I didn’t realize the stats on this, but it kind of makes sense. Men are taught that feelings make you weak, or “girly” and you have to be macho. So it’s no wonder that people are more shocked when men attempt or commit suicide, because they think they can’t talk about it.
Being a woman with depression, it’s hard enough talking about it simply because of the stigma of depression alone, without the added pressure of gender expectations. But what’s even worse, is the stigma from the people closest to me.
Even though I’m a girl, I grew up thinking that my feelings were wrong and felt invalidated by the people who were supposed to love, protect, and support me. This led to me bottling everything up and not expressing my feelings and is the main reason I was not diagnosed until I was 26, when I easily could have been diagnosed with depression by the time I was 14, and anxiety by 6 or 7.
My counsellor has told me multiple time that I’m very good at hiding it. It’s not that I’m intentionally trying to hide it, I’ve just been doing it for so long that I do it without even thinking. I may appear functional on the outside, while inside I looking for ways to give up and escape.
Even the people closest to me often don’t see when I’m at my worst. If they do, they may not realize what they’re really seeing, because it often comes out as agitation and irritability. It’s often combined with my anxiety as well. The two definitely feed off each other, but as my doctor pointed out a couple weeks ago, one always seems to be more prominent than the other.
Over the past two years, my anxiety was quite severe, and my depression was more of a byproduct of my anxiety. Once I started CBT for my anxiety, it got better. Once the things going on in my life (mostly with work) improved, so did my anxiety. Because I still hadn’t found the right antidepressant for me, my depression symptoms started to become quite severe a few months ago, which is why I’ve now started my 4th antidepressant.
The biggest, and hardest part about my depression at the moment, is that it was not triggered by anything specific. Work is going really well. In general, my anxiety is basically under control. Or more accurately, I’m able to process through it better than I used to. It’s definitely not gone, but I’ve gotten better at listening to the logical part of my brain. Yet for some reason, I couldn’t stop feeling unhappy, hopeless, and worthless, and thinking about suicide. Did I tell anyone? Of course not. I don’t feel safe telling anyone except my doctor. So, I finally did.
But no one seemed to notice how down I was. I was struggling to concentrate at work, and really wanted to call in sick on several occasions. The only reason I didn’t, is because what scared me more than calling in sick to work was answering to my parents as to why I was staying home. I didn’t want to tell them I was feeling suicidal. So I kept going to work.
I’ve been on my new antidepressant for 3 weeks now. I am starting to notice some smaller mood changes. I saw my counsellor yesterday, and he said I seemed happier than the last time I saw him, two weeks ago. I told him I didn’t want to get my hopes up though because I’ve had had several that seemed to work for a bit, and then they stopped. It’s too soon still. So we’ll see.
But anyway, back to the initial topic here. As hard as it is, we do need to talk about this stuff. That’s why I started this blog.