I have lived with chronic depression for most of my life. I tried to figure out how to lift my mood without medication but even with exercise and light and eating the right things, I fell down the black hole. So, I take the medication my doctor prescribes and I use the light box and the sitting in the sun trick.
Recently I had the honor of representing Bring Change 2 Mind at a press conference for philosophy’s Hope & Grace Initiative. I had been featured in a short film underscoring the realities of mental illness. The cosmetic company will be giving 1% of their proceeds to grass root organizations supporting and advocating for mental health awareness and wellness.
I was not born depressed. I have proof. The images of me in old photo albums show a normal, happy child. A wide grin appears on my face as I’m being passed around from my mom, to her mom, to my dad’s mom, to aunts, uncles, cousins, and close family friends. My smiles were real. I can tell. The yellowed tape that still barely adheres the pictures to the cardboard pages is a stark contrast to my bright, alert eyes and pearly-white smile. “Let’s see some teeth!” my dad, an orthodontist, used to say as he focused his camera lens and clicked away. It’s ironic that so many years later I’d be using these images as concrete evidence that I didn’t come into this world with anything close to the chronic depression I developed in adolescence.
Yes, I have the typical “medication belly”. I’ll never forget walking into a large conference room in Akron, Ohio and seeing a crowd of consumers, all with medication bellies. I felt vindicated, understood, and a part of something that those without bellies can’t even imagine. I got tears in my eyes and, on the small stage they had set up for Glenn and me, I could only put my hand on my heart.