by Serena in Pennsylvania
I was 14. My home life was privileged but chaotic and negative. After a sexual assault I could tell no one about, I suffered over a year of severe depression. After I began to appear functional, I still struggled against the anxiety and depression.
I married and had a family. At about 34 years old, I lost a child and discovered my husband had been having a long-term relationship with another woman - and she was pregnant. Our home burned, and we were inadequately insured. For someone already vulnerable to depression, the cumulative effect of all these events triggered a massive depression and anxiety. Eventually I came to the realization that there had to be something else out there, and my failed suicide attempts had failed for a reason. But what reason? I became involved with a crisis hotline, found new friends, and listening training. I began to get a little counseling and take classes in mental health issues. Again, I appeared to be functioning normally. But I always knew I wasn't. So guess what happened when I was about 54? I was happily remarried (to someone very involved in mental health advocacy issues), had a great job, the kids were grown and successful. Depression hit me with a vengeance, and there was no fighting it on my own. Thanks to a great husband, great friends, a great employer, and a great insurance plan (finally!) I received the counseling I had always needed.
That counseling, combined with modern anti-depressants, finally put me on the road to what I consider complete recovery. Now I am within two years of 74. No, I am not worried.
I have spent over 30 years working on a suicide crisis line and know I am one of the best. I work with teens in a variety of settings, care for elderly friends less physically fortunate than myself, hold down two part time jobs, and serve on several boards, including a couple of mental health related ones. I haven't needed an anti-depressant in at least 10 years. If I could emphasize one thing to those suffering from the depression I went through, it is that recovery is possible. For those around them - family, friends, and employers - your support, love and understanding are an integral part of their recovery. To insurance companies, please extend parity - recovery is possible!