• Jenn

    Yeah, what you said.

    Some of us will be on brain medication for the rest of our lives. And there’s no shame in it. We just need to keep talking about it without shame, and maybe the rest of the world will come to understand.

  • Sally

    Heroic post.

  • Virtue

    Well done Heather.
    One of the worst things about suffering mental illness is the loss of confidence it can cause you to experience. It took me a couple of years to realise that I was actually a lot “saner” than the major personality disorder sufferers that contributed to the “intense interpersonal stress” which precipitated my thankfully brief breakdown. Medication assists you through those crises, but it’s the counselling that helps you to see yourself back in a valid perspective again.
    I have often wished there was a blog/forum where people could anonymously relate their experiences of psychological disorder, and seek advice and support from those of us who have come through it successfully. My brief psychosis was actually really interesting, and I can see the delusion sometimes as my way of sorting serious problems I had turned my back on, and attempted to walk away from.

  • Michelle

    Heather,

    I recently lost my mother, who was bi-polar and basically shunned by society for her mental illness. I can’t thank you enough for letting thousands of people know how important it is to get help and not be ashamed to do so. What hurts me most is people who don’t have a fucking clue and turn the other cheek to mental illness. The people who don’t take the time to understand how to deal with or be a friend to a person with mental illness REALLY iritates the hell out of me! I have fallen into a deep depression since the loss of my beautiful, intelligent, and loving mother and I finally made the decision to go on an anti-depressant to help me out of this dark hole. So, thanks again for your post today, for showing us we’re not alone and for giving us a voice as well.

  • Jakki

    And this honest heartfelt blog is a wonderful Chrismas present to us all!

  • http://rocky-thisisme.blogspot.com/ Gale

    I am going to copy and paste this and send it to my girl friend who is going through some heavy duty stuff. I love your blog and stop in daily.
    thank you for entries.

  • Rebecca

    Thank You.

  • http://www.kismetropolis.com Indigo

    I have had a lot of the same thoughts you describe here.

    It helps to feel like I’m not shouting into a great emptiness with no one hearing or understanding.

    It helps to know someone else feels the way I feel and understands.

    My depression is managed right now…but I might end up on meds again someday, and I’ll know that’s the right thing to do.

    I’ve made the diabetes comparison before. But sadly, only other people suffering depression ever seem to get it.

  • Jenny

    Amen.

  • Marie

    Anxiety runs in my family. I had problems when I was in 5th and 6th grade. i couldn’t eat…couldn’t sleep. I was constantly worried about throwing up. I know. That sounds goofy but that is my biggest fear. I went to therapy a got better. Then years later it came back. Worse than ever. I became agoraphobic and could not leave my house..not even to step outside to get my mail. It was horrible. I found a wonderful therapist that spcialized in agoraphobia and he came to my house and helped me overcome it. It is amazing how liberating walking back into a store after 7 months can be. I still deal with anxiety on a pretty daily basis. I am not one of those care free people. I have good days and bad days. Some days a crowded mall does not bother me. Others it chokes me a causes me to go home to “safety.” I will be starting therapy again in January since my insurance for my new job finally kicked in. I do feel that maybe meds could help me even more but I am afraid of them. Since my biggest fear is throwing up ( That has a technical name but I can not remember it) I am terrified to try any medication because of the side effects. Anyone have any advice on that one?

  • http://reensplace.blogspot.com Reen

    Thank you -

    – For sharing your struggles with depression. Hearing someone else with a lot of the same feelings I have is beyond comforting.

    – For continuing to speak out about the benefits of medication. These are not to be treated lightly, but they can be and have been a lifesaver for me.

    Though I do not personally know you, would not recognize you on the street, I feel a little less alone in my own sadness hearing that someone else has felt the same things.

  • Rachel

    I can’t believe you wrote this today. This exact topic has been on my mind a lot recently, so much so that I even read through your ‘depression’ archives only yesterday.

    My mum is someone that needs to be medicated all the time, too. But she will never admit there is something wrong, even now. She stopped her meds and ended up in a hospital, and not by choice. The only reason she is medicated now is because that was a condition of her release, and if she stops she has to go back. Its not an ideal situation, I know, but it is wonderful to have my mum back, you know? But I always wish she didn’t have to be forced and that she knows it is ok to admit that there is something wrong, and want to seek help herself and that we will still love and support her all the way. But I think deep down she really knows all of that, she just doesn’t want to admit it for fear of seeming weak.

    I think it’s so important that people know how vital it is to take care of themselves mentally, just the same as they would want to take care of themselves physically. And it’s so important that they be ok with needing help, and that the people around them can accept and support that.

    Thank you for writing this.

  • Anonymous

    I was one of those people that saw a therapist wanting to medicate me as the crazy one.

    After getting on Celexa, all of a sudden everything didn’t make me cry. Or scream. Or threaten to run away from my kids everyday.

    I saw an earlier comment that a reader thinks her son might have mental health issues. I have a 14 year old son that I think that too. When the therapist recommended going to his primary care and us exploring anti depressents, everyone I told (family) said it was criminal to medicate a “child” for being down on himself sometimes.

    If I don’t medicate him, I feel like one day he’ll snap and kill me in my sleep.

    Yes, seriously.

    Thanks for the post- at least I’m not alone.

  • Marie

    Oh, and I forgot. My wonderful fiance is dying to get my Oregon. He used to live there and wants to show that to me but I am terrified of the whole plane ride. I will feel trapped. Any advice?

  • jessie

    You are so brave for sharing you personal experiences. It is huge to me. HUGE. You made a difference in my life.

  • http://cheneymabel.com Cheney

    I hope that one of these days I will be strong enough to let down my defenses and finally ask for the help I know I need. Thanks for setting such a good example, cause I sure need that, too.

  • Christy

    Heather,
    Thanks so much to you, once again, for putting your (and basically also my) stories out there to help people.

    I really hope that your friend gets help and gets better.

    Much love to you guys.

  • http://howeveralthough.typepad.com Mandy

    AMEN, sister. Double AMEN.
    I will link to this from my blog because I know several people who need to read it and I’ve been trying to say it or write it for years, but could never do it as eloquently as you have here.
    Thank you.

  • Worrals

    Thank you, Heather. Hear, hear.

  • http://www.lifewiththetwo.blogspot.com Sara

    Thank you. Your courage to speak out about depression to thousands, gives me courage to talk about my own battle. Thank you.

  • http://cursingmama.blogspot.com CursingMama

    I can’t believe you’ve left comments open this long. Thank You. Thank you for telling, thank you for sharing, thank you for giving those of us who don’t have the same ability to put these thoughts and feeling s on paper something to point at.

    It gives me strength to say “Would you tell someone to just buck up and get over their cancer?”

  • Sheri Bheri

    Heather, there was even a reference to this post over on True Mom Confessions yesterday! Everyone is loving this post so much, they’re spreading the LOVE.

  • hp

    A little over two years ago I read your website for the first time. I had just started teaching and was suffering from depression and anxiety (and a bruised toe–which is actually how I found your website. I googled “toe” “pain” “holy mother” and got your post about your husband’s toe). I didn’t want to take meds–I had avoided them when I had a depressive episode in college–but reading your blog gave me the strength to try meds. And I did and Zoloft is now an integral part of my personality. Thank you.

  • April

    You inspired me then, you inspire me now. I had the courage to return to the life of controlled sanity because of you.

    Prozac saved my life for a time. Now Lamictal is picking up where Prozac left off.

    You are, Heather Armstrong, an example of courage and determination the likes of which this world is sorely lacking.

  • SHeathcote

    Thank you so much for your strength and honesty in sharing a very personal thing. I totally agree with everything you’ve said and think it’s a damn shame this world we live in has led people to be ashamed of asking for help every once in awhile. It is our imperfections that make us who we are and letting something take over your very life because you’re too afraid to ask for help is being weak…not admitting you need help. I like so many of us out there will be on some form of medication for the rest of my life and I make no excuses for it as it gives me the ability to live my life.

    On a completely different note, I’ve been reading your blog for almost a year now. It is the only blog I read and while I’m sure you hear this all the time, you are a refreshing, kind, funny and wonderful person who I feel a kinship with and while I’ve never commented or written in the past, I look forward to reading your thoughts, comments on your life, your beautiful little girl, and any trials and tribulations you may encounter. If anyone says any differently….well tell them to go fist themselves because they wouldn’t know a wonderful human being if it smacked them in the face.

    Have a wonderful holiday season. All the best to you and your family and hopefully Leta won’t hoard too many bows and used wrapping paper.

    Stephanie

  • rachel g

    I work with families affected by drug abuse, perscription and otherwise. It often starts with young children being treated for ADHD and high schoolers being treated for anxiety or depression. Eventually, the meds loose their effectiveness and need to be changed or new ones added. Emotions and inappropriate behavior are often extreme. Household functioning is often unhealthy and unsafe for all family members. These children grow up and have no idea what “normal” emotions and behviors are. They are quick to put their own children on meds. I’ve seen way too many inadequate Doctors wrongly diagnosing kids in 5 minutes and getting them started on the cycle of drugs. Perscription drugs mess with minds. They may be extremely helpful and life saving for some but can tear other families apart and create a devestating cycle of abuse. I hope your readers are as cautious and as educated about this as you are before trusting the first Dr. to diagnose them and start perscribing. Poor mental health seems to be on the rise and I can’t help but wonder if standards have changed in the past few years.

  • http://flickr.com/photos/poontoast ash

    Thank you for this.

  • http://journals.aol.com/dkb11161970/DebrasDose/ Debra of Debra’s Dose

    Heather, thanks for sharing. I’ve found much you’ve written to be quite touching for myself and I do so appreciate your candor. You’re truly an inspiration, the realistic kind with which I can best identify. I do want to let you know that I linked to this particular entry, and have shared an excerpt in my own journal, posted here at: http://journals.aol.com/dkb11161970/DebrasDose/entries/2007/12/13/my-reservation-at-the-nutcracker-suite/2571

    if you would rather i didn’t, please contact me with your preferences and i will make the appropriate changes.

    merry christmas to you, jon, and leta. and chuck too!
    grins, debra

  • Tek

    It took a hospital stay and therapy and medication for me to get off the suicide wagon over 10 years ago. When I felt myself taking that ride again, I went straight back to what I KNOW worked for me and I’m on Lexapro.
    Encouragement and compassion to those still laboring in the darkness. There are multiple ways out. Find one that works for you.
    Thanks for this opportunity for us to acknowledge each other.

  • sarah

    Thank you. I have a similar story and feel so validated by your story. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

    Kisses to Leta and Chuck!

  • http://www.shelikespurple.com She Likes Purple

    After reading this and Samantha’s comment thanking you, I am in a sea of tears. You’re doing really good things for people, Heather, and I’m sure you know. But it’s still touching all the same.

  • Anonymous

    Thank you Heather for this post.

    I completely agree with you. For the longest time, I felt scared, ashamed, humiliated, angry and weak by admitting that I needed help. I knew that the person I was becoming was not who I wanted to be for the rest of my life. I have had some extenuating circumstances that lead to my depression/anxiety/bi-polar, but in the end it really doesn’t matter how you got there, its how you get out of there. I am still in the process of trying to find what meds work best for me, but I can tell I’m on the road to wellness.

    Your courage and candidness to speak out on mental health issues is great.

    Its too bad that your “friend” doesn’t understand this. How lucky for her to be “stable!” Your conversation with her reminds me of one of Ellen Degeneres’ stand up routines.

    She talks about the depression commercials that air:

    “Are you tired? Sad? Can’t concentrate?, etc.
    Well you may be suffering from depression.”

    Ellen goes on to say “Well of course I’m tired, sad, can’t concentrate, I’m a human!!!! We all deal with these issues, but we don’t need to run out & get on medication, blah, blah, blah.”

    Then she goes on to say:

    “You know who is stressed. A bushman in Africa. He gets chased by lions everyday. You won’t find a pygmy on Paxil.”

    Its so annoying that celebrities try & use their “status” to shove their opinions down everyone’s throats, but that’s a whole different issue that I won’t get into! My point is (in case you are thinking I am never going to get to one) is that people like her & your friend are the ignorant one’s who will continue to shun the mental health issues just because they aren’t personally dealing with them (yet!).

    Good luck Heather & thanks for keeping me entertained with your website! Hugs to you all!

  • Anonymous

    I was with my (now-ex) for seventeen years while she has fought through depression, anxiety, DID/MPD, BPD, alphabet soup. I begged her to get some meds. Her therapist begged her to get some meds. She wouldn’t. Finally she had a breakdown & I took her to the inpatient mental health center for her weeklong “vacation” as she calls it. They got her on drugs, but no one but her can get her to actually deal. I begged her to understand what her refusal to deal with her mental health issues was doing to us, to me, to our son. She couldn’t do it. She still can’t. We are not together any more, by my choice. I couldn’t hold her up while she was pretending to stand on her own. Now I worry about how her choices continue to affect our son. I watch him struggle to deal with her and struggle to help him through it all while she denies there is anything wrong.

  • rlwd1

    Thank you for being so honest and writing this post. I would normally say I came across your blog by accident (someone referred to it in another blog that I just happened upon recently), but I think it was Divine Intervention. I have been struggling with chronic generalized anxiety with some depression for awhile now, and have just started taking meds. It was so hard for me to admit needing them, and making myself take them has been just as difficult. Reading your post had a HUGE impact on me, and I have reread it about 5 times now. It was exactly what I needed to read right now. If the pills give me my life back, for me, my boys and my husband, then I would be willing to take them for the rest of my life. I can’t say thank you enough.

  • Patti

    Too bad so many people feel the need to perpetuate the myth that antidepressants are “happy pills”. I couldn’t agree more with what you’ve said. Thank you.

  • carrie ann

    My name is Carrie and I have been diagnosed with BiPolar Disorder…a little different than depression, but in the same family. I actually read the DSM III-R & presented a report to my campus doctor (who had prescribed Valium for anxiety (made me a WRECK!))…

    My diagnosis came in ’94. I was off & on Lithium & hospitalized for a WEEK in ’96…Risperdal, Effexor, Prozac, Zoloft, Wellbutrin, Depakote among others followed. Therapy, therapy, therapy, drugs, drugs, drugs, drugs, counseling, counseling, counseling and then my wonderful pregnancy in 2002. After talking with several doctors, I chose to stop Lithium because it can cause a major spinal problem in the fetus. I have a second child now (20 months old) and I have never needed to resume medication(vitamin B is helpful)…not that I wouldn’t do it in a heartbeat if necessary. I see one of the best doctors in the country EVERY 3 months just in case…and I hear the same thing I heard from the nurses at the Respite Center I checked into when I was hearing voices way back when, “You are an anomoly.”
    Check out the work of Kay Redfield Jamison, if you haven’t already.

    So far, I’m a “happy ending,” but every single day I think about the small thread I have on my sanity and second guess every sour mood I have or comment I make.
    Thank you, yet again, Heather, for using your blog to tell the truth.
    We’re reading. We’re talking. We’re healing.

  • MrsBug

    Good for you. Seriously. I went through a period of depression about six years ago that almost totally ruined my life. I became a person who did things that I am totally ashamed of now. Counseling and medication saved my life and my marriage. I never hesitate to tell people to DO IT.

  • BillyAnn

    Thank you for articulating so elegantly the feelings of so many. Without therapy to help me through a divorce two years ago, and to realize the pain I’d been carrying around for so many years before that, I have no idea how I could have continued to maintain even the most basic daily functions. My therapist saved me. I have no problem telling people that. I’m just so glad that you can tell so many, many people all at once. Thank you.

  • Lynda

    Greetings Heather:

    Thank you for sharing this. You are a Wise Woman.

  • http://www.looking-in.net Laur

    That was a very honest and eye-opening entry. I’m sure a lot of people will benefit from your words.

    It’s a shame that people are usually so hesitant to discuss mental health. After all, physical health is so simple. You break your leg, you go to the emergency room. You have the flu, your doctor prescribes some simple medication. But when you’re severely depressed or battling any type of mental disorder, it can go undetected for so long and cause much more pain for the person suffering and for the people around them. Unfortunately, though, we just tend to act like these issues don’t exist. It’s really sad.

  • Becky

    Heather, there is parental stigma also. Getting help (via Prozac and Adderall) for our 13-year old son is the best thing my husband and I ever did. It’s keeping him alive and functional, just as you describe. Yet I hear nothing but criticism from the media and from other parents about “over-medicated kids” and “parents who replace discipline with medication.” They have no f***ing idea what they are talking about and obviously have never faced the kinds of things we have faced. We try to be honest about his situation and his needs, but there are family members with whom we can never share this information because of their ignorance about mental health. Thank you for speaking up.

  • Peyton

    Thank you for being such a positive voice when it comes to mental health. I have heard that life is composed of hills and valleys and I happen to be in the lowest valley of my life right now due to the sudden loss of my dad/best friend. Reading this post was the highlight of my day! Thank you, again!

  • Michelle

    Thank you, Heather. Thank you, thank you.

  • Ally

    Can one take depression medicine while pregnant? Obviously, I don’t know enough about this topic.

    This post was beautifully written and an issue so many avoid, or simply don’t want to talk about. If someone has a physical illness there is no shame in admitting it or seeking help. However, when it comes to a mental illness the attitude changes even though in both cases HELP IS NEEDED.

    My sister has bipolar disorder and has gone through all the steps to seek treatment (medication and therapy). If she mentions she is bipolar to others there is immediately this reaction of, “What is wrong with HER?” and people are extremely uncomfortable. More so than if she had announced, “I have cancer.” Or, “I’m diabetic.” Or, “I eat small children for breakfast.” It seems so many people in society are afraid of mental illnesses and have created a warped view of them. I hope these kinds of attitudes will change in the future.

    Thank you for writing this post. I will share it with others.

  • Amanda

    Oh, thank you thank you thank you, Heather. I wish I could give you a big crazyass hug and kiss!! This year I finally (and reluctantly) asked for help for the crippling anxiety and (still hard to even say it) depression that has been killing me for literally half of my life. I am proud and grateful and amazed that one pill a day (Lexapro for me!) has made such a difference. I think I still need to get over the last hump and find a therapist, so your post is very timely.

    I am just in awe of all these comments, stories like mine or people who want to make a change and just need a hard shove in that direction. I hope you find a way to reach out to your friend, the way you’ve touched all of us. Thank you again, a heart-in-my-throat, tears-in-my-eyes THANK YOU.

  • http://www.thedomesticgoddess.wordpress.com Domestic Goddess

    Thanks for writing this. There is no shame in being on an antidepressant. There is not shame in having a sickness, which is (in my opinion) what depression and anxiety and the like ARE. I don’t know why people wait so long, either. I guess maybe because they are embarassed? But if they had an infection would they let it fester for months until it consumed them and their family and threw their entire life into upheaval? I doubt it.
    Now, I know there are those that DON’T need to be on meds that are. I’ve got those in my family. But I can tell you that Christmas became much more enjoyable and had much less crying when the husband and I finally admitted that we both had a family history or Bi-polar and that it wasn’t going away. So we did the best thing we could have done for our children and sucked it up and got treatment. We don’t want them growing up in a freakin’ miserable household. And guess what? We’re happy. We have great days, good days and could-be-better days, but I no longer feel as if I am drowning…

  • Kathryn

    What an incredibly moving entry. I have not personally dealt with mental health, but I am proud to say that my family has raised me in such a way that I do not have qualms or preconceptions about very many things. So when my best friend’s sister told me a year ago — with an embarrassed look on her face — that she has a “problem” with depression and is on medication for it, it was all I could do to not start crying as I hugged her. It makes me feel ashamed of the human race to know that some people look down upon seeking mental health treatment. I hope this makes a few people change their minds, and if not….I hope it makes those seeking treatment strong enough to say “Shove it” to anyone who doesn’t care enough to let them do so.

  • http://sarahandthegoonsquad.com Sarah, Goon Squad Sarah

    I realize that I am about the 500th comment here today, so maybe you will be the only one who reads this, but I cannot stress how much I agree with you.

    I waited far to long, and once I talked to someone about what I was going through I was shocked.

    I had heard of PMDD, but I thought it was bullshit. It seems so weak compared to what people that suffer from PPD and Bi-polar disorder and schizophrenia and other things go through, but I have to say that going on medication was one of the most important decisions I have ever made and it made a huge difference in my life and my the lives of my children and my husband.

    Thank you for talking about it.

  • Adrienne

    Awesome post – thanks so much for all of this info. There’s been a lot of talk lately about the rise in numbers of people being treated for depression, and how it’s basically a scam on the part of the drug companies. While that may not be entirely false*, you’re a perfect example of someone who has had truly life-changing help because of those drugs. It’s also a good reminder for those who are suffering to not give up, to keep trying.

    Not every drug will work for every person, and sometimes a drug you’ve taken for years can suddenly stop working; people experiencing this need to keep going back to their doctor (or a different doctor) and trying something different, because eventually the vast majority of people can be treated, and can live a normal life again.

    *I’ve had almost as many different prescriptions as you: Zoloft, Wellbutrin, Cymbalta, Ativan, and a couple others I forget. Nothing was working for me. I finally went to a real shrink, who after 15 minutes with me told me I had ADD (which I didn’t really get, considering I could barely MOVE). He gave me a prescription for Adderall and it’s totally changed my life.

    I think part of the vicious cycle with depression is having those people who tell you to “just get over it”, and feeling like you must be the worst loser in the world, and worrying about the negative stigma associated with having the disease. People like you are changing that by stepping forward and telling others about your experiences.

    Your parents might not like this website very much, but they should be damn proud that they’ve brought up a child who is truly doing something that changes this world for the better.

  • Anonymous

    I can’t believe you and I aren’t related! I have lived your mental life, or you mine. My drug of choice is Effexor. Happiness is a choice. I feel sad for people without insurance and can’t afford to use meds.