FOTD: Stockholm Pixi (10/29/11)

This is the look I wore to Sam & Tricia’s wedding, which was so, so, so lovely! (But I managed just to cheese real big the whole time, and not cry. There was also a little boy sitting next to me, who kept looking at me and trying to decide whether to smile or not – I finally cracked him by making faces, after the wedding, when we were waiting to file out of the pews.)

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Depression Awareness Month

October, as National Awareness months go, is jam-packed full of causes near and dear to my heart, not the least of which is Depression Awareness, and it’s color is green. Depression (and its sister, anxiety) is one of many “invisible illnesses,” meaning one who suffers the disease may be suffering mightily because of it and struggling to cope, but not present any observable, external symptoms. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, in the US, 14% of adolescents and 9.5% of adults suffer from some sort of mood disorder, which includes bipolar, dysthymic, and major depressive disorders (4.7% and 45% of those cases are classified as “severe,” respectively); and 25.1% of adolescents and 18.1% of the adult population suffers some sort of anxiety disorder (5.9% and 22.8% of those cases are classified as “severe,” respectively). And if I’m reading the statistics correctly, for major depressive disorders, they’re tracking *chronic* depression – which means long-lasting, often lifelong, depression, and not just episodic depression (like you might experience after the death of a loved one, for instance, or loss of a home or job, or any other “minor” setback). Depression is a very real, very debilitating disease – but one that can be effectively treated in a variety of ways. If you yourself don’t suffer from depression, odds are that you know at least a couple people who do (whether or not they’ve disclosed it to you), and odds are that you will yourself experience at least episodic depression during your lifetime. Depression is particularly nasty, in my opinion, because of its nature: first, many people are ashamed to admit they have a mental health disorder, and won’t seek help for fear of being revealed as “crazy”; second, depression has a way of making you feel hopeless and helpless, and clouding your mind so that options that would seem obvious otherwise, seem like non-options. What I mean is, even if the stigma surrounding a diagnosis of depression doesn’t scare you away from seeking help, the depression itself may convince you that there is no help to be found. (Or vice versa.)

But there is help! And I know, because I’ve been there. With bipolar disorder, major depressive disorder, and a host of other mood and anxiety disorders in my family history, it’s no real surprise that I have generalized anxiety disorder and panic disorder. (Depression and anxiety often run together in families. There’s no real clear idea of the link between the two, but it’s apparent there is some sort of link.) I’ve had episodic bouts of depression – but I’ve also, in the past couple years, been diagnosed with PMDD (which I can joke about, but only now that I’m on meds for it and not a hosebeast one week out of each month), and have had enough low-level (thanks to meds I was already on for anxiety at the time) but uncued depressive periods that I’m pretty sure it’s just going to be part of the rest of my life. I’ve experienced hopelessness, helplessness, the depths of despair, feelings that I’m going crazy, or, at really low points, no real suicidal tendencies, but definitely a strong wish that it would all end already.

And yet, these days, I’m pretty happy, and on an even keel. Enjoying life, and learning to cope better and more successfully when depression or anxiety rear their ugly, ugly heads. I’ve had some rock-bottom moments when I was convinced life would never again even be indifferent – but I am LOVING it these days, and fighting the good fight. I’m sure this is something I’ll have to deal with the rest of my life – I don’t think I’ll ever be completely “cured” – but I’ll be damned if I hit rock-bottom again and don’t remind myself how great life can be, and how it’s so worth it to claw my way back up to the top.

So, you can read more about depression at the National Institute of Mental Health. If you find yourself experiencing any depression or anxiety, talk to someone, get help. Maybe a therapist or psychiatrist isn’t right for you – but *talk* to someone, a loved one, a friend, your doctor, a helpline. You’re not alone. And if a friend or loved one or someone you know seems to be experiencing depression or anxiety – stick your nose in their business! Too often, they can’t see a way out for themselves, so help them, at least let them know that people care and are there for them. I can’t tell you how much that helps, to just know that someone’s on your side and rooting for you, and willing to help you get help, or listen, or find whatever works. Be compassionate to each other – you never know what invisible load someone else may be carrying.

And now, makeup. The Makeup Heroes are all doing Depression Awareness looks, and I’ll update to link to them as their posts go up. (There might also be some tutes on the channel; if so, I’ll add those.)
Helen
Jerry
Priscilla’s
Robyn’s
Wendy’s

And here’s mine:

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