True Confessions of a Recovering Depressed-a-Holic

sad and happy face

 

Winston Churchill would say he was hounded by the “black dog of depression”.

Depression has been my disgruntled parrot — always on my shoulder, always talking in my ear, and always ready to crap. All over. Without warning. Especially at parties when I don’t have anyone to talk too. My disgruntled parrot loves that.

Depression really became a mainstay in my life in 8th grade, correlating closely with my Acne Grand Opening. I burst onto the zit-scene with a pimple on the tip of my nose the size of Cuba.

Acne 10. Self-Confidence 0

 

sad and happy face

 

As I entered into high school, and my acne spread like a tropical disease, depression and insecurity remained my constant companion. Like someone who’s blackmailing you, I desperately wanted to break away from it’s grip, but felt like I couldn’t escape.

It Got Better

Through college I became a pretty high-functioning depressed-a-holic. Good grades, good friends, and a good God, all smoothed the jagged edges. But when graduation hit and I was by myself again, lost in the dark on the 15th floor with a blossoming quarter-life crisis, that disgruntled parrot dug it’s nails deep and was not letting go.

When the accolades and acclaim of college were stripped away, so was my self-worth. When life was not turning out like it was “supposed to“, the big bad wolf didn’t have to blow too hard for it all to come tumbling down.

So I drank. Too much.

Drinking and depression go together like peas and carrots. I ate heaping spoonfuls of both.

Depression Magic Bullet

I wish I could say now at the tail-end of my 20’s I found the depression magic bullet and I could offer it to you for $19.99, along with a free pair of slippers and a Snuggie. But I can’t.

However, these four F’s have helped slap a piece of duct tape on the parrot’s mouth.

Friends

You are not alone. Call a friend. Have a conversation. Don’t just interact on Facebook. Be intentional. They care and are probably struggling too. Don’t just go off Facebook PR spins. Vulnerability begets vulnerability. Honest conversation with friends lifts the black veil.

Family

Let your mom or dad into your room. They care. And are slightly worried. Sure they don’t always know what to say, but neither do you. So let them in the door. And then just go from there.

Faith

For years I was pretty angry with God for allowing me to experience the pain and confusion I was in. But I always knew God was there. And he cared. Even when I felt like I was drowning, I knew he was there swimming right next to me holding my head above water.

Familiarity with my Feelings

I’m better now at reading the signs and being able to talk through them. And I’ve learned to accept my flaws.

You grow up thinking your imperfections make you a freak, but I realize now these things make you human.

Have you struggled with depression in your 20’s? If you’re feeling depressed and are struggling to pull yourself out, please don’t try to Lone Ranger this thing. Call someone and talk.

23 Comments

  1. Emily

    Excellent post! Nobody talks about depression and its so prevalent. Thank you for starting the conversation 🙂

    Reply
    • admin

      Thank you Emily! Yeah, depression feels like such a taboo topic most the time. Hopefully we’re able to have some good dialogue here and remove some of the taboo-ness.

      Reply
  2. Kerry

    I agree with all of the Fs you’ve described, I also think that for many people who are struggling with depression, that therapy and medication are important parts of the picture. I have many friends (and patients) who have needed antidepressants at times in their lives (not always permanently, but sometimes). I think that we have a huge ways to go as a nation when discussing mental health. It’s like, either it’s a huge, embarrassing disappointment with copious shame and guilt piled on top to need help beyond just “shaking it off yourself,” or, people think that just taking a pill will solve everything and don’t take the time to work through their issues.
    Studies show that combination medication and therapy have the best long-term results with depression, after all, there are longstanding reasons why we have the feelings we do: a combination of how we were raised, things like jobs and relationships that we put all our faith in that turned out to be total let downs, entitlement, and so much more (many of which you’ve discussed on this blog), basically a lot of unhealthy expectations and disappointment we need to work through slowly so that we don’t let the cycle repeat. I think it is important that we start to tell each other that depression happens, and it’s ok to need help. It’s ok, even, when we might need medication and therapy, with the hope of eventually getting to a more healthy place in our lives. And, it’s ok for those who find that they need to be on antidepressants for life. We aren’t all be healed of our ailments, and those who have faith can still find peace in Christ despite being without perfect health on earth. We need to help lift the burden of guilt and shame off of each other when we are struggling, and work to change attitudes about depression in our social circles, so that those who are struggling do not feel like outcasts and freaks, suffering in silence.

    Reply
    • admin

      Thank you Kerry for sharing these needed thoughts. I was hoping someone more knowledgeable than me would bring up medication/therapy as a necessary, no-shame, do-it-now option.

      Well said and I really appreciate your perspective.

      Reply
  3. Amy

    Goodness I felt like I was reading my own personal diary! I’m set to graduate college in May and am in full blown quarter-life-crisis mode. My little depression parrot is deafening right now but I’m slowly shutting him up. I can’t tell you how much your website has helped me feel like I’m not alone! I think you should add another “F” to your list…FOLLOW THIS BLOG!!

    Thanks for all you do on here! It is so encouraging to see someone who has struggled with the same stuff as me and come out on top 🙂

    God Bless!

    Reply
    • admin

      Ha! Thanks Amy for these kind words. You’re awesome.

      Keep fighting the good fight. It gets easier, I promise. Hopefully All Groan Up can continue to stay right by you in support

      Reply
  4. Meredith

    This is probably the best piece I’ve read from you yet, both in form and content, especially on something so important. Thanks.

    Reply
    • admin

      Thanks Meredith! I know depression is a deep, complex topic that a blog isn’t going to answer, but I hope at least it gets us talking…and remembering that we’re not alone.

      Reply
  5. Steve

    Excellent article. I’ve gone through seasons of depression myself. Talking it out and just walking through it only matures and grows you into a stronger person. I agree with every word Kerry wrote in her comment too. Great great stuff. Thank you man.

    Reply
    • Paul

      Thanks Steve!

      Reply
  6. Jason

    God Paul I feel like you crawled into my brain and wrote down everything you found there! Since I am about to graduate college in three weeks- this is just what
    needed to read.

    Reply
    • Paul

      Awesome. Thanks Jason. So glad this article was helpful

      Reply
    • Dave

      Congratulations!!! Seriously, this is it – time for you to shine!

      Reply
  7. Dave

    This isn’t something people like to talk about, I’m glad you did. The first I was hit with it I didn’t even know depression had a name. I felt like I fell into a big hole one day and that was just where I was going to be the rest of my life. By God’s grace it passed and the next time it hit – in college – I at least knew that it had a name, and that it might pass, but other than that I had no strategies other than endure.
    God has been so good to me, The people I have in my life now are just incredible. And while my mind is far from perfect, its better. And when others who are struggling come to me I’m thankful that I can relate to them on a much more personal level

    Reply
    • admin

      Thank you Dave for sharing your story. Love how you mention that people able to put definition to your feelings has helped you find peace amidst the storms. And the grace and connection you have with people who are struggling in the same way.

      Reply
  8. Glo

    Thanks for this post, I needed it. I feel like confessing. I got really drunk Friday night and spent the rest of the weekend hating myself. I didn’t go to work on Monday because I felt so ashamed and I’ve been paranoid the whole day thinking everyone knows that I went out and got wasted like a fool. My parrot was having a ball this weekend. Fortunately, your post was waiting for me this morning…that shut it up. Onto that list of four Fs, add Hope, because you have to keep hope that this won’t last forever.

    Reply
    • admin

      Thanks for sharing Glo. That parrot loves speaking lies into our ears, doesn’t it? Definitely keep the hope. You’re so right that sometimes Hope is the powerful tool we can have

      Reply
  9. Chris Haigh

    Awesome article – good to hear that coming out of college/university, there’s other people that have no idea what the Hell to do and that there are people with those dark cousins on our shoulders.

    There is hope and there is help. That’s something I need to hear from time-to-time. 🙂

    Reply
    • admin

      Thanks Chris! Yep, you’re definitely not alone. We’re just really good at putting those PR spins on how we’re really doing to hide the fact that we have no freaking clue.

      However, the more I opened up to friends with my questions and doubts, I was shocked that they were feeling the same way almost every time.

      Reply
  10. Amanda

    wow, you really hit the nail on the head. my experience was really similar to yours. luckily I started to see a therapist and shes got me on the right track. I’m not going to say i’m 100% but the journey is long and i’m pushing forward. It really did help to talk to my best friend who surprisingly was feeling some of the same things. (a friend whom I thought was abandoning me for her fiance). Turns out, she needs me just as much as I need her. My mom has been great at listening and supporting me through it all. and my therapist has finally gotten me to stop listening to my ghosts of past and understand myself so much better. We really need more dialogue about mental health in this country. especially after such recent tragedies. Thank you!!

    Reply
    • admin

      Thank you Amanda for the kind words and sharing your story. Couldn’t agree more that we all could use a lot more open and honest conversations about mental health, and what we’re all struggling with. Light begets light

      Reply
  11. Christine

    I agree with a few of those posts above that it is like you were reading my mind. I have even been using the excuse for my ups and downs and blaming them on my “quarter life crisis” I will be finishing up my masters degree in May. I have been in college for seven years now. I am now going to be entering “my career” in its entirety. For the past year an a half I have been living about 4 hours from my family. I really want to find a job closer. Nights are the hardest especially since I live alone. I guess that could be a factor along with not know what the future hold and trying to keep enough duck tape around for the stupid bird that says I don’t deserve to have the life that I do. Its getting better and I’m learning to lean on the power of the gospel and it transforming power!

    Reply

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