Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Overcoming Clinical Depression (Life Changing Moments series)

Overcoming depression is no joke. Major depressive disorder is the leading cause of disability in the United States for people ages 15 to 44, and it's nearly twice as common in women as it is in men. I'd like to thank Sarah Negovetich for sharing her personal story related to overcoming an unexpected failure caused by clinical depression. Sarah is fairly new to the online writing community, but that didn’t stop her from creating a blog and expecting other people to read it (insert shameless blog plug here). When she isn’t ignoring her children to write, Sarah is a marketing consultant for a national non-profit children’s charity. Find her on Twitter @SarahNego.

Sarah Negovetich

My senior year in college started out exactly the way I expected. Deciding what classes I needed to graduate, getting measured for a cap and gown, and figuring out where to apply for law school. Everything about my life, from my spacious sorority house room to my wonderful boyfriend, was perfect. I like to think of myself then as the not-so-skinny brunette version of Elle Woods.

So no one was more surprised than me when I suddenly lost all interest in everything. I changed almost overnight from an outgoing social butterfly to a hermit style couch potato.

After several months of sitting around in my pajamas, staring at the unplugged television and eating Crunch 'n Munch from the box, my roommates staged an intervention. A forced visit to my family doctor resulted in a diagnosis of Clinical Depression.

Handling Depression
I started working with the school counselor and figuring out a medication dosage to get my brain chemicals back on track. By the end of the school year I was almost my old self. Unfortunately, months of tuning out the world meant I didn't have enough credits. I wouldn't be graduating with the rest of my class. I had failed and for the first time in my life that failure came with real consequences.

I moved back home, but constant remarks about my inability to graduate weren't helping. My family loves me, but they were convinced the depression was all in my head and I'd just gotten lazy. After a few months of hits to my frail ego, I moved in with my wonderful boyfriend (who is now my wonderful husband) and tried to figure out what I was going to do with my life.

Working a series of odd jobs including everything from Waffle House waitress (Do you want those covered and smothered?) to insurance telemarketing (Did you know we offer a multi-car discount?) provided me with ample life lessons. Most importantly I learned I needed to get my degree…now.

Making Up For Lost Time
It would take me a year and a half to make up for those lost months. And unlike the first time around, I now had to balance a full course load with a full-time job. Classes were crammed in before my shift in the mornings and stretched late into the night. It wasn’t uncommon to leave my house at 6 a.m. and not come home until 10 p.m. Weekends weren't any better since that was my only available time to power through homework and class projects.

Going back to school was one of the hardest things I've ever done. It forced me to face a failure that had become a defining part of my life. It pushed my time management skills and required a level of dedication I had never reached before.

Finishing my degree brought new meaning to the word 'challenge,' but other than my children it is the one thing I am most proud of accomplishing. After three semesters of sweat and tears (there may have been blood) I finally put on a black polyester robe and shook hands with the dean as she handed over my shiny new diploma.

Anything Is Possible
Now, when I’m faced with a difficult situation, I know I can get through it. A scene I can't get right, feedback that cuts me to the core, yet another round of edits. Hard stuff, but not as hard as going back to school.

There are times in life when I think "I can't do this," be it writing or learning how to knit (a skill I still can't master). But when those moments crop up I remind myself of that muggy day in May when I shook hands with the dean in front of my friends and family and changed a failure into success.


If you think you have a great life changing moment to share (and you probably have several), click here to learn how to get the conversation started. I'm sure if you think it's important, I may too.


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Check out previous posts from the Life Changing Moments Series:


R. E. Hunter said...

Thanks for having the courage to write about your experience with depression. Each such experience helps to dispel some of the negative stereotypes and discrimination around depression.

It's good that your friends intervened to get you help. Many people (myself included) are not so fortunate and suffer much longer than necessary.

Anonymous said...

I never knew this was part of your life story but I very much appreciate that you've shared it with us. I think it's important to spread awareness so that people are able to get the help they need when they need it.
I respect you sharing tbis and can see how it made you a stronger person.

Unknown said...

Unfortunately, depression is still something people are uncomfortable talking about. I recognize how lucky I am that I had good friends who forced me to get the help I was afraid to ask for.

Melanie Marttila said...

Thanks for sharing your personal struggle with depression. We all have our battles.

The stigma attached to mental illness needs to be redacted :)

Adrianne Russell said...

This post is so helpful. Thanks for sharing your story! So many people are embarrassed by this struggle posts like these break down the stereotypes associated with mental illness.

Robert Lee Brewer said...

Again, thank you so much for sharing, Sarah!

Muddy said...

Sarah, what an inspirational story! I am forever telling my kids not to give up, and it sounds like you followed that to a tee, nit giving up your dreams in spite of life knocking you down with depression. Kudos to you!

Sorry Gnat said...

Wonderful; just went to Twitter and joined you and wrote quick congrats; you go girl! very good

Unknown said...

Dear Sarah,

No time is ever wasted. You would not be nearly as successful had you not gone into a spiral- then conquered the academic world.

I suffer from Clinical Depression and occasional migraines. I also went back to college and graduated in May of 2007.

Thank you for your story. You are a beautiful woman and a writer like me!

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Sarah. I was diagnosed with Depression back in 1990. I still haven't completely overcome it. I try to function like a normal person and I've worked a few part-time jobs, but I feel like I'm stumbling around in the dark.

I often think about going back to school, but I don't know what I would major in. If I can decide on something, I believe receiving a degree would make me feel much better about life and myself.