Don’t Worry, Be Happy (or some crap advice like that)

Fun fact: I’m a diagnosed clinically depressed human. Okay, maybe not so fun, but I’m very open about it, I can joke about what I call “my crazy,” and I’m not ashamed of it in any way. But I’m aware that there’s still a huge stigma about depression, and that the vast majority of people can’t seem to recognize it as an actual medical deficiency or condition as opposed to one huge, irrationally sad mood. My brain doesn’t work as well as others’ brains when it comes to making connections that have to do with, well, keeping basic sanity. And not overreacting to things. In my specific case, not dramatizing situations, which I’m preeeeeetty sure was the whole reason I’ve been known as a Drama Queen for my entire existence.

When I was first diagnosed in 2001 during my junior year of college, going on antidepressants was a quick fix. A clean, simple solution that I’m not sure actually worked, given the craziness of that time of life and the ever-changing relationship status I had with my boyfriend. After a few years, I decided that I wanted to “fight it on my own,” a phrase that makes me laugh in horror at my young, rebellious, stubborn mind. I mean, if I was diagnosed with asthma, or gonorrhea, would I have decided to “fight it on my own?” Absolutely not. Even things like acne and motion sickness are emotionally and physically damaging enough to warrant many different forms of medication and treatment without a second thought, or without suggestion that the sufferer is “too shallow about their looks,” or “would be better off just walking everywhere.”

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Credit: @RobotHugsComic

I started taking Zoloft again a year and a half ago under the medical advice of my psychologist and my general practitioner. It was a terrible start, complete with extreme nausea, insomnia and all kinds of fun things happening in my intestines. I considered quitting every day. Until almost two weeks in, when I realized that I could hear myself think. I remember the exact moment. I was in the car with my boyfriend (now husband; thanks, Zoloft!) and he asked me if I felt different. And the only answer was, “Yes.” And I asked him if I seemed different. And he just said, “Yes.” And then we both cried.

I was still sick to my stomach, couldn’t sleep for weeks and developed an awesome sinus infection to boot. But I was an adult woman with some side effects. Just three days earlier, I had been a confused, overreactive, sensitive woman with some side effects that made life seem unlivable at moments. I finally understood that I hadn’t felt human in years. I had been made up of feelings that came from what my brain was telling me to do and how to feel and think. And now, I was made up of actual emotions, and gut instincts that were louder and clearer than ever before. The impulses to take things the wrong way or to get irrationally angry still came up. But I just didn’t feel like acting on them anymore. It didn’t interest me. And eventually, they stopped coming up at all.

Now, I’m not trying to pretend that antidepressants are some sort of Magic Happy Pill, where everything is unicorns and tiaras, and cartoon characters run around singing and cleaning your house for you. There is definitely a lot more of that, for sure. But the main difference is that, instead of a jumble of physical reactions and chaotic thoughts entering my brain and body whenever I’m required to feel things, there is calm. Unless I’m mad. Then I feel mad. But now I know that I’m actually genuinely mad, as opposed to reacting in a mad way because my brain isn’t communicating well with itself.

Everyone has their own path to happiness. Some may involve therapy, some medication, some meditation, etc. There is no correct way. And while people fear that drugs of this ilk may leave them as a blank android of a person, I say: I have never felt more alive.

My name is Patti Murin. I love to sing, rescue dogs, live tweet “The Bachelor,” and hug my husband. I am also clinically depressed. And I’ve never been happier.

(Note: I am not a doctor. But I play one on TV. Though I play a pathologist, and that’s mainly dealing with dead bodies. So consult your real doctor if you’re considering any course of medical treatment for clinical depression. And know that there are different solutions for everyone. Love you all.)IMG_3961

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23 thoughts on “Don’t Worry, Be Happy (or some crap advice like that)

  1. Hi – so I’m not even sure how I wound up following you on Twitter, but I somehow stumbled onto your blog (BTW, great Twitter feed and you are doing awesome work on Chicago Med)

    Read this with interest and thank you for writing such an insightful and thoughtful piece. I was 23 when I was diagnosed with depression and was finally (correctly) diagnosed with Bipolar II a few years ago, which literally saved my life. So much misinformation and stigma out there about mental health – thanks for putting yourself out there and talking about it!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I have bipolar too…diagnosed over 30 years ago (talk about stigma!). Lithium and 1 Wellbutrin a day is a godsend…it does take awhile to find the right combination, but it’s so worth it. And omg Anna in Frozen on Broadway?? Wow ❄️🌒

      Like

  2. Pingback: Don’t Worry, Be Happy (or some crap advice like that) — Literally Patti Murin | doomeddysfunction

  3. I just came across your blog. Thank you so much for sharing what I’m too afraid to say out loud. I was diagnosed eight years ago and my husband and kids have no idea how bad it was. Thank God I had a doctor who basically rescued me and now I take medication to keep the depression at bay. I have not been able to share with my friends and family how bad it really was. I tried to explain it to a family member once but she cut me off saying “How can you be depressed? You have it all!” She’s right – I do have it all, including depression. Thank you so much for speaking out.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you so much! I kinda just stumbled over you blog here and read it to avoid writing my bachelor´s thesis (procrastination, yay 😀 ), but it really touched me. You see, I am studying psychology, so I am confronted with all the stereotypes and prejudices on a daily basis and I am so thankful for every person who can be open about his/her conditions and illnesses. I have this weird habit of printing stories like yours and collecting them to remind myself that what we do is actually helpful.
    It is truely ridiculous what people still tend to think about mental illnesses and psychologist or psychiatrist.
    Again, thank you and may your happiness never leave you 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Pingback: Just Another Day

  6. So I’m a little behind on reading your wonderful blog because the website won’t email me when you update anymore! Cue the sad face. 😦 But this was a beautiful post. I can’t say that I suffer from severe depression, but I have felt it in my life, and therefore do my best to help others. I love hearing about other people speak so openly about their experiences, because I know that they’re helping other people out there come to terms with what is going on with them. As always, Patti, you’re an inspiration to us all. Just reading your blog makes me feel like you’re the older sister I always wanted.

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  7. I have been told, “You have everything, why are you so depressed?” As well as – “Relax.” “Be happy.” It’s not that easy, it’s not that cut and dry for me, because my depression lies and tells me that I don’t deserve to be happy or deserve nice things and my anxiety also doesn’t help either. But every day for me to get out of bed is an arduous task but I do it anyway, sometimes begrudgingly. Lately it’s been easier because I know that I am not alone in this fight, and that there are others out there like me who have the same feigns and thoughts as I do. Thank you for writing this and putting it out there, I hope that it helps some as it has me today.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. A-fucking-men to not “fighting this on my own” I struggled with depression for more than 10 years before the soul crushing anxiety set in with unmanageable physical symptoms. I’m thankful everyday for the incredibly kind p.a. who held my hand a year ago and listened to me talk about how I felt so crazy that I thought I might have to quit my job because elementary teachers can’t be crazy. I’d had months of sleepless nights, convinced that I couldn’t breathe, and sometimes the walls felt like they were literally closing in around me. My own mom told me I was imagining it, and still doesn’t support my decision to treat it with drugs. But this doctor just smiled and said “you aren’t crazy, It’s anxiety and we’re going to treat it and you will be OK.” She was the first doctor to treat my anxiety and depression with out making me feel smaller because of it.
    Thank you for being brave enough to write this, it’s truly beautiful.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Thank you for writing, for sharing. It was a reminder I needed today, a reminder that it’s okay to be on medication, that it doesn’t make me any better or worse than someone who isn’t. I’m glad that Zoloft has worked so well for you; I ended up finding a good combination of Effexor and Welbrutrin after Zoloft didn’t work. It is not a stretch of any imagination to say that it and therapy saved my life, and has made me the partner I want to be to the man who will become my husband in a few months. It’s made me willing to plan a wedding with him because now I don’t feel like I would be a burden to him.

    Your comment of “wanting to go it alone” is what really resonated. That’s how I have been feeling for a few months, that this isn’t me. I have been wanting to go off of it so that i could “be me”, whatever that means. Thank you for reminding me that it isn’t the medication that is making me feel better. It is myself who is doing that.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. For years I dreaded certain seasons and all the depression and insomnia, etc etc… thinking t was one step away from being institutionalized. Then I finally went to a GOOD doctor who diagnosed me as bi-polar and put me on lithium. The dark clouds lifted and I was a real person again. I know exactly what you are saying, and even though we need medication, we are whole again. So what if you need a pill or two everyday…as my RN friend once said,,,”you wouldn’t be ashamed to take your insulin if you were diabetic.would you?” And I think it takes courage to put down your feelings like this,,,feels good though, doesn’t it?

    Liked by 1 person

  11. God. I cried while reading this. Not because I felt sad, but because it’s so good to see that there are other people who understand what depression is, that know what’s really like to be depressed. So, thank you so much for sharing this with us. It really means a lot. In my case, I can’t go to a doctor or even talk about it because my family thinks that depression it’s just weakness. Anyway, I’m doing what I can to feel, like you said, human again: meditation, visiting children’s shelters, watching tv shows, reading and studying to become a surgical oncologist. And it’s working! The best part is that now I know I’m strong enough to take care of myself. And reading your blog made my day a little ligther. So thank you!

    Liked by 2 people

      • Hi Patti. Thank you! After reading this post, I started to look at depression in a lighter way and I decided to follow your example. I don’t have a blog but I write what I’m feeling in an old notebook, and, somehow, the depression isn’t that big ugly monster anymore. I feel so much better now. No more distress or sadness. I live day by day, listening to my emotions. And every day I find a reason to feel joy and gratitude, because the world – despite all the crazyness – is a good place and there are good people here.

        Liked by 1 person

  12. I love reading this. I was diagnosed 12 years ago next month. It took 3 different tries to find a medication that works for me. My only regret is that it took me so long to find the courage to see the doctor.

    I’m still amazed by the stigma around it. I use a similar analogy with people as the asthma. I also explain that my brain doesn’t produce enough seratonin and nothing I can do will ever correct it.

    As if I didn’t already enjoy following you for the Bachelor tweets and the pup pics, this makes me like you even more! You’re a wonderful and strong role model! I’m glad I had the pleasure to meet you a few weeks ago in Chicago.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Loved this post! I’ve had general
    anxiety (with social anxiety thrown in for fun) plus clinical depression since I was 11. Just this past Thursday I went to my psychiatrist & for the first time in 12 years I was able to say truthfully & confidently that I am doing great and feel amazing.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. A therapist friend of mine once said, “who says everyone has to be happy”? I agree. Especially women are expected to have a smile all the time. Really, I wonder who made that rule? Biochemistry is a strange box of rocks. If drugs work, terrific. I did the nutrition and meditation route. Especially since my mother and sister took their lives. Lots of therapy helped me too, bioenergetics. We all have our ways to cope. Glad to see a smile on your lovely face. Have a nice day.
    And I wrote a book about happiness. Let me know if you would like to check it out.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Same here…except coupled with anxiety and infrequent panic attacks. And now you are making me rethink my decision to discontinue Zoloft…it was a good decision for awhile but I am feeling that irrational anger and cloud…thank you for making me rethink my honesty with myself. Seriously. Rock on girl.

    Liked by 2 people

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