Why Actor Eric Dane Didn't Realize He Was Depressed

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It can be difficult to decide when your depression is “bad” enough to seek medical attention. That is, if you recognize that what you’re through is depression to begin with. Like some people, when “Grey’s Anatomy” star Eric Dane knew something wasn’t quite right, he assumed he didn’t have depression because, well, he had nothing to be depressed about.

In an interview with The Today Show on Monday, Dane explained that depression was the reason he took time off from filming his current series, “The Last Ship.”

“I took the time off, I was dealing with some depression. I was conflicted about it, because I didn’t really feel like I had anything to be depressed about,” he said.

Dane said after going to the doctor and starting medication, he’s doing much better. In his interview, he also addressed a common myth: that you need a reason to be depressed. He said:

I felt really conflicted because I couldn’t figure out what I was depressed about. But it’s very real, and that was the scary thing, when you wake up and you’re like, I don’t want to get out of bed. I was seeing these doctors, thinking there’s something physically wrong with me, because I’d never felt like that, I mean I’ve dealt with depression throughout my life, and it was always manageable and it just felt like, you know, everyone kind of feels a little blue, but this just hit me like a truck. I had to take some time off, I went away, I took care of it and I’m feeling great.

With symptoms like fatigue, irritability and insomnia, it’s not easy for everyone to label their symptoms as depression. That’s why it’s really important to reach out, and ask for help. “You’ve got to listen to your body,” Dane said, on why people need to pay attention to their mental health. “It’s a very serious thing.”

Lead photo via Eric Dane’s Facebook page

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4 Strategies to Use When Your Inner Critic Just Won't Shut Up

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I recently wrote a piece titled “’You Are Good Enough’ and 17 Other Reframes to Quiet the Inner Critic.” The piece draws from concepts of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), a treatment shown to be highly effective in reducing depression and anxiety by challenging negative self-talk. In my work as a therapist, I explain to clients that talking back to the inner critic and changing negative narratives about ourselves takes time and practice, but it can be done. Recognizing that this skill does take time, and sometimes the inner critic just won’t shut up, today I offer another strategy:

Accept your inner critic completely.

Easier said than done, right? You are probably wondering, But, how?! A lot of people feel frustrated when they try to quiet the inner critic with positive reframes, and find the negative personal insults, low self-esteem and hopelessness just keeps coming. When you need a break from arguing with your inner critic, try practicing these strategies to help you simply accept your inner critic instead.

1. Recognize the inner critic does actually have some positive functions.

The inner critic keeps you on your toes and helps you identify areas of growth. For individuals who have experienced trauma, the inner critic has often played an important role in keeping you safe. You may have learned if you can anticipate your own faults before anyone else does, this can help you fly under the radar and avoid negative attention. When your inner critic comes out in full effect, appreciate the fact you are doing the best you can and are always looking for ways to improve.

2. Observe negative thoughts without participating in them.

There is certainly a difference between helpful and harmful thoughts. Notice the impulse to make negative comments about yourself, and know you can observe these thoughts, without making them any louder. I encourage my clients to observe negative thoughts the same way they would watch a cloud passing in the sky. Watch these thoughts come… and go… without feeling any pressure to push them away any faster or hold on tightly to them. Say to yourself, Oh, OK, there goes my inner critic again and let these thoughts pass you by. Remember, you are not your thoughts.

3. Give yourself distance from critical thoughts by giving them their own identity.

Sometimes it can be helpful to personify the inner critic by giving them a name, a personality and even by visualizing what this cranky person would look like. By distancing yourself from negative thoughts, you are giving yourself permission to say, Oh, that’s not me, that’s just my depression. Or, That is just stress talking. Or, OK, I’m feeling anxious againThe Hilarious World of Depression, an amazing podcast about the surprisingly funny parts of depression, talks to a listener in this episode about using this exact technique. She talks about how calling her inner critic “Steve” gives her more power to pay attention to these thoughts, or just flat out disregard them. What would your inner critic’s name and personality be?

4. Imagine that your inner critic is along for the ride of life, but NOT driving the car.

In practicing acceptance, you know your inner critic will come out in times of stress, and that you don’t have to allow these negative thoughts to rule your life. You don’t have to give up on opportunities because you don’t feel deserving. You don’t have to give up on life just because you feel weak. And, you don’t have to feel like a failure because you haven’t tamed your inner critic just yet. Accept the inner critic, but live your life anyway.

When faced with any problem, we always have a choice between change and acceptance. When dealing with the inner critic, you can practice both strategies. Trying experimenting with change and acceptance-based strategies to find out what works best for you, and in what situations. Figure out what works for you, and know you are not alone in dealing with critical thoughts.

Anna Lindberg Cedar, MPA, LCSW is a licensed psychotherapist in Oakland, CA who specializes in the use of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to help individuals overcome depression and anxiety to live a rewarding life. Find out more: www.annacedar.comSign up for A Self-Care Moment newsletter and never miss an update.

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Thinkstock photo via MistakeAnn.

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How I Rediscovered Who I Am and What I Need After a Major Depressive Episode

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A little over a year ago I quit my job. I woke up one day and couldn’t face going to work. It was an average day, during a “normal” period in my life. While I had just suffered a miscarriage, I was healing and moving forward as best as I could. There were no medical catastrophes occurring in my children’s lives, my marriage was is a good place and my mental health should have been too.  But it was not.

I woke up one day, got ready for work, sat down on my bed and cried. I cried for a good 20 minutes, waking up my husband to ask him what to do. He suggested that I needed a mental health day. So, I called my boss and told her I needed the day off and went back to bed. I went back to bed for three days.

On the second day, my husband, now worried about me, called my psychiatrist. He urged me to go see my therapist, which I eventually did. But it took everything in me to get up and out the door. At this point, I hadn’t been to work in four days. I managed to call my boss each day and tell her I wouldn’t be in so I didn’t “no call, no show.”  I planned on returning to work one day — I just wasn’t sure when that would be.

I saw my therapist three times a week for the next two weeks. It was painful getting out of the bed to see her, and while I managed to go to therapy, I did little else. All I could do was cry, sleep and breathe. Unsuspectingly and without warning, I found myself immersed in darkness, battling a major depressive episode and fearing the manic episode that generally follows.

After three weeks of not going to work, my therapist and my psychiatrist wrote me out on disability for the foreseeable future due to a major depressive episode. The same day the paperwork went through to human resources allowing me a leave of absence, I quit my job. I was unwilling to leave them shorthanded, when another more qualified and mentally stable individual could fill my position. While I understood that disability laws protected my employment, I made a choice and left. After a significant amount of therapy, I would come to realize I was too embarrassed to return to my old employer. So I ran and haven’t looked back.

A little over a year ago, I quietly broke down, emotionally and mentally. A little over a year ago, I quit my job, once again becoming a stay-at-home mother to two children with medical needs. A little over a year ago, I lost myself. But in that year an amazing thing happened — I found myself again.

After months of therapy, I have come to realize that the stressful nature of working with individuals with medical and developmental needs was too much for me. I have come to terms, as best as I can, with the miscarriage that triggered my depression and the one that followed eight months later. I have finally admitted to myself that the demands of caring for my two young children with medical needs is too much to handle on my own. Through therapy, I have worked hard to develop healthy coping skills and manage my stress in a productive manner. Rather than repressing my emotions, I am opening up about my feelings to others, and more importantly, to myself. Finally, a year later, I have rediscovered who I am and what I need.

In recent weeks, I have begun perusing online employment opportunities, even filling out a few applications. I have yet to submit one. I have begun brainstorming what I want to do now — in five years and in ten years. I still do not know what that is, but I’m trying to figure it out. I have spoken in depth to my therapist about managing my stress levels and what that would look like when I return to work. Tonight, I worked on my resume and cover letter, and maybe, just maybe, when tomorrow comes, I will be one step closer to hitting send.

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What I Mean When I Say I Don't Feel Ready for Mental Health Recovery

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When I say I don’t feel ready for recovery, it isn’t that I don’t want to feel or get better. I do. I hate the constant roller coaster of emotions I experience on a daily basis. I hate not knowing how I’ll feel when I wake up — will I cry the second I realize I am actually awake? Or will I just be sleepy? Will I feel intense emotional pain? Will I have a panic attack? Or will I experience some other emotion I’m probably not even aware exists yet?

I hate constantly fearing that people are going to abandon me. I feel so insecure and so fragile and so terrified. I feel needy, and I know my mental state often depends on those closest to me — but that is because, without them, I feel like I am nothing. Actually, I feel like I am less than nothing… like I will cease to exist. And that scares me.

I know logically I will exist even without them, but maybe I also don’t want to exist without them.

I hate feeling like I have no foundation — like I’m trying to build a house on sand before building the foundation. The house continuously crumbles, never a stable moment. And even if I have a stable moment, I’m always worrying if it’s real, or if it’s dissociation or repression. I worry about when it will leave, what will trigger it to leave, why it came in the first place and how I can get it to stay. What if it means I really am OK and my mental illness was actually just a lie — an attention seeking ploy like people often seem to think? Except, my mental illnesses are not me seeking attention and they aren’t a lie. I don’t want this type of attention. And, often, I don’t want attention at all. I want to be invisible, blend in, go unnoticed.

I hate never feeling fully grounded, being so easily triggered.

I hate that even any small change can make me feel like I am constantly tripping and spinning at the same time. I hate feeling like I am constantly trying to catch up, only to realize that, just when I feel like I’ve caught up, I still have so far to go.

I don’t like misperceiving reactions and emotions to the degree I do. I don’t like being unable to move from my couch for three hours, but also not realizing three hours have passed because I’ve just been staring… not hearing the song playing on repeat — not even aware it is playing.

I don’t enjoy the overly intense emotions, which never seem to be overly intense positive emotions. I cry randomly. I’m triggered easily. I read into things, overanalyze nearly everything. I am constantly thinking, constantly replaying events, words or years in my head, constantly doubting everything I’ve ever believed in, everything I’ve felt, thought, said, remembered — everything someone else has told me to be true. I’m never sure of anything. 

I hate not knowing what will cause a drastic spike in my depression and having to live with the fact I may wake up one day and just feel so much worse than I did before. I hate not knowing what the worst I can feel is, because it always seems I am capable of feeling lower, darker, heavier. 

I don’t enjoy being mentally ill.

That isn’t to say there isn’t something good or positive that has come from my mental illnesses, but I think I need to realize I can have those things even when I am in recovery — that all I have gained from my battles won’t just be lost.

I can still be sensitive and empathetic. I can still have the creativity I feel is tied to my mental illnesses, but is also a part of who I am as a person. I can still write poetry… the inspiration won’t just be lost.

I will still exist even once in recovery.

black and white photo of crack on ground with OK written on ground and two arrows pointing at crack

I just don’t know who I am without my illnesses. I don’t know who I am without my depression or my borderline personality disorder (BPD).

I don’t know why I feel so ready for recovery from my anxiety disorders and phobia and not the other two. But for some reason, I feel like my identity is tied to the depression and BPD.

I don’t know who I am without them, and it’s hard to believe anybody when they tell me they do.

I feel like I am my depression and my BPD. They are so ingrained in me, it isn’t even like I’ve become them… it’s like they’ve become me.

I don’t know how I will relate to people without them. I don’t know what relationships will survive me not having them. I feel like so much of me comes from the two of them that if I let go of them I will lose the self I’m not sure I ever had.

And it’s confusing. I don’t want to feel how I feel, and I don’t want to have depression or BPD, but I’m not sure how to not have them. I’m not sure how to let go. I’m not even sure letting go would send me into recovery, but I think being open to letting go would be the first step. But there are times I’m not sure I even want to let go.

I’m stuck in this constant back and forth that has surpassed a tug-of-war and gone into a full-blown tornado of contradictions.

I know I need to get better. I know I should want to get better. And I do. I honestly really do. But… then what?

Who will I have if I get better? What will I be? Who will I be? Will I still be me, or will I be this entirely different person? How do I let go of the safety that is my depression and BPD and freefall into a cyclone of the unknowns that encompass recovery?

I know I need to take that step. I know I need to face my fear of losing myself in recovery. I know I need to work through my over-identification with my mental illnesses. It’s just so hard to feel ready to let go of the only thing I feel like I’ve ever known.

The thing is, I may never feel completely ready. At some point, I’ll just have to go for it — let myself jump in, even though I don’t know what will happen… even though the unknown terrifies me.

I just feel like I’ll be losing the only me I have to hold on to.

But there is so much more to me than my mental illnesses. I just haven’t been able to really see that yet.

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Trevor Noah Credits Jim Carrey for Helping Him Accept His Depression

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Sometimes, all it takes is one person, one story, to help you realize you’re not alone — and knowing you’re not alone can be the first step in getting help. For “Daily Show” host and comedian Trevor Noah, that person was Jim Carrey.

On Friday, Noah showed his serious side in an acceptance speech at Friday’s Just for Laughs Awards, where he was awarded Comedy Person of the Year. In his speech, he credited Jim Carrey as being the first person to help him accept that he was experiencing depression. Carey was also in attendance to receive a Generation Award.

According to The Daily News, Noah said in his acceptance speech, “Jim Carrey was one of the first comedians that described the beast that many of us face in this room and that’s depression. I didn’t know what that thing was. I just thought I liked sleeping for weeks on end sometimes.”

“I was like, ‘Oh shit, that’s what’s going on,’ and I thank you because, you know, I found a way to fight it,” Noah told Entertainment Tonight Canada.

This isn’t the first time Noah has spoken out about depression. As a teenager he had severe acne, and told NPR he went on medication that makes you both “depressed and suicidal.” He’s also been open about depression on his own show. Once, chatting with his guest, comedian Neal Brennan, he dispelled the myth that people who have depression “aren’t supposed to smile.”

What’s funny about it is that people go, ‘If you’re depressed you can’t smile, if you’re depressed you can’t tell jokes,’ but as comedians, that’s like the one thing most comedians share. It’s just that monkey on [our] backs.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or text “HOME” to 741-741. Head here for a list of crisis centers around the world.

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When Depression Makes You Feel Guilty for Liking Yourself

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Most days are not filled with (any measure) of self-confidence for me. Most people probably don’t wake up in the morning and start their day thinking, “I am so totally awesome and I love myself.” But what happens if for once you do wake up feeling even remotely good about yourself? If you’re anything like me, that nagging sense of arrogance sets in and suddenly you find you feel terribly guilty about that smidgen of personal pride that dared to show up.

Self-hatred comes quite naturally to me. Whether it’s my impossibly frizzy hair, stubbornly bubbly butt or embarrassingly long list of mental health problems — I can always find something to hate about myself. Loud, sarcastic, flat-iron addicted, compulsive giggler. I have zero fashion sense, and even less fashion interest. I actually laugh out loud in the middle of a dead quiet room because I remember a funny voicemail I got two months ago. I trip and fall without actually picking up my feet, in flat shoes, on flat ground, sober. I eat five bags of “fun size” skittles because fun size doesn’t add up in my world. And I scream obscenities at the television during sporting events because I know they can hear me.

Despite it all, I do on occasion get this fleeting sense of “Maybe, I’m not so bad.” Immediately followed by bone-crushing guilt for having the audacity to think such a thing. But why? In part it is a knee jerk reaction — a mortal fear of being perceived as even slightly arrogant. It’s also uncomfortable to have confidence, because I’m just not use to it. But more than anything, it’s the insidious nature of depression and the way it can deprive you of any positive feelings you manage to conjure up. Depression tells me I am worthless, foolish and certainly not deserving of any hint of pride or confidence in myself.

Depression lies — a lot. But it can be hard, if not impossible, to separate the lies depression tells me, from the lies I tell myself. Which one of us thinks my butt is too big — me or my depression? And are we just one entity now? Do I even have my own thoughts anymore? Sometimes I’m not so sure, but more and more I’m starting to think the quiet little voice of compassion that occasionally tries to tell me I’m not the worst person in the world, is actually me. It’s the me that has been drowned out by decades of depression — the me I sometimes forget ever existed. The me I have a hard time believing could possibly still be in there somewhere. It’s the voice of reason, and maybe, of truth.

Guilt can be a strangely comforting emotion. It reminds us as long as we feel guilty, chances are we can safely assume we are not being arrogant and self-righteous. Guilt can give us a sense of peace, knowing if we beat ourselves up enough, no one else will need to bother to beat us up, too. But guilt can drown you in waves of pain that seem almost inescapable. Guilt can convince you, truly convince you, that you don’t deserve to live. Guilt can destroy hope and happiness, and take away so much from your life without you ever actually doing anything deserving of such feelings.

It’s OK to lack confidence. But it’s OK to have it too. It is not a fine line between “self-confident” and “self-righteous” — it’s a huge chasm. You don’t have to tiptoe along, afraid you might come across like a cocky jerk if you so much as think you are having a good hair day. Confidence has a big playground to work with — and chances are you may never have gotten anywhere near the upper limit of how much you should have. We admire people who walk into a room secure in themselves — and yet we often despise that very same thing when we feel it ourselves. That’s because depression lies, and tells us we are bad people, we think bad thoughts, we do bad things. But it’s not true.

So the next time I think to myself, Maybe I’m kinda sorta not the worst person in the whole world, I am going to try very hard to hold on to that feeling for more than a few seconds. Because in the end, depression will always lie to me — but it’s up to me if I’m going to believe the lies or not.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741.

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