By the time I was diagnosed with a major depressive disorder, the diagnosis itself felt like more of a relief than anything else. I imagine most people wouldn’t describe getting such news from a doctor as a relief. However, I was just happy to know there was a reason I felt the way I did, for nearly as long as I could remember — and that the medical professional sitting in front of me appeared to know not only what this reason was, but also what to do about it.
So when the words “major depressive disorder: high anxiety, low energy” came out of his mouth during my diagnosis, I was almost happy. Happy to know I was finally getting answers to the questions I had quietly been asking myself for years. Questions like “Why am I like this?” and “Why don’t the things that bring others joy make me happy?” Happy to be working toward a solution to a problem I had suffered in silence with for years. While obviously nobody is truly relieved or happy to find out they have a major depressive disorder, I was happy and relieved that it finally had a name.
I had entered talk therapy about 4 months before receiving my diagnosis from the psychiatrist my therapist recommended. While I found, and still do find, traditional talk therapy helpful — not necessarily with the treatment of my depression, but just with everyday life — my therapist didn’t seem to have much of an understanding of the depression I had. In her defense, few people truly understand it.
Regardless, I knew I had to do something else to treat the underlying issues I initially entered therapy for, which was anxiety and depression. This is when she referred me to the doctor who ended up diagnosing me and prescribing an antidepressant.
My diagnosis is not something I’m ashamed of. It’s something I talk about openly in my writing, in hopes that I can help contribute to breaking the stigma attached to not only depression, but mental health issues altogether.
There’s too much at stake, and the consequences are too great, for me not to be an advocate of getting the help you need when you need it regardless of who thinks what about it. Too many people I loved have taken their own lives, both on purpose and inadvertently, for me not to know what the potential consequences of not speaking up are.
My diagnosis was just the very beginning of my mental health journey. While it has been far from pleasant, it’s one I’m grateful to have the chance to be on, as so many before me didn’t, because they didn’t speak up or reach out for help.