Coming out depression

Depression: A coming out story

“Ugh! I’m so overwhelmed,” my sister said.

It was 1998. She had a toddler and was working full-time; I was working part-time and had three children between the ages of eight weeks and three and a half years. (We were often overwhelmed back in those days.) We’d been on the phone for some time. I don’t remember who called whom, but one of us was incurring some serious long distance charges. (Another thing we did a lot of back then.)

There was nothing exceptional about that day. I wasn’t particularly sad or especially down. I felt fine, my version of normal. So I don’t know why I said what I did. It had never slipped out previously. Not during the horrific months of my sister’s complicated, high-risk pregnancy. Not when I had lived half-way across the country and suffered intense homesickness. Not during our college years when we mailed long letters to each other or in any of the years previous when we shared a bedroom. But that day, with the phone cradled between my shoulder and ear so I could talk and load the dishwasher at the same time, I said it almost absent mindedly.

“Yeah, I know. Doesn’t it make you wish you could just die?”

The line went silent. After a moment, my sister said, “Ahm, no. It just makes me stressed out.”

            Whoops. Did I say that aloud?

“Yeah, right. I just meant, not kill yourself or anything, just get hit . . . ya know . . . ha ha, by a Mack truck. That’s all.”

More silence.

“No. I don’t ever wish that,” she said. (I recall the moment in slow motion.) “Aileen, do you have times when you want to die?”

I did. I had all my life.

“Sometimes,” I told her. “But not now. I promise. Right now I am fine.”

We talked for a while and I guess I convinced her that I really was fine (either that or one of the four wee ones in our care demanded attention). Still, I could not get the conversation off of my mind.

My sister is so much like me. How is it that I feel this way and she doesn’t? This just might not be normal. (I’m pretty quick on the uptake like that.)

Thus began my growing awareness of my own depression. Shortly after that conversation, I began my search for effective treatment. Through trial and error, I found the right mix of medication, therapy, and behavior modification to keep my depression under control. Most of the time.

That conversation with my sister was nineteen years ago. I’ve kept my struggle mostly private, confiding only in family, my closest friends, and a few others along the way. I haven’t actually been ashamed, per se. Rather, I feel protective of that part of myself. Protective of the new mother terrified of messing up, of the 13-year-old who cried herself to sleep, the 8-year-old who found existence so very tiring. But over the years, I’ve learned ways to take care of me that allow me to share my experience. And now it’s time to share that story with you.

It’s a long story though, longer than one blog post for sure. So if you want to hear about my 40-plus year struggle with mental illness in the form of chronic depression, stay with me. I’ve got a lot to say.

 

About the Author Aileen Lawrimore

Aileen Mitchell Lawrimore is a mother x 3, wife x 28 (years not men), minister, speaker, writer, retreat leader, and lover of beagles and books. She has a lot to say.

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19 comments
Jeanne Ray Hardee says February 1, 2017

Proud of you more than ever but have always been in love with your talent to capture His sufficient Grace !

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Pat Hollifield says February 1, 2017

It really takes courage to admit it. I too have suffered from anxiety and depression at times, sought help and have always been able to not succumb.
Like you, no one ever expected I had any problem. Prayers with you and look forward to another segment .

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Anonymous says February 1, 2017

Had no idea all these years. You always seem so upbeat and happy! We love you and will pray for you.

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Anonymous says February 1, 2017

I love you and your honesty. You are so wonderful!!

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Anonymous says February 1, 2017

Staying tuned...thankful you found strategies(and drugs) to help you!

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Dawn Sloan says February 1, 2017

Staying tuned...thankful you found strategies(and drugs) to help you through!

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Linda Lamm Piper says February 1, 2017

<3 Can't wait to hear your story, and thank you for sharing!

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The Favorite Son says February 1, 2017

Go Mom!

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jennifersekella says February 2, 2017

Wonderful writing, Aileen. Right there with you.

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Jody Smith says February 2, 2017

Thank you for your honesty. I appreciate the time you spend on this subject for the benefit of others.

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