The First Step

I wrote this two weeks ago but got busy with Christmas and forgot to post. Doing a helluva lot better now, but methinks an update is in order! Hope you are all having a happy new year. Rock on 2010!

It's been almost seven weeks since the Ranting Orangutan entry and it almost took that long to finally do something about my depression. I'll just come out and use the Big D word now. Looking back though the archives the other day, this started brewing over two years ago, and if I'd been bold enough to admit it earlier it may not have got so messy.

After the Ranting Orangutan I ran wild with the I Feel Awful theme. My head was like wool and I could not focus on anything. There was lots of weeping and ten pounds worth of mindless eating to add to the ten that had already crept on over the year. There was that smothering hopeless black hole feeling.

I ran away from the work Christmas party. We were getting ready in the loos when the dread and panic swooped over. It was a strange, physical reaction… shaking and nausea and wanting to shrivel into a ball on the bathroom floor. I just could not face going out. It really really really sucks to sob all over your colleagues and not know why.

I nicked off home to the safety of the couch, thinking this isn't me, something's wrong here… but still didn't do anything. Then the whole panic-and-run routine happened again at kickboxing the following week. Bloody hellfire.

I finally went to the doctor on Tuesday, but not before doing five different online Are You Depressed tests to get some empirical evidence. I also took a comprehensive list of all the things I did to try and get better on my own over these past months, so the doctor didn't think I was a slackarse drug fiend.

It was the same old words I wrote about 1999 and 2002 – the feeling like a fraud, the feeling like a failure for not being able to solve things on my own; the almost wishing for a broken limb or a giant, festering wound on my forehead so there was a proper, visible reason for being so bleak. But the doctor was kind and helpful, not the take-the-pills-and-get-outta-here type. She was all about the one-step-a-time, mind and body approach. Groovy.

Why is it so difficult to own up to the Big D? There's the stuff in the paragraph above, and also the not wanting to feel like a pain in the butt to my family. Plus the memory of someone who used the Big D as their crutch, as an excuse for treating people like rubbish. I have an illness so that is why I might be a fuckwit sometimes… I don't ever want to be lumped into that category. But going to the other extreme and pretending there's no problem… that's gotten me bloody nowhere.

I don't want to spend another another year living in slow motion, all detached and fuzzy. I have seen dear friends lose loved ones to incurable illnesses this year… depression is something I can so easily manage, if I just accept it, stop worrying about what people think and get on with the getting better!

So that's what's been happening. Six days later and it already feels less like I'm walking through molasses. It's good to have taken that first step.

71 thoughts on “The First Step

  1. I think the Big D is something we all struggle with from time to time but the fact that you’re recognizing that you’re not one of those who uses their illness as an excuse to treat people badly means that you won’t.

    May this year be the best year for you yet!

  2. Man, I just wrote a post for next week that is a lot like this. If you ever want to swap coping strategies or gab about different meds, you’ve got my email.

  3. Oh, Shauna. So many of us go through this. I feel your pain and have gone through this many times. I call it falling down the ‘black hole’. Meds helped in the short term and I started counseling this last round (it was a year and a half ago) and it was the biggest gift I have ever given myself. I will be cheering you on from the sidelines – Btw, you know friends of ours – Rory and Jane – I saw you in pics when their son William was born. Small world. πŸ™‚ So, all of the way from the US, please take care and be good to yourself.

  4. Shauna, you are very brave to have posted this and to take action to confront your depression. I really hope you begin to feel better soon, much love x a long term reader x

  5. I have never posted here before but have lurked for a very long time. I am in the same position as you. I have just been on a 10 week ‘course’ for binge eating and met a group of wonderful ladies but have realised through this group i have been in denial about the Big D for years. I have now asked for counselling and begin on 14th. So heres to a great 2010 (hopefully) and i look forward to following your progress.

    Big hugs and take care

  6. I know just what it is like and as I get older, I find it easier to deal with. One thing I try to remember (if my brain will let me) is that it WILL pass and you WILL feel better soon.

    Well done for facing up to it and for coming out and telling us about it, both are good steps to recover.


  7. Well done you, for seeing it for what it is and getting help. You will get through this and the most important thing it that you took that (however painful) first step. The fact that you can tell us about it is a HUGE step forward. Just be kind to yourself and let Dr G look after you for a bit.
    I know I wont be alone in cheering you on from the sidelines!

  8. So happy to read this. Gotta agree w/ Melissa, going for counseling was one of the best things I ever did for my Black Dog. Good luck on tackling your Big D (Black Dog, whathaveyou). We’re behind you 100%.

  9. (((HUGS))) and really try and step away from “I should (have)”. It’s not easy, it’s never easy and you’re brave and amazing (((MORE HUGS)))

  10. Hugs Shauna, you’re a lovely person and I hope you have a better year. So proud of you for taking that step.

  11. {{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{hugs}}}}}}}}}}}}}}
    It takes a lot of courage to post this.

    I add my wishes for a great new year.

  12. Wow, this is so comforting to me. I hope the Big D quiets down in your life, I’m hoping the same in mine. Glad there is someone I can relate to, even if you are thousands of miles away. Also, your post has encouraged me to start taking an antidepressant again. I can most DEFINITELY relate to your feelings of guilt, slow motion, a fraud, etc. These were also the reasons I DON’T want to take medication, b/c I feel like a “special” person but NOT in a good way. Anyway, not sure if I’m making sense, but thanks for this unexpected encouragement.

  13. Coming from a family where the big D is prominent, I will tell you that talking things out to yourself really help to keep good perspective… of course if people SEE you talking things out to yourself, they will REALLY think your are crazy! πŸ™‚

    Seriously, its kept me off meds for 9 years now. Meds can really erase parts of your brain… think twice about them.

  14. So glad you posted about this. You are taking some giant first steps and that takes a lot of courage. 2010 will be an incredible year for you!!

  15. Good for you! Getting help for depression is hard for a lot of people. Your mental health is just as important as your physical health. It’s just a bit harder to realize when something is beginning to go wrong when your brain goes all fuzzy.

  16. Onwards and upwards, Shauna! Best wishes in your journey towards getting better. I hope 2010 is filled with many good things for you.

  17. I went through depression like you are going through nearly two years ago. It can be a slow process but know there is a light at the end of this particular tunnel no matter how dim.

  18. Thank you for sharing this. I remember when a close friend of mine was finally diagnoised w/ depression and although it was a hard pill to was relief that she could finally start making changes in the right direction.

    One day/hour/minute at a time.

  19. 2010 will be your year, what a fabulous start for you already.

    I suffer from the Big D too, and I always thought it was because of my weight. But as I am working through therapy (and the medication) I am finding what my stressors are, and slowly trying to accept/modify my responses. What a tough process.

    I wish you every success in managing this illness. I look forward to hearing about your successes / battles along the way….

    ..but most of all, I look forward to my second year of this amazing gal I just happened to stumble accross called Shauna…

  20. so much props for you taking this huge first step and “coming out” with the Big D. I know I have suffered for years (and I am not that old! ) but after managing it fairly well for the past 2+ years, I can tell you that it does get better, and though I know alot of people are against meds, it really does just put back the serotonin you are missing in the first place (that everyone else has, hence why they dont have depression!) this explanation really helped me accept that it’s ok to need extra support and yours not “nuts” because you take meds!
    Let me know if you ever want to chat!

  21. I’m glad you too the first step and you’re feeling better now. I’m starting to realize just how depressed I was this past year now that I’m out of my toxic work environment. I hope every day of 2010 gets brighter and brighter for you.

  22. Thank you for being honest and open. It’s easier to put on a happy tone and cover up than it is to share what is really going on . YOU and your honesty will make it easier for others to recognize this in themselves and maybe seek help.

    And oh yes, I’ve gained 12 lbs since the holidays started. I’m working through a few things and a dip in depression myself (despite Prozac–grrr). Might need to check in with my doc myself.

  23. Thank you for sharing, Shauna. I’ve had years of bouts with depression – for me there were literally days when I couldn’t move. Medication helped me immensely. Currently I’ve been off the meds for a few years now and haven’t had a recurrence, but I wouldn’t hesitate to get back on them if I needed them. Hang in there and do what you need to do to feel better.

  24. Thank you for posting this. I read it, and it was exactly how I am feeling the last couple of days. I think the worst thing is not being able to define whats wrong, and not having a clear reason for being so depressed. Head like wool, detached… that’s exactly how I feel. Congrats for coming out with it, something I still have trouble doing, i think because it’s not all the time just from time to time so I think I can cope on my own. It would take me hitting rock bottom to actually go to the doctor. Good luck:)

  25. Well done for taking that step and good luck in pursuing the path to keeping your black dog under control. It won’t be easy but you’ll do it and life will be back to the big adventure you so love and deserve.

    All the best for 2010. Lots of the great outdoors can’t hurt either….

    (((((((((big hug))))))))))))

    Lesley x

  26. Hey everyone… thank you so much for your comments!
    It’s two weeks since I wrote the post so doing much much better now. Hope you’re having a good 2010 so far.

  27. Great post, sorry you had to go through that pain. Depression is an insidious little shit and it also sneaks up on you. Glad you got help and thanks for sharing.

  28. Well, you are not alone as is obvious by all the previous posts. I have a great book for you to read. Fear and Other Uninvited Guests by Harriet Lerner. It is awesome and sounds like just what you need. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and emotions. It’s really helpful to me and others!

  29. I identified with every word of your posting. You did a good job of getting it all down so that we can see. And I think what you wrote applies to SO MANY OF US. And I think it is so hard to SEE when it is ourselves. Many hugs to you!

    (I had a rough week with the holidays myself this year. I will be posting about it in another week or so. Still mucking it out a bit. And the year that I started with my therapist and then added my psychiatrist was one of my HARDEST. but it changed my life so that I am so much more EVEN. And that is a very good thing.)

  30. Hi Shauna, just doing some catch-up reading. Glad to hear you’re doing better now. I think most of us go through this at one time or another. Hugs to you and happy new year! xx

  31. Hey Shauna, you are wonderful to be so open with your readers and yourself. I suffer from awful panic attacks, which it sounds like you have in the last little while too, and have made really great strides with cognitive behavioural therapy. I know you are already seeing a doctor, which is wonderful, but I thought I would mention it here in case someone else recognized those panicky feelings and the need to run home. I hope you continue to feel better all throughout this year. I am so glad you are taking care of yourself!

  32. I found your blog today as I was searching for inspiration. I’m bloggin about my journey, too.

    I appreciate your comments about hiding your face on your “before” photos a LOT. I cut off my head in my first, before pics. πŸ™‚

    I look forward to following you!

  33. Been missing you, glad you are feeling better, long may it continue, all the best for 2010.

  34. Shauna – I hope that you and your doctor are taking the steps that you need to take care of the Big D. I recently began tackling it myself and have been put on some medication, but I am now also in search of a therapist/psychiatrist to help with my “issues”.

    Good luck on getting fit mentally as you have already done so much getting fit physically. Once your mental health is on track you’ll be able to get back on to where you want to be physically.

    Hope you have a good New Year and that you get where you want to be. Remember that we are all out here rooting for you!

  35. Shauna, even when you are dealing with the ‘Big D’ your ability to write and describe in the most unique and entertaining way come shining through!

    I am glad you took the first step, and I am glad you are feeling better. I so look forward to hearing you on the podcasts with Miz!

  36. Oh hon, great big {{{HUGS}}}. I do understand to a degree because I suffer anxiety myself and get rather depressed. I also put on about 8kg in 2009 which didn’t help. 2010 is the year for us all to work our sh*t out. Hang in there chook and allow yourself to feel this way without being ashamed. We grow from this and we do get through it, especially when you’ve taken the first step.

  37. oh gosh, you have already got a million supportive comments but I will add mine. Depression is crap but look at your words ‘this is not me’. Great start and good on you for getting onto it.

  38. Just to add to the chorus; good on your for sharing the less sparkly side of you! Glad to hear you are doing better since you wrote the entry.

    To throw a wanky but true quote at you: half the solution is defining the problem. So you are on your way!

    I suffered quite severe depression for a couple of years from medication I was taking (Zyrtec if anyone was wondering) but didn’t realise it at the time. It was staggering how paralysing depression could be, I knew my life wasn’t right but lacked the motivation to do anything about it. I was fortunate to literally have an overnight change of personality when I stopped the meds. It was bizarre to go from depressed to ‘normal’ overnight but it really highlighted to me just how different your personality is when you are depressed. I guess the point I am trying to make is that by addressing your problems you have a lot to look forward to and it won’t be long before you are feeling yourself again.

    Here’s wishing you a happy and healthy 2010.

  39. Oh, so sorry. Just like my SIL, you’re so talented but I realise that this doesn’t help when you feel rubbish. But you’re doing the right thing. Thinking of you and hoping things brighten up really soon.

  40. Aww, Shauna, I think you need to cut yourself some slack. Depression is hard, you don’t have to minimize it by comparing it to other peoples battles. I think you have a great outlook on getting through this, just remember to be gentle with yourself when you need it. Hugs.

  41. After reading your blog I just had to give a huge sigh of relief. I am glad you’ve found some help. I do know that exact feeling of being in a fog and walking through molasses (and worse). I remember after being on the right meds it was like waking from a dream – a very bad dream – and then getting back to life was not so difficult.
    May this year bring you lots of happiness.
    Hang in there. HUGS

  42. Wow! ‘Walking through molasses’ was exactly the way I described how I felt when I was suffering from depression a few years back. Tried meds and counselling but what worked for me was finding someone who was willing just to listen.
    All the very best.

  43. Hi Shauna – this is the most honest post I have read from you for such a long time. I can usually tell when people are not being true to themselves. My daughter read your book and even though she is slim (so did not read it for weight advice) she said that she “got” so much of what you were saying.

    I am glad you are getting help πŸ™‚

  44. Shauna, I’m so sorry you are going through this. I had the Big D off and on for 10 years in my 20s and seem to have put it in remission (I’m in my 40s). Therapy and meds helped during the crisis phase, but something that really helped me stay on an even keel was getting one of those Seasonal Affective Disorder(SAD) lamps. I still use it daily and it helps alleviate the winter blues as well as keeping me awake during the day in the fall months. You might look it not that too. It can’t hurt. Good luck to you.

  45. Congratulations on getting help. It’s so hard some times – easy to tell other people to do it but much harder to do it yourself.

  46. Just adding some more good vibes to the party here… hope you feel better, get everything more or less under control, and as my mom says, as crappy as this may be, it too shall pass.

  47. Good for you, Shauna. Thank you for being honest. It’s a difficult issue to address and the more it’s talked about, the more accepted it will be.

  48. Everyone else has used all the good words to express admiration, love, empathy and best wishes, so I won’t try to repeat them, I’ll just settle for a big virtual hug. ((***HUG***))

    Btw, my mother was one of those who “used the Big D as their crutch, as an excuse for treating people like rubbish”, so I know where you’re coming from there. Thankfully the individual experience of depression is different for everyone, you’ll never be one of those people!!

  49. I’ve enjoyed your book and blog but haven’t written in before. Just wanted to say I totally understand where you are coming from and echo some of the earlier comments about pharma help. The drugs can save your life, but a great many of them contribute to weight gain that is extremely difficult to deal with. I gained over 40 lbs on Effexor and could not lose the weight after going off of it for almost five years (until I found a diet specifically for people who gain weigth on SSRIs). I wouldn’t want to try to talk you out of something that might help, but be forewarned.

  50. Like so many other people who have posted comments, I’m glad to see I’m not the only one who is going through similar circumstances.
    I was initially inspired to get my ass in gear and lose weight about 3 years ago thanks to your blog. I did great and lost about 20 pounds in 4 months. I did great at keeping it off and maintained my weight for over 2 years. Then this fall I moved (from Scotland back to Canada (I posted ages ago on Pussycat about being in Russia and seeing the shocked baby chocolate)). Ate my way through a couple months while trying to figure out what I wanted to do. Of course the pounds packed on.
    Now I weigh 10 pounds more than I did at the beginnning of 2007. I have limited funds so joining a gym isn’t a possibility right now. I do have access to little gym and I try to run and do a bit of weight training but in the last month I have put on more weight. I know I need to get more active and stop pointless eating but it’s more difficult this time around.
    Eating for no reason. Clothes don’t fit anymore. Motivation levels are low. But reading what you have been going through lately is helpful.
    Glad you are taking steps to get help.

  51. WO! Check out all the love! Won’t add anything new, as everyone here has said it all. Just, you are one healthy chick for proactively getting your ass some help. You are normalizing the process for a lot of other folks. Love from far West Texas!

  52. Thank you for sharing that with us, Shauna. Mental health problems are so frequently stigmatized, and they shouldn’t be! I’ve suffered from depression on and off since early adolescence. About two years ago I was going through one of my bad spells and I finally, finally got some help. The first step was definitely the hardest. I went to my trusted nurse practitioner and when I told her how I was feeling, I burst into tears right there in her office. I was EXTREMELY opposed to taking any kind of medication but I was at such a low point that I decided that I had to at least try it, because I couldn’t go on the way that I was. I also started seeing a therapist immediately. After only a few days on the Wellbutrin, there was an appreciable change in my mood and my ability to cope and deal with life. I stayed on the meds for about 9 months but have continued with therapy. I will always be grateful for Mary, the NP, who treated me with such compassion and made me feel it was okay to get help. It was a real relief to admit to another person that I was not doing so well.

    I’m glad that 2010 is going well for you so far and I hope that things continue to get better as the year progresses. You are a person with incredible strength as evidenced by your past accomplishments and I wish you a peaceful and healthy year!

  53. Shauna, you know me, you’ve read my story when I’ve fallen in a pit after B’man’s birth. Didn’t know my arse from my elbow.

    Although I stopped blogging I’ve spent that majority of this year with some nasty depression & anxiety but I’m the queen at covering it all over with a ‘I’m fine, how are you?”

    I wanted to say that I started seeing the most amazing herbalist who consults all over the world, has done Oprah and had her own show on the discovery channel. She is amazing, switched on and has her finger on the pulse like no other.

    She taught me about the ‘greens’. How much eating our greens (unprocessed) is an amazing builder of getting your seratonin levels back to normal.

    Remember when I did Cohen’s? I lost a collosal amount of weight and completely balanced my hormones/ seratonin and sugar levels. I ate ALOT of greens, mostly baby spinach cause I love it so. πŸ™‚

    So from one person who has found such a significant improvement from the introdution on those age old greens, to you, who is reaching out for a natural solution, I offer you that advice.

    The worst that can happen is your liver wil love you.

    For the record, I stopped my medication nearly 3 weeks ago and I feel like I’m not crawling through a pool of panic and desperate attempts at ending my own life.


    Oh! The herbalist? Stacey Roberts is her name and she is based on the Gold Coast and does online Skype Consultations around the world.

    Do not be put off by the ‘baby making’ side of the website. She is all about balancing a womans body out completely BEFORE a woman can fall pregnant but she does so much more than that. She is incredible and very hard to get into.

  54. I know you must have tried loads of things-have you come across The Lightning Process. When you get a sec check out their website it is amazing, I can personally vouch for it and I wish more people knew about it. I wish you all the luck in the world

    Carrie xx

  55. Oh Shauny, sorry I am late commenting. Glad to hear you are starting to feel better. I am struggling myself lately, I am getting the mean reds on a more regular basis but am probably too scared to confirm what I fear.

    Can I ask what were some of the things she recommended?

  56. Hi Shauna,

    As a long time reader, and fellow Aussie chick who spent years in the depression/anxiety spin-cycle (and who has not incidentally gone from 132 kgs to 78 kgs in the past 18 months) I whole-heartedly recommend that you dig yourself up a copy of the self help book “Gas Smells Awful” by Helen Razer (who I reckon you would have heard of! ex-DJ on JJJ etc) to put it very bluntly having it by my bedside saved my life more than once, and I think that you’d find her writing style as appealing as I did …a blend of four-letter & four-syllable words. πŸ˜‰

    Love & gratitude,

  57. Thanks for sharing…I’m sure yo already know -you’re not alone…and you are a brave warrior! Many woman suffer silently – and yes, I’m one! My hubby(and now you) are the only ones who really know! I’ve been known to just slap on my happy face and pretend…like many!

    We all groove differently so our solutions will look different. For me, I need to get dressed, eat breaky and get outside first thing in the morning.
    I need the light, the fresh air, and the exercise.

    I also found journaling to work wonders. Sometimes I save it, sometimes I delete it, sometimes I burn it.

    Hugs to you
    I hope today’s a good day!

  58. It is hard to talk about the big D but it like trying to hold quicksilver to understand what is happening. Glad you are getting some help and getting better – good luck with finding some peace

  59. Hi Shauna,

    Glad to hear you’re feeling better and doing something to take control. Sorry you’ve been having such a rough time of it. I hope 2010 is a much better year!

  60. I’ve been away from blog-land and missed this post until now. Let me add to the hugs, positive thoughts, and best wishes!

  61. Hey there sweetie, just wanted to give you a huge, squidgy cyber ***hug*** and say thank you for sharing this. Hope you’re well on the road to feeling better and far, far away from that black hole.

    Lots of love

  62. I know it’s been month since you posted this, but I thought I’d toss some more hugs your way. Depression (big D) is always hard to own up to, partly because people also use it as a generic term for feeling down in the dumps… so we feel crappy about “being sad” all the time for no reason, which of course exacerbates the issue.

    Kudos for seeking help and not taking it lying down! Frankly, I should do that at some point too. Haven’t seen a psychologist since I left the States last fall and weaned myself off of drugs that didn’t particularly help.

    Hope everything has gotten a bit brighter for you over the last few weeks!

  63. I know it’s been month since you posted this, but I thought I’d toss some more hugs your way. Depression (big D) is always hard to own up to, partly because people also use it as a generic term for feeling down in the dumps… so we feel crappy about “being sad” all the time for no reason, which of course exacerbates the issue.

    Kudos for seeking help and not taking it lying down! Frankly, I should do that at some point too. Haven’t seen a psychologist since I left the States last fall and weaned myself off of drugs that didn’t particularly help.

    Hope everything has gotten a bit brighter for you over the last few weeks!

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