Where did Amy go? Part 3

by Amy on September 27, 2018

It’s me again.
This is a blog post about mental illness.
I’m no expert on mental illness.
I’ll just write from my own experience.
I could keep tossing euphemisms against the wall.
The blahs, the blues… But let’s just call a spade a spade? Depression fucking sucks.
I’ve struggled with depression my whole life. Except I didn’t know it was depression. Which apparently is a common thing among women which is why I’m writing about this now.
Feeling sad or anxious or scared or lonely was pretty normal for me as a kid.
So when I got older I just assumed it was normal to feel sad or anxious or scared or lonely.
It wasn’t until I became a life coach and I learned how to feel better that I came upon a resource about depression.
The symptoms…
A loss of interest in things.
Wanting to sleep all the time.
Changes in appetite.
In a podcast called The Hilarious World of Depression Dick Cavett describes it this way:
“If there was a magic wand that could make you feel better, you wouldn’t get up to get it because you’re just too tired and it probably wouldn’t work anyway.”
This is not “burn out.” It’s something entirely different.
My first major episode outside of childhood (I had panic attacks as a kid for YEARS) was in Seattle after turning thirty. I didn’t want to get out of bed, when I did I smoked and drank and nearly drove myself to suicide (which is another symptom of depression).
My second bout was in my mid thirties during the years of infertility and treatments to get pregnant. The third, after my mom died and the twins were born three months later.
Sometimes things like death and childbirth and mars retrograde and feedback on writing projects trigger it. In other words, things we can’t control.
Many times the trigger is internal — the shitty stories we tell ourselves.
Like the first time I got depressed, for example, when I wrote a list of all the things I wanted to accomplish by the time I turned 30. Super human things like getting into the top international relations school in the world, speaking five languages, living in China.
I didn’t achieve these things by thirty (surprise, surprise). So I concluded I’d never amount to anything, that I was wasted space. That’s enough to make anyone depressed.
Fast forward to today… I am forty five. I have been a life coach for eight years. I know what depression is. I have tools.
And yet…
The past few weeks every damn thing has felt overwhelming to me… Getting out of bed, walking to the bus stop, calling the vet, eating. I slept 12 hours last night, got the kids ready for school then went back to sleep until noon. I cried because my earbuds got stuck in the zipper of my wallet.
I have a few theories about what triggered it this time. That’s another blog post. But the good news is I know what I’m dealing with.
If you’re reading this and you can relate but this whole time you’ve been telling yourself it’s just “burn out,” know this: depression is real and you should take it very seriously.
Here’s are some things that help:
1. Do something healthy to shift your energy every day as many times as you can *especially* when you don’t want to do it. And you probably won’t want to do it. So force yourself.
Try yoga, meditation, any kind of exercise, massage, acupuncture, nature, sex, swimming, tennis.
2. Don’t talk yourself out of these things.
You might tell yourself that you “shoudn’t” be getting that massage because you have so many other things to do. Bullshit. It is imperative that you do these things. This is part of how you will get better. Period.
3. Don’t isolate.
It can be embarrassing to admit to feeling so shitty *especially* when everything seems great on the surface. Hell, look at my life… supportive spouse, great kids, everyone is healthy, everyone is safe, there is a really pretty airstream outside our house, I have the tennis channel. Depression doesn’t give a shit about your socionomic status or your gender or your life circumstances. Talk to someone, get help.
4. Avoid the quick fix. Before I knew what it was, I would find ways to self medicate. Alcohol was a great way to feel better in the short term. I didn’t realize that booze is a depressant that ultimately makes you feel even worse in the long term. I haven’t had a drink for five years but I won’t lie, I still want to feel better the quick and easy way. But I know shopping sprees at madewell and no bake cookies from Whole Foods (why don’t they sell the big size???) might feel good in the moment but in the end once the money hits the bank account and the sugar high is gone you’re still sitting there crying about your earbuds.
5. Check your shame and watch your thoughts.
It’s easy to feel like a complete and utter failure when you spend half the day sleeping and the rest of the day clicking ads on Facebook. But no amount of self flagellation will help you get better. Practice being nice to yourself. Watch the way you think and how it makes you feel about yourself. Find kinder thoughts.
6. Take really really good care of yourself.
This — now more than ever — is the time for amazing self care. Take vitamins ( Long Life Vitality Supplements from doTERRA help me manage my mood), drink green juice, diffuse essential oils, take baths, rest, say no to things you don’t want to do. This is worth repeating. Don’t talk yourself out of these things. It IS your medicine right now.
It’s been a week since I’ve written this. And lo and behold I’m feeling soooo much better. For me, depression comes and depression goes. I never know quite when it will hit. But I know what it is now and I know what to do.
My hunch is I’m not the only one who goes through this. If you can relate, you are so NOT alone. Take amazing care of yourself and know that it will get better.
Take care of yourself, love, you’re so worth it.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Stephanie O'Dea October 1, 2018 at 4:41 pm

this is powerful writing — thank you for sharing it.
my favorite part was when you came (somewhat) “full circle” at the very end: It’s been a week since I’ve written this. And lo and behold I’m feeling soooo much better. For me, depression comes and depression goes. I never know quite when it will hit. But I know what it is now and I know what to do.

this wisdom comes with age and perspective and it hits each human at different times. I know you will help many many people with your wisdom and the vulnerability you have shared.


Amy October 1, 2018 at 5:43 pm

Thank you Stephanie. So much.


Charlotte October 1, 2018 at 5:18 pm

Amy, thank you so much for this post. I’m 70, and I have experienced everything you talk about since childhood. As you say, it comes and goes, and I’m not always aware of the triggers until they slap me to the ground. I’ve also been a life coach for 8 years, and before that, a public school teacher for over 30 years. Some days it’s all you can do, literally -on hands and knees- crawl out of bed and engage the day.Yes, I do have strategies also. As you say, movement (of any kind) is the first antidote.

You’re probably feeling too shitty to do anything, so go with something simple. Such as a walk around the block, even if you are still wearing your bedroom slippers and pajamas. It’s nobody’s business but yours.

I’m in one of those places right now. Sort of wish I had a spouse or live-in partner to help get me through, though I know from long experience it’s really all up to me.I also know it’s cyclical. If I do the healthy things, as you suggest, this will be gone in a week or two or three. I will do my professional work,will spend a lot of time reading and resting, will make sure to “move,” will force myself to eat well and take my vitamins.

Amy, you are an inspiration for me. And I would bet that’s true for many of your readers. I always trust you to “tell it like it is.”



Amy October 1, 2018 at 5:44 pm

Sending you so much love and light. Thank you Charlotte for sharing your experience with this.


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