Depression is defined as feelings of severe despondency and dejection. Despondency is such a big word, it means a state of low spirits caused by loss of hope or courage.
D.D.D. = Dead. Death. Die. My full name is Danielle Denise DeShields. When I was 12/13 I went through this phase in life where I felt like I just didn’t deserve to be alive. I would write those three words, Dead, Death, Die (in place of my name) over and over again, filling pages completely. This is the first complete recollection that I have of dealing with depression. It wasn’t something that I broadcast to the world. I wasn’t an attention seeker. (I’ll discuss what that means in a few). I learned early on to internalize my pain and deal with my inner demons on my own.
I honestly can’t recall how I recovered from this first battle with depression. I just know that I was fine for a while, but then, a series of events would lead me back down that road, and this time it was much worse. I got pregnant at 15, had my son at 16, my home caught on fire just before I turned 17, my mom relocated me from her home in Louisiana to my grandmother’s home in Kentucky days before my 17th birthday. My son was 6 months old. Depression hit me like a category 5 hurricane. For the first time, I sought help. I began seeing a therapist and later a psychiatrist. When I started seeing the psychiatrist, he prescribed me Zoloft. I took it for a few days, but something in me said YOU ARE STRONGER THAN THIS. That was the first and last time that I took any prescription for depression.
Yet, here I was still 17—with a baby—trying to cope with a big move, a new school, new environment and a therapist. Therapy helped. I honestly felt at ease being able to talk with someone whom I did not feel was judging me at any time. On top of therapy, I began journaling. Speaking to an unbiased person and writing my thoughts out, got me through one of my darkest hours. Ironically, it wasn’t until maybe a MONTH ago, that it dawned on me that I was dealing with post-partum depression at 17 and not one of those professionals caught that. But, I SURVIVED! I went on to graduate in the top 10% of my class, with honors, with a full paid scholarship to the University of Louisville.
Fast forward to 2009. (I hate to rush, but I don’t want to keep you all too long). I have had my second child and these post-partum blues are hitting hard once again. ☹ I’m 5 months post graduating from college. I have no job. I now have two kids to care for. EVERY DAY WAS A STRUGGLE!! I cried all day and all night, but as before, I just woke up one morning and said, Danielle, you can beat this! I reached out for help and began seeing a therapist once more. I went to her for about 2 months straight and then stopped. For me, I know exactly what I need and how much I need. On top of the therapy, I began journaling again. While my oldest was at school and when my baby was sleeping or otherwise occupied, I would journal. I would write down PAGES of positive affirmations and goals.
When I tell you that depression is truly a battlefield of the mind and we have the POWER to overcome, I do not say that lightly. There were many days that I just didn’t feel like I could go on any longer. I have two saving graces (technically 3): The first are my 2 boys, I couldn’t imagine being so selfish as to end my life, knowing what it would do to them. The second, is kind of an oxymoron, I don’t have the courage to take my own life. Now, I know that may not make sense to many, but it is my truth. At the end of the day, it is an absolute MUST that I CONQUER & STAY IN CONTROL OF MY MIND—DAILY.
Far too often we allow outside factors and people to influence our emotions and our thoughts. We must learn and keep our personal boundaries as to not allow negativity within. For many of us, we beat ourselves down all on our own. We don’t need others to tell us or magnify our faults, because we already have them magnified on a level unimaginable. While we are working on improving those things, the last thing we need is someone coming in from a hurtful and unhelpful place, pushing us closer to the edge of despair. Therefore, we need to know and keep our personal boundaries.
I mentioned earlier about attention seekers. For my knowledge, there are 2 types of depressed people. There are those who suffer in silence because we don’t want to be a burden to others; and there are those who will let the WHOLE world know that their life is miserable, and they want out (I call them attention seekers). Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that they do not have a problem nor that their pain is not real. We should ALWAYS pay attention to them. A cry for help is a cry for help. However, it is the ones that suffer in silence that we should be most concerned about. How many times have you read a story about a suicide and all you read and hear about is “how happy he/she was”; “how full of life,” how he/she was always smiling and positive?” Let me be the first to tell you, if you don’t already know, us “silent sufferers”, we know how to fake the smile. We know how to put on the happy. You will never know, unless you KNOW us. Prime example, I have a tell-tale sign when things are not going right in my life. Only a FEW CLOSE FRIENDS would notice. Everyone else would think, oh she did that again. I cut my hair. Not a couple of inches here and there. I cut it all off! However, when I get to that point of cutting it off, it feels like a cleansing. The first time I did it, it was because I felt like it was the only thing in this world that I had complete control over. Now I do it, as a new beginning. I am cutting out the old and starting over. The longer my hair, the happier I am! 😊 I cut my hair back at the end of May this year, because I was just REALLY unhappy on my job. No one should be as miserable as I was there; but I felt like I had to stay because I have responsibilities and kids and a mortgage! I left that job a month ago and haven’t looked back since. I have been blessed to not have to worry too much about how the bills are getting paid, and I am now figuring out who I am and where I am headed in my life.
So, a few more thoughts.
Depression is a real thing. It is not easy to overcome, but it can be overcome. A strong support system is needed. I personally recommend journaling and therapy. I forgot to mention that part of my healing process and maintenance is going to the lake. When I feel like I am beginning to get overwhelmed with life, I make time to go sit by the lake. I will journal and/or take pictures. A lot of people call me vain because I take so many pictures, but it has become a part of my therapy. I truly enjoy it.
For anyone currently experiencing depression, if you have suicidal thoughts, PLEASE REACH OUT FOR HELP NOW.
IF YOU DON’T HAVE ANYONE THAT YOU TRUST OR FEEL YOU CAN GO TO, YOU CAN CALL THE NATIONAL SUICIDE PREVENTION LIFELINE: 1-800-273-8255.
For more information visit their website at https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/
Thanks for allowing me to share my story.
With Love & Respect,