Life Lessons with Anna DiPaolo
An 8123 Community blog by Anna DiPaolo.
Hello there 8123 pals! Allow me to introduce myself, the name is Anna and I am here to tell you about my depression. When I received the email from Chelsea extending the offer to write a blog post, I was stoked. Then, when I read what the topic was; my heart sank and my body felt like it was set on fire. I am not shy about my depression and anxiety. In fact, I am very open about it in my everyday life and on social media. The thing that has my heart sinking and my body feeling like it’s on fire is having my words broadcasted for thousands to read. To strip down and be more vulnerable than I’ve ever been. For people to pick apart my mistakes and point out how terrible my grammar is (even though I think I’m really good at this whole writing thing).
Anyway, let’s get down to business, to defeeeat…DEPRESSION! Spoiler alert: you can’t do it alone, even though you think you can. According to the World Health Organization, “More than 300 million people of all ages suffer from depression”. I never thought I would be that one in 300 million people, but here we are. Let’s take a little trip down memory lane to better understand my life with depression. I went to my first therapist when I was fifteen, I lasted two weeks and told my parents I couldn’t handle it. I repressed all my emotions from then on until I was twenty-two. I was living in Philadelphia, sleeping on an air mattress in my nieces playroom, and contemplating suicide. I immediately sought help and started talking to a therapist. I was going every week for almost five months straight, until I moved back in with my parents in New Jersey. All while forgetting my therapist and the progress I made.
Fast forward to twenty-five, I started to have severe panic attacks and the suicidal thoughts came back. I went to the hospital, was put on medical leave from work, and started going to therapy and group therapy four times a week. Before one of our groups someone said, “Well, you don’t look depressed”. Depression does not care who you are. Depression does not care if you are a sister, an aunt, a daughter, a friend, or the person who’s always the life of the party or lights up a room. So you’re probably wondering,”But Anna, how can someone as funny as you be that depressed?” My doctor says it’s because of a chemical imbalance in my brain, that’s cool I guess. You’re also probably wondering how I am doing in the present time… Well, I am now twenty-eight years old and living in Florida. I got out of my parents house, go me! I had a therapist for a bit and am currently back on medication. Sidenote: medication does not work for everyone and just because something works for me, doesn’t mean it will have the same effect on someone else.
I have some really good days and some really bad days. I’ve realized it’s about being aware of my thoughts in the present moment. I have to remind myself not to jump too far ahead, and that I cannot control the future. I am my biggest critic and I find it easier to see the negative rather than to believe in myself. My therapist did not like that one bit, so she told me when I have those thoughts to, “Change the tape”. Basically, whenever I start having a negative thought I replace it with a positive affirmation. When I am in a funk, I first allow myself to feel whatever it is I am feeling. If I want to cry? I cry. If I want to watch The Office for the millionth time? I will binge it for hours ignoring the outside world. When I am at my most anxious, I will listen to music and write. When I feel like I don’t want to leave my house, I will go see a movie. I listen to guided meditation on YouTube to ease my anxieties. When people ask me how I’m doing, I won’t lie and say I’m fine. I’ve decided to be more honest and open with the people in my life. As I stated before, you cannot battle depression alone. Trust in those who say they care about you, even when it’s difficult. I have been fortunate enough to have found a good batch of humans who support me no matter the time of day. Now when I’m in a funk I will talk it out. Keeping myself motivated by setting goals each month and acknowledging my successes while learning from my failures. Asking for help before the weight feels too heavy. Every day is a fresh start and there are still days I wake up already depressed and that’s okay.
At the end of the day, we all want to feel validated in our feelings. We all yearn to be loved. So here’s to our funk phases and battles with depressions, lets hope they keep our glasses full!