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When a Memory Triggers Depression


Driving through our neighborhood one night, my 4-year-old son spotted a house with all of their golden lights from Christmas still brightly lit.

He doesn’t understand why they are still on if the holiday is a fading memory from his head. My son and I laughed at how they “must have forgotten” to take them down and we continued to drive through the streets that still had a bit of snow and ice on the sides.

Honestly? It was all kinds of depressing.

The world around us has that cold and unfeeling look. This is the time of year that I am most afraid of.

It can trigger my depression.

There is something about these late winter months that bring back old memories and create feelings of being lost.

Some call it seasonal depression. Others will say it’s just the blues.

I know better. It doesn’t matter right now what I call it. The implications that could come, alert me to what measures I need to take now to prevent it.

My flashbacks take me to nights where there was little to no sleep. When I would wake up, tissues were everywhere… signs of the crying I could never seem to stop.

The whys, whats and how my depression began are for another time and place.

Eventually, my family found out. I also shared with some friends. There were so many mixed reactions. Talking about depression was practically unheard of back then.

Another flashback comes. This is the time when I felt like I couldn’t breathe — like an elephant was sitting on my chest. One ambulance ride later and I was diagnosed with having “panic attacks.”

My parents were supportive. It probably was heartbreaking to pick your daughter up from the hospital after receiving that phone call.

Therapy would go off and on for the next few years. I would also try different types of antidepressants that changed my moods and left me not myself. It took a long time to find that right one for me. So many times, I felt like a failure.

Through baby steps, the crying and heartache stopped. My brother would mail a card from college that would have me laughing out loud. I lost some baggage I didn’t need in my life.

I slept. I woke up with not a tissue in sight. Smiles stayed longer and I no longer felt like hiding.

Strength is something I am  proud of. There are so many people who have this in them to fight depression. It is always an ongoing awareness and journey to be in a good place.

So, when the lights go off around the neighborhood and I feel a tiny voice deep down start to come alive, I listen.

And continue my journey.