The death of actress Regina King’s only son is another reminder that depression doesn’t discriminate. It doesn’t matter the size of your house, bank account or car you drive.
My struggle with depression began when I was away at college. It wasn’t brought on by anything in particular. In fact, by all accounts, things were going well. I was just sad and couldn’t shake it. It got progressively worse. I cried a lot. I didn’t want to leave the house. Virtual learning didn’t exist back then. My boyfriend’s mother recognized I needed help, sat me down and encouraged me to see a doctor. In fact, she offered to drive me to the appointment. It was one of the single greatest things anyone has ever done for me. Her son, however, ended up cheating on me with an Applebee’s waitress. It turns out he was enjoying more than the Half-Price Munchies or Triple Chocolate Meltdown. My doctor put me on an anti-depressant. It saved my life. Nothing, however, could save that relationship. It was dead the moment he started “Eating Good in the Neighborhood.”
I have been on various medications ever since. Our brains are wired differently. It is not your fault if you struggle with depression or anxiety. The problem is the people who don’t recognize it is a disease. I was once in a relationship with someone like that. Then again, a narcissistic abuser will use your struggles or insecurities as a weapon whenever they can. He would tell me I was unstable and crazy whenever I questioned his actions. “You should just kill yourself.” He tried to shame me for taking medication. He probably needed the medicine more than I did.
Surround yourself with people who are supportive and understanding. Teach your children about the warning signs of suicide. Encourage them to talk to you. My children and I speak openly about mental health. I received this text message from one of my kids while they were in school, “I’m not feeling well mentally today.” I was so proud my child reached out for help. Pretending depression doesn’t exist won’t make it go away.
I am a huge proponent of therapy. My children have the “Calm” app on their phones. We also discuss breathing exercises to work through stress. I am not a perfect mother. I’ve raised my voice. I have forgotten field trips, missed important school deadlines and accidentally thrown out homework. My daughter brought bright red lipstick to school when she was 6-years-old and put it on for school pictures. The photographer must have thought I was Patsy Ramsey. I cannot figure out Common Core Math. I have completed school projects my child put his name on and was pissed when it didn’t get an “A.” But when a friend in school recently talked to my daughter about her anxiety it was my child who encouraged her to speak to a parent or counselor. “I told her it is nothing to be ashamed of.” I would say I’m doing something right.