Let's Talk

Today is Let's Talk Day, so let's talk. I'll go first: starting when I was 19, I had bouts of depression every 12-18 months for a little over 20 years. Some were triggered by overwork or big life changes; others hit me out of the blue. Whatever the cause (and the cause might just have been neurochemistry—there's history on both sides of my family), I would feel bleak and exhausted for anything from a couple of weeks to a couple of months. If you've had mononucleosis (glandular fever to the British), it feels exactly like that, but without the swollen glands and other physical symptoms—so much so that my first couple of bouts were misdiagnosed as recurrences of mono.

I didn't even try to get help until I was in my mid-30s. At first, it was because I didn't know I could: two different doctors, in two different countries, told me that was a virus, and all I could do was wait it out. And then, well, people didn't talk about this stuff—not the people I knew—so I didn't even know where to start. But I eventually met someone who'd been through this, who pointed me in the right direction, and here I am, eight years and counting since my last crash (or what I hope was my "last" crash).

I'm glad people talk about this more now than they used to. There's still a lot of prejudice and misunderstanding out there (sadly, even among medical professionals), but more and more people understand that it's just another disease, no different and no more shameful than diabetes or arthritis. It's better than it used to be. I'm a lot better than I used to be, and what I really want to say is, if you have the blues every once in a while for no good reason, you can be better too.

So let's talk...