in this feeling!

  • Anonymous

    This kind of hit home for me. I most definitely am obsessive compulsive. I have been for most of my life, but since college it has only gotten worse, and instead of just a constant need to clean everything, my anxiety has increased to many other aspects of my life (fitting in socially, being safe in my own home, etc.). I did see a therapist for a few months a couple of years ago, but I stopped going. I find it very difficult to even begin to address this problem and to actually talk to someone about it. I’m also terrified of taking medication for it, whether I’m being irrational about it or not.

    I think there is some kind of comfort in being surrounded in anxiety that is at least familiar. As miserable I get sometimes, the world of drugs is unknown and scary. I could go on and on with excuses, and I do realize they are just excuses after all.

    Anyway, I’m sure this is all very familiar to what you went through, so I won’t go any further. I do appreciate how candid you are about this, and maybe I’ll actually e-mail back the woman at student health I talked to months ago and follow up with her.

  • http://www.adriel.com Adriel

    Thank you. You are a hero, and I applaud you.

  • Nicole

    Thank you, Heather. Your candidness, I’m sure, has helped a lot of people like me. I’ve been battling anxiety for my most of my life and when I am low I often feel like I am the only person in the world who is just not programmed to be happy. I am 8 months pregnant right now and still on my meds. It was a difficult decision to make and harder still when one therapist I saw threw his pen across his desk and started rubbing his head when he heard about “the irreparable damage I was doing to my child” My baby is doing very well, and I know I made the right decision seeing how difficult some days can be and wondering how much worse they could be if I didn’t stick with my medication. Your blog helped reinforce that for me. So, thank you.

  • http://blueeyedbookworm.blogspot.com/ Carrie

    I am eternally grateful the brilliant scientists who came up with the medications that my sister and my husband take daily to deal with their depression (and in my sister’s case, anxiety–her experience is similar to yours although she was younger when she had her breakdown that led to a hospital stay). My younger sister suffered from postpartum depression and was on medication for several months after her first and I believe her husband is on anti-anxiety medication. I wasn’t joking (much) when I commented one year that I would be one of the rare non-medicated family members at a holiday as several of my cousins and an aunt or two are also on antidepressants. I firmly believe it has saved more than a few lives in my family and I’ll loudly proclaim the benefits of these various medications. Unfortunately, a dear friend did commit suicide a few years ago because his wife had convinced him that if “his faith was strong enough” he could pray his way out of depression. I’m still angry at her and her amazing stupidity that essentially killed my friend. So, thank you for this very eloquent and very necessary post. I hope it finds those who need the reassurance that it’s OK to need help.

  • Kristen

    Heather
    I found your website in June of 2006 and read through all your archives. In December of 2006 (I was 25 at the time) I FINALLY went to the doctor for the depression that had been crippling my life since I was 13. I know that Wellbutrin saved my life. But I also believe that you helped. It was your honesty that made me open my eyes and get the help that I so desperately needed.
    I never sought help before that because I was embarassed but it was the best decision of my life and I regret not doing it sooner.
    So thank you Heather, for everything you do. For helping me and the countless others you have helped.

  • Carole

    I have been severely depressed and manic since I was about sixteen. I am 38 now. I have been on Wellbutrin for about seven years and it has changed my life for the better in so many ways.

    Every once in a while I will go off my meds, thinking I can handle this and sometimes I miss my old manic self (I was able to get so much more done when was crazy!). I don’t know why I do this because it invariably ends up hurting me or someone I love.

    Reading this blog just makes me more aware that I have a disease and I need medication to deal with it. Period. I can never go off this medication and that is just my life.

    It still saddens me in a way and probably always will but your words make the sting and the stigma associated with it much easier to bear. Thank you so much Heather. And thank you fellow blog readers. It comforts me so much to know I am not alone.

  • rhea

    thank you for sharing

  • Whitney

    Heather,

    I too have wanted to say those things to my friends and family but have not.

    I have likely been depressed since I was a child but my mother always saw my attitude as a weakness and that I just need to snap out of it. You can’t just snap out of heart disease (which she has), a person can’t just snap out of cancer. Depression is a disease and it must be treated and can be cured just like heart disease and cancer.

    I lost most of friends and my entire family when my depression reached the worst. I had friends who wouldn’t even speak the word Zoloft out loud as though it were some awful word. I had friends and family both tell me that if I would just stop answering the phone when the ex-boyfriend called that I would be fine. Depression cannot be cured by not answering the phone, it takes medical and talk therapy. It should also include the support of friends and family but sometimes it is “changing” your friends and “leaving” your family that can be the best thing.

    I am happy to say that I am no longer in a place where I require Zoloft but I still keep the bottle in my medicine cabinet as a reminder to myself that if I ever get in that place again, it is okay to take medication. I do occasionally have sad days or weeks but no longer months or years. I do have a fear of going back to that place when I get sad (even for a minute). I worry sometimes that I am too happy and my life is too good. My therapist (who I don’t see anymore, but probably should) told me when I raised the question of how a person can go from incredibly sad to incredibly happy in matter of three months, that it is okay to be happy and there doesn’t have to be a reason why. He also said that it is okay to be sad but there should be a reason why.

    I worry about getting involved in another relationship because I worry that I will get hurt and then get sad and start the spiral all over again. I worry about having children because I worry that the hormones during pregnancy will send me into a tailspin. What I do know is that if I survived the last 30 years of my life and over the last two years became the woman I want to be I can survive anything.

    Kudos to you Heather. It seems as though you have a wonderful and supportive family and a strong knowledge of the crippling power of mental illness. I do wish that the rest of the world wouldn’t think of mental illness as something that cannot be spoken about, maybe one day we will see that world. I know that I will be alive to see that day because I am now in a place where I want to wake up everyday and live. It took me a long time to get where I am and I have never been happier.

  • Anonymous

    I think the biggest hurdle to seeking help for my own depression is myself – my inability to admit weakness or that I failed at being ‘normal’. I have a 2 children I love madly but I find myself thinking suicidal thoughts more and more and the thought of them without a mother is not the deterrent it used to be.

    You may very well have saved my life today.

    Thank you.

  • another heather

    in all this i find myself wondering about people who choose medication, who are enabled by medication, but refuse to change anything in their lives that might be causing the need for medication. it’s like a band-aid solution. while medication is incredibly positive, and at times very necessary, what about all the other things that are affecting ones brain chemistry? what about the conditions and situations we put ourselves in? what about issues we refuse to look at and/or deal with?
    while i would never condemn anyone for being on medication, there are those that i would ask to critically evaluate their positions and choices (as with anything else) and try to take responsibility where it need be taken.
    mental health, in my opinion, is something that needs to be looked at holistically (not herbally or alternatively, but in a ‘whole’ way). if someone is just popping pills and not looking at the context of the need for said pills…well, that seems highly irresponsible and problematic.
    point being, i support this post but am mildly irked by the hundreds of posts of encouragement that appear to lack much critical thought behind them. we need to support eachother, but not blindly.

  • Kelly

    Some people would never consider not taking thier medication for thyriod disease, high blood pressure or cancer. But no fucking way will they take medication for mental illness. Huh? What part of illness do they not get. Or is a chemistry imblance in your brain not “real”. “Better living through pharmacuticals” is my motto. Heather, thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing your journey

  • jessa

    First, yes. This was awesome and brave and an important thing to say.

    Second, it’s also a bit one sided. Which is mostly okay, because you are only one person. And while I am SO glad that there are apparently so many people who have such a rosy view of psychiatry, it is not always so rosy. Yes, I take medicine. Yes, I am eternally grateful for it. But no, I would never involve myself further in than that again. There are abuses (subtle and gross) and there are a lot of lies. And psychiatry would love to portray itself as being as rosy as you have found it. But it does not admit to having a moral/political/social agenda. I think that it is okay for it to have political leanings, but to portray itself as “objective” while masking its agenda is not okay. (The abuses within psychiatry are my ax to grind.)

    Third, I don’t mean to be a party pooper. I just want to be the voice that says, “don’t forget to use your head.” At a time when people are so vulnerable and desperate for help, remember that mental health professionals are not magicians. Even if it seems like it. When people call them magicians, that is called a hyperbole.

  • http://reluctantbeating.com/ sarah

    As someone who works in the mental health field, AMEN! You are doing the most responsible thing that can be done: seeking out and accepting help. Thank you for using this platform to inform and encourage as well as amuse.

  • Kathleen

    I know that this will get lost in the fray, but I wanted to thank you. I am a widow due to someone being “RIGHT” instead of getting the help he accepted once and eschewed later.

    I am friend to a person going through a dark time now. He knows that medicine is good. Will tell you to take it. Hates it for himself. He’s found bottom again and, thankfully, has sought help. This post came at the perfect time to send to his wife. To give her support. I have directed her here.

    Thank you.

  • http://www.greenduckies.blogspot.com DM

    I love you. You have summed up exactly how I feel about Effexor. My doctor saved my life by prescribing it and I will never ever stop taking it.

    There should not be any shame in this and yet there is. I don’t understand it. But finally I learned not to care. These are my happy pills. They stop me from stabbing random people with forks. They stop me from throwing myself out a window. This is a good thing.

    Thank you again for your strength in writing this.

  • PammyT

    preach the good word girl. right there with you. thanks for sharing.

  • http://imaveg.blogspot.com/ plue

    I’ve started doing some research on adoption and came across an faq item that upset me because potential parents on medication for mental illness are not allowed to adopt. You need to be off medication for 2 years in order to qualify. About twelve years ago I had been treated for depression and two years afterwards I became well enough to go off medication. Recently I’ve had trouble sleeping due to anxiety and was going to make an appointment with my doctor until I did the adoption research. I’m still going to seek help, but I might have to seek therapies that aren’t going to hurt our qualifications. So of course now I feel guilt on all these new levels.

  • http://nonsenseandchaos.wordpress.com/ madnessanddreams

    I don’t know how you’ll ever read all these comments, but I’ll toss in my two cents anyhow.

    Anxiety is just my life. It always has been, even when I was a kid. I was a real odd kid–I had odd fears and I was always worrying about something. I didn’t even consider it a treatable problem–I was just a weak person, obviously. I mean, everyone else could get over things like stage fright, why couldn’t I?

    In my freshman year of high school I met the other half of my personal hell-depression. I hid it from my parents because I was ashamed through all of high school, and it’s taken a year and a half of college to finally get me on meds. When I started seeking meds a few months ago, I initially wanted them just for the crippling depression, but my counselor has finally convinced me that the anxiety is something I need help with as well.

    Today is the beginning of my third week on Celexa, and I still have mixed feelings about it. But two weeks ago, I was absolutely miserable, and today I started to… wake up. And it’s amazing.

    I have several aunts/second cousins that need anti-depressants/other crazy pills to get through life, so it is likely that I will never get off these meds. And that scares me a little. So thanks for the (amazingly timed) reassurance. And sorry for the huge comment.

  • Anonymous

    reading your blog has helped me in so many ways. knowing i am not the only one who has to deal with these things and that even though it may be a constant battle, it is a winnable one, is invaluable. thank you.

  • Anonymous

    This is so completely foreign to me. Completely. I didn’t have PPD with any of my children and while I do sometimes say I feel “depressed,” I really do not know what that means in the very real sense of the word. I think, though, that beyond recognizing you need help, other people need to realize that it’s not just something you turn off and on at will, but something that needs to be treated, with meds or therapy or a combination of the two. A friend of mine does suffer in the way you describe and we often have conversations about how she wishes her family would just understand that it’s different for her, that she can’t just “snap out of it” like they demand. They don’t have to know what it feels like, she says, but just know that it’s difficult. I can’t give her the relief she needs, but I hope that in a small way at least understanding that I know it’s harder for her helps.