Depression is tricky. It’s sneaky. And it’s all over social media.
Ever since I’ve received my “official” diagnosis I’ve really noticed how many people on social media suffer from depression. “I didn’t have my usual morning coffee, omg I’m so depressed right now” insert sad crying face emoji. It’s super frustrating cause for years I thought that I couldn’t possibly be depressed, I mean look at all these people who suffer from depression, I don’t go to the gym, drink smoothies and take selfies at the beach and magically feel better. So it must be me, I’m not depressed, I’m completely broken. I don’t feel/behave like all the memes and weird pictures of people staring off into the distance with mildly motivational words superimposed over them. So I’m wrong. This all encompassing feeling of dread, the panic attacks, the social anxiety… none of that is “right” cause it’s not what social media says it should look like.
The internet is both a blessing and a curse. All this information is at our fingertips and self diagnosis is so easy. You can type in your symptoms and and answer will appear (90% of the time the answer is cancer, wtf internet people?). But is it the correct answer? I self diagnosed, and then I tried to self treat using “that one weird trick you doctor doesn’t want you to know!” Needless to say, it didn’t fucking work. In my defense, I did go to my primary care physician when I first noticed the symptoms getting out of hand. 10 years ago, after the birth of my eldest. I was told to relax, get some sleep, go out and interact with people, lose some weight and do some exercise. Well that didn’t work! What it did do is reinforce the idea that there wasn’t actually anything wrong with me, that it was all in my head, that it was just my new normal. Being told that it was just “baby blues” didn’t help at all. Instead being sad and terrified became my new normal. A few years later the numbness crept in.
My second attempt at an official diagnosis was after my miscarriages and the birth of my youngest. I got all the same useless advice and a 6 month script for sleeping tablets and a mood stabilizer. The meds made it worse. The numbness was all encompassing and I really couldn’t cope at all. In hindsight I should have marched back into the doctor’s office and demanded a change in medication. Instead I stopped cold turkey, went through withdrawal and shuffled along, feeling more depressed than ever.
I tried journaling, meditation, and exercise. It didn’t really help my depression but it made me feel like I was doing something. I wasn’t just being swept along. And I kept on asking for help. But because I had been acting the same way for so long, asking for help didn’t work. I can’t possibly be depressed now, I’ve been this way all along!
Social media has really been a double edged sword when it has come to my depression diagnosis. At first, I doubted that I was actually depressed, I didn’t share the same symptoms/feelings/behavior as the other people on my feed. And then I found my people. Other moms, men, women, parents, normal people who said that they felt the same way I did. The people on the other side of the screen described my feelings, my life. And they all spoke about “therapists”, and “medication”. Things that I didn’t have. I read about their struggles to get diagnosed and I recognized myself in their words.
It’s been a really long journey to get an official diagnosis. I have lots of regrets, I wish I had spoken up earlier, I wish that I had taken the Husbeast with me to speak when I couldn’t. I wish that I hadn’t bought into the social media version of what I should feel/experience. But I’m glad that I had the forums, pages, and subreddits when I needed to validate my own experiences and feelings, without them I wouldn’t have known where to start looking for answers.