If my life is so happy, why am I so sad?

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Answered by: Sarah, An Expert in the Depression: True Stories Category
It made no sense; not to me, not to my husband, not to my circle of friends. My life was charmed, or so it seemed. Newly married to the man of my dreams, with six beautiful healthy children between us, living in an idyllic country setting, I had everything I had every dreamed of. My beautiful farm wedding had gone off without a hitch, our families were blending as smoothly as a milkshake, and a gorgeous pony graced my back pasture, a wedding gift from my husband. And yet, I was sad. There was not other way to describe my feelings, even if I tried to pinpoint what was wrong. If my life is so happy, why am I so sad?

As with many people experiencing depression symptoms, I began my journey through this illness with denial. I resolved to shake it off. Maybe I was just tired, or hormonal...easy scapegoats for any thirty-something mom. An extra few hours of sleep and a chocolate bar would cure me, I was certain. Although I am a registered nurse, I ignored the symptoms despite their screaming perfect textbook bullet points at me.

A month later, ten pounds heavier (chocolate obviously didn't work), and heading into a spiraling pattern of insomniac nights and sleepy days, I moved from denial to guilt. If life was so good, how could I be so sad? How dare I be so selfish as to feel depressed? I had children to raise, a partner to love, and not one reason to be feeling this way. It seemed ungrateful to feel down, when so many wonderful things had just happened. I spoke briefly to my doctor, and we discussed my symptoms, but I made light of them, because I was also afraid to sound weak. I had always been strong; I was a great nurse, was a tough single mom, an independent woman. To admit that this sadness was bigger than I was impossible. Had I been honest with myself, my husband, and my physician we might have avoided what happened next.

On a Saturday evening a few weeks after seeing my doctor, I was sitting in bed watching television when I lost my vision. With no warning, the television became a blurry light, our room spun, and my left side went numb. In the hours that followed I was tested for stroke, brain tumor, head trauma, and a myriad of other ailments. My heart was racing, and I was almost too depressed to care. Still hiding my feelings, I was admitted to a cardiac unit for further treatment, started on IV steroids for the numbness, and spent three days being poked and prodded with no answers.

It was the kindly older neurologist who finally asked me the question that tipped me over the edge; how was I feeling emotionally? He didn't say mentally, he didn't even used the word "depression", he just asked how I had been feeling. All my emotions poured out and he knew; this was a physical response to a psychological problem. In my case, depression caused not by my current life situation, but my past. I learned more in the following weeks than I had ever imagined about depression, it's causes, different types, and treatments. My age was even a factor; many women experience delayed depression developed outward symptoms in their late thirties, and could be brought on by major life changes, negative OR positive. The negatives of my past and the positives of my present collided somewhere in my head, leaving me to deal with them. I tried to go it alone; that's never a good idea.

So where does that leave me? On a much happier note. Do I have an answer to the question of why am I so sad? Not yet, but with the support of my family, I let go of the guilt and began working with my doctor and a therapist, to uncover triggers to this depression. On my good days, life is great. On my bad days, it's a struggle that I undertake with the help of the people around me. Thankfully, there are more good days than bad.

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