One of the big turning points in my life occurred when I went for a routine medical checkup shortly after my oldest child’s first birthday. I had just turned 30.
Fifteen stubborn pounds of pregnancy weight wouldn’t budge. I couldn’t figure out a schedule to my day because the kid kept growing and changing. I kept time by the PBS Kids television show schedule. Yeah, the TV was on a lot.
The doctor I saw, a young resident employed by the local university hospital, moved about the exam room with energy to spare. Her sharp blue eyes didn’t miss a thing. In her, I saw who I had been five years before (different profession, same personality). She even looked a bit like me. I missed her. I mean, I missed me.
As we finished up, she inquired whether I wanted to ask her about anything else. My complaints about the baby weight turned teary and messy. I mumbled something to the effect of being frustrated with not being able to get my s*** together and not being sure why I couldn’t. She looked at me, cocked her head to the side, and said, “Oh, honey. You’re depressed.”
And just her saying it made it a little bit better.
She then reminded me that I’d experienced four major life stressors in the past year: a cross-country move, a change in my job, a change in my husband’s job, and a new baby. “No wonder you’re depressed,” she said. And once she named it, she gave me permission to have it.
Depression, otherwise known as It.
I’d had depression for years. Even though I had great sympathy for other people who suffered with depression, I certainly never gave myself permission to have it. I couldn’t even speak the name of the condition; it was just “it.” You know, I just needed to “get it together.” Get organized, get moving, get a grip on myself. But her diagnosing my depression recognized something that was beyond my ability to address alone. Her sympathy erased my shame. She put me on a path to get counseling and support. To this day, I feel like I owe her a big piece of my life.
So thanks, Brett, wherever you are.