But you seem so happy all the time! I was good at hiding it. I was good at plastering a smile on my face and going about my day. But when I would get in my car for the commute home? I would bawl. I would cry the whole way home and want to climb into a blanket-covered ball on the couch when I got there.
My name is Cedar. I’m a 24 year old registered nurse, certified personal trainer, and lover of all things health and wellness. And I’m pretty darn passionate about what I do. I’m also a pretty emotional person. I think that’s why I wanted to be a nurse – I can feel great empathy and wanted to comfort others during the most vulnerable and frightening moments of their lives. I think I’m pretty good at that.
Which is why I’m also pretty good at putting on a façade for others when I’m in emotional turmoil on the inside. Everyone said that the first yearof nursing is really rough. Everyone goes home and cries because it’s so difficult, tiring, and emotionally draining.
When I was coming up on a year of nursing, though, I couldn’t see any change in sight. I was pretty dang unhappy. My boyfriend and I had been talking about a big move across the country, so when he found a new job I applied for one as well. Then we packed up and took a big leap. I stayed in the nursing field, but a much different role. I was EXCITED for my first day of work, and happy about where my life was going. But I quickly became discontent again. Blaming it on the winter blues, then on being far from family, then on my job, it took me awhile to have the big epiphany I needed.
It was about 8 months after our move that I was driving home from work one day, crying over nothing in particular, when I made the sudden realization that maybe, despite whatever happened in my day, I was just going to be sad. Maybe my emotional personality had morphed into something a littlemore. I wondered: am I…depressed?
I talked it over with my mom on the phone, and decided to make an appointment my primary care physician. I was SUPER nervous. After all, I was normally the one on the other side of the bedrail, asking my patient all the questions about their emotional health. But I knew I needed to do this. It just couldn’t be normal to be thatsad thatoften.
I sure wish everyone could have had my experience. My doctor was so great about it. She suggested I find someone to talk to – a therapist or counselor – and told me she loves hers! She also thought it might help to start a medication like sertraline (Zoloft). As I expected a suggestion like this, we decided I should start on the lowest dose and in two weeks increase up a little more if needed (it takes about two weeks to have an effect). Two weeks later when I started crying on the way to a friend’s pool party because I just wanted to stay home and do nothing, I decided to take the increase.
And you know what? It helped! I no longer feel so moody. I feel much more even-tempered and more like my happy, chipper self – which is who I think I really am and who I would like to be. Those closest to me have noticed as well and commented on it. At my follow-up appointment, I turned down a further increase in medication. I feel much better and see no reason to up the dose right now.
There’s such a stigma attached to antidepressants – and other psychotropic medications as well. If there’s one thing I can say in this article, it’s stop judging! And stop being afraid of being judged! I’m not defined by my down days. I’m not defined by my “happy pill”, and neither are you, or your best friend, or your brother, or the stranger in the grocery store. As attention to mental health and wellness continues to rise, I’ve realized just how many people are affected by things like anxiety, stress, and depression. It’s not just me. To some degree, we all are.
So it’s like I said to my doctor during my appointment: I realized this sadness doesn’t have to be my ‘normal’. I don’t have to feel miserable all the time. And I’m very grateful there’s something out there that can help me with it!
So even if you get comments like, “YOU have depression?? I’d never have guessed”, which is a comment I did get from someone I told, know that you don’t have to go through your day faking it. Practice good self-care, exercise, eat healthy, take time for yourself, do things you enjoy, and work towards your dreams (for me that’s working on my health and wellness blog Content With Coffee). But if you’re still struggling along the way, seek out help! Your days can get better – and you don’t have to do it alone. That’s the best advice that I or anyone else can give you.
Thanks to Cedar for wanting to be a guest blogger for me and sharing your story! You can also find her on Facebook and Instagram if you want to follow more of her stories and personal experiences. It really means a lot to me when people want to open up and talk about their mental health and how they struggle/struggled with it because it means you’re not ashamed and you’re not afraid of the consequences. You all mean everything to me!