Hey there, friends! Gosh it feels so nice to be back … looking at a blank blog post draft. This has always been one of my safest and happiest places – sharing whatever is on my mind and heart and connecting with you all. Many of you have heard me mention here or there that I have experienced difficulties – personally and professionally – over the last two years [or you could have read about It In this post and this post]. I couldn’t be more relieved to finally know why, to know the source. I was diagnosed with depression at the end of April. Hindsight is always 20/20 and this is truly no exception. It’s so incredibly clear that that’s what it was when I look back but, in the moment, I just thought this was something I had to just ‘get through’ … a ‘hard season’, if you will. I have also always seen myself as a go-getter with a positive outlook, never really letting anyone tell her ‘no’ when it comes to what she can do. I honestly love that about myself and it was the lack of that light and that fight that finally made it clear that something was ‘off’ and it was much stronger than me. I had never struggled with depression so it had never been on my radar as something I could ever experience. It’s so nice to finally have the clarity brought forth by this diagnosis and to feel like I’m back home within myself now that I’m on medication.
I want to be really open about this experience because it’s so surprising to me. If it was so hard for me to pinpoint and realize and took far too long and I do not want any woman who is in this community to ever have to struggle with that for that long! So, today, I’m sharing the answers to YOUR questions about this topic. Even if it’s not something you ever personally deal with, please pass this on to any of your friends that could potentially benefit from it. I talked more about this topic on my YouTube channel in this video and this video.
Alright, let’s jump in!
What symptoms were you experiencing that made you want to seek help?
+ lack of passion / drive for things I normally love doing [particularly work]
+ feeling hopeless and helpless
+ continuous low mood / sadness
+ not finding enjoyment out of life
+ feeling aimless or ‘in a fog’ most days
How did you know / figure it out? How did you know it was time to seek help?
I’ve been battling these symptoms for over two years with the thought that it would get better ‘once this happens’ or ‘once that happens’. I thought that this could also just be ‘how it is’ and that I’m just ‘in a hard season’. I kept trying to blame it on circumstances and viewing it in a ‘when … then’ mindset. I would also go through small bursts of productivity with work and think I was getting better but then the symptoms would take over again. Eventually, about a month ago, I had a moment where I realized that none of how I was feeling was ‘me’, in my nature and in my essence. I’m a very motivated, glass half-full, and make the most out of life kind of person and something just clicked that maybe this was depression rather than circumstances making me feel a certain way.
What does it feel like? What do you do when you’re having a particularly rough day depression-wise?
It just feels like you’re in a fog. You can’t think clearly, the way you normally would. For me, it just felt like I was in a haze and completely frozen because I couldn’t see forward. It took away the interest I have in a lot of things I normally am either very passionate about or excited to pour my time into.
On particularly bad days, I would get back from taking Louie to nursery, stand somewhere in the house trying to figure out what I’m supposed to do outside of household chores, nothing would come to mind or the few ideas I would have … there wouldn’t actually be any motivation to do it … so I’d numb out by scrolling on instagram or I’d take a nap. Some days I’d cry because I felt so hopeless.
Do you have any tips to get yourself motivated to do things you know you have to do?
For me, I have Louie that is a big motivator. I can’t just leave everything to John to handle so that helps get me out of bed. But, I will say – once I get home, getting motivated is quite a mental battle. I feel stressed when our house is cluttered so that motivates me to tidy up here and there. But, I can assure you – our house is never perfectly put together or immaculate. This is hard because I also feel like it depends on weather and just overall how I’m feeling that day. I’d have some good, really motivated days and then tons of just … really sluggish, hard to get it together / don’t know what to do with myself kind of days and really not a lot motivated me on those.
Is it difficult to complete any task or is it just work tasks?
For me, it seemed like work tasks were the hardest. I just felt completely uninspired and unable to come up with ideas. I could never really figure out what I wanted to cover or share with you all. I just felt lost and defeated every day so I just did nothing. I think I also thought that maybe it was because I just lost my passion for this and I was ‘meant’ to find something new in this season. As you know, I’ve been studying astrology and I thought maybe that’s why I was so drawn to learn it — to potentially do readings and build courses. And I still love that idea and maybe that will be something I do one day but, I think I eventually realized that my motivation for that was wearing off, as well, which made it clear that … this was about a deeper issue pertaining to my mental health. Nothing was able to get me out of this slump, get me motivated and passionate the way I used to be, etc. and that needed to be looked into.
Will you continue to study astrology as part of helping with depression or is that unrelated?
I was studying astrology mostly because I find it absolutely fascinating and it’s been such a beneficial tool in understanding myself better so it isn’t necessarily related to my depression. I think, as I said above, in studying it … I realized that the depression was making it difficult for me to really put myself into something that I enjoy to my fullest extent. I think it’ll definitely be something I continue to learn. I’m currently in my second astrology course within the school I signed up for but I’ve opted to go ‘self-paced’ versus doing it alongside other students because I’m finding it really difficult to work full-time [now that I’m cranking things back up], be present at home & with John, and do a great job as a Mum. Those are my biggest priorities right now so, if I can learn a little more about astrology here and there, great! But, yeah … I likely won’t be doing readings anytime soon.
When were you diagnosed? You always seem so positive.
I was diagnosed at the end of April just before we went to Italy. I shared the experience in this vlog on my YouTube channel recently:
It usually takes two to three weeks for SSRI’s to start working so I had low expectations getting started on my medication but started feeling the affects about a week into taking it. I was saying to a friend that I feel like I’ve come home to myself. It’s incredible and I’m so grateful.
I realize that when I would hop on stories [which wouldn’t be often or consistently] … I would always be super happy and positive. Depression can look like both sides of the coin, to be honest. I would have good days. But, because there are so many hard days that nobody sees, I find it to be so important that I speak out about this. We’re always so quick to hide the hard and I do regret doing that on my Instagram, although I wasn’t doing it consciously.
Are you taking a medication for it? Does it seem to be helping the fog to lift a little bit?
Yes! Definitely! My low mood is gone and I’m in more of a ‘can do’ attitude toward things that used to feel impossible. The thought of those things normally made me feel like I was trudging through mud but not anymore. I’m also super motivated with work, which is so nice!
I struggle with fatigue pretty bad and I’ve found it to be really tough to combat at first. But, I started to take it at night the other day and it’s been really, really helpful.The medication has been really helpful in getting me back to my ‘natural’ mental state. Like I said before, I feel like my true self is awake now and I’m ‘home’. I get emotional thinking about it.
What would you recommend to others who have low mood and want to ‘snap out of it’?
It’s hard for me to tell someone how to snap out of a low mood if I don’t know them personally. I’d say if you’re asking how to snap out of it because you haven’t been able to figure out of to snap out of it yourself then … consider going to see someone! There’s no shame in it at all and it could be the start of getting back to yourself. My life coach made a really good point when I was talking with her the other day about medication and how I was resistant to being on it for awhile. She was like ‘it helps to remember that we all need support’ and whether its support through physical activity, support through meaningful communication with an unbiased listener, or support through medication. Something I had to remember is that our bodies get out of balance sometimes – chemically, hormonally, etc – and that medication is a helpful tool in correcting those imbalances.
Has PPD made you consider taking a pause on expanding your family soon?
Yes and no. I still want to expand our family but, right now, our family’s focus is getting me the healthiest I can be mentally and physically before I carry another little one. It will be an absolute honor and privilege to have more babies. I want it more than anything but, I also want to make sure I’m in the best shape I can be for my little ones. We all deserve that.
It can feel scary to not know what your experience will be like the next time after experiencing challenges during your first ones [whether it’s to conceive or pregnancy or birth postpartum] so I can empathize if that’s where you’re sitting.
Do you think moving to the UK plays any part in it?
It’s really hard to say what the cause of my depression was / is. I think I went through so much change while the entire world was experiencing a huge change. I think it could have been caused by chemical or hormonal changes after having Louie as it does seem to have really started around the time of his birth. That’s what feels the most ‘right’ to me. But, I can’t say for sure because situational depression is a real thing and it can lead to feelings of overwhelm and a lack of focus in your everyday life which I would often experience in addition to the other things I shared.
Did equilibria not help??
Equilibria is the CBD brand I take. That’s actually not for depression or low mood. It’s more for anxiety, which wasn’t what I was struggling with. If you’re interested in trying it, I do believe my 15% off code still works. It’s ALYSONHALEY.
How have conversations with others [friends and family] gone about this?
Great! Really really encouraging and sweet. My friends and family are literally just … the loveliest humans. I’m so grateful.
Did anyone close to you mention this as a possibility when you were struggling?
John wanted me to be seen awhile ago because he’s the one that sees me at home – day in and day out. I was really resistant to it at first. Ha, I can be quite stubborn but he was right so maybe I’ll listen quicker next time.
A lot of friends knew I was struggling but didn’t really see the extreme sadness, frequent crying, and middle of the day naps like John did so I think when you have that visual versus ‘happy me’ when I’m catching up with a friend … it’s much easier to see. I think my friends just thought I was going through a hard season and that I’d eventually get through it.
I will say … after I wrote this blog post … some of you messaged me and very gently encouraged me to think about the potential of having postpartum depression. Again, I was kind of in denial and stubbornly resisting that idea. Sorry guys – but thank you so much for looking out for me!!
Do you have to see a psychiatrist or a doctor to get diagnosed?
I think a psychiatrist is a doctor? I could be completely wrong. But yes, I don’t think a psychologist could prescribe a medication for depression. They could have a strong inclination that you experiencing depression but only really be able to guide you through talk therapy – which isn’t anything to scoff at but, I think to receive an official diagnosis and be prescribed medication, you would need to see a doctor 🙂 I hope all that makes sense!
I struggle with this, as well. How do they know it’s depression and not just other things?
That’s a great question. I don’t know the correct answer as I’m not entirely sure what doctors use to make their diagnosis. However, my doctor asked me so many questions to eventually come to the diagnosis.
One thing she said is ‘based on what you’ve shared with me, you don’t seem to be someone who shies away from challenges or change.. you seem to have always been able to embrace it head on. Considering you had a child in the midst of a lot of change and that seems to be when this all started, I do believe what you’ve been experiencing is postpartum depression which has made it difficult for you to tackle some of the more challenging aspects of your move abroad as well as operate your business day-to-day. Based on what you’ve shared, without the depression, I’d assume very strongly that you would find them challenging but not impossible.”
So, I think they look at your symptoms, how long you have been experiencing as well as the interview where they gather information about you overall. Keep in mind – I am not a doctor so I could be wrong but all I can say is if you’re curious about whether you have it, it can’t hurt to see someone who may be able to diagnose it.
Alright, that covers all of your questions! More than anything, I hope this is helpful in increasing our awareness of depression, what it is, what can spur it and how it can show up. Don’t hold any shame if this is something you are experiencing yourself. Please please just reach out for help. You absolutely deserve it and it doesn’t have to be this way. Thank you so much for being here. I hope you know it means a lot to me! I’ll see you soon! xo.
Just wanted to thank you for sharing! My daughter was born a week or two before Louie and I was diagnosed with PPA when she was a year old. Like you I was resistant at first to even seeing a doctor or taking medicine (Shame? Guilt I didn’t mentally bounce back?!) but once I did it was life changing! I got off my meds around her second birthday and am just so grateful. I never struggled with anything like this before, so it’s really important for us to share and let other women know they are not alone! 💕 hugs mama!