Mental Health Update

March 5, 2014

George_H._Brimhall

By Gabrielle. Photo of George H. Brimhall (see the P.S. for relevance).

A little warning, this post is really long. : )

On Valentine’s Day weekend we ended up throwing 3 parties. Maude had friends over on Friday night — a little “GALantine’s” gathering with a pretty dessert table and chick flicks. Then on Saturday night, Ralph went to “Mormon Prom” a formal dance for LDS high school kids in the Bay Area who are 16 years old or older. We made corsages for the girls, and after the dance, the kids came to our house to hang out and have rootbeer floats. Then on Sunday, we hosted a “Policeman Party” for our nephew’s 4th birthday. And since there was no school on Monday, we had a sleepover for 3 of the cousins. (Sometime, I need to tell you more about the policeman party. It was a cute one.)

At some point, I turned to Ben Blair and said, can you believe this? Two months ago it took everything in me to get a Christmas Tree, and this weekend we threw 3 parties and are ready for more! I’m doing so much better!

So this post is a mental health report. I’ve been very open over the past several months about the status of my brain, and I’ve received dozens of emails from readers wondering how I knew my head wasn’t working right, how I recognized when to go to the doctor, and how the medication was working. Obviously, everyone who has experienced a downturn in their mental health has their own story, but here’s mine, in case it helps.

It starts 12 years ago. In the summer of 2002, right about when baby Olive weaned, I crashed. It had been a hard year. On August 1st, 2001 we moved to New York with 2 year old Maude and 3 year old Ralph. Three weeks later, Olive was born (the day before Ralph’s 4th birthday). Three weeks after that, September 11th happened and the entire city plunged into a depression.

We moved to New York, far from our families, so Ben Blair could do his graduate work at Columbia and we were delighted to be there. But until we got there, I didn’t really understand how expensive it is to live in New York, and here we were, Ben in graduate school, and me home with 3 very young children and no design-clients in sight — the poorest we’d ever been. Ben’s parents were very generous and helped us stay afloat during the worst months. It was the first time I’d tried the stay-at-home-without-earning-an-income option, and unfortunately it wasn’t the right fit for me. Additionally, right about the time we moved to New York, my mother remarried. She married a wonderful man, and we adore him, but seeing your mother married to anyone who is not your father (or vice versa) takes some major getting used to.

So, it was a rough year. I honestly thought we were managing pretty well — we made great friends and took advantage of what the city had to offer as much as possible. But at about the 1 year mark after our move, just as I weaned baby Olive, our car broke down. An 83 Toyota Landcruiser. The fix was $800, and we flat out couldn’t do it. Apparently, that was the straw that broke the camel’s back. My head just shut down.

It’s like my brain was paralyzed. I couldn’t make decisions. Even little ones. For example, my dear friend Megan lived downstairs and could see something was very wrong. So she came over to take me a movie and get me out of the house. I wasn’t opposed to a movie, but it involved so many decisions (Should I change my clothes? Where are my shoes? Do I need to brush my hair? Will I need to talk on the car ride? Should I stand up now and get my shoes now, or keep sitting for awhile?) that I couldn’t do it. I cried often.

This continued for several weeks getting worse and worse until all I wanted to do was die. I thought about death almost constantly, because imagining being dead was the only relief from feeling this awful that my head could conceive of. I very much wanted to die, but at the same time I could see that wouldn’t be fair to Ben, to leave him with 3 tiny kids. At some point I tried to explain to him in all seriousness that we needed to put the kids up for adoption, because then I would be free to die. In my head it made so much sense — a brilliant plan! Oh man. I remember the look on his face as I was explaining this to him — I had a moment of clarity and thought: Oh. I’m going crazy. Something is wrong with my brain.

Because I had grown up with my Aunt Mary Lu, I was familiar with what serious mental dysfunction looked like and if there was a way to avoid that life, I really didn’t want to become insane. My moment of clarity was a huge push for me to do everything possible to get better. But. There wasn’t actually much I could do. I didn’t even know what was wrong! And poor Ben, what was he to do? He had no idea what was wrong either. He was having to handle twice the responsibilities and was worried sick about his wife.

Luckily, a woman at church saw me and recognized what was happening. She told the leader of our congregation and he brought me Marie Osmond’s book about post-partum depression — wrapped in brown paper like it was contraband. He didn’t want to embarrass me. : ) He also told us if we needed to see a doctor, that our congregation had a fund that could help out with expenses. This was a huge relief because money was especially tight at the time.

I’m a fast reader and whipped through the book in an afternoon. I confess, it was not my favorite. But. At the end of the book there was a section by a doctor and it included a quiz to help you identify if you were depressed. I took the quiz and friends, I got an A++. I was depressed! This thing I was going through had a name! Suddenly there was hope!

The book said I should see a doctor to get a physical, and if needed, see a counselor. So I did. I still couldn’t really make decisions, so Ben Blair had to do most of it — the making of the appointment, the driving me there. And it all took time. My doctor’s appointment for the physical and basic checkup had a wait time of a couple of weeks. Then we waited for blood work. Everything on my physical checked out fine, so it was recommended that I see a counselor. Another 2 week wait for an appointment. The counselor sat with me for an hour and at the end told me I was depressed. I was so mad! I told her I already knew that and that’s why I was in her office. So frustrating! She told me I would need to see a psychiatrist so I could get a medication prescription. Ugh. I just knew that would be another 2 week wait!

By this time my head was even worse. I was trying so hard to get help and make the right appointments, but the whole process was quite ridiculous, and it was so new to us that we didn’t know how to navigate it well. I didn’t think I could wait another two weeks to see a psychiatrist. So. We called my brother-in-law Kevin. He’s married to Ben’s sister Jeanette and (tada!) is a psychiatrist. He lived far from us, but gave me an evaluation over the phone (side note: as you can imagine, it’s super fun to talk about your sex drive with your brother-in-law!), confirmed the depression and then shipped me a box of samples of a medication called Wellbutrin because he knew we couldn’t afford to buy medication.

I was told it would take 2 weeks before we knew if the Wellbutrin was working. At this point I had been sick for months, and known it was depression for about 5 weeks — the idea of having to wait two more weeks was so discouraging. What if it didn’t work? What if we needed a different medication? Ugh and more ugh!

But here’s the happy ending: two weeks went by, and one morning I woke up and was… normal. I didn’t want to die. I got dressed. I made a list of tasks and got through them. I ran errands. I had conversations. I didn’t cry for no particular reason. I wasn’t grinning all the time, or falsely happy, or overly happy. I was just my regular self.

It was awesome!! The Wellbutrin worked wonderfully for me, and I didn’t even notice any side effects. The best case scenario. I know what a blessing that is. Some people try for years to find the right medication or combination of medications. And some never quite find the perfect fit. Can you imagine how frustrating that must be?

In fact, one very clear memory from that time was realizing that my depression might be mild compared to others. The understanding came during the appointment with the counselor that I found so irritating. During our hour together she repeatedly assured me that how I was feeling wasn’t my fault. And I remember thinking: Duh. Of course it’s not my fault. Why would I ever choose this? But as I took the train home, it occurred to me that there were people out there who were experiencing what I was experiencing, but they felt guilt about it as well! Making it even worse!! And that broke my heart.

Even back then, a dozen years ago, I was very open about what I was going through, and many people told me that they thought it was probably related to weaning the baby. No doubt my hormones were at least partially out of whack, but honestly, I think it would have happened even without the weaning. It was just a particularly difficult time.

I took the Wellbutrin for about 3 months, until the samples ran out. By that time, I had found a full time job as a senior art director in an ad agency, and our life was very different. We had a decent income. I was being creative daily. I was getting out of the house. Life was good!

Cut to August 2013, a dozen years later.

A few weeks after the move to Oakland I could see I wasn’t doing well. I wasn’t depressed yet, but I could tell my head was pretty fragile. I tried to take it easy. I tried to get help around the house. I tried to eliminate all unnecessary tasks. But it didn’t really work. It was like this: I was dealing with something like 250% of my normal mental/physical workload, so I eliminated a bunch of stuff. But that basically took it down to 200% of my normal workload. Still way too much.

So we started looking for a doctor in case things got worse. I was open about seeking help. I was sure the process would be easier than the first time. But alas, it wasn’t! We called 15 doctors — and literally every single one had a message that they weren’t accepting new patients. Part of the problem was we weren’t desperate yet. After several rejections we’d take a break, and then I’d have a few good days and we’d forget about it. And then I’d have a horrible day and we’d try to track down a doctor again. We did this for weeks.

Eventually I realized I was once again desiring death, thinking about it all the time. Again, death was the only relief my head could find; the only scenario that offered peace to my broken brain. Like you might expect, the weird conversations happened again. I would have talks with Ben Blair about how my desire to die was a conscious, reasoned choice; that I’d experienced everything I want to experience. That he needed to let me die.

I realize that if you haven’t experienced anything like this before, the idea that I wanted to die might freak you out. But amazingly it’s actually quite normal for someone who is depressed. Isn’t that awful? And I should also note, that though I was desiring death almost all the time, I wasn’t specifically suicidal — meaning I wasn’t looking up ways to kill myself on the internet. Though I suppose that may have been the next phase. : (

Finally, in October we found an available psychiatrist and set an appointment — with a 2 week wait as usual. I went to the appointment and told her what was happening and that I thought I should probably take Wellbutrin. She talked to me for an hour and a half and then told me I needed to take Wellbutrin. I confess, I was once again very irritated because I felt like I was jumping through unnecessary hoops, but I was also simply relieved that I was finally getting help — and a prescription.

We filled the prescription and what do you know? Two weeks later I was feeling pretty fantastic. And by fantastic I mean normal.

I take half a pill each day. The doctor recommended that I ease my body onto the medication by taking just half a pill for the first few days. At that point, I tried a full pill and felt really funny so went back to half and stayed there. I take the medication at night before I go to bed. It works. I know it doesn’t work for everybody, but it works for me.

Friends, this post is not a call for sympathy. I mean it. I am doing great! I’m as healthy as I’ve ever been, and really, truly, compared to many people with mental illness, I have it easy as pie. If I’m ever in a bad way again and can’t seem to get help, I’ll be sure to share. But for now, I’m feeling wonderful. I’m back to my productive self and knocking out projects right and left. It feels great!

A bit of Q&A:

Q. Between the first episode and the episode 12 years apart, did I have depression?

A. Sometimes. But just for a few days. The neural path that was burned in my head during the first depression was apparently burned deep. And anytime I’m feeling particularly overwhelmed — say the week before I put on Alt Summit — I’ll find myself yearning to be dead in a mild way (if there is such a thing). But then it goes away when the stress disappears.

A few different times over those dozen years I had conversations with Ben Blair where I would basically give a heads up: Hey. I might need to see a doctor. My heads a little off. So we would be on the watch and start looking into doctors, but then a couple days later I would be fine again, and we’d forget about the doctor hunt.

Q. How long will I be on medication?

A. Who knows? Possibly forever. I feel no side effects, so I’m not in a big hurry to get off of it. For many reasons, this transition (from France to Oakland) has hit me particularly hard. We’re 7 months into the move, and I’m just now feeling like myself. I need some time to catch up on life. Right now my guess is I’ll be taking the medicine for a year minimum, but again, I’m not in a hurry to get off it. I’m just grateful it works! What a blessing.

Q. Is it always that hard to get medical help if you’re suffering from depression?

A. My assumption is a giant NO. I think I just don’t know what I’m doing. In both of my cases I had recently moved and didn’t have a family doctor yet. I assume getting help is much smoother and faster if you already have a medical team in place. I also wonder if I could have gotten help quicker in an emergency room situation. I honestly don’t know. Having gone through this twice, I’m still perplexed at how to make the process more efficient. I’m sure there’s someone out there that knows exactly how to go about getting help in the fastest way possible, but I’m not that person.

If I think about it too long, I get angry. It shouldn’t be this hard to get help. Depression is extremely common, and there is known medication that works. It should be so straightforward to get medical aid. I’m doubly compassionate for those going through this that don’t have financial, family, church or social networks as support.

——

Okay, Friends, if you’ve made it this far, you deserve a medal! That was a looong report.

And now it’s your turn. How has mental health (or lack of it) touched your life? Perhaps you’ve had an experience that is very similar or completely different from mine? Do you feel like you would recognize it if you needed to see a doctor? If you did think you needed help, would you know how/where to find it? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

P.S. — The image at top is George H. Brimhall. He is Ben Blair’s great, great grandfather. He was the president of a university, but also suffered from depression and eventually committed suicide. I think it’s important to remember that mental illness can take many forms, and just because someone is highly functional, doesn’t mean they aren’t susceptible to depression.

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{ 334 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Peggy March 5, 2014 at 3:59 pm

Thank you for sharing this, Gabrielle. My daughter is 17 and she has been on Wellbutrin for depression for about a year. She was misdiagnosed with bipolar for over 3 years. Her behavior left a little bit to be desired her whole life. She never did anything that was asked of her. She struggled in school. We tested her outside of school in 4th grade and they said she had a few learning disabilities. Then they tested her in school which is what we asked in the first place. Though she was on an IEP since 5th grade, the schools never really gave her specialized attention. In march she had an incident with her dance teacher that would not have bothered most kids, but send my daughter into a downward spiral. She missed 21 days of school between March and June. We went to a psychiatrist and had her tested. He called me in August, 2 weeks before the actual written report, to tell me that she had been misdiagnosed with bipolar, which means she had been on some serious medications and gained over 50 pounds, but also that she really had Non Verbal Learning Disability. I had never heard about this before, but once I started researching it, it was like they were talking about her from the minute she was born. She literally spent that entire summer in her room in bed and would only come out if I could convince her there was something to do. We went through many steps trying to get the school to help finance her going to a therapuetic school, but they said no, and she was doing fine, great as a matter of fact. We had the testing psychiatrist and a special needs advocate with us at the meeting. We even met with a lawyer who specializes in suing public schools to get them to help with this. The problem is she was a senior in high school and time was already running out even though it was September. We tried to find therapuetic schools on our own, but it is near impossible to find one on your own. My ex husband found an Educational Consultant. After speaking on the phone we met with her and brought our daughter. After talking to my daughter for 30 minutes, she said “she does not have a clue.” She suggested we send her to a wilderness program in North Carolina. This was hard to wrap our heads around. We researched the three she suggested and chose the one in North Carolina. We were only able to communicate with her through one letter a week but we received many pictures of her. It was about 6 weeks into it that I received a letter and picture that told me she had reached a turning point. She graduated last week after 3 months and we enrolled her into a very small semi-therapuetic school in the White Mountains in New Hampshire. She has been there 3 days now and I just know it will be the right thing for her. She will continue to take the Wellbutrin for now. But we are setting her up with a psychiatrist recommended by the school and she will be able to tell us if she should lower the dosage or come off completely. She is also still on one of her bipolar medications and we would love to have her come off of that. Her dad and I were the ones that requested she come off the med that was causing the weight gain. She immediately started losing weight and lost 20 pounds before the wilderness program and another 21 pounds while in wilderness. She is a whole new girl. It has taken us her entire 17 years to figure out what was wrong with her. She had seen several therapists her whole life who did not have a clue. But we are finally at a place where she can finally feel healthy and happy about herself and not feel stupid about school. She will finally learn how to be a part of the family and become independent. Even though she is starting again as a junior and will graduate next June instead of this June we finally can breath a sigh of relief that she will be able to attend college and not have to wonder what will happen. If you are wondering what Non Verbal Learning Disability (NLD), look it up. You may be surprised that somebody you know may already have it. Thank you again for being so open and honest. You just do not see that. Mental illness is such a taboo subject.

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2 Cathrin March 5, 2014 at 4:33 pm

Dear Peggy,
after commenting further down I saw your post. My heart goes out to you. I have a friend who’s son was diagnosed with NLD when he was 11. Before that the doctors suspected Aspergers. Now he is 14 and luckily he never has been on medication, besides for homeopathic globes to calm him down when traveling or in new situations. He visits an alternative school and went through various therapies. And so have his parents. He caused the family to have many crisis, but these brought them together in a special way.

He will find his way in life, although it may be a different path than the one others chose. And I am sure this also applies to your daughter.

Take care!

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3 Peggy March 5, 2014 at 5:10 pm

Thank you Cathrin, I have some guilt about not being able to find this out a lot sooner, though I know I tried my best. I have learned that I handled everything wrong and aided in her anxiety and depression. The sad thing is nobody in the public school knows about NLD, never heard of it. How could they possibly have helped her. The alternative school she just started is going to be so helpful for her. The therapist she had in wilderness is the first person I know that was able to help her with her NLD. I am grateful that we were taken there. She had 15 sessions with her and they were life saving. I appreciate that you shared this about your friend’s son. Finally the information is getting out there.

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4 Megan March 5, 2014 at 4:00 pm

I am usually a silent reader, but I too wanted to thank you so much for your bravery and openness about your journey w depression. I struggled w depression most of my adult life, and after a long trial-and-error process, took Wellbutrin for six years and kept things under control. When I got pregnant with my first child, I weaned myself off Wellbutrin and seemed to do ok while pregnant. I did struggle often during the first year of my son’s life, but I fought against getting help again because I didn’t want to “need” help anymore, if that makes sense. I didn’t want to admit it, to myself or others. However, we had a big move about 4 months ago, and that’s when I plummeted into much deeper depression. So your move being a trigger for you really resonated with me. With the help and encouragement of my husband, family, and close friends, I finally sought help again. I actually found a family dr and asked him to prescribe me my old dosage of Wellbutrin. (It seemed like a faster route than finding a psychiatrist for me.) I’ve now been on Wellbutrin for about six weeks and I am feeling better. I also am seeing a therapist as well, and it all seems to be helping. Your story, and the many shared in these comments, show me that I’m not alone in my struggles, and that I should never be ashamed to seek help again!

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5 Autumn March 5, 2014 at 4:00 pm

Thank you for sharing this! About that photo: I looked at it and thought that he looked so familiar, then I saw his name. I am a Brimhall too! George H looks a lot like my dad and grandpa! Perhaps Ben Blair and I are distant cousins. I’m going to look into it!

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6 Design Mom March 5, 2014 at 5:05 pm

Another cousin! Ben’s grandmother (mother’s mother) is Jennie Holbrook Groberg. Jennie is the granddaughter of George H. Brimhall.

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7 Michelle March 5, 2014 at 4:04 pm

You have no idea how much it helps me to read this post. My husband is currently beginning his final year of study. I am home with three children (the youngest is 6 months) and need to return to part time work in a couple of months time. financially we have always got by, but it is often without much room to move. Earlier this year my cousin died unexpectedly and tragically. Cutting a long story short, I was surprised in the weeks afterwards at how I was responding to this. I didn’t look forward to things anymore, I’ve lost interest in things I enjoy. I was impatient, short tempered with my kids and go to bed at night always thinking how I could have done better, only to wake up and repeat it all again. This is the part that breaks my heart. I can see that my cousins death was the straw that broke the camels back for me in terms of “coping” with life. I kept thinking I should talk to my doctor, but feel embarrassed as I have never felt like this before – I’ve always been even tempered and just go with the flow. And what do I say anyway?? Anyway, thankyou for sharing and in doing so, adding clarity to my mind and helping me see where to go from here – and that it gets better…

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8 Jody Corbett March 5, 2014 at 4:05 pm

Gabby–I’ve always looked up to you and admired you as a person for all of your talents and your character (for the 30+ years I’ve known you). How brave of you to share this story and be vulnerable. I’m sure it will help so many others. Fortunately, I’ve only ever had mild post-partum “baby blues” which passed in a few days. I can’t imagine how hard it must be to have all of those thoughts and feelings of just wanting to die. I’m so glad to know that things are better for you!

Jody

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9 Design Mom March 5, 2014 at 5:06 pm

Hi Jody! Sometimes I forget that friends from high school might read here now and again. I love seeing your name in the comments. Thank you for the kind words!

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10 Sarah March 5, 2014 at 4:06 pm

I’ve struggled with anxiety and panic attacks for the last five years and just recently started taking medication for it. I really struggle with worrying how people will respond when they find out, so this post is so encouraging to me. Thanks for sharing. Honesty about mental illness can make such a huge difference in a culture that just doesn’t get it. It’s especially encouraging for others (like me) to know we’re not alone.

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11 Amy3 March 5, 2014 at 4:08 pm

Thank you for your honesty in sharing your story. It makes a big difference in the perceptions that surround mental illness when people are willing to be open about their experiences.

In my early 20s I suffered what I might characterize as very mild depression. I was able to work my way through it with the help of a couple different therapists at the university I attended.

However, much more present in my life are the struggles my husband and daughter have with anxiety. About 3 years ago my husband went in medication, which made a huge difference in his life. We’re not yet to that point with our daughter (and I’m not sure we will be), but we’re working with her on developing coping strategies to manage her anxiety. If we’re successful with this approach that may be all we need for now. However, I realize the situation may change and we may determine therapy and/or medication are our next steps.

It’s hard watching someone you love struggling with something that in some ways doesn’t even make sense to you. That’s the thing about mental illness, though, isn’t it? It feels so real to the sufferer while those outside do their best to understand their experience.

I hope that as society’s understanding of mental health issues expands, it will be easier for people to get the care they need quickly, easily, and affordably.

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12 Design Mom March 5, 2014 at 5:06 pm

“It’s hard watching someone you love struggling with something that in some ways doesn’t even make sense to you. That’s the thing about mental illness, though, isn’t it? It feels so real to the sufferer while those outside do their best to understand their experience.”

So true.

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13 Cathrin March 5, 2014 at 4:19 pm

How brave and generous you are for sharing this. Thank you. As others wrote, I think it is good to become more open about mental problems. It helps us all realize that they are nothing to be ashamed of!

Besides for feeling with you, there is another thing that saddens (and angers!) me a lot!: You wrote how difficult it was/is to find help and how long you have to wait for doctors appointments, medication etc.

I am living in Germany and your post makes me realize that everything we read about the US health-system is sadly true. Here it can also happen that you have to wait weeks or even months to see the therapist or psychiatrist you´d prefer(!) seeing. Certain therapists and psychiatrists in some areas have (long) waiting lists. But in any(!) urgent case you can walk into the psychiatric ambulance of a hospital or into your GPs place and he or she will help you then and there. If needed, medication is prescribed immediately and it is (nearly) free, you only pay a certain fee (under 12 dollars per prescription). If you can’t afford the fee, then it will be covered by the state. Everyone here has a health care plan. It is considered to be a part of human rights, not a luxury.

I am not telling you this to make you or other Americans feel bad about your home. I have been to the US often and have friends there. I like America. But I am just so shocked by your description of the help/health system. It makes me so angry! Every human deserves medical care. Thats what taxes are for. And thats why I am happy to pay them, even if they mean that some years there is no money for a vacation.

I have another question concerning your system: Do American doctors hand out psychotropic drugs on a long term if the patient doesn’t seek help in a psychotherapy as well. As far as I know, these two usually go together here.

Sorry for taking this detour. I do hope so much that you and any person suffering from mental problems will find the help they deserve. Take care!

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14 Kathleen March 5, 2014 at 4:27 pm

Thank you so, so much for your courage and honesty in this post. Although I personally have not suffered fromdepression, many kinds of mental illness have touched my friends and family. My father has been on medication for depression for a long time. My mother went through a difficult year when she was 70 and was actually diagnosed with bipolar although it was very atypical. She takes a low-dose medication for it now and says she will for the rest of her life if it helps her not go through anything like that year again. My best friend is bipolar and also has had difficulty when weaning her children. And one of my brothers is schizophrenic and while he lives in a supported-living situation, he absolutely needs medication or he will end up in an acute care facility (he is also one of the smartest, gentlest people I know). Oh, and my oldest childhood friend recently underwent treatment for alcoholism. Whew! I try so hard to be the best daughter/sister/friend I can be for my loved ones and to always show them compassion. Thank you for sharing your story in such detail and helping to de-stigmatize mental illness.

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15 km March 5, 2014 at 4:34 pm

this is not to diminish your mental health in any way as someone who struggles with anxiety and depression daily for over a decade- but both those bouts also seem to coincide with culture shock. and coming back to the US after France, reverse culture shock. don’t despair. I’ve been through that a few times too.

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16 Jillbert March 5, 2014 at 4:37 pm

4 years ago, I dropped out of nursing school because of severe anxiety. It had been a dream of mine to go to school and I worked hard to complete all my pre-reqs. 6 weeks into school and I was mentally crashing — so hard to juggle family (I have been a SAHM forever and this was my first time away for an extended time) and an intense school work load (I was doing an accelerated program which I was rocking…the home part? not so much). The day before I quit found me at my doctors office (just a normal primary care doc — not a psychiatrist), crying, scared husband by my side. He prescribed for me that day. Still, I was too far over the edge at that point and withdrew from school the next day. I regret that I did not seek help earlier (I knew from the first week that I was sliding down mentally). I truly think that if I had given meds more time, I would have been able to cope and continue with school. I was really clueless about how awful mental issues are until they hit me. I totally know what you mean when you say you wished you would die. That was me everyday. All day. After quitting school, the anxiety went away. It pops up now and then in times of severe stress. I guess my brain is now well trained to react that way. So glad to hear you are coming up on the sunny side. No one should have to feel as awful as depression or anxiety makes a person feel.

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17 Design Mom March 5, 2014 at 5:08 pm

Oh Jillbert! I’m so sorry you had to give up on your dream. I hope another opportunity comes your way.

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18 julia g blair March 5, 2014 at 4:40 pm

Thanks so much, dear Gabby! I love the relief it is to find out that an ailment has a name! And other people have had it and they understand; they KNOW!
It is such a blessing that we can share our experiences candidly and openly The worse thing is people who say that you need to shape up and read scriptures and pray more. They have no idea!

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19 Design Mom March 5, 2014 at 5:09 pm

You’re so wonderful. You always understand! We certainly couldn’t have made it through my sickness in New York without your help.

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20 Allysha March 5, 2014 at 4:48 pm

I think this post is so important for so many reasons. Meeting you a few years after your first bout of depression I would have never ever guessed it had ever been an issue for you- granted we were’t close, but I think it’s so helpful to talk about issues like this, so other’s know they aren’t alone. Thank you.

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21 Beth March 5, 2014 at 4:48 pm

Gabrielle, I really admire you for writing this post. I also struggle with depression and it is definitely exacerbated by major life changes. My mom died last May. I am still mired in sadness. Your words reminded me that help is available and maybe I need more than I’m getting. Thanks.

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22 Pam March 5, 2014 at 4:51 pm

My husband applied for over 90 academic jobs and we just heard from the last two today–not one offer. This is after 8 years of graduate school. I am working 60 hours per week in a very stressful job, and when we found out the news tonight, I wanted to go to sleep and not wake up. The thought of doing all of this for another year is so overwhelming that it’s hard to breathe. Our life (financially and personally) has been on hold for so long. I don’t know what to do but it is helpful to know that I am not alone. Thanks.

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23 Design Mom March 5, 2014 at 5:10 pm

That’s the worst, Pam! I”m sorry to hear it. 90 applications! Ugh. I’ll be thinking of you. I hope a wonderful option is right around the corner for you.

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24 Me and Wee March 5, 2014 at 4:54 pm

Thank you for sharing and for your transparency! I have depression just like you (the same kinds of thoughts…I was nodding through your whole post!) It started for me when I was 16 and it’s been on and off since then (now I am 35). After going on and off medications all that time, I am now STAYING on my medication. I just can’t deal with feeling like that again. The feeling of overwhelm is so awful. The worst part of the disease came when I was pregnant with my now 2 year old son. It was HORRIBLE and nobody would give me medication because I was pregnant. I soldiered through, but I was very lucky. I just kept telling myself it wasn’t real and it would go away one day…it was such a hard time and I had so many scary thoughts. I hate to think about it. I described it to my husband like it’s as if I’m an old crappy PC from like 1995 and it’s chugging along and taking forever to do anything…and it needs a software update. So, you click on the update and the little hourglass thingie appears and stays like that. It’s like you get jammed with spywear and slow down to a halt…where just ONE MORE THING sends you over the edge and you just can’t function anymore. You are so filled with panic, anxiety, overwhelm, desperation, sadness, and stress. You just want to throw the computer out the window and start over! BUT!!! The medication clears out the spyware and gives you the updates so you run smoothly again as you should. Even on medication I still have some bad days; but I know what they are and that it is just a chemical brain thing. I know the feelings I have aren’t “real” …it’s as if they are a mirage in the desert. I feel for you Gabrielle, I really do. I’m thrilled you are feeling better and that you shared in this space. People need to know what it feels like so they can recognize it in themselves if they need. *high five!*

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25 Kacy Faulconer March 5, 2014 at 4:59 pm

This is a great, honest post. I’m glad you wrote it and I’m glad you are well. I thought it was pretty amazing and helpful for Elder Holland to address this so openly in General Conference last year too.

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26 AnEmilyB March 5, 2014 at 5:02 pm

Wow, I am so glad you are feeling yourself again! Sharing your experience will truly help a lot of people. I’ve had more and more bouts with depression the longer I live in the Pacific Northwest. Definitely SAD. It got pretty bad for me last year(or was it the year before?) and Welbutrin also pulled me out of a self-death-obsessed-funk. Even though I DO have a family doctor, it took a lot for me to get myself to her for some help. (I have a great husband, but not much of a family/community network.) I had done a lot of research, so I knew exactly what I wanted, prescription-wise, and that’s exactly what my doctor suggested.
It’s that time of year again: endless days of rain, lack of energy to do anything other than eat, etc. I should make an appointment again. Thank you for the reminder! Even though I love it in Portland, we really, really need to move to a sunnier location.

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27 Damaris @Kitchen Corners March 5, 2014 at 5:06 pm

I’m so glad you were able to find a medication that works for you. The health care system is so infuriating. I’m glad you are feeling better. I’m also so thankful that you are willing to share so much of yourself. I remember having PPD with my first child and thinking I was the only one in the world who experienced it. It was after I found Dooce and her blog that I started to not feel so alone. I know your post will help a lot of people, I can tell it already has.

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28 K March 5, 2014 at 5:06 pm

Thank you so much for your post. My 15-year-old son recently confessed to his school counselor that he was suicidal. After some frightening, heart-breaking times, he’s on medication and seems to be doing well. Your post helped me understand better how he must have been feeling. The idea that it made sense to you to put your babies up for adoption so you could die brought me to tears.

I’m terrified that he will go through this again and not ask for help next time. I’m trying to balance my concern without smothering him. It’s a tough balance, but I think we’re doing OK. I’m go grateful that he reached out, that our school has a wonderful group of counselors and my son felt comfortable talking with him. I know so many schools have cut counseling programs and that for many people, dr visits and medications are as a luxury they can’t afford. If you have any idea how to help fix that, I’ll be the first to sign up to help!

Thank you for sharing. I just wanted to let you know how much your sharing helped.

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29 Design Mom March 5, 2014 at 5:12 pm

Your sweet son! I’m so glad he asked for help.

“I’m trying to balance my concern without smothering him.”

I think that is parenting in a nutshell! I’m sure many readers relate.

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30 Michelle March 5, 2014 at 5:23 pm

Thanks so much for sharing your story. It’s always so interesting to hear about someone’s experience. I am a Marriage and Family Therapist and just wanted let your readers know how to use your insurance to get treatment if needed. You can see your Family doctor or Primary Care Physician and they would be able to assess for depression as well as prescribe medications. Many people feel comfortable seeing their family doctor first. They may still refer you at some point to a psychiatrist for further monitoring and to manage the medication because most Family doctors are not mental health specialists. With most insurance plans you can go directly to a Psychiatrist (no referral needed) in your insurance network but yes it is very common for it to take awhile several weeks to get an actual first time appt. Once your a patient of a psychiatrist they can get you in quicker. Also therapists are very helpful and well trained in handling depression. They can’t prescribe medications but they can provide education on depression and teach coping skills and well as provide many other tools. Also, just like someone else said, as frustrating as it might be, an assessment is really necessary. It would be a red flag if a mental health professional did not spend some time to get a history and ask about symptoms, etc!

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31 Amanda Van Scoyoc March 5, 2014 at 5:43 pm

What a wonderful and open post about the difficulties so many of us face. I am in a clinical psychology PhD program and often read your posts thinking about how helpful they might be one day to potential clients (if only I have one with bed wetting). It is so nice to hear your relaxed attitude towards mental health needs and the honest way that you have found to tell your story. I’m sorry to hear that it was so difficult to find a therapist and that you were let down by the “system” for such a long time… but glad to hear that you found the support that you needed eventually. Thank you for sharing with such honesty.

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32 Liz March 5, 2014 at 6:01 pm

Thank you for this post and all the comments! We really have to change the discussion around mental illness. Also, as a Canadian, the stories of the American health care system terrifies me!

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33 cat March 5, 2014 at 6:02 pm

I really appreciate this post. Thank you for your candor. I also have suffered from depression. I think I’ve had it for most of my life. I remember lying in my bed as an eight year old trying to will myself to get cancer so I would die. That sounds crazy to me to now but it is true! And in college I remember going for a walk and no matter how long I walked or how fast I went I couldn’t get away from myself. And then now as an adult I often think about how my kids would be better off if I was gone. In my moments of clarity(like now) this all sounds really crazy, but when you feel that way it seems perfectly logical. I have never gotten help for this and try to manage my moods with exercise which helps but not always. I’ve wondered for years if I should see someone about the way I feel but I have been scared about using medication, I’m worried it will change who I am and make me violent or something else awful. But your story gives me hope! The only problem is that I would only get help when I feel fine because when I feel down the last thing I want to do is help myself. I guess I feel I deserve the pain. It’s a vicious cycle but needs to be broken. Thanks again for your words.

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34 Cassandre March 5, 2014 at 6:10 pm

I can’t thank you enough for sharing your personal experience with depression, I think there needs to be more open dialogue about depression and mental illness, especially with women.

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35 Razmataz March 5, 2014 at 6:12 pm

I just lost a family member (59 years old) to suicide. He left 2 girls the same age as my kids 28, 26. It broke my heart and I can’t get him out of my head. Apparently no one had a clue how depressed he was. In hindsight, they probably thought of lots of things. If any one is reading this, keep that in mind if someone you know seems “different”.

Your story is brave and I commend you for sharing.

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36 Tiffany March 5, 2014 at 6:28 pm

Thanks you for sharing! I also had a similar bout with anxiety and depression. I know how hard it is and how I always feel better when I share with people. Keep up the good work !!

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37 Kj March 5, 2014 at 6:30 pm

This is a wonderful post. It answers so many questions, and also leaves me in awe, because you are a very hardworking, lovely, authentic, creative and obviously, vulnerable, woman (and, while it may not be attractive, easy to envy); however, it is often hard to believe that you are doing anything other than being the best wife, citizen, mother, humanitarian, homemaker, sister, etc…everything you do is so lovely and so intentional, and beautiful, which isn’t to say that someone with depression can’t do that, but maybe while I have suffered from anxiety lately, my main concern is always, how will my life, and my thoughts and my actions affect my family, my children, my community…and everything you do seems to only affect people in the way a mother, daughter, sister would want to affect people…anyway, maybe this makes no sense, but it just seems so poignant to realize that while you were doing “all this” for everybody, you head was still spinning or stagnant…the other day I had this fear that what if I needed help, would I know it? like really know it? or would I miss it before it did major damage to the people I love? and, i guess one of those people to love would be myself? but, i usually think of how my anxiety or worry affects my family first! so, mainly, thank you…

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38 Susan Magnolia March 5, 2014 at 6:44 pm

I am so sad to hear that other people have had a hard time getting appointments and finding doctors. Even when I was working and we had insurance it was such a struggle. The pediatrician we take our daughter to is pretty great and we can come in right away but adults are swept aside. I once tried to get a doctors appointment and the receptionist said they did not have an opening for six weeks! What a broken system.

I quit working one year ago because I too had thoughts about ending my life. I would think that it would be unfair to my partner but I just could not imagine going on like this. I would fantasize about my exacto knife (not that I knew what I was going to do with it). I was working so much and breast feeding, cooking, cleaning, etc. Had no time for myself and yearned to be with my baby. I was so burnt out! When I told my partner how I felt we decided that I just needed to stop working and stay home with our child. I was fortunate that I could take it easy and he worked and made more money that I did so that we were not as stressed. We did not have insurance but I was calming down by just being with my baby and not abandoning her everyday to go to work. It was a life saving decision but with no meds or a therapist took a lot longer to feel more normal again. I wept for all the time I lost going to work and missing out on being with my child while I cared for others. That part took this entire year of staying home with her to even begin to heal. I stare at photos of her from her first 15 mos of life and wish that it had all been different. But today I am a much happier person.

Gaby I am so glad that you have shared your story and given so many of us a place to be heard. I appreciate your honesty and warmth and it keeps me coming back to your blog. Thank you for writing!

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39 kristin March 5, 2014 at 6:59 pm

I want to echo a previous comment and ask what, if anything, you tell your children in an age-appropriate, honest way. Similar to many here, my bad times have been separated by 13 years- I tend to keep it simple, and honest and yet, sometimes I wonder if there is a better approach.

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40 StacyShine March 5, 2014 at 7:03 pm

The post was so real and helpful! This subject is so important to discuss.

Postpartum depression/anxiety is crippling! I was not the same for two years. Now I am SO in love with my 3.5 year old son. He is by far the most challenging, wonderful, rewarding, exciting, heart-breaking, lovely thing I have ever experienced.

Thanks be to God for medicines and therapy.

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41 Allison March 5, 2014 at 7:18 pm

Thanks for your honesty. My wonderful, funny, talented fifteen year old son was just diagnosed with a thought disorder in addition to severe anxiety and depression. We are doing everything in our power to get him the right help, but treatment centers are outrageously expensive and not covered by our insurance. Just another hurdle as if dealing with a devastating illness were not enough. Plus there is the stigma that surrounds mental illness. It can be so lonely and isolating for everyone involved. So bless you for being so open with your own struggles.

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42 Audrey March 5, 2014 at 7:20 pm

Gabrielle, there are not enough words to say how much I admire you for sharing your story. This might be my favorite post ever. I had a pretty serious bout of PPD after the birth of my first daughter. Oh, it was dark and very sad. I’m a pretty organic person and I’d always considered myself very strong and happy. The depression hit me by surprise and I was so ashamed. That was the worst part. I didn’t want for anyone to know and didn’t want to call my doctor knowing she’d just throw drugs at me. When I got desperate beyond imagination (after not sleeping for 3 days straight!), I called and my doctor helped me immediately. I picked up the drugs that day (an antidepressant with some serious sleeping meds thrown in) but, I’m telling you, the 2 weeks it took for that antidepressant to kick in were maybe the worst in my entire life. I thought for sure I’d be committed to some mental institution and never have a normal life again. It was such a painful time. My therapist was also a godsend…..I know I couldn’t have gotten better without her help. I consider myself lucky. I was off all the drugs within 9 months. It took me almost 5 years to have another child because I was so terrified of getting depressed again. That is the saddest part…..I wanted more children but waited until I was almost 40 to have my second. Luckily, my PPD did not repeat itself. I am very open and vocal about my PPD and how I suffered and how I got help and I can only hope that I’ve helped some other women in the same situation. If I’d had someone to talk to about how I felt who could understand, I’m sure I would’ve asked for help earlier. I really love how you’re doing everything you can to help break the stigma associated with mental illness. And I’m so happy you’re feeling better! (Poor Ben Blair, I can only imagine how scary that must’ve been for him too! I know my own husband suffered as much as I did.)

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43 Betsy March 5, 2014 at 7:28 pm

Thank you so much for being strong enough to share this. I think I’ve always had issues with anxiety and mild bouts of depression, but now that I’m going through the infertility process, I’m having a much harder time. So many days I’ve thought it would be easier to die, but like you said, not so much about how I would actively do it. Sadly my husband doesn’t believe in depression and doesn’t understand what I’m going through. Reading about others who have made it through and found solutions gives me hope.

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44 Heather March 5, 2014 at 7:41 pm

Thank you so much for talking about this. I went through a hard time after my twins were born. I have come out of it, but always wondered if I should have found help. I really appreciate you treating it like it was no big deal (and at the same time, a really big deal).

Thanks for your honesty.

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45 kelly harp March 5, 2014 at 7:45 pm

Thanks so much for the sharing of your story, Gabby. What a beautiful thing – to share yourself :). It’s so easy to see only the charming sides of others’ lives (on the internet as well as real life!) & not realize what struggles we might share. We all have some struggle to face & often feel alone in that! So unnecessary, & your brave sharing crumbles those walls :)

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46 jackie March 5, 2014 at 7:46 pm

Thank you for sharing!
The part about the pathways being burned deep is so true. I distinctly remember trying to kill myself at age 8 years. And just like you said, when stressed I have mild thoughts that it would be nice to die, even now. But I love my life and the work I do everyday. Counseling is a wonderful thing! And meds when you need them too.

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47 Rachel March 5, 2014 at 7:50 pm

Thank you so much for sharing your story. It’s so so helpful to read about other people’s struggles, especially when the internet can make you feel like everyone else’s lives are perfect. :)

I feel incredibly lucky to have never experienced more serious mental health issues or depression. I feel like I’ve been perfectly poised for it several times in my life, and I always think that it might happen, but then things always end up turning around for me. The closest I got was being diagnosed with Acute Stress Disorder (basically what comes before PTSD) after witnessing someone commit suicide by blowing themselves up at my university (I know, lovely image, right?). Luckily since the event occurred at my university, they offered 3 free sessions of counseling to anyone who felt like they needed it, and I took advantage. So in that case it was very easy to get help! I’m not sure I would know how if something came up now, though.

One more thing regarding Post-Partum Depression: Currently at 8 weeks post-partum I’ve decided the post-partum standard of care is horrible, and I can’t imagine it helps mental health. My doctor asked, “You don’t have post-partum depression or anything, do you?” Ha! What a way to get someone to discuss it! Good thing I could confidently say “no.”

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48 Linda March 5, 2014 at 7:53 pm

This was such a great post. I sometimes feel mildly depressed but have been fortunate enough that it goes away with enough excercise and sunshine.
I’m really bad at making doctors appointments and often times take my kids to the local urgent care. They allow me to make a same day appointment and for last minute sports physicals and flu shots it’s great. I’m sure it would work the same for depression and when your in it sounds like it may be urgent.

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49 Kristy March 5, 2014 at 8:20 pm

Thank you for sharing this so beautifully, Gabby. I am so thankful for your candor and your willingness to reach out in this way. I know you are changing lives for the better.

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50 Rebecca March 5, 2014 at 8:20 pm

Thank you for posting this. I believe it’s important to talk about postpartum depression and anxiety. It’s waaaaay more common than statistics show, mostly bc women don’t get help bc of shame or fear or financial need or a host of other reasons. I got slammed with awful PPD after the birth of my first child. It was about 3 weeks after he was born. I knew something was terribly wrong and got help as quickly as I could. I got on meds right away and saw a therapist and a psychiatrist and went to group therapy. It took several months and some adjustments to the meds but eventually I was able to get beyond the PPD. Now I am still on meds and have had another child. I hope never to experience depression like that again. I don’t wish it on anybody.

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51 Elisabeth March 5, 2014 at 8:30 pm

I’m 20, so I’m probably a lot younger than many of the readers here, but I want to thank you for being so up front with this. It was because of you that I finally went to see a therapist about a month ago for the depression I have struggled with for almost eight years. It was really scary for me to go to a therapist, but I am so glad I did. I’m not sure I would have if you hadn’t been so open about it. For me, it was a relief just to know that how I was feeling wasn’t my fault and that I really did have depression. My depression was diagnosed as fluctuating between mild to moderate, and my experience is rather different from yours, but it’s still been a tough road. I’m beginning to get better (without medication at this point), but I still have hard days. Again, thank you for sharing!

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52 Elisabeth March 5, 2014 at 8:31 pm

Also, I just wanted to mention that anyone who is currently attending college full-time or has kids attending college full-time that most colleges have free counseling services for issues like this and that it is usually very easy to get an appointment, so certainly check into that as an option if you or a loved one is a student.

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53 Joanna March 5, 2014 at 8:39 pm

I work as a crisis clinician and speak to people who are in the same mental places your writing describes. It’s a privilege, as is reading about your personal experience. Thank you for this.

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54 Marie M. March 5, 2014 at 8:52 pm

That was a long post indeed, and I didn’t expect the subject. You are a true inspiration to me – as well as Jordan, but I have always wondered how you can make it all happen and still feel and look so great! I have been affected like never before after we moved to Japan 2 years ago. It took me 1 full year to settle down fully and feel happy and contented. I knew Tokyo already and loved the country, but I under-estimated the energy it would take to move with (only) 2 kids, and settle them down as well. I wasn’t depressed, however I was ALWAYS angry which translated to a lot of shouting. I could feel it inside me that something wasn’t right. So I got ride of the things I enrolled in that weren’t making me particularly happy and tried hard to focus on getting back to my (creative) work – staying home doesn’t suit me as well. Now I am finally balanced, and feeling great. I acknowledged the problem too, so that next time we move country I will deal with these things more efficiently. You are putting yourself through a lot of stress I guess, but you are still my hero! Take care>amicalement :-)

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55 Sarah March 5, 2014 at 9:04 pm

Thank you for sharing your story. I am afraid that in society, there are many who do not talk about mental health openly. I am a BYU alumna and I never knew that George H Brimhall committed suicide. He was an incredible man and did so much for the university. I think it is important to know that depression comes in all shapes and sizes. It gives me faith that I can accomplish much.

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56 Jody March 5, 2014 at 9:17 pm

Thank you for this post, Gabrielle. I too deal with depression and I have a question. Do you find that the depression ‘curtain’ rises completely when your medication is working? Or do you find that you are operating well but are still sitting at about 85%-ish of your normal self? (Whatever normal is….) Sometimes I feel… flat. And I wonder if that is what life on an antidepressant looks like, or if I should keep trying to find just the right thing. Do you have ant thoughts on that? I realize you aren’t a medical professional, I just wonder if there is anyone out there who has a similar experience as I do. :)

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57 Sara March 5, 2014 at 9:25 pm

Thank you for your post’s honesty. As a mental health professional and as someone who has struggled with depression I appreciate this post for many reasons. I especially connected with your last statement “I think it’s important to remember that mental illness can take many forms, and just because someone is highly functional, doesn’t mean they aren’t susceptible to depression”. Some of my darkest bouts of depression came at times where I appeared to the untrained eye as the most productive, such a graduate school. Thank you for sharing, I pray that your example and story will motivate others to seek help when needed and to challenge the stigma associated with mental illness.

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58 JulieKP March 5, 2014 at 9:57 pm

Thank you so much for sharing this. Depression affects so many people. The shame that has been associated with it is only making things worse for those who suffer. If there wasn’t such a stigma involved I think more people would get help. I understand this concept first hand with my late father. He was manic depressive. He was a wonderful father but a very troubled man. It was our family secret that no one could know about. I truly in my heart of hearts believe that if more of even his close friends knew they would have understood his quirks and moods. He never gave them the chance to be a support to him.
So now as an adult I have no qualms telling people about my depression. Thankfully I am not manic depressive like my father but depression still affects me deeply. I feel that if more people see that I have it and I deal with it then maybe someone will say, “If she can deal with it, I can too.”
I wish you the best in your journey. I know it is a rough road but I think that no one should travel it alone. Thank you for being that person for someone out there who is struggling who might need the extra push to get the care they need.

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59 Heather March 5, 2014 at 10:16 pm

I suffered from eating disorders in high school, at at my very lowest I was extremely depressed and suicidal. Thankfully, a dear friend and my wonderful mother persisted in getting me the psychological help I needed to recover, though it took a long time and a lot of hard work. I totally know what you mean about the depression path being burned deeply into your brain – I tend to head back in that direction when life gets particularly difficult. You are so wise to be in open communication with your husband about how you are doing and so willing to seek help. Funny: we moved about 6 months ago and I had an upheaval of depression too. Moving is really hard, even when it is right and good. So glad you are feeling better and hooray for no side effects!

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60 Freida March 5, 2014 at 10:25 pm

I just wanted to tell you how touched I am by your honesty and willingness to share. Thank you for putting yourself out there! You really are inspiring to me! So very glad you are feeling better too.

I’m curious… are you able to be open with your kids about what’s going on? How has that worked for you? because I’m just imagining it is hard to hide, but hard to discuss.

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61 Alison March 5, 2014 at 10:25 pm

Thank you so much for sharing your experience. I have recently gone back on medication after “trying to be strong” and do it on my own. Mental illness runs deep in my family and I have to tell myself to be gentle and take things one day at a time. I always know my medication is helping when I’ve gone weeks without hyperventilating and crying in my closet. Grateful for modern medicine for sure! Thanks again for your openness. Sending lots of love.

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62 mom in mendon March 5, 2014 at 10:44 pm

Good for you, Gab. Well written. My heart goes out to everyone dealing with these issues.

My experience with depression was unusual It lasted only about three days, and nothing remarkable brought it on. Oddly enough, I think of it as a “blessing” but only because it gave me increased compassion. I’ve had my share of down time: baby blues and intense stress and grief. But this was different. For that short, terrible period of depression I really did wake up thinking, “Oh, nooo. I’m still here.” I wasn’t suicidal but I felt like death offered the only relief.

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63 Michelle A March 5, 2014 at 11:09 pm

Gabby, I’m so glad to hear that you’re doing well and feel like yourself again. Your perspective (and gratitude!) about your depression is truly inspiring. Thank you for writing this and posting it for so many to read and learn from, especially me. xoxo

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64 JenniferPrice March 5, 2014 at 11:09 pm

Your candor is both remarkable and brave….there is such a social stigma attached to mental health. Why do we see it as a sign of weakness? I’ve been reading your blog on a daily basis for three years, you seem to have accomplished so much and I am always inspired and informed. This latest post has no doubt been such a comfort to so many!

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65 Kiersten March 5, 2014 at 11:13 pm

Thank you so much for sharing this. My 16-year-old brother-in-law committed suicide almost two years ago, and since then I’ve really struggled with feelings of anger. I know this sounds like I am completely devoid of compassion, but I’ve been so angry at him for ending his life, devastating our family, and depriving my two little boys of their wonderful, beloved uncle. He had a wonderful life with a loving, supportive family, and it just didn’t make any sense. It seemed so stupid and selfish.

But now I think I understand a little bit better, and I feel like I can let go of some of the anger I’ve held on to.

And I have to echo everyone else here in thanking you for your willingness to share this. We suspect that our beautiful little boy may be hyperactive, and we just received more confirmation about it today from his teacher. I know that hyperactivity is such a small thing compared to other mental challenges, but it’s been a hard day for me. I’m sad that he’ll have to maneuver through life with this extra difficulty, I’m worried about what it will mean for him in school and in relationships, and I’m ashamed to say that I’ve also worried about what others will think: if they’ll think that we’re bad parents, or that he’s a bad kid, or that his chances for success are already diminished, or that they won’t want their kids to hang out with him, or that we’re ignorant or negligent if we decide to try medication. Your post helped me to realize that it doesn’t matter. It just doesn’t matter what other people think; all that matters is that we do our best for our sweet boy and keep loving him and being proud of him and letting him know all of that.

Again, I know that this issue is so minor compared to what you’ve discussed, but I really needed this reminder today. I feel like it’s been an answer to prayer, and I know it will help me to have more courage as we face this next little hurdle as a family.

So thank you and God bless you.

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66 Kiersten March 5, 2014 at 11:16 pm

Oh, and I was also going to say that unfortunately, I don’t think you’re alone in your struggle to find adequate mental health care. According to the Child Mind Institute, there are more taxidermists than child psychiatrists in the United States. It makes me angry, too.

http://www.childmind.org/en/press/brainstorm/are-there-more-child-psychiatrists-or-taxidermists

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67 Christine March 6, 2014 at 12:09 am

Thanks for sharing your experience with us. After my first chid was born I suffered from postpartum depression. At the time I truely believed that I was not a good mother. Looking back on this I can’t believe that this person was me. A very surreal experience. My husband got me to a psych MD very quickly and eventially I returned to normal. I don’t remember but I think I took medication as well. I went on to have 2 other children without any issues. It is my sincere hope that your post and the comments will help someone get the help they may need and realize that they are not alone.

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68 Melissa March 6, 2014 at 12:11 am

After 9 miscarriages, one ectopic that almost killed me, and one delivery of a already dead child, it put me in a deep depression. Now that I’m no longer trying to have another baby, and have accepted that the child I have is enough, I’m doing much better. But there are days when my head is not right either, and I feel like it’s the moments when I sit down and do something creative, that keep me going. I see the sun, and I know I can move forward with joy and not feel bad about being happy. Starting a new business has me so busy that at times, I wonder if I’m going to crash. I’m not good at sitting still, and I often think I need a day of total quiet, to reason with my thoughts. Thanks for sharing your story, I can so relate. I sometimes wonder, if being quiet is good or bad??

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69 Mandy March 6, 2014 at 12:45 am

Thank you for this honest post. It really is helpful. After my first was born, I honestly couldn’t stop thinking about death either. I wanted to give my son to my mom, let her take care of him, because I couldn’t do it I thought. I became terribly thin, to the point it hurt to sleep because my knees were so bony. I didn’t get help from a doctor, but looking back I should have. I instead found a job back in the states, near home, so I could have family support again. My husband was traveling so much, I had no one and really was fearful I wouldn’t make it. I became “normal” again thankfully slowly after moving back to a support system, and maybe perhaps when my hormones evened out.

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70 Pipi March 6, 2014 at 12:46 am

Well done. You are a brave, brave, good woman!

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71 Erin March 6, 2014 at 12:48 am

Thank you! I keep coming back to your site time and time again because of its seemingly effortless charm, but also because, just like a good host, you ensure that your guests can get honesty about how it all happens. I had a bad period of depression/ anxiety in first year of college and it has made me more deeply aware that I have strengths and weaknesses in my mind. Once, in recent years, I remember dreading an interaction at work and I knew I was close to that place again and I pulled back. Now I treat those moments, like I do when I fel like “I am coming down with a flu/cold” they are now equal in my mind. What I really appreciated about your story was a willingness to explain your state of mind, which is so hard for me to understand when my husband or family members are feeling sick in this way. Xo

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72 Kendra March 6, 2014 at 1:27 am

What a striking, honest post. I actually went through something very similar a few months before my daughter turned one. I wasn’t weaning her but things just suddenly slid sideways—I couldn’t make decisions, I was crying all the time, I had a pretty terrible case of insomnia. One of the things my doctor did first—and I am so grateful for this and would recommend *any* new mom who has the same troubles look into this—was order a hormone panel. And you know what? It showed that my progesterone—that hormone that ramps up in pregnancy and makes you feel all jovial and content etc.—had pretty much bottomed out to ziltch. So before she had me try an anit-depressant she had me try a progesterone supplement and it worked for me! Same thing—two weeks later I just suddenly felt better.

That might not be the case for everyone and I’m so grateful we live in a society where women can find the help they need in whatever form it comes in, but I think there are probably a lot of moms out there who experience some level of post-partum depression even a year, a year and a half after the baby’s born and I would just encourage them to take the situation seriously—having a baby throws your hormones way out of whack! As one doctor told me, “Sometimes a particular pregnancy just hits you that way and your body can’t figure out how to re-cycle properly afterward.” You might be fine with one pregnancy and not fine with the next, who knows. I know I’ll definitely be on red alert next time.

Thank you so much for sharing, Gabrielle.

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73 Amanda March 6, 2014 at 1:50 am

Thank you so much for sharing this. I think it is so SO important for people to be open and honest about depression.

As I was reading, I felt like I could relate to so much, even though I am in my early twenties and don’t have kids yet.

I’ve been feeling depressed for over two years now, but still haven’t got adequate help. It is just SO hard! After I had graduated from my Bachelor of Arts, but was in the middle of doing my Bachelor of Education to become a teacher, I tried to see a psychologist or psychiatrist to get help but that ended up making it worse. See, I went to the Student Clinic on campus and had a very long meeting with I guess a “pre-counselor?” It was the clinic’s policy that you had to see someone so that your “need” could be evaluated and then a doctor would be assigned to you. During this appointment, I told the counselor all about how I was feeling: wanting to die (but not feeling suicidal), feeling lost, anxious all the time, etc etc. She just kept insisting I didn’t need to see a “real” counselor, but that their group career counseling would help. I agreed that I’d go to those sessions, because sure, it would probably help someone who was feeling uncertain about careers, but I still wanted to see someone else, because I knew all of my “problems” were not because of being undecided on a career. I had to argue with her to put me on a list to see someone!

And then when I was directed to go see the receptionist to enrol in the career courses, the counselor and the receptionist seemed frustrated that I wasn’t available to attend because my teaching internship was at the same times. The receptionist asked if I’d like to make an individual appointment for me and when she asked what times were good for me, I told her anytime after 3:30PM. She looked at me angrily and said, “It would be a lot easier for me if you university students wouldn’t be so lazy and would get out of bed before noon! None of you ever want the early appointments!” Woah. I was so upset. I don’t normally snap at people but I looked at her and snapped right back at her: “I am NOT lazy! I can’t take a day time appointment because I’m teaching every day! I leave my house at 6AM to take a bus to the school I teach at and I teach all day. I don’t get a lunch break because I offer the students extra help then and I have to stay until they leave at 3:30!” And then I just walked out and never went back. I was too upset, angry, and felt guilty, like I was doing something wrong, not being able to get help for myself.

Now, I’m living in Beijing, and I have no idea how to get help for myself and I don’t think I could afford it. Plus, mental health issues aren’t covered by my insurance.

Sorry for the long story/rant. I guess it just all seems so crazy that in this day and age it’s so hard to get help… for everyone it seems.

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74 Hillary March 6, 2014 at 1:53 am

So appreciate your honesty. Blogs, media, FB can all be very deceiving as they often portray a “perfect life” that none of us can live up to. A good life of course is more nuanced then pretty pictures and small snippets of text portray. You are a beautiful, complicated, honest lady. Love to you

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75 Sophie March 6, 2014 at 1:56 am

Thank you so much for sharing your experience.
I’m in the midst of trying to get help now, it’s been over 3 months since I went to my doctor for help, and I still haven’t even been able to see a counsellor, and I’m almost completely unable to chase it, it takes weeks for me to build up the mental energy to make the phone call, then it always turns out there’s yet another delay.

I thought I knew it wasn’t my fault, but when you wrote about people feeling guilty I just started crying because I realised that I do believe I’m to blame. I don’t really know why I think that. It’s like there’s two levels of brain – depressed anxious brain and me, fighting for supremacy.

All of which is to say, please keep sharing this stuff, it helps so much to not feel like the only one.

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76 Jude March 6, 2014 at 2:16 am

Dear Gabrielle
Thank you so much for your honesty and bravery in sharing your mental health history, parts of which I have also experienced since having my first child 12 years ago. You are a brave and wonderful person and I’m delighted to hear you are feeling so much better now. Mental health is such a taboo subject that in my case only my wonderful husband and one dear friend have any inkling of this side of my health, although if I had suffered from a problem elsewhere in my body, I would have had no qualms in telling friends and family about it. I have just discovered a practice called mindful meditation and I’m just day 2 into trying to spend 10 minutes each day practising it. It is a growing area in the approach to aiding mental health issues and I can thoroughly recommend a c0uple of books on it – “Mindfulness: An Eight-week Plan for Finding Peace in a Frantic World” by Mark Williams, Danny Penman and Jon Kabat-Zinn and “Sane New World, Taming the Mind” by Ruby Wax (who has also done a TED talk on this). I am building myself up to telling my book group that I have been reading these instead of the literature I should have read this month! Thanks again for this insightful post and please keep on sharing. Very best wishes to you and all your family, Jude

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77 Crystal March 6, 2014 at 2:34 am

Hellooo?
Has anyone noticed that Oscar looks exactly like the fellow in the picture???
Wow! Hard to believe they are so many generations apart.

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78 Anon March 6, 2014 at 2:58 am

Yes… I had two very tough depression experiences. The first one I was only 14 and I got help only when I was 16 and tried to kill myself. Neither I or my family had recognized what was going on… As you describe it very well, when we have never experienced it, we don’t know what is going on and it can take time…
The second experience was when I was 21, but I recognized it quite faster and got help early on.
I am pregnant now and my baby might arrive in the next weeks, but the beginning of pregnancy was horrible… I felt totally depressed (although I was trying to get pregnant) and I was feeling so sad, that I almost terminated my pregnancy because I was too afraid of going through a huge depression again, becoming a depressed mom that couldn’t take care of her child of herself.
Thank Goodness, I ‘ve got a lot of help from the doctors, midwives, a shrink and depression faded away. Now I am doing well and so happy to be pregnant!
I also felt guilty this time, because I didn’t want my baby to feel unwanted, even if I wasn’t sure I could go on with it. I caressed my belly (that wasn’t yet a bump) and told the baby millions of times that she was loved and it had nothing to do with her, I was going through a tough moment, but I loved her…. I hope she knows it!

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79 Kiersten Hathcock March 6, 2014 at 4:34 am

Thank you so much for being so open about this. I’ve been there, too, and while medication didn’t work for me, other more alternative treatments did. Like you, mine was brought on by financial stress and I remember just feeling numb and not being able to make decisions either. It was all too overwhelming. I now believe some of what I was dealing with at the time was due to a repression of memories of sexual abuse I endured as a tiny child and all of the bubbling up combined with massive financial worries was the perfect storm for me. I’m so very thankful that you are feeling better. Thank you for writing this.

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80 Verónica March 6, 2014 at 5:05 am

Dear Gabrielle: I always think I have depression, that it came with me long time ago. My brother is psychologist and I know I can talk to him for advice and orientation but I don’t do it. Many things had happen in my life ( the early death of my dad, the sadness, two miscarriages, more sadness, and recently my oldest son was in hospital very sick) that made me feel so, so sad, that’s the word, that’s the feeling. Now I’m pregnant and I have a 9 year old boy and a baby boy of15 months. Sometimes I can’t deal with all: the economic difficults, the kids, the pregnancy, the health of my oldest son who has only one kidney. Somedays I feel fear all the time, and it’s exhausting. Other times I think in all the good things I have and the life is to much easier. That’s all. Sorry for tell you all this but your post was very touching to me. Thankyou so much for share. Verónica

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81 Jane March 6, 2014 at 5:09 am

It is important that you have shared your story. I just finished reading “Coming of Age on Zoloft” and “My Age of Anxiety”, both very good. I am grateful that we live in an age in which medicine can help so many people. I have a number of family members who suffer with varying degrees of mental illness. Navigating the mental health system can be extremely difficult. The waits are interminable. Trying to find doctors can be so difficult. I remember calling so many just to find they don’t take new patients. In the end, I was crying on the phone with our health insurer and they helped me get an appointment. Through the years, we have been helped both by family doctors, psychiatrists and psychologists. They are all an important piece of the puzzle. However, it shouldn’t be so hard to get help. And once you get help, it is important to find doctors that you are comfortable with – especially for therapy. Therapy can be highly effective, but it is important to have a good relationship. Sometimes I think mental illness is like an onion. It reveals itself in layers. While my daughter’s GAD was managed well with medicine through high school, her anxieties hit a debilitating level at the beginning of her sophomore year in college. She and we made the difficult decision to bring her home where she worked intensively to manage her OCD and anxieties. She worked really hard at it and I’m happy to say she is back at school. I have tried to be very open with family members so that we can all recognize signs of mental illness. There is definitely a DNA element because we have it on both sides and I think if we were all more open about it, we would recognize signs of it – in ourselves and others – and be able to get help sooner. Although I have not personally experienced mental illness, I live with two family members who do. It is good that they can share their struggles and triumphs. I can empathize with Ben – it can be really rough on the supporting family members. We have to be rocks when sometimes we feel like crumbling. I am glad you are doing well and thank you for sharing your story. It is so important for people to know that there is help available.

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82 Matilda @ Buttered Side Down March 6, 2014 at 5:22 am

As everyone else has said, thank you so much for sharing your story like this. It still feels like there is such a stigma attached to mental health, that it can be hard to be completely honest about it, especially in such a public forum.

Many, many members of my family have had mental health problems, so it wasn’t really a surprise when I first experienced it at the age of 12. That first bout (and isn’t it so fitting to call them bouts? Like a mental boxing match) was probably the worst, and it was the only time I went on meds. Unfortunately, I had a pretty terrible reaction to most of the cocktails we tried. One made the depression go away, but also all other feelings as well, which was pretty dehumanizing. One actually made me MORE suicidal. Most of them made me put on weight (which does seem a slightly trivial thing compared to the rest of it, but certainly doesn’t help with the self-loathing).

Since then it’s something that comes and goes, normally about a year apart and usually lasting for 3-4 months. I’ve always resisted medication because of my really horrible experiences, although I know that’s quite unhealthy as well.

My biggest fear is passing this on to my future children. It seems to be pretty obviously genetic on both sides of my family, and though I desperately want kids, I sometimes wonder if it’s just irresponsible when I know the potential danger.

It sounds like you have an amazingly supportive partner in Ben Blair, thankfully I now do too. I got together with my boyfriend a few weeks after a bout of depression, during which he was the most loving and supportive friend I had. I wouldn’t say it’s the reason I wanted to be with him, but it definitely helped to know that he was someone who I could talk about anything with.

And really, I think talking is one of the most powerful tools we have against depression. Thank you again for talking.

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83 Mandy March 6, 2014 at 5:26 am

Is it always this hard to get help? Yes, I think it probably is. Although in some cases, as understanding increases and stigma decreases, some of the barriers to getting help get lower (e.g., being able to get some medications for mental health straight from your family doctor). I was finally diagnosed with ADHD last year–at 33 years old! Reading a bunch of books and articles to try to understand what was going on with my son (who was also diagnosed) made me suddenly connect some dots and see a pattern in my own life (all these random things I struggled with were connected! It had a name! It wasn’t just me, unable to get my act together, struggling with things so many people didn’t think twice about—just that realization helped me so much). However, although my realization was nice, it was SO HARD to actually get from there to the point where help and medication were finally offered. You can’t just make an appointment for an ADHD evaluation–first you have to spend an hour filling out forms, questionnaires, histories, and paper tests. You turn those in, and then a week or two later they call and make an appointment for an actual evaluation with a psychologist. Then you wait for the appointment, and when it comes, you spend an hour talking to her about all the paperwork you just filled out as she asks you the exact same questions that were in the forms, but in person this time. Then you leave, and maybe a week or two later you finally get an appointment with the psychiatrist—who does the exact same thing! (If you don’t know, repetition, for someone with ADHD, is torturous!) Having worked in the mental health field, I understand and appreciate the desire to be thorough in diagnosing and cautious when prescribing brain-altering medications, but being on the other end makes me aware of how unfair it is to be placing the burden of proving the illness on a person who is already struggling enough to be finally seeking help. There needs to be some kind of intermediary or health advocate who is versed in the illness you are trying to get help with and can help to facilitate the process on your behalf in ways that you may not be capable of doing at that point in time.

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84 breanne March 6, 2014 at 5:41 am

even before this post i have always admired your bravery. you are so brave. i’ve followed you since your new york days and moving to different cities and countries, starting all of the big things you have started, raising healthy, respectful, and kind children. and sharing it all. i have to say even though i don’t know you, i feel so proud of you! thank you for being a beautiful example of what it means to be honest and brave. xoxo

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85 Ilaria March 6, 2014 at 6:41 am

Hi! I have to thank you for sharing your story.
Last summer I have experienced depression as well. Lots of things had happened and I was overwhelmed. I stil am. Doing better but still overwhelmed.
I am more aware of what I had experienced and more aware of signs I should look for. And still finding so difficult to fight it back on my own.

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86 Calie March 6, 2014 at 6:45 am

Welcome to the east bay (belated). We are in alameda. Thank you for being so open. I have many family members who suffer from various forms of mental illness. There has been so much misinformation out there on the issue. Creating an environment where people can feel even more alone and confused. I think posts written like this with honesty can help to open the doors for a bit more compassion from people who haven’t been around mental illness. Thanks for sharing.

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87 Tina Z March 6, 2014 at 7:05 am

I disagree with your statement in the Q&A about whether it is difficult to access mental health care. Unfortunately, it IS this difficult for many people, especially so for those living in areas where there is a dearth of adequate mental health care (i.e. doctors, therapists, social workers, etc). I’m not in mental health care myself but many of my academic colleagues are in social work, public health, and other related fields. The research is clear, it is a serious problem- there is not a magical process that you somehow missed out on, it can really be that difficult. Fortunately, the ACA now requires parity for mental health care- insurance companies now must cover mental health care. And mental health is now recognized as an “essential health benefit” for insurers. Regardless of someone’s politics, this is an awesome feature of the ACA that will help to address mental health care deficiencies in the U.S.

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88 Deborah March 6, 2014 at 7:19 am

Thanks so much for posting about your experience. One day, hopefully in the near future, there will not be a fear or stigma to talk about depression. It’s an illness, like any other illness, that needs to be treated. You would never break a bone or have a sinus infection and not treat it. The same goes for depression, whether you treat it with medicine or therapy or both. I’ve been through this with my sister, while she was on the other side of the country and am still dealing with it with my father, who seems to think it’s weakness to get treatment, not realizing how much it effects the entire family. My husband and I have started openly discussing with our children how their grandfather is depressed, so that if it happens to them, they will recognize it. Another point to be made, my sister found out that she was terribly low in vitamin d and was prescribed a medicinal dose. She still needs medication, but found that raising her d levels up to normal has helped a great deal. It doesn’t hurt to have that d level checked.

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89 Sara T March 6, 2014 at 7:45 am

Ben Blair seems like the dearest husband. And your “openness” sharing things with your husband from the start is so opposite of me. I curl up like a little potato bug when things start going awry and my husband has to dig the problems out. (He is also the dearest.) I’m glad you are doing better. So glad! :)

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90 Christy@SweetandSavoring March 6, 2014 at 7:51 am

Thank you, thank you, thank you, Gabrielle. I’m half crying now and can’t believe I didn’t see this post yesterday. (Sometimes I worry that when there are already so many comments on a post, that mine will get lost in the shuffle! Silly, coming from a blogger!)
I’m so glad Wellbutrin works for you- me too! It is the medication I have been on the longest, though I have been in a slump lately anyway.
I’ve struggled with anxiety and depression for over half my life and only since I started my blog in 2012 did I start to open up about it. Wow! I couldn’t believe the response to my depression-themed posts- ones on seasonal affective disorder, how my depressions affects my husband, the stigma of mental illness. Those readers expressed as much gratitude as I’m feeling toward you right now. You’re so well known in the blogging community and so respected, and that makes your candor and authenticity that much more meaningful.
As far as accessing care, I went eight years without medical insurance and moving around, so I experienced a lot of gaps in my treatment, and plenty of frustrating medication switches and wrong-for-me therapists. It’s such a gamble, not knowing what medication will work for each person! And mental illness is so common that I can’t believe so many of us still go through this madness, when so many other technological and scientific advances have been made. That sufferers should still be made to feel ashamed and guilty is a tragedy in itself.
And to go through this when you have children, I cannot imagine. I wonder how your depressions affected the rest of your family last year? (Ah, I just read your response someone else further up!) Hurray for understanding!
So many of the bloggers I read opened up about their depressions after I started following them. I am beyond grateful for this community, and thank you for holding space for this conversation to happen right now!
Much love to you and your continued wellness! xoxo

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91 G March 6, 2014 at 9:27 am

The part that angers me most is how difficult our healthcare system makes it to get treatment. And this post doesn’t even get into how expensive ongoing therapy is, and how almost NONE of it is covered by insurance. (I have Kaiser, which has extremely poor mental health services.)

Marriage counseling in San Francisco? $250 an hour.
Psychiatrist evaluation to get my Zoloft prescription? $295
Ongoing therapy? Counting my blessings that I was able to find someone excellent for “ONLY” $130 a week, out of pocket. Most of the other therapists I called charged $200-250 a session.

Post-partum depression basically bankrupted me, and my marriage.

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92 Katie March 6, 2014 at 9:46 am

Incredible post, Gabby. I suffer from depression as well and have reached points in my life when dying really felt like a solution. Thank you for opening this conversation and helping to destigmatize mental health issues.

p.s. Our RS had a lesson on Elder Holland’s talk on depression a couple weeks ago and it sparked such an amazing discussion. In the past it seems our culture perpetuated a “grin and bear it” attitude about mental health, but I’m so thrilled that seems to be changing. It’s because of strong people like you willing to share their stories!

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93 Julia @ Calm Cradle Photo & Design March 6, 2014 at 9:50 am

Thank you for this brave and honest post. Just look at all the comments and see how your willingness to speak openly about such a difficult topic has had an immediate impact on so many people. You never cease to amaze! I’m so glad you’re feeling like yourself again.

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94 Zina March 6, 2014 at 9:50 am

Thanks so much for sharing this Gabriel. I think your story highlights one of my mantras: “you are not your feelings”. Feelings can be influenced by all sorts of things, outside circumstances, hormones, brain chemistry, other’s choices; and while we have a fair amount of control on how we react to and interpret feelings, sometimes the perfect storm arises and we have no control and they can control us and it can be very scary.

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95 Jenny Stockton March 6, 2014 at 10:22 am

THIS is what The Internet is good for. Thank you for your courage and vulnerability, and for creating this space for others to do the same. I’m glad to hear you’re feeling normal again.

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96 Anna March 6, 2014 at 10:48 am

This helped me process the recent suicide of my brother-in-law. Depression has such complicated ramifications. And also, I am angry that it is hard to find access to mental health care sometimes. I had Medical Assistance while pregnant and for a few months postpartum. I developed postpartum depression–I wasn’t sad or even detached–just very easily overwhelmed. It came time to submit verifications for insurance and I couldn’t get it done, so my insurance was cut off, a few days after my first therapy appointment. Luckily, it has gradually gotten better on its own, but I have bad days and I am sure I’d benefit from medication and therapy, which I can not afford, still being uninsured. Anyway, thank you for sharing.

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97 Erika Rosenbaum March 6, 2014 at 11:01 am

Hey,

How refreshing to read about your experience. I’m so happy for all of you that you’ve gotten your symptoms under control again. I’ve recently started openly discussing my own anxiety and mental health stuff and I realize that this conversation is quite necessary. There are still many who are suffering in silence with their families feeling helpless and alone. I’m relieved the conversation is becoming more mainstream and less judgy. Mental illness is tough, there is no obvious evidence for people to SEE and say “oh, I see you’re hurting, can I help?”. It’s also personal, and sneaky, and if we aren’t careful it can really cause damage.

I bet somebody reading your blog will recognize some of your experience, and maybe he or she will seek help when they realize it’s not normal to be in the fog for weeks, to be disinterested, sad and confused. I bet you will help get someone to the doctor.

Thanks for your candour, you made me feel empowered to care for myself without guilt. We are with you, Gabrielle.

Love from Montreal xo

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98 brynn March 6, 2014 at 11:20 am

you are a vulnerable champion and i thank you so much for your personal insight and story. i treat it kindly and hold it in my heart.

this situation is all around us and the ripples of this story go far beyond what we may expect…

thank you, gabrielle <3

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99 Beata March 6, 2014 at 11:37 am

Let me start by saying, thank you for sharing this. I truly believe that many people will benefit from it.

I wanted to briefly share my story in hopes that it might help others as well.

I had my daughter a little over five years ago. Everything went smooth until i decided to wean her at around 14 months. To be completely honest it really was not (ALL) my choice but rather the fact that by that point my milk production had drastically reduced. Shortly after weaning i started feeling extremely week and would wake up literally shaking , crippled with anxiety. This went on for a few weeks and things got really really severe . My daughter had to be taken to my mother in- law daily because i was terrified of not being able to care for her. I ended up in the emergency room about 2 weeks after my severe symptoms have started. They told me and i quote : WELCOME TO AMERICA ! and sent me home with absolutely nothing ( other than a 1900 dollar bill to pay) From the emergency room i went straight to the walk in clicic, where i finally found somebody who would show some kind of compassion toward me. They gave me medication for my anxiety, which i really did not want to take but i knew that just knowing that i had something to take would make me feel better. I woke up the next morning feeling terrible again, i took the medication and it did not help much.

AND THEN…..My friend suggested i 1: take a micronutrient test , where they check my blood for a long list of vitamins nutrients and minerals. 2: she suggested i go and get a b12 shot.

I ordered the test, got my blood drawn and sent it back to get it tested. i had to wait 3 weeks for the results. But it was NO problem to wait because just 1 day after getting a b12 shot i woke up happy, no shaking, no anxiety happy as can be. I kept up with the b12 going back very frequently at the beginning and than eventually settling for monthly shots.

When my results came in ( from the micronutrient test )i was shocked , i was majorly deficient in 9 different vitamins and nutrients , and was borderline in many of the others. My body was running on EMPTY. I was deficient in almost every form of the b vitamins ( b5 b5 b12).

I started the recommended regiment and slowly built myself back up ( while the anxiety, shaking , bad thoughts went away quickly getting stronger took a while) The sad part of it is that ,that terrifying 2 weeks of not being able to care for my daughter have forever been engraved in my head and till this they i have fears `( although i am completely happy and healthy) about having anther child and going through the same thing.

I am writing this post NOT ,by any means, to say that you don’t need medication. I know how helpful medications can be and how important they are and how sometimes it is the ONLY way.
I also believe that you have to look at the possible underlying causes as well and make sure that your body is fueled properly and working as good as it possibly can. I remember thinking that my friend , who suggested the test and the b12 shots, have pretty much saved my life. I really don’t know where i would be today without her guidance. I am hoping i can help somebody else as well. You had six children yourself and nursed them as well , that can take take a lot out of you, i believe. Especially if you don’t refuel and recharge properly.

Again i am not suggesting that you stop you medication but maybe run some test and see where you are and start supplementing if needed. You can even do it while on the medication so once you stop maybe it will be easier for you to go on without them.

Wishing you the very best! Thank you for sharing your story and helping others!

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100 Ellen March 6, 2014 at 12:09 pm

Thank you very much for this post Gabrielle. I really needed it right now. I’m two weeks short of the due date of my second child and what worries me most is not the delivery, the sleepless nights, the juggling of two kids; but the chance I will experience the depression that I had after the birth of my first child again. It was horrible, the worst thing I’ve ever been through and the fact that it might happen again terrifies me.
But having read your post, I realized I’m not alone. There is help out there; medication and emotional. And most of all, I made it through last time, like you, and I’m determined to again.

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101 Gerti March 6, 2014 at 12:51 pm

Thank you! I am in the middle of an international move at the moment and there are days when I just want to throw in the towel. I have done 8 international moves in the past 14 years but this is the first one with small kids and a major life change for me personally. This post has been extremely helpful for me!

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102 Janet W March 6, 2014 at 2:40 pm

Thank you for the post. I need to remind myself it isn’t my fault.

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103 Rebecca March 6, 2014 at 2:41 pm

I cannot begin to describe how wonderful it is, and you are, for sharing this. I have too many thoughts swirling about it but I want you to know this post has the potential to save a life. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I wish discussing mental health issues would like like teaching people about peanut allergies or Down’s Syndrome. Maybe one day it will be, thanks to your post <3

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104 Wendy March 6, 2014 at 3:45 pm

What a wonderfully honest and brave post. I have no doubt you will help some of your loyal readers of which I am definitely one. I am also a therapist & have suffered from my own depression over the years particularly following the births of each of my children & during particularly stressful times. I will say that it can be difficult to find help despite there being a lot of help out there. If you’re not connected to a physician or know someone who knows where to direct you it can be like a needle in a haystack and I believe this is due to the ongoing stigma of mental health issues. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for sharing your struggle which certainly contributes to ending that stigma. I wish you all the best!

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105 Vilate Ssempala March 6, 2014 at 3:48 pm

Thanks for this. I have been feeling like I needed to write my own story and reading yours was the kick in the butt that I needed to do it.

http://acowintheocean.wordpress.com/2014/03/06/the-worst-swear-word-ever-is-the-d-word/

Here is my story if you are interested in hearing it. I actually posted a link to yours in my blog, partly because I liked it and partly because I feel like our stories are quite different and show that not every situation can be dealt with the same.

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106 Krista Hansen March 6, 2014 at 5:52 pm

Thank you so much for this beautiful and personal post. I have struggled with depression since 15 and have been in counseling 4 different times. But PPD was a totally different experience. I have 3 kids and each time it got so much worse. My baby is 19 months old and after she was born was the first time I used an anti depressant. It has been so helpful with all the “death thoughts” and I’m not sure when I will be ready to be done with the medication. And with the help of my doctor and husband, I realize that’s ok. I hope that as my baby grows, I will feel more like myself. But I also know that I will have highs and lows all my life too. And that’s hard but it’s ok too.

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107 Miet March 6, 2014 at 6:00 pm

Thank you for being so open and honest. I’m glad you’re feeling better again!

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108 Kimberly March 6, 2014 at 6:02 pm

What a blessing to read this today. My darling 13 year old just wrote me a note yesterday telling me he wishes he was dead and that he doesn’t know why but he thought I should know. This is totally out of the blue with no warning signs we could see. Panic! I didn’t even know where to start! After a long talk we assessed that he didn’t have a plan and wasn’t an imminent threat to himself…but we scheduled an appointment with his pediatrician and have an appointment with a therapist. It’s so scary and not knowing what to do is so overwhelming. Your description of how you felt sounds just like what he was telling me and it makes me think that I am on the right path and we are getting him the help he needs. Thank you for being so brave. You have no idea how much this helped today.

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109 Lauren March 6, 2014 at 6:20 pm

Thank you for sharing your story! One of my best friends committed suicide, and my brother has attempted to do so 3 times in the last year. Depression is something that I wish people would be more open about, because I feel like there is a stigma and shame to it that does not need to be there, and makes it harder for people to seek help. I’m so glad that you are feeling better and your medication is helping you be the best you. This touched my heart and helped me through a difficult time.

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110 Thia March 6, 2014 at 6:23 pm

Thank you for telling your story. There have been times in my life when I felt the way you did but I never sought help. Somehow I just muddled through. I hope in the future, if depression finds me, I will recognize the symptoms and seek help as you have. Wishing you continued good mental health!

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