An unfiltered fire hose of flaming condemnation

If this isn’t for you, it’s for someone you know

Since last September I have been serving on the Board of Directors for the Utah division of the nonprofit organization NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness. It’s the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness. They provide support groups for peers, support groups for families, education classes, helplines and mentors while actively advocating for better mental health legislation. These people are dedicated and passionate and work tirelessly to save lives.

Yes. Save lives. In 2009, suicide was the third leading cause of death for young people ages 15 to 24. The third leading cause.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and during our last board meeting we talked about ways to bring awareness to this issue that devastates the lives of so many. All of the board members are either family or friends of someone who suffers from a mental health condition. I happen to be the only member with firsthand experience of what it’s like to struggle with depression and anxiety and the traumatizing sense of hopelessness that turns any obstacle into a reason to stop living.

My story has been told here over the years. It’s scattered throughout my archives and will continue to weave its way into future paragraphs. I’ve written about the continual fight I wage against my condition so that there is a face associated with this disease, so that anyone who is ashamed or made to feel ashamed about the way they feel, about how impossible it is to explain that they don’t want to feel this way, that they have no choice, that they’d like to wake up in the morning and feel something different, something other than I cannot do this anymore, they can see me and know that I understand. I, too, have lived and ached with that hopelessness. I encounter it again from time to time, but I’m here and I’ve lived through it. No, it hasn’t been easy. But here I am.


But my story isn’t just for them. It’s for the father who doesn’t understand why his daughter is so miserable. Why won’t she just snap out of it? Her kids are healthy, she’s got a roof over her head, she’s got friends. What reason does she have for being so sad? She’s being ridiculous.

It’s for the son who gets together with his friends and tells stories about his crazy mother. She’s never happy and sleeps all day. She hasn’t showered in a week. He’s tired of her bullshit. Doesn’t she know how embarrassing she is? Pull it together already.

It’s for the husband who comes home from work and finds his wife curled up on the couch unable to speak, unable to unwind her body from the fetal position. All she has to do is look after the kids all day. It’s not like she has to meet a deadline at the office. If she had to sit through his commute then maybe he could understand. What is it with her?

It’s for those who think we can just get over it. I’ve written about my struggle so that maybe you will understand that your daughter, your mother, your wife… they aren’t being ridiculous. They are suffering. They are in pain. They are struggling with a sense of doom so overwhelming that they cannot see anything beyond it. It is real and it is awful. And they need help.

I’ve already told my story, again and again, and I was hoping maybe you’d like to share yours here to help bring awareness to this, to help those who suffer and those who live with those who suffer. How have you been affected by mental illness? What has helped you?

  • needed to hear this today. i thank you kindly from the deepest recesses of my heart.
    it’s so important that we can vocalize and share these experiences with others–be that they are happening to ourselves, our co-workers or loved ones.

    i try to be open with people with my struggles with depression/anxiety. sometimes it can be hard for them to accept the depression part. i feel like it is a complete success that i am even able to sit here and type the words. that i got up at all today and made it here to work.

    thank you for the reminder to keep on sharing these feelings with others. that we all need to be more aware and accepting of where we all are “at.” AND the reminder that i will feel better again. sometime. probably soon. and to just keep hanging on until i do. and that it serves no one to beat myself up about these feelings in the meantime. keep breathing. keep taking the necessary self-care steps: medication, therapy, life. repeat daily.


  • heather, i have quietly followed you for years. i have longed to be able to find a space to write about this struggle but i don’t know how it all fits with career, family, people being able to look at you and rely on you and still know how hard every day sometimes is. how do you live a professional life among clients and parents at school and sometimes feel like you are dragging the weight of a dead body? am i a survivor? who knows. i’m here today, and i was here yesterday, and i hope to be here tomorrow. i hope to wake up out from the cloud that plagues me. but sometimes it is unpredictable and tomorrow i may have to put my underwear on and take portraits of preschoolers, make lunches, get kids to school on time when all i want to do is lie down in the middle of the room and sleep. please, don’t ever stop talking about this.

  • Kay

    I’m so sorry that your son died.

  • ALP

    I think you are so wonderful and brave to share your story publicly. I had a very short bout of depression a few years ago, and it was only when I was over it that I recognized it for what it was. I was living in a new city where the winters were long and cold and dark, I had two small children and a husband who was a resident with horrible hours, and had two friends diagnosed with cancer. There was a terrible news story about miners trapped in West Virginia somewhere, and I got sucked into the media coverage. That put me over the edge into full on depression. I had some hormonal issues, and fixing that fixed the problem, along with the arrival of spring and an approaching move South. Ironically, an unplanned pregnancy leveled me out hormonally and made things better once the initial anxiety and shock wore off. However, I have much more empathy for those suffering from depression after my stint. I know well the feeling of wanting to stay on the couch all day, and the complete and utter hopelessness that you cannot explain. My husband did not understand, and I felt horribly guilty because I knew I had nothing to be so down about. It is not a reasonable disease. There is nothing logical about it, and you cannot just snap out of it. I hope I never have another round of this, but unfortunately mental illness is rampant in my family so I would not be surprised.

  • Jen

    In the past year or so, I’ve finally become ready to accept the fact that depression and anxiety are a part of my makeup as a human. This was the catalyst that I needed to really actively seek help. I’d been on anti-depressants for-GOD-like 16 years, since I was a teenager. However, I’ve discovered that taking medication every day wasn’t the magic bullet to self-compassion. Since that sort of aha moment, I’ve been going to therapy and meditating (almost) every day, and I’ve been learning how to become a more active participant in my own mental well-being. It’s a lot of work!

    I don’t know if there is a magic road to self-compassion, I think everyone’s gotta find their own way to loving themselves, and it’s a concept that needs to be relearned over and over at certain points in life. But it is sooooo worth it when you get out of your own way. Thanks to people like Heather that are raising awareness about mental health.

  • Jen

    Oh-and I’m still taking medication, too. I think that’s vitally important for a lot of people. I just meant to emphasize that along with that, I feel empowered that I’ve found some other ways to care for myself.

  • Collette

    Jen I have been where you are. You are not alone. so NOT alone luv. You can talk to me if you’d like. 🙂

  • Collette
  • I’ve struggled with depression and anxiety pretty much since fourth grade (I’m 33 now). Have you ever been so depressed you don’t really see anything, you’re just locked inside your own head? Nothing brings you pleasure. The future is impossible to think about. That’s where I’m at at the moment. I’m scraping by on a much-loathed job so I can try to move from Chicago to LA (sun; boyfriend; it’s not Chicago). Living paycheck to paycheck means I can’t afford my regular therapist anymore, when I need her most. I take brain meds that don’t work, and because they don’t work, I don’t believe any of them will. Frankly, I don’t know what would help me. (Sorry for the downer.)

  • It’s definitely a struggle. A daily struggle. I try and stay busy so I can’t give in to the Voices that tell me I’m not even an ounce of shit and “Why bother?!” I keep positive people and mantras around me; I keep away from sad-sack foods that could make it worse; I try and stay active and keep moving; I hug my babies; I blast Trinidadian soca music and dance til it hurts (you cannot stay sad when Machel Montano is telling you to JUMP & WAVE); I hide out at a friend’s or at my mom’s house; I write it out. And when all else fails I just have a good cry to let it out. It’s definitely a daily struggle, but I’m still here and that’s all that matters.

  • Beth

    I think the stigma would be greatly helped if people understood the difference between Major Depressive Disorder and what a valleygirl feels when she, like, breaks a nail. The word “depression” is so overused, and in itself so mild — a depression is a dip in a surface, where a more accurate image would be of a hole — that I think it leads to misuse and watered-down meaning.

    Just look at the reactions when someone says they have bipolar disorder vs. when someone says they’re depressed (Note one ‘has’ BPD, but one ‘IS’ depressed). The first will get you taken seriously (maybe a bit too seriously, and that’s a different problem for a different day), and the second will be met with an eyeroll, or a ‘me too’ when it isn’t warranted.

    That’s what tells me people don’t ‘get it.’ That ‘me too’. It’s meant to be helpful, but no, you really don’t know where I’m coming from. So stop presuming you do. Stop judging my inner life by the calibrations of your own, start thinking about the language we all use, and maybe we’ll start getting somewhere with all this stigma and judgment.

  • anne cunningham

    … this definitely helps … i’ve been suffering with depression and a brain that “mimics bipolarity” since my stroke at age 40, 11 years ago … articles/blogs/ reminds not only everyone out there, that it’s not a “just snap the fuck out of it” kind of a deal, and it also reminds our own selves to cut our own selves some slack on the days when we wish we could just “snap the fuck out of it already.” to own this disease is to love/hate this disease …

  • I am so sorry for your losses! Kudos for recognizing the need for help! Best Wishes for a better tomorrow!

  • You are very much not alone! Call a trusted friend and make an appointment with your physician. You do NOT have to live this way. <3

  • E

    I think I’ll always be affected by depression/anxiety/something. Living in the South, I think mental illness is seen as a personality flaw, not an illness. I don’t know how many times I (and probably all) have heard, “Oh, get over it!” or “Quit being lazy,” or my personal favorite, “Quit crying before I give you something to cry about!”

    I wish people would understand that “being sad” is not all you feel when you have a depression. There are times where I can hardly think around the rage that will take me off guard in a mundane moment. It’s hopelessness where you think it would be easier to climb Mt. Everest than to get out of bed and wash the dishes. And, Christ on a cracker, everyone knows what I need. I need B12 shots, Jesus, a lover, chocolate, a vacation and maybe another lover. What I need is for you to do is look me dead in the eye and say, “I know something’s wrong. You’re not broken, just a little bent.” I don’t need to find a distraction. I need to find myself. I’m lost and I don’t know where the good parts of me are hiding.

    I think (personally) the worst part is the helplessness. You know your life is falling apart. You can see it. All the signs are there, but you don’t know how to fix it and no one will help you. It feels like a ticking time bomb, but the ticking is somehow the fear of a guillotine and the comfort of a warm blanket rolled into one, because it has been the one constant in my chaotic life. I can’t depend on the people or things in my life, but the depression works its way in to my life every November like an old frienemy.

    Reading your blog has helped me understand that depression will always remain, but it’s up to me, and no one else, to set my world to rights again. The other epiphany I’ve had while reading your blog is that the reason
    why I’m such a control freak towards EVERYTHING is because I can’t
    control the one thing I should be able to – myself.

    You should seriously start charging me co-pays.

  • self

    I wrote this letter a few weeks ago….
    Dear self,
    Remember this. Today you could possibly be flying to meet the man of your dreams. The one you’ve been waiting for. And you are SO glad you’re still here to have this experience. Thank you for not giving up & cutting short your life here. Thank yo for deciding you were ALL in. Your life changed in that moment & the universe opened up to all of the things you had been wanting. Just keep going my dear. Your tomorrow self will thank you & love you for it. YOU are worth being here. This life is worth living.

  • Mama

    Postpartum depression. Some of the hardest months I have by far encountered. I really feel for those who suffer every day.

  • Just me :)

    Heather, i have always so deeply related to your struggles with depression. I have battled it intermittently my whole adult life. A few years ago, when my 17 year marriage ended, my ex even tried to use my occasional depression coping behaviors (sleep, isolating myself for short periods, etc) to take our daughter from me and painted me as a drug addict / “mental case” to the courts to justify his wanting out of the marriage & his trying to get full custody. Thank God the courts saw through his dishonest & desperate attacks and awarded me full custody. Only after all the nasty accusations were put to rest & the divorce was finalized did I become aware that the very worst of my symptoms were in the past – laying along side my broken, abusive marriage in the ditch. Amazing that the one thing in my life I thought defined me, that I couldn’t live without, was the one thing that kept burying me every time I’d find the sunshine again. These days, my anxiety is much reduced – it only comes situationally and it “reasonable” now in that I can usually talk myself through it without a Xanax. And my depression hasn’t made me need 2 or 3 days alone in my bed, hiding from the world, since that marriage to an inconsiderate, selfish, arrogant, insensitive, verbally/emotionally abusive spouse stopping sabotaging my happy. Thank God for the world not always giving what we THINK we need / want. My future is looking WAY different than I’d always hoped it would. And unreal to me now, I really think that’s a GOOD thing. I’ll always have the threat of anxiety/ depression looming, but I have learned those feelings ARE fleeting, and I’ve learned the HARD way that I’m about 1,000 times more resilient & strong than I ever thought I was. Than he ever TOLD me I was.
    Thank you for your candor and for your commitment to people like us. When I learned of your divorce, I was crushed – and was also probably even more convinced you quite possibly know me & my feelings/ fears/ regrets/ proud moments better than anyone I really know in real life. You amaze me. You rock, girl!

  • danielle b.

    I’ve said it before in comments on your site and will say it again: your story helped me to seek a diagnosis and treatment when I was 27 (turning 30 next week). I ended up with a diagnosis I didn’t expect (bipolar), but it’s a diagnosis that made me understand exactly why I was the way I was in high school and college and grad school and post grad school. Yeah. Those periods of apathy…that seemed to appear in cycles, well duh: depression. Those nights of not being able to sleep and watching TV for 24 hour, well duh: mania.

    Thank you. And not only for inspiring me to get help but also inspiring me to make people revisit assumptions that they have about people and their actions: You don’t know what’s going on their head and how maybe they’re grappling with trying to understand why they can’t just be normal and how sometimes medication is only half the battle and they need understanding.

  • Jen

    Agreed with what others have said. Call somebody. Even a suicide hotline-I’ve had moments where I’ve felt like maybe I wasn’t “suicidal enough” to call one of those. Then I heard an interview with a crisis worker who said that he loves to talk to people and know that he’s helping them through it before they get to that point. And it’s true, you’re not alone-but you also have to trust that you are worth the effort even if you don’t believe it right now.

  • T

    My mom was admitted to a mental hospital to address her depression over 20 years ago when I was 10. Our family had a good support system, and my sister and I were told the chemicals in her brain weren’t working right. But I was so embarrassed and scared, and I revert right back to being an embarrassed and scared 10-year-old when talking about depression. She’s been on meds since then, but the blues and some anxiety are just part of her life, the way they are for me and her mom. I keep a close eye on her, and I know she keeps an eye on me.

    Thanks for talking about it — for helping me to understand my mom and to know that if it hits me, there’s no shame in it.

  • Frank Purrkins

    Thank you more than you can ever possibly know.

  • Heather Armstrong

    Thinking of you. You are not alone.

  • Heather Armstrong

    Good for you for knowing that much. And thank you.

  • JMS

    When I was 29, a week or so shy of my 30 birthday, I stood on the ferry going to the Magic Kingdom and cried while I shook and wished I could get off that boat. I was in the happiest place on Earth and I was miserable. A kind worker let me stand behind the rope in away from the crowds because she recognized I was having a panic attack. She stood with my husband and I during that ride and shared her story with me. She was about my age when she first started having panic attacks. But, she told me, she was better. Time and medication helped her.

    That was the impetus I needed to seek help. For at least a year before that, my anxiety had been getting worse. I couldn’t stand to be a passenger in a car. Air travel was out of the question. If I didn’t have to leave the house, I wouldn’t. I was miserable. The day at Disney wasn’t the bottom. It took me a few more months to really hit bottom. Fortunately, by that time, I was already starting therapy. It took me most of a year before I felt relatively “normal” and able to rejoin the world again.

    I had been diagnosed with depression in my 20’s. But I never expected an anxiety disorder to be thrown in as well. It was embarrassing and distressing. A close friend accused me of always canceling on them, not understanding how horrible it was for me to have a panic attack if I wasn’t close to home. She never did understand how depression and anxiety affected my life. Needless to say, she, and people like her, are not welcome parts of my life anymore.

    Today at 41, I am healthier and have an active life. But, I also have to stay aware of stressors that pop up and, when possible, allow myself the space and time I need to recover. I can’t imagine being off medication and that’s okay. I still occasionally have anxiety attacks, but they are nothing like that day on the Disney ferry.

    Fortunately, I’ve met many good people along my journey through depression and anxiety. They’ve shown me I don’t need to be ashamed. They’ve offered support and sometimes a good kick in MY BUTT when I get stuck in those awful cycles of negative thinking. Some people I’ll never meet, but they have still inspired me by sharing their stories on television, the internet, in books, and magazines.

    None of us are alone. We do not have to give up or give in. The fight will always be worth the effort.

  • Melinda Hartman

    It’s important to also remind people that just because I put on a good face at work, or in front of family, that doesn’t mean that I’m not depressed. And just because I’ve been lucky enough to find prescriptions that work well for me (most of the time) that doesn’t mean that I don’t have depression. I am grateful that it’s no longer a daily struggle for me, but it’s never far from my thoughts.

  • Belle

    I had my second baby six weeks ago. I think I might have postpartum depression or maybe baby blues. I didn’t feel this way after my first, in fact i felt so happy after i had him. I love my baby more than anything and I have such a great life, and yet all I do is cry. I hate myself right now.

  • Anon34

    My little sister (32) has had schizo-affective disorder since age 21. The cycle is endless: episode, 1 – 8 months hospitalization, meds working, slowly piecing her life back together, group home, maybe a min. wage job or take a few college classes (ALL she wants is to get her bachelor’s!), a very brief period of being OK with her life, SLAM, meds not working, descent into episode, lose job, drop out of classes, lose friends, episode. It’s heartbreaking, but she keeps picking herself back up and trying. She’s my fucking hero and ever my best friend, no matter how many times she’s tried to have me arrested or does other horrible things during the course of her illness. I’m lucky to have her in my life.

  • LeighG

    Sometimes, depression and anxiety can look totally different than completely avoiding life. I call it my Empty Shell mode. Going through the motions and day as it’s the Responsible Thing To Do. Getting up and going to work, doing the errands, taking care of my family – when all I feel inside is despair and the desire to go hide in bed. I just can’t let go to avoid and disappear. It’s a horrible way to be. Thankfully, I’ve been working with a psychiatrist on the right dosage of meds and how to better deal with anxiety. I don’t crash as frequently as I used to, and learning to allow myself some grace when I do fall. I bounce back quicker, and have a good support network around me to help.

  • Stephanie

    My mother has battled depression off and on for the past 10 years. I find myself teetering on that thin edge as well. So often I hear the same words fill my head – “Get over it,” “Snap out of it,” and more often “WHY?” when I think about my mother. She doesn’t see what she is missing. She is missing out on me. She is missing out on my daughters. I get angry I resent her. We used to have so much fun and we did things. Now – there is nothing. And that nothing hurts. I can only say so much. She needs to get the help I so desperately want her to get. I’ve tried. I’ve been there. I’ve held her hand, I’ve made the phone calls. She thinks this is fine, when it is not.

  • Carla

    It’s exhausting — I know how you feel. I have three siblings with severe manic depressive issues. They all cut themselves, one has attempted suicide and yet all of them just decide to stop their medications for no reason whatsoever. The late night phone calls that leave you panicked for their lives take YEARS off your own. I have three young children and do my best to support my siblings, but I can only do so much now.

  • Lucy

    I’ve never suffered from chronic depression, but I have suffered deeply from situational depression. Most recently, I lost my baby and the heartache was as terrible and scary as you might imagine. The responses I got from my in-laws were… so underwhelming, to say the least. I was told to just choose to be happy! Just shrug it off! You can have more kids! Things could be worse! While I can’t change their view on these things, I think I did change my husband’s view. I hope I made him see that “snapping out of it” is not an option, nor is it a desirable one when you’re dealing with grief.

    I know that I won’t turn to my in-laws for support if something awful happens again, but their totally wrong-headed approach to “helping out” showed me the importance of not being ashamed for feeling something other than shiny and happy all the time. I am almost defiantly proud of having openly grieved my son, not just because he deserved that much, but because I am human. Sadness, fear, anger, loss, hopelessness… these are all normal human emotions. No one deserves to feel broken for experiencing these emotions.

    I want other people to feel like they can share these less-than-pretty emotions with me, much like your readership does. To be a safe haven for people who hurt is a higher calling. Keep up the good work, Dooce.

  • Anne Lieder

    I suffer from chronic depression and anxiety but seem to have it mostly under control. My partner, however, also suffers from depression, anxiety and PTSD, so we’re often mired in some sort of pain or another. This is real; it happens to men, women, boys, and girls. Our mental health system is severely flawed, with little compassion for the suffering; many of whom who do not get diagnosed or counted in the numbers. Keep up the good work with NAMI. We can put a man on the moon, but we can’t seem to figure out how to get people the health care they need.

  • aotlatds

    Every day is a struggle with my anxiety and depression. I envy people who don’t have a constant nagging worry that they aren’t good enough, that they’re not doing life “right.” I hate that every now and then I get sucked into a black hole in my mind that I reasonably know makes no sense but I can’t climb out of it instantaneously. I hate that I cannot share the extent of these issues with people I’m close with because of the fear that they will think I can’t handle anything. If I did not have medication, I could not function. It’s hereditary and I can’t do anything to change that. But every day I get out of bed, get to work, do the best I can, try and maintain the best relationships I can, and in the end I guess that’s the best that everyone, with or without mental illness, can hope for.

  • carell5

    Suffered from depression all my life. 17 years sober – have lost sister, son, best friend and husband had a stroke in the last 2 years. No job. No insurance. No medication. Keep trying the bootstraps – doesn’t work and i’m making things worse for all around me. close to giving up.

  • Megan

    I have lost an uncle to suicide and now ache at my family’s deafening silence on the subject.

    The first boy I ever danced with at a very Mormon Youth Conference dance hanged himself later on. I listened to the good, sweet people of the church I grew up in talk about how it was a waste of time for us to be at his funeral, how he didn’t deserve our time. I prayed for all of them and never saw them again.

    When I was six years old, my dad told me that “Mommy accidentally took too many pills.” We visited her at an inpatient treatment center of some kind a few months later. It wasn’t until I was a teenager that it sort of dawned on me what had actually happened. It wasn’t until I was an adult that she sat me down and told me about the desperate night that she used the medical knowledge she had (she’s a psychiatric nurse, after all) to take exactly enough Xanax that she would probably be able to drive herself to a hospital before she blacked out. Because that way she was “putting it in God’s hands.”

    I am 28 years old and have a family history of depression and various other mental health issues a mile long. I’ve struggled on and off with the feelings of sadness that don’t go away. With the tiny little nagging worry that you look at too long and let blossom into a million things that you’ve done wrong and a million reasons you’ve ruined your life and everyone else’s around you. I’ve talked to people. I’ve taken pills. I’ve tried to find the balance that fits me and lets me live the happiest, most fulfilling, most positive life that I can.

    I’m here. Some people aren’t. It’s the people who aren’t that I think of when I see this all too familiar pain in other people. It’s the people who didn’t make it that remind me that it’s always worthwhile to talk to someone who seems down, off, not quite right.

    I read an NYT article the other day that you probably saw. The CDC says that more people die of suicide in the U.S. than in car accidents now.

    I’m here, and I try to help as much as I can. I see that in what I read from you, too. Thanks.

  • Sagieb

    I survived depression and anorexia after being raped- I was touched by your post and wanted to add my story to the post. After such a trauma it was as though my soul’s leg was broken and I didn’t get a doctor to help the break heal- I wish I had sought out help, because I lost a lot of my years limping when I could have been walking. There’s nothing to be ashamed about and people are out there who genuinely wish to help.

  • Michelle

    For those of us who don’t suffer with a mental illness, it can be really difficult to understand. I’m suffering a serious illness and MY pain is real. My inability to function is real. My illness cannot be seen with the naked eye, but it’s life-threatening and life-altering. I’ve lost friends because of the chronic nature of my illness. So what’s the difference between my illness and mental illness? Not a thing, really. What’s true for my illness is also true for mental illness. A part of the body is suffering or malfunctioning and requires treatment. Neither of us can “snap out of it”. Thank you for reminding the rest of us of this, and don’t ever stop reminding us.

  • KristenfromMA

    YES to this post. Depression since mid-teens, and how I wish I had known that that was what was suddenly wrong with me back in 1981. (Anxiety would kick in later.) Finally heard the diagnosis of clinical depression around age 30. Just knowing it was something other than ‘moodiness’ helped a lot. While I still have lots of issues (volumes!) to deal with relating to childhood and a verbally abusive ‘parent,’ SSRIs have done wonders for me. YMMV, but don’t assume because they don’t work for you or because you don’t want to go that route that they’re not going to benefit someone else. (I’m looking at you Kirstie Alley, Tom Cruise, et al.) Thanks, Heather!

  • Christena

    I never thought I would be writing this. My 19 year old son took his own life on 10/11/12. He shot himself and I found him when I got home from work. He left a note on the computer saying that he loved us and that his captors were forcing him to die. The police say there is no evidence of involvement by anyone else and his tox screen was clean. We never saw any signs that he was contemplating suicide and its something I beat myself up over every day. I am seeing a therapist and have been diagnosed with PTSD, depression, and anxiety. I’m on several medications now. My paralyzing fear is that since I obviously missed something with him, how do I know I’m not missing something with my other two children?

  • I’m currently on the “right” meds and it’s made the proverbial world of difference. I know eventually things will shift and we’ll have experiment some more, but right now I’m really enjoying… enjoying things. Thank you for all that you do to put a face to something so many struggle with in private

  • foto.fran

    Thank you for sharing this truth. I’m with you. I have struggled with anxiety and depression since adolescence. There have been several periods in my life when I was in “the hole”. Fortunately, my sister and father also have the disease and they’ve been there to pull me out of that dark place. The number one thing that helps me, is my kids. They are my reason for getting up in the morning (ages 3 and 5). They make me laugh when I least expect it. They love me irrespective of my faults. What makes it easier for me….reminding myself that even though today may suck, tomorrow will be better….one day at a time.

  • Vanessa

    This Spring marks the fifth Spring I will have Lived in the 27 years of my life!!! I capitalized the word lived, because it was five years ago this Spring that I finally got on the correct meds and have maintained relative Life since then! Praise Jesus for prescription meds and persistent doctors and husbands and friends who won’t settle for anything less than the RIGHT meds for me- because Lord knows I had zero fight in me. My doctor told me finding the right meds would be like putting on prescription glasses that corrected my vision- after not realizing how badly I’d needed them. Such an apt metaphor. I can’t imagine returning to life without my “glasses”. You do an awesome job of representing our sector of chronic illness. You affirmed for me what a friend of mine said: The meds your husband takes daily to stave of sneezing attacks caused by his allergies are no different than the meds you take daily to stave of panic or hopeless/helpless feelings (or any other number of symptoms that seemed to gut me and strip me of all functionality).
    I can testify firsthand that THERE IS HOPE. It IS possible to not just function normally- but to THRIVE and to really Live! I’m entering the fifth spring of my life that includes sleeping, eating, exercising, medicating, and really truly enjoying my life! You, Heather, are one of the voices that has helped de-stigmatize our disease and helped me to own that this is a part of me- and it makes me a stronger, more sensitive, empathetic, perceptive human being!
    Thank you for all that you do and fight for!

  • justjinny

    My mother has been clinically depressed all of her life. I think in the last decade, maybe, she has tried treating it with medication. I can’t say it works..or if she is always on it. But I can tell you how sad it is for me not to be able to have a “normal” relationship with my Mom. Her depression slinks outwards like fog off a lake, it sort of covers everything she comes in contact with. I would NEVER tell her that to her face, I try to be gentle with her (no matter how frustrating she can be). But she and I will never be friends, I will always have to handle her with kid gloves or shrug off the sometimes hurtful things she says. I love my Mom and I wish, more than anything, that she could find some happiness.

  • HideYoGoatsHideYoBoobies

    We’re here for you.
    There IS help.
    You mean something to someone.

  • Teal

    I can say with 100% certainty, that if it were not for medication, I would not be here today. Mental illness runs heavily in my family. I have been diagnosed with anxiety and depression, as has my oldest brother. Although, over the years, his has remained more acute even with medication. He is alive today because my mother has pulled him from the depths again and again. My father is un- medicated bipolar. He does not medicate because his illness makes him think that if he can force everyone else to be responsible for his feelings, then he doesn’t have to be responsible for his own. It was exhausting to have to grow up around that. My mother is who has kept us all afloat for all these years. I don’t know how she’s done it. It is because of her that my brother and I have made it this far.

  • Amy Jane

    There is nothing more shameful and embarassing then having it all and still wanting to die. Although the support of my kids and husband have helped, I am alive because of drugs and therapy. My therapist and meds help me feel joy, help me recognize that my life is not what’s making me unhappy. Keep me from running or closing my garage door down. I tell people who deal with depression to hold on. Get help.There WILL be better times. Even though we know they don’t last, they are worth sticking around for.

  • Have 2 myself

    Don’t hate yourself sweetie. It’s a rough road, with hormones raging, every pregnancy is different. Hang in there, and hopefully you’re able to get some sleep. Sleep’s not the end all and be all, but not getting sleep makes things worse. Reach out for help, talk, take a walk in the fresh air (exercise helps some people, and sometimes just not looking at the same four walls can be a good change), and tell your doctor what’s happening to you. Your doctor should be able to help. Wish you luck!

  • Teal

    There comes a point when it becomes about your own survival and self-preservation. It’s great that you have made the decision to only do what you can, and no more.

  • My experience with mental illness is ongoing and confusing. My older brother committed suicide three weeks before his 33rd birthday as a result of his debilitating depression. Being that I’m 31, I feel anxious as I approach the age he was when he died. Is this sadness I feel genetic? Am I being paranoid? Did he feel this way at 31?

    As a fellow Utahn, and avid Dooce reader for the past seven years, Thank You Heather for being such a needed voice on this issue.

Heather B. Armstrong

Hi. I’m Heather B. Armstrong, and this used to be called mommy blogging. But then they started calling it Influencer Marketing: hashtag ad, hashtag sponsored, hashtag you know you want me to slap your product on my kid and exploit her for millions and millions of dollars. That’s how this shit works. Now? Well… sit back, buckle up, and enjoy the ride.

read more