Dear Annie: I want to share my story of depression – and hope – so that it might help others.
I’m nearly 50 now, but only recently did I recognize the depression that has plagued my life. I had the symptoms for decades: bursts of anger, loss of appetite, lack of interest in work and activities, avoiding people, constantly thinking about death. A few years ago, it hit me hard. For weeks, I couldn’t leave my bed, and suicidal thoughts filled my mind. I was a “dead man walking.” My emotions were burned away, and I saw no point in living.
Finally, I began seeing a therapist on a weekly basis. Progress was slow, but each bit of relief was a stepping-stone out of the darkness. I learned that you have to look after yourself. Overworking, not eating right, lack of exercise, not enough sunshine and cutting yourself off from social situations all feed depression. If you can get out of bed and get out the door – if only for a little while – that’s a major thing.
National Depression Screening Day is Oct. 11. I recently found out about it from a friend. I wish I’d known about it years ago and taken a screening. Readers can go to HelpYourself HelpOthers.org and find a nearby screening location or take a free, anonymous screening online. They also can find out what to do next.
I’m alive today because I managed to get help in time, but I lost years of real living before I understood that I had depression. I strongly urge anyone reading this who even suspects they might have depression to do a screening. Sincerely – Mike Stephens
Dear Mike: Thank you for sharing your story. Depression affects millions of Americans from all walks of life and all demographics. National Depression Screening Day can be enormously helpful for those who are concerned about depression. We hope our readers will check HelpYourself HelpOthers.org to find out about a screening.