My Story: Melissa Alexander

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What were the steps leading up to your diagnosis?

I was diagnosed with depression after my son was born, 17 years ago now. At first they thought it might be postpartum blues. But after closer observation from a psych nurse assigned to me while I was at the hospital after delivery, they realized much more was going on. After leaving the hospital I cried for weeks on end. I couldn't eat, rarely slept, and I shook like a leaf in a windstorm.

Even once I thought I was on top of everything, I couldn’t use the phone. I stopped going out in public, except for my baby son's doctor appointments, and I was convinced there was something drastically wrong with him all the time. His doctors got so fed up with me they actually called in a visiting nurse to check on him once a week, just to shut me up and try to ease my mind. Finally, they decided to send me for some professional help, realizing this was much more than just the birth of my son.

Who has been there for you? How?

My husband has always been there for me, and my son as well. My son has helped me so much. He has a tendency to build you up, not down, and many times, although I did not know it, I needed that. I’ve never felt very good about myself, and that comes from years of abuse and being told, ‘You are worthless’. Eventually you believe it yourself. I had the fortunate luck of finding some one later in life – my husband – that treated me like I was somebody. Although trust came hard at first, it did come. I had a fabulous doctor who made me realize things about myself, and the most important lesson of all was that I wasn't to blame for everyone's unhappiness.

What lifestyle changes have you needed to make?

I have had to accept that I have depression, and although it can be treated, it can't be cured. I have learned that it’s very important to take your medications, and if they don't work, to say something. In fact, over time some of them stop working, or don't always work as they once did. I have had to set small, realistic goals for myself, instead of big, lifelong achievements.

I have had to accept the fact that sometimes I have to return to therapy, even after all these years. I have to stay away from triggers that can make my depression worse. For me, that involves being around people I do not know, constantly reliving the past, and putting myself in uncertain situations.

The most important lesson of all was that I wasn't to blame for everyone's unhappiness.

I put up the good fight and [do] not let my depression overcome me.

I put up the good fight and [do] not let my depression overcome me.

What accomplishment are you proud of?

I'm proud I am still here today, and although some days can be tough, I still am willing to put up the good fight and not let my depression overcome me. I will overcome it. I don't blame myself anymore, or anyone else either.

What's your advice to someone else living with depression?

Get help, it’s out there! Get therapy, and medications if you’re told you need them. They can be a life saver in some cases. Talk with your family and your loved ones about what's going on with you. Know that you’re not alone; so many people suffer from this illness. You can live a productive life in spite of it. Don't lose hope.

Know that you’re not alone. Don't lose hope.

Is there anything else we should know?

My Story: Melissa AlexanderThey actually figured out my depression came about from being in an abusive relationship for 16 years. Back then things were different – there weren’t all these wonderful outlets there are today for abused women and men. For some reason, all my pent up hurt and anger came out after the birth of my only son, and depression reared its ugly head. I had no clue that's I why I was depressed or even that I was. My abusive relationship from years prior had made me believe the very worst about myself. I had no self worth at all. But I climbed out of the ashes of ruin and into the sunlight to discover I was worth it after all, and my depression was worth trying to fix, not only for myself, but for my family, who had always stayed the course with me.

About Melissa Alexander

My Story: Melissa Alexander
I'm 56 and have been living with depression now for 17 years. I'm still on medications and some times I even go back to therapy when the need is there. The good news is, its all manageable now. Once the doctors figured out what was wrong and I accepted what was wrong, I worked towards the goal of getting better and doing what ever it was to feel better, because depression robs you of life and happiness if you allow it to. no one wants to feel this way, life is short enough as it is, so why suffer, when help is available. I love being outside and enjoying nature, I love photography, and I enjoy helping out in our community. all things that were once lost to me, but thankfully now I have back again, because I am better and look forward to tomorrow once again.

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