The first three months of my marriage nearly destroyed me.
Here I was, supposedly in the “honeymoon” period of my marriage, and I was more miserable than I’d ever been.
My husband and I fought on a daily basis, and I cried much more often than that. When I found out that he was considering divorce several times a week, I was devastated. I knew that we were going through a rocky patch, but I’d never imagined even the possibility that I would already be divorced only a few months after my wedding.
The fact that most of our issues were not even between the two of us made it even worse. Intense family drama on both sides had reared its ugly head and was threatening to destroy both my family and my marriage. It had gotten to the point where we’d become completely estranged from several members of our family.
If the problems had actually been between me and my husband, we could have gone to counseling together and tried to work through our issues. But since they weren’t, I felt helpless. The drama was marked by stubbornness and anger on all sides – no one seemed to want to sit down and work through the tension, and so it just grew and grew. I staggered under the emotional weight of the constant stress, and took out most of it on my poor husband.
There were days when I even wondered what the point was of me being alive, although I’m grateful that my thoughts never progressed beyond that.
One day, my therapist suggested that I see a psychologist. She thought I might be depressed.
I was devastated.
Not only could I not get along with either my husband or family, now she was suggesting that I might have something clinically wrong with me.
Turned out that she was right.
At my wits’ end, I went to a psychologist and was diagnosed with clinical depression. That turned out to be one of the best days of my life.
It took me a while to see it – I was still upset and stressed out and not particularly pleased with who I was as a person. But eventually, I would be able to point to that doctor’s visit as a very tangible turning point in my life.
The medications I was prescribed helped level out my emotions. They didn’t make my pain and struggles go away, but they gave me the emotional bandwidth to be able to handle them rationally. One by one, I was able to overcome each emotional hurdle that had been standing between me and a happy life and successful marriage.
I still to this day don’t really know if the stress caused the depression or vice versa – at the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter. What matters is that I made the decision to face my depression and treat it, and am now happier than I’ve been in years.
Mental illnesses have such an enormous stigma attached to them. I admit that I had subconsciously embraced that stigma wholeheartedly. That was what I found so upsetting about my diagnosis – it seemed so much more shameful to me than a diagnosis of heart disease or cancer. Perhaps not as devastating, but definitely more shameful. I saw physical problems as things that were largely beyond my control, but I somehow felt that my depression could have been avoided if I had only been stronger.
What I had to learn was that mental illnesses are sicknesses just like any physical illness. There is no more shame for taking medication for depression than there is for taking medication for high cholesterol. And often, anti-depressants give a much more tangible and immediate improvement on your quality of life.
Just like with any illness, I had to learn to accept myself as I was – depression and all – before I could begin the healing process.
We must learn to accept ourselves as we are before we can begin healing. @laurenpmeeks (Click to Tweet!)
Once I did, though, I found my progress to be swift and steady. By accepting who I am and what I need to do to stay healthy – even if it’s to take medication – I’ve become a better wife, daughter, sister, and friend. It is so invigorating to wake up every day happy, in love with my husband, and ready to tackle the day!
I am so grateful for my therapist’s willingness to say what needed to be said, even if it wasn’t fun to hear. Her words have changed my life. My husband recently left me a message that read: “How does anyone go through life without such a wonderful partner and helper? How did i make it through twenty-eight years without you? Boggles the mind…”
I cried when I read that, remembering that he had been considering divorce just a few months ago. If that’s not a success story, I don’t know what is.
Have your own story of overcoming depression? Tell me about it in the comments!
Lauren Meeks is a travel junkie and life enthusiast. Everyone has a story, and she writes to share hers and to help others develop theirs, and also create more meaningful lives for themselves. Find her on her website, Facebook, or Twitter.
Image courtesy of Unsplash.com.