The D Word

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Anthea is a Journalism major at university.  Her love of nature, animals and travelling is evident in her home full of fresh flowers, foreign artefacts and her two Labrador’s roaming free in the beautiful garden of her humble abode.

Anthea has a bright and bubbly demeanour, a caring nature and an unspoken sense of intelligence.  However, look closely and you will see sadness in her eyes.  A sense of melancholy that she effortlessly disguises.  She will hug you and make you feel so welcome and loved and yet everyday she struggles to feel the love that she permeates within others.  Each day she battles demons within her mind that tell her she is not good enough, that spark anger and anxiety.  In essence, these difficulties have hindered her ability to thrive in her studies, and have also damaged the core of her relationships with her spouse, family and friends.

The following is an interview with Anthea, offering an undeviating and direct perspective of what it is to live a life that has been overshadowed by depression.
*Names have been changed.

Depression.  What does this mean to you?  When did it all begin for you?

I have had two miscarriages and I believe this is where I began to change emotionally and mentally.  Prior to being diagnosed with depression, I wasn’t entirely aware of what depression as a mental illness entailed.  Depression is to have the desire to live a normal life, striving to be happy but not having the mental or physical capability to do so because the lack of personal strength and overwhelming sadness that suppresses your being.  It is an endless battle of self-doubt and wanting to feel loved so completely but always questioning the motives of those around you.  Depression to me is feeling emotionally crippled.  It is like running a marathon and never reaching the end because of pure and utter exhaustion, and because you’re crying, yelling frantically, tripping over, and being pushed down.  You’re trying to finish the marathon and you’re trying to make it but you’re constantly struggling and asking yourself, “What is the point?”

What has been most difficult for you as you battle your demons?

Hearing loved ones call me crazy.  Having the people I love give up on me.  Seeing other women with babies.  Feeling useless for not being able to have a child.  Losing my friends because I can’t stand to be around them.  Getting out of bed every morning.  Trying to be happy around the people I love so they don’t get hurt or feel sorry for me.  Not graduating with the rest of my university class because I have not been successful with my studies despite previously being an A student.  Sometimes I fall asleep and hope that I won’t wake up.  I even have my funeral planned out because I feel that I will die young.  I have my life insurance set up, this was a difficult process because I realised that I do not have what I truly desired before depression hit me.  I don’t have children to give anything to.  I haven’t been a mother.  What is the point in living to not have what truly matters?  A loving home, a family, a career, and a purpose.  This is what I struggle with every single day within my mind.

Regarding my emotions, when I know I can’t handle or contain my anxiety I do try my best to contain my anger and overwhelming emotions but it is like I’m aware that I’m getting myself worked up but I can’t stop.  I’ll cry endlessly in the middle of a mall, in front of anyone, yell and have an anxiety attack without fully knowing what is happening until much later as I have to also suffer the consequence of my actions.  It is difficult because this is not the person I am and this is not the person I want to be. 

How has depression affected your relationship with your spouse?

The effects of my depression on our relationship have been detrimental.  *Jacob was the one who took me in to see my doctor as my condition worsened.   I couldn’t get out of bed, just unable to move, crushed by sadness in a foetal position crying and wanting to end my life.  Prior to being diagnosed with depression my relationship with *Jacob had suffered due to my episodes of anger, sadness and inability to live in a normal and happy state of mind.

I constantly fought with *Jacob and felt my self-worth was diminishing and our relationship was on an unpleasant plateau.  He told me constantly that he loved me, that together we would work towards a happy and successful life.  My desire to have children has been so strong but I truly feel this will never happen after being diagnosed with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome and now having to overcome depression. 

*Jacob is the love of my life but my mind has been so clouded, unable to see or feel his love the way I want to.  Initially, I always craved for him to love me with everything he had, to not ever give up on me no matter how difficult the situation became.  I just wanted *Jacob to love me and not ever make me feel alone.  I have felt so alone.  It is like being in a room full of people, so boisterous and pleasant but still feeling so empty inside.

My mind kept telling me that he could never love me the way I loved him.  Our relationship has suffered because of the way I have been thinking.  My mind constantly switches to thoughts of no matter how much I try to explain my emotions I always feel like no other can understand what is happening to me or what I am thinking and feeling.  This is a constant battle because I feel judged instead of heard and that what I say doesn’t matter. 

After being assessed by my doctor and being on anti-depressants, *Jacob said he saw a change in my character, that I was back to my usual happy self.  I did feel a change in my thought processes.  I started to notice and enjoy a lot of what I had taken for granted; flowers, reading, smiling, laughing, making love, spending time with loved ones.  *Jacob’s patience and unconditional love has been important in my journey of recovery.

What support systems have been helpful towards your recovery?

I grew up in the Pacific Islands with a culture that has not gathered a concrete sense of mental illness.  A culture that is reserved and deals with issues with the mentality of “Get over it” or “Forget and move on”.   The lack of knowledge within the Pacific Island community is worrying and has not been helpful towards my recovery.  My parents migrated to New Zealand from a Pasifika community that places much pressure on children to perform and provide for the family.  Essentially, my success is my parents success, however taking into account my mental illness I have reached a breaking point.   My parents actually said I’ll get better once I stop caring about the insignificant, and one relative even told me to “Harden up”.

Counselling has been helpful as opening up and talking about issues have been integral in my attempt to overcome my struggles.

My partner, *Jacob has been supportive.  He has been with me to see my doctor and has encouraged me to do what I love and to not give up on my studies or goals in life.  I do my best to do simple things that make me smile.  I love flowers so I’ll arrange them in vases.  I take a lot of photographs of nature and do my best to love, just love.

Where to from now, Anthea?

I feel the road to recovery is an on-going process.  I am grateful for all the support that I have and my only desire right now is to get better and to accept the love and support of those around me.  I must let go of my pride.  I do understand that my mental illness is not easy for *Jacob or my family.  I have been off anti-depressants for two weeks and I feel the need to see my doctor to go back on the medication.  The meds make me extremely tired, however I do feel the meds have helped in the sense of allowing me to have a clearer state of mind.  I just want to be happy and I want those around me to be happy, too.

What would you say to others who are going through depression?

There is support out there for you.  www.depression.org.nz is a website that features a New Zealand sporting legend, John Kirwan who has been through depression.  I have known about his programme for over two years, however it was not until two months ago that I checked out the website, a great help.

Do not give up.  Love yourself and you will be loved.

Thank you, Anthea.

Love & laughter,
Curly Miri

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50 thoughts on “The D Word

    • Sorry about that! My iPhone is acting buggy..

      But to continue…it felt like I was reading a post written about me. Everything in this post…exactly what I’ve been going through.

      Thank you so much for posting this. I felt like I was the only person experiencing the strange and detrimental effects of depression…it’s so much more. Thank you again.

      • You are not alone and indeed, depression is so much more than sadness or mood sensations. My hope for you as you move forward is a life of gratitude, love and belief that you are also so much more. Thank you.

  1. love yourself and you will be loved… great line, hard to overcome.
    This was a great post.. thoughtful loving and meaningful. Thank you for sharing this

  2. Thank you for a great post about a very misunderstood subject. It was so interesting to read about depression from the actual experiences of someone dealing with it, to get their point of view. Sadly we tend to judge those dealing with mental illness, and posts like yours help us to better understand.

    • Beautiful. You have offered a sense of positive acknowledgement that people dealing with depression do not often encounter. I agree, it is easy to judge without knowing. I wanted to write this piece to further develop an understanding of a mental illness that is sadly common within our society. Thank you.

  3. As someone who has depression.. always have and always will, this post resonated with me. Thank you for doing your part in bringing this important issue out of the shadows. We aren’t alone.

  4. I think depression affects us all at some point in our life. How can we avoid getting obsessive about feeling about something or someone? Why do things people say, things they do (or don’t do) hurt us, why can’t we just walk away from these harmful emotions?

    • Very interesting questions. The notion that depression affects us all, I agree. I have read various articles, with the scientific argument regarding the human brain-if the neurochemical level of serotonin drops a person becomes depressed (due to high stress levels or severe loss). From personal experience I think cognitive distortions contribute to depression based on the immediate environment of the person. In Anthea’s case I believe emotional reasoning and over generalisation are contributing factors to her depression. Harmful emotions and thought processes are interlinked. Such a complicated topic. Thank you so much for your thoughts. 🙂

    • Definitely a topic that should be discussed more, especially within an open, loving and nurturing environment. Wouldn’t it be nice to actually have someone ask, “How are you?” and actually want to hear your response?

  5. There are just too many people with the big D to not think it there has to be something wrong with the world, not the person! Being sensitive to your surroundings is not an infirmity, but how we were created. You cannot feel what is happening all around and not be disturbed. I believe people need to confront the anger they are really feeling regarding the changes, losses or unfairness in their lives and they would either handle depression better or not have it. Maybe just have to go to anger management, but that’s better, right?

    • I completely agree, there is definitely something wrong with our world. Take for example a society such as the Pacific Island community that regards mental illness as a taboo topic, this is the same as sex. I grew up in a Samoan family that never discussed anything beyond church and school. I had to learn about sex from reading a book, lol. Regarding anger management, that is a fair call and an in the case of Anthea, a viable option to overcome an overpowering anger. Great suggestion towards winning the battle. Scoreboard: Depression 0. Anthea 1. Thank you.

  6. Scrolling through your posts I see how you confront the beautiful and not-so-beautiful aspects of life around you. I feel you have an open heart for all these things. How does your photography play a role in that?

    • My heart is always open to such matters. Thank you. I do not have much in the way of photography skills, just snap away and capture beautiful moments that make me smile. 🙂

  7. I have begun to take photos …your blog inspired me. No matter what the subject matter…your heart always shines through. I always get a little bit excited when I see a new post from you in my email box. I had depressio for 20 years, very serious bouts. Sometimes I could not get up in the mornings and many many times I wished that I hadn’t woken up. Those days are gone now…I am such a joyful person, people call me very optimistic…but I am just so pleased to be experiencing the joys of being in this body right now. Many blessings to Anthea.

    • You are such a beautiful soul. It is somewhat therapeutic and fun for me to take photos that make me smile. I will definitely be checking in at your blog to see your lovely snapshots. Taking photos of everyday pleasures makes me realise there is so much to be grateful for in my life, however what I value most is the people in it. Thank you for sharing your experience. I am happy to know that you are now living a life of joy, it is what you are worthy of, it is your right. It is always good to come across optimistic people. In my own experience, once I was rid of the toxicity in my life, includuing people, I realised I was able to enjoy life a lot more. Blessings indeed to Anthea. Thank you so much, you made me smile.

  8. we have depression in our family and it is a hard thing to deal with for all of us. But it’s always good to talk about it as you never quite know who else you know is also suffering and somehow that also helps knowing you are not alone 🙂

    • Depression can be somewhat burdensome, especially within a family context. I completely agree with you, open discussion is a wonderful notion as gaining an understanding of what a person is going through and offering an environment of caring ears without judgment is a great way of letting a person who is depressed know that indeed they are not alone. Thank you so much 🙂

  9. Just wanted to thank you for highlighting a common malady and sparking informative discussion. I think the more we share of ourselves, the more we’ll learn we have similar struggles and others understand them. I wish Anthea the very best. Don’t ever give up – life is change. If it’s bad now, it has to get better!

    • “Life is change”-perfectly said. People tend to think we are all so different and yet we are all so similar in various aspects of life’s struggles. Thank you, kindly. Enjoy the rest of your week 🙂

  10. You are a beautiful writer. Beautifully constructed blog…. and I will check out the site because I have my struggles with depression as well. I am diagnosed as clinically depressive and share some of the same feelings as yourself. I have been battling it with diet and faith, soon exercise (on a cleanse right now) but tomorrow I am going to the hospital to speak with a professional as well. This was a nice experience to meet up with you. Thank-you for visiting my blog. Many blessings Miri xoxo

    • My hope for you as you move forward is peace and love, so much of it. Thank you for sharing your own experience, all the very best to you. Many blessings to you, too. 🙂

      • Thank-you so much for the well wishes. I wish you the same, your blog has given me something. 🙂

  11. Thank you for this post. While not on the same level or due to the same experiences I too have suffered/suffer from depression and anxiety and she is definitely right that it is an on-going thing. It makes me happy to see posts bring light to this topic. 🙂

    • Shane, thank you for sharing. It makes me happy to know that support is always there and that noone should ever feel alone in their struggles. I wish you the best moving forward. 🙂

  12. My, now, ex-bf might be suffering from depression. We broke up because one day he just..changed…and he told me to leave. I’ve been there for him since even though he is living in another country so communicating with him isn’t easy and I have to rely on Skype and emails. I worry about him because of how down he often sounds. I try talking to him but he doesn’t seem to hear me. He is seeing a therapist, which is good, but I wonder if he might need more than just that. Anyway, your article was great.

    • You are such a wonderful person to be there for your ex. It is not easy for either of you, especially considering his state of mind not allowing him to realise the capacity of your love. Depression is a whirlwind of emotions. Whatever you do, realise that you did your part, he has to do his to overcome his depression. I think it is great that you continue to reach out to him, we need more caring people like you in this world.

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  14. Depression is a hard topic to talk about, and an even harder thing to talk about clearly. But I’m glad you and Anthea connected in a rather wonderful way. (Coming from someone who is familiar with the topic: you chose good questions, too.)

  15. This is really exceptionally written. What an interesting, honest, revealing perspective into a world that is so personal, yet so common to so many.

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  17. Brilliant brave post. Depression is so devastating and for some like me a frequent struggle with the negative thoughts that seem so real, how can the world not be how (awful) I see it. You are right that recovery starts by acknowledging the need for help. Where do our loved ones, who get a lot of flak while in support, get their recognition? Sharing these glimpses of another’s soul helps me. Thank you.

  18. A couple of years ago I suffered from what (I realize now was) a relatively short and mild case of depression, only lasted about a year. The more time passes, the harder it is to remember exactly what it felt like. It does get better!!

  19. Thank you for sharing this. When I found myself battling depression (inherited from my biological mother), I felt like no one knew how to help me. Most of all, I was just angry at my body for not being able to feel happy when times were obviously good. This is so reaffirming. I think I’ll share it. God bless!

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