The D Word

Fashion and lifestyle blogger Jessica Rose Sturdy wearing a leopard-print monogrammed faux fur Miranda Dunn coat with Illesteva sunglasses, Vineyard Vines boyfriend jeans, and Sezane Paris Jack leather sneakers.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, something that I’m extremely passionate about and something that’s very near and dear to my heart, so I didn’t want to let the month slip away without touching on this subject. A few months ago, I shared how I manage my anxiety, yesterday I shared my journey with medication, and today I want to talk about The D Word.

I thought about naming this post “The Big D.” As a kid, I always remember this country song playing on the radio in my baby sitter’s car.. “I’m going to the big D and don’t mean Dallas.” (He was actually talking about divorce in the song.) But as an adult, The Big D has a whole different meaning. 😜

But today I want to talk about a whole different D… A word that’s somehow even more taboo to talk about — depression. It’s a word that gets thrown around a lot where it’s true meaning is diminished (“OMG, so depressing!”), but it also has quite the stigma, and a reputation that can be confusing. 

Back in November, I was walking into therapy and was basically already crying. I knew I was going to have a meltdown on the couch that day. I hadn’t been to therapy in three weeks, and it had been a rough three weeks. I couldn’t remember the last day that I didn’t cry. But when I walked in to N’s office to the usual, “How have you been?” I had tears welling up in my eyes as I said, “It’s been a hard few weeks. I’m not, like, depressed or anything — I still get out of bed and work and work out and see my friends — A lot’s been going on and I guess I’ve just been feeling a lot of feels lately, I’ve been crying a lot.”

I don’t really remember the exact timeline of what happened next… I was sobbing and N said, “I think it’s time we discuss medication,” and something about “high functioning anxiety and depression.”

I had dinner plans with girlfriends that night and was planning to stay downtown after my appointment until then. I picked myself up off the couch in her office, took the train to my old apartment building to get my nails done across the street (naturally ran into a blog reader while I was there), texted my friend as I was walking over to her place to give her a warning (“hey, just FYI I look like a mess, rough therapy sesh, all good though!” in an effort to squash any questions that might come up out of concern that would start the waterworks back up in public), swung by Binnys to get a bottle of wine, hung out at her place with her best friend and sister, went to a new restaurant, went to a piano bar, and then went home. On the way home, I ordered my favorite worst habit — Turbo Sticks from Jet’s Pizza — (in my defense, the food at dinner was not great) and got home right around the same time as my delivery. Once I got in the door, I went straight up to my bedroom, sat on my bathroom floor crying harder than I’ve ever cried ever before, ate the entire box of pizza sticks, got in bed, and cried myself to sleep. 

The next day, I wasn’t lying when I texted my friend “so much fun last night!” That felt like the truth. But it was followed by one of the most emotional nights I’ve ever had. (And pregamed with the most emotional therapy session I’ve ever had.) The only reason I’m telling you so much personal detail is because depression isn’t one-size-fits-all, and sometimes the symptoms aren’t really what you think.

As I did a lot of thorough research about “high functioning depression and anxiety” that weekend, I had never felt more seen. In that Friday session, N had asked me, “How long have you been feeling like this?” I’m not sure how long I had paused to think when she said, “It’s clearly been a while if you have to think back that far.”

While I feel like I’m an open book in most any interaction I have (friends, family, colleagues, relationships, YOU GUYS, etc), and I do feel like I try to be as real and honest and open and vulnerable as possible, that weekend I realized I had been wearing a mask for most of my life, not for everyone else, but for myself, and it was time to face the music.

I now realize I’ve probably been depressed most of my life. But since I can get out of bed, and make it to a workout class, and eat mostly healthy (minus my pizza addiction), and run a business, and hang out with my friends, and feel a lot of joy, and practice self-care, and get out of my pajamas and put on real clothes and makeup even when I don’t have to, and leave the house every day, and do all of the things “that depressed people can’t do,” I thought I was fine. Truthfully, I probably struggled more days than not. And just because I wasn’t lying in a dark room under the covers with the blinds drawn doesn’t mean I wasn’t depressed.

Sure, I’ll be the first to admit I’ve had numerous depressive episodes in my life. I’ve long known I’m prone to them, especially since I have family members that struggle with their mental health, too. But I thought they were just that — episodes. I was the first to admit I struggled with a lot of anxiety and depressive times here and there, but I wasn’t actually depressed!! No, not me.

I don’t know who made it out to be that depression looks like lots of tears, dark rooms, isolation, a bed, not leaving the house, and not speaking to other people… Because that’s the vision I’ve always had in my head.

But I will say, I know what it’s like to cry every time your head hits the pillow. Or anytime you’re alone. Or always conveniently right AFTER you get out of the shower and you have to wash your face again and wait to put on makeup until you get it together and text your friends “sorry, got sidetracked with work!” since you’re now running a solid 30 mins behind schedule because you couldn’t get it together.

There have been so many times that I’ve been out at functions with my friends, honestly having a great time and putting on a smile, and as soon as I walk in the door at home and am alone in my room, water works. Almost like second nature of taking off your bra and/or pants when you get home, something that we can all relate to.

I also know what it’s like to muster up the energy to get out of bed, make the bed, get ready, put on real clothes, and get to where I’m going, and by the time I get back home, be so absolutely fucking zonked that I just have to lay horizontal for the next few hours.

I know what it’s like to have to cancel plans because it’s been a rough day with anxiety and depression. 

I’m not saying any of this for sympathy, far from it. (Like I mentioned yesterday, I’m in a much, much different place that I was when I wrote this post late last year.) But I am saying this as a reminder for all of us that you never know what’s going on behind closed doors. You never know what someone else is going through, even when you might think you know a lot about their life.

Depression (and anxiety) looks different for everyone. 

One of my favorite quotes is “everyone is fighting a battle you know nothing about.” So especially during this unprecedented and uncertain time, be kind. Be mindful with your words and actions. Smile. Send out as much love as you can. <3

Leave a Comment

7 Comments

  1. 5.29.20
    tasha commented:

    This post is so important and deep. It takes a lot of courage to write it. Thank you for sharing your story <3

  2. 5.29.20
    Meaghan commented:

    This is wonderfully written and I can’t imagine how hard it was to write. You are a strong, badass woman!! Thanks for sharing your struggles.

  3. 5.29.20
    Del Ray commented:

    Non-pharmaceutical supplements are a good natural ways to treat depression. For that, consider SAMe (adenosylmethionine). It’s a natural supplement that’s a great choice. There’s an in-depth article on SAMe ( https://brighter-health.com/same-adenosylmethionine-for-depression-superior-to-antidepressants/ ) that discusses how SAMe positively affects neurotransmitters, and therefore the balancing of brain chemistry. Very helpful stuff.

  4. 5.30.20
    Cassidi commented:

    This post is so real and hit me in the gut. Thank you so much for sharing your journey. It is so brave of you to share with us, and I am so glad you did!

  5. 5.30.20
    SR commented:

    Thank you SO MUCH for writing this. This is one of those times where someone articulated everything you have been through better than you ever could. I also went on medication about a year ago after struggling with this for way longer than i care to admit. Like you I always felt like I couldn’t be REALLY depressed because none of my friends or family would describe me that way, I’m good at my job, productive, etc but behind closed doors it was a different story. The medication has been life changing and while I certainly still struggle at times it’s significantly better than before (maybe minus the past 2 weeks but gonna give myself a pass with the whole global pandemic situation lol). Sorry this is so long and rambling but I just want to truly thank you because high functioning depression and anxiety are rarely talked about and it’s so comforting to hear someone else’s story.

  6. 5.31.20
    AMM commented:

    Thank you so much for sharing! I have had a challenging year with anxiety and depression and while I am sorry you have also gone through it, there is comfort in reading other’s stories and knowing we are not alone. <3

  7. 6.1.20
    M commented:

    Jess, thank you so much for speaking about this. Even before this post I had noticed that you have seemed so much lighter in your IG stories over the past couple of months, and it was really lovely to see. Your post made me actually assess my own situation, particularly because I could relate so much to being someone who is high functioning with my anxiety disorder and also having experienced some major life upheaval, without realising how normal it had become to live with this insidious depression that has snuck its way in. I’m not one to be “influenced” by an influencer, or even usually to comment on blog posts, but consider me influenced in the best possible way. Your post really was a lightbulb moment for me. Thank you for your honesty and please know you truly have had a very real, positive impact on at least one person out there.