The holidays are a big time for depression.
And depression affects lawyers in disproportionate numbers compared to other professions.
So in today’s podcast I’m talking about the myths and truth about depression, how to get help, and the do’s and don’ts for someone trying to help a loved one who is depressed.
I am currently depressed. I share because I want to remove the stigma from mental illness.
I hope you give it a listen.
EPISODE 187 TRANSCRIPTION
Welcome everybody to another episode of From Hostage to Hero. Sari de la Motte here with you today for another episode, and today we're talking about 'Tis the season for depression, fa-la-la-la-la, la-la-fuck-la. Yeah, depression.
But before we talk about depression, I want to read you one of the most hilarious reviews I've ever received. This is a review of said podcasts that you are listening to right now, and it's titled ''Fine!'', which is, I'm assuming the tone that racehorse1791 wrote it in, and it says, ''Leaving this review only because the podcast host incessantly and shamelessly demands reviews.'' Awesome, yes, racehorse1791, you finally get it. I want reviews. Why? Because I'm vain, number one, but number two, I want to get this podcast into as many hands as possible, because I believe that this content is going to change not only the lives of trial lawyers, but change the world in terms of the work that y'all do in the world. So if you haven't reviewed it yet, here I am, shamelessly plugging it. Go and review it wherever you listen to your podcast and/or review the book. If you don't have the book, you can get it at trialguides.com. Thank you very much.
All right, so we're talking about depression today because this is the season for it, and I personally am going through it, and y'all know that I share with you all of the things, I probably overshare, but we all know that's why you're here, right? So I just saw this meme, for example, to kind of tell you why I'm doing it at this time of year, and it said, ''You're going to come in contact with an awful lot of people who are at their absolute breaking point this season.'' Friends, family, coworkers, teachers, strangers in the grocery store, retail workers. While it may be the merriest of time of year for some, it's the saddest, loneliest, most stressful, most heartbreaking for so many others.
We're all busy, but we're not too busy to be kind, caring, and patient. Remember, the best thing you can give someone right now is love and you know that I'm all about love around here. And so when we're talking about depression, I wanted to talk about it because I'm going through it, because it's the time of year that a lot of people are going through it, but also because depression and other mental health issues tend to hit the legal profession in disproportionate numbers in regards to other professions, meaning y'all have this more often than most people. I think it's just the nature of the job. And there's a lot of myths and shame around depression, and so I want to hopefully blow that out of the water today. And perhaps give you some incentive to seek help if you are in fact being depressed, or are depressed currently. Or those of you who may have people in your lives that are depressed, give you some pointers or tips on how to help the people in your lives that are currently depressed.
I have had depression throughout many times in my life, which is why when I am now in my current depression, I've been down this road before and I knew what to do, and I knew how to catch it before it got really, really bad. And so I wanted to share with you some of the things, because I don't want you to have to go through what I've been through. We don't know exactly where depression comes from.
I know that I come from a long line of depressed people, perhaps it could be genetic, we don't actually know. But I've been here many times before and I'm here now, and I want to share with you some of the myths around depression, and some of the truth around depression. I'm going to end the podcast episode with some ways for you to get help, so please stay tuned for that.
So let's go into the first myth of depression, which is, depression just means that you're really, really sad. And that, my friends, is not necessarily true.
The truth about depression is that it can present as definitely sadness for sure, but for many people it presents as apathy, or numbness, or a sudden inability to take care of yourself, or losing interest in things that you used to enjoy, or a hyperfocus on other people in terms of detriment to yourself.
Meaning, the reason why this is so important to point this out, that depression doesn't just show up as a sadness, is that many people are depressed, but they don't feel that they are, so they don't get help, because it doesn't show up as this sadness that they may have seen on television, or read about, or heard about.
So depression isn't necessarily just being really, really sad. It can also mean just being numb and not feeling anything at all. In fact, this is how it's currently showing up for me. I don't believe that I'm feeling super, super sad. There are times that I am, but it just, as it started to come on, it became a thing where I just started feeling like I couldn't feel anything in general, and that to me was a sign that I was heading back in to another depression. Unfortunately, it's something that I've just had to live with throughout my life since I was in my teens. But again, now that I know the signs of depression, I can get help sooner and faster, and I'm going to share with you how to do exactly that.
So, if you or a loved one is not totally, completely wallowing in sadness, that does not necessarily mean that you aren't depressed. It could show up in a variety of different ways.
Another big myth around depression is that you can't be depressed if nothing bad has happened to you. Meaning some of you may be sad, or apathetic, or numb, but you may think to yourself, ''Yeah, but nothing's happened to me. I mean, I haven't gotten divorced. No one has died. I haven't had some big financial thing happen to me, so obviously I can't be depressed if nothing bad has happened to me.'' Here's the truth, is that, again, we don't know why or what causes depression. Brains are weird.
As you've been hearing me talk about here in the podcast, we don't know why the brain decides to get into a depressed state, but sometimes it just does. Now, oftentimes depression does happen because of an event like I just talked about, a death or a divorce or some other big life event, but not always. Sometimes depression just shows up for no fucking reason at all.
And again, I don't want this to be another reason. Why? If you're feeling some of the things we're talking about in today's podcast, or a loved one of yours is, that you talk yourself out of getting help, because you think to yourself, ''Well, nothing big has happened, so I don't have a right to be depressed.'' There's your brain, again, being weird and saying, ''You got to have a really good reason to call this depression. You don't.'' If you're feeling numb, if you're feeling a sadness has overtaken you, if you're feeling apathetic, or any of the things I've already talked about, you may in fact be depressed. You don't have to have anything big that happened to you necessarily.
Closely related to that one is that people with great lives don't get depressed. I mean, you've heard me talk about, even two podcasts ago, like the 10 things that make my life work, and I take at least 12 weeks of vacation a year. I live in my dream home. I've got my absolute dream career. I love my husband. I have a great kid. All of the things. And many of you probably have similar lives. And so we tend to think again, our brains are weird, ''I have a great life. There's no reason why I should be depressed.''
And so we don't allow ourselves to actually get help because we think, ''Listen, just get it together Sari. Stop with this shit. You have a great life, so you can't possibly to be depressed.'' When in fact, I actually am. Again, it's another trick of the brain to talk you out of getting the help that you may desperately need. Listen, you may have a kick-ass life, you may have everything you've ever dreamed of, and you can still be depressed.
Depression does not discriminate, so don't let that be the thing that stops you from getting help.
Here's another one. You can cure yourself of depression by being positive. ''If I wasn't just so negative, then I wouldn't be depressed.'' Again, this is something that your brain does, it blames itself. Just had a podcast last week on blaming. ''I'm the reason I'm depressed. This is my problem. If I just wasn't so fucking negative, if I could just be a little bit more positive, then I wouldn't be depressed.'' And that's also a bunch of bullshit.
The truth is, is that being positive is what is exactly out of reach when you are depressed. So it's this horrible cycle that you beat yourself up for. ''Why can't I be more positive? Why can't I just enjoy my life? I have a great life. Nothing bad has happened, so what's wrong with me? I should just be more positive.'' Which is the one thing, when you're depressed, that you actually cannot be. So please give yourself a break if you can't create the positive feelings that you so desperately want to create. I know, if you're like me, you desperately want to create those feelings. Your brain is not allowing it.
This is a big one that I want to talk about, another myth, which is, if you end up deciding that you need help for depression and you reach out, whoever you reach out to, your doctor, a psychologist, a psychiatrist, a social worker, they're going to force you to take drugs. And that is the worst thing possible.
Okay, here's the truth. No one can force you to do anything, take medication included, unless you are put under some kind of psychiatric hold, which I don't think most of you are there, no one's going to force you to take anything.
But here's the bigger thing that I want to point out, is that what's with all the fucking shame around taking medication for a brain disorder, which is what depression is.
It's kind of like me being ashamed of needing chemotherapy or radiation when I had breast cancer. Why isn't there any shame around that? That's totally normal and what we would expect with someone diagnosed with breast cancer. But if you are diagnosed with depression, then, oh hell no, you shouldn't go on drugs because that's the most shameful thing ever. What the fuck? Let me just say that I have been on medication since I was a teen. In fact, that's one of the ways my brain has fucked with me, is like, ''You're already on medication Sari, why are you depressed now? I mean, you have a therapist, you're on medication, what the fuck's your problem?'' So I had to actually go on a different medication, which often happens when you've been on a certain medication, it stops fucking working.
And let me tell you, the new medication that I'm on, fun fact, is causing my hair to fall out. Yeah, I already had my hair fall out, from cancer treatment, and now this is making my hair fall out, which is not super fun. By the way, it's also very, very rare. So please don't use that as a reason not to seek help. It's very, very rare and they're not even sure that it's the medication that's causing it. I'm pretty sure it is, but they're not totally sure.
Now, for most people, they would immediately stop taking the medication, because who wants to lose their hair? For me, having been down this path as many times as I've been down it, I care way more about my mental health and my brain getting well, that I would risk being bald over being depressed and staying in that state. Not to mention that when I was bald, I fucking rocked that look. Come on now, so I can deal with it.
But the point is that there is way too much fucking shame around taking medication for mental health reasons. Now, you may not need medication, I'm not suggesting that everybody should be on medication. And by the way, I am not licensed or trained in therapy to diagnose you in this podcast. So please do not look to me to decide whether or not you are depressed. I'm going to send you to the right places when we're at the end of this episode. But, and if you do end up needing medication, fucking take that shit, because it's going to help. It's helped me immensely. It's helped family members immensely. In fact, most people that I talk to, who have not wanted to go on medication, but needed medication and went on it, have said to me, ''Why didn't I do this earlier? I could have been feeling better so much earlier.'' And that's the fucking truth.
Here are three things I really want you to get about depression, again, either for yourself or for someone that you love.
The first one is that depression lies. That is what it does. You know we've talked a lot in this podcast about brain wiring and how your brain is wired to keep you alive, and that your saboteur has come from this place of not having you take risks, not making change in your life. Why? Because those are scary and the saboteur wants to keep you safe and in the same place. Well, I want you to think about depression is like the saboteur has left the building and given up. Instead of trying to keep you alive, it's doing the opposite. It's like, ''You know what? Forget it. It's too hard to stay alive, so maybe we shouldn't even be alive.'' That's what depression tells you.
That's what depression tells me, often, ''You know what? You're not really making that big of a difference. You know what? You say um too much in your podcasts. You don't remember words because of your chemotherapy. Your brain's never going to be the same. Your daughter, she's better off without you. Your husband, I mean when you got married, you weighed like 90 pounds less than you weigh now, he deserves to have somebody who's healthy and attractive.'' This is all the things that depression tells you. And unlike the saboteur, which is trying to tell you those things to keep you safe, it's kind of like the saboteur's just given up and said, ''It's not even worth it. Just give up. Just forget about it.'' But depression fucking lies. I want you to get that today. It lies, it lies, it lies. It's not telling you the truth.
The second thing is that depression doesn't mean that you are broken, that there's something wrong with you.
Louise Hay, who I love and wrote the book, You Can Heal Your Life, it's totally woo-woo, but I love that book. You can look up anything in there that you're currently dealing with, health wise, and she'll tell you what it means. Now you may be like, ''That's a bunch of bullshit.'' But I just find it very interesting. So I looked up depression and it says, ''Depression is anger you don't feel you have the right to have.'' I thought, ''Ooh, isn't that interesting?'' Oftentimes because we're holding certain mental patterns, our brain goes into dysfunction. I'm not blaming you or blaming myself for depression, this is how brains work. But when you have depression, this is a time to treat yourself with massive amounts of love and compassion, which is hard. When you're depressed, that's the one thing that you aren't able to do.
Which brings us to the third big thing I really want you to get from this podcast episode, which is, depression is treatable.
Listen, I've been there, you're probably there, where maybe you're in a situation if you are in fact depressed and you're sad, or you're apathetic, or you're down, and you're thinking, ''Well, I'll just push through. I'll just bear down. I'll just get through it.'' How many times have you told yourself that? I know that you tell yourself that, because I tell myself that. Kevin and I were just talking about this, about how I've had two previous miscarriages, three actually, two before Elly and then one after. And the two previous ones. One, I was due to speak on stage, and so I did, as I was bleeding, and going through my miscarriage. The second one, I knew I was going to miscarry. I got the news when I was about to go on stage another time.
Now, today's Sari, would be like, ''Fuck that shit. I'm canceling that and taking care of myself.'' But back then it was all about pushing through. Somebody wanted me to come out and work with them and it was Wisconsin in February, and I was seven months pregnant, I got on the plane and I went. Why? Because that's what Sari did. She just pushed through. She didn't take care of herself. And I know that so many of you are the same way.
You don't need to push through. You can stop and take care of yourself. Why suffer? What's the harm in reaching out and getting help, besides the shame that you think is going to happen? Listen, we're in a much different place, than we were 10 years ago. There's not as much shame. There's still shame, which is why I'm doing this podcast, to proudly state that I have depression and I've been through depression, that I'm on depression medication, and that it actually makes my life work, and that I'm seeing a therapist. So that you can stop having shame around it and get the help that you may need.
Listen, you may be listening to this right now and thinking, ''Yeah, Sari, I get that, but that's true for some people, but it's not true for me. I'm not worth taking care of. I'm not worth staying on this earth.'' Yes, you fucking are. That is your brain that is fucking lying to you. You are worth it. We need you.
If nobody else in your life is telling you that, I want you to come back and listen to this every fucking day if you need to, until you start believing it yourself. You are worth taking care of and you are needed on this planet. Do not let your brain convince you otherwise. There's nothing fucking wrong with you.
Sometimes brains don't work the way they're supposed to, just like hearts, or lungs, or breasts, or thyroids, or all the other fucking shit. Which is why we live in a society that has ways to help us with this. Thank God. You wouldn't not go to the hospital if you're having a heart attack, so don't think that your brain wiring, and what it's doing right now, is in some different category and that there's shame around it. Get the help you need.
Now, how do you know if it's depression? Not just sadness? Listen, I am not a therapist and I'm not trained, but some things that you might be thinking about is that you no longer enjoy the things that you used to enjoy.
Maybe you've tried some things, like upping your exercise, you're eating better, and it doesn't help, hasn't gone away. Or you're thinking like, ''I don't matter.'' You're having some of those terrible thoughts and you can't get rid of them. Even if those things don't apply to you, but you're just feeling like you can't get out of the slump. There's no downside to getting help.
Now, a couple podcasts ago, I talked about the 10 things that really make a difference in my life, and one of them was coaching. And so you may be thinking, ''Well, I kind of am depressed, now that I've listened to you Sari, and so you know what? I'm going to go get a coach.'' Nope, nope. Coaching is different than therapy. The way that I've always talked about it is think about football. How great am I at sports metaphors? You're playing your best game out there, your coach is on the sidelines helping you play the game, strategizing what moves you should make next. But if you get out there and your leg is hurt, it's broken, you don't go to your coach, you go to a doctor.
Depression is a real brain disorder and it necessitates you getting help from professionals. That doesn't mean that if you're in coaching that you should stop coaching, because coaching is also going to support you. Or that if you want to coach, you should stop and not get one. But what I'm suggesting is that it's different than coaching. And therapy, sesh medication, is what is needed when you're depressed.
Now, if you are, at this moment, feeling suicidal, I want you to stop, call 911 immediately and get help, right now. Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. The world needs you. I love you. So get that help right now. There's also a suicide help line if you're like, ''okay, I'm not an immediate danger, but I'm having the thoughts.'' 1-800-273-TALK, 1-800-273-8255. Now, if you want to learn more about depression, you could go to NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness at www.nami.org, and learn more about it there. I've also got some other resources for you in the show notes for today, including how to find a therapist. All right? And a couple of books that have a great humorous approach, because you know me, on depression from two people who I adore, authors who have gone through it and written about it in a very, very real way, but also with some humor.
Now, maybe you're not depressed, but you know someone who's depressed. I'm going to give you some dos and don'ts.
First, do not argue. So do not say, ''That's not true. You don't really feel that way. That's not going to happen.'' Even if you know that their brain is lying, because that's just going to cause more depression. Take it from someone who's been there, that doesn't help. You don't want to try to help them be positive. ''Well, let's not think about this. Let's go for a walk. Let's just watch a movie. We don't need to dwell on this.'' Those things can be helpful, but only if it is something that the person wants to do and is not feeling pressured from you, which is really the third thing. The pressure to do the things to get out of depression. It feels like pressure.
What you do want to do with someone in your life who may be depressed is validate, but remind them that their brain lies. So if they're in a position where they're talking to you about it, you can say, ''I understand it feels like that, but I want to keep reminding you that your brain lies. So I totally validate that this feels real, and sad, and horrible, and I also want to remind you that depression lies.'' See how that's different? I also want you to be with them without fixing. Instead of going, ''Hey, let's go on a walk. Hey, let's watch a movie.'' I want you just to come up alongside and say, ''I'm just going to sit here with you, while you feel sad, and if you want to go watch a movie or take a walk, I'm up for that too. But if you don't want to, let's just hang. If you want to be by yourself, I'm happy with that too.'' And they may not be able to answer. Just be with them. Give them the gift of your presence.
And the big one that I want you to do is help them get help. That's the hardest part when you're depressed, is to actually reach out and get the help that you need. Sometimes it takes all the energy a person has to even get out of bed in the morning, or take a shower, much less try to find a therapist or go and talk to their doctor. So help them. Say, ''Would you like me to call your doctor? Would you like me to set up a therapy appointment?'' You can't force anyone to get help, but you can take away every barrier that there is and make it easy for them to get help.
So I'll end this podcast with saying, your brain lies and if you're depressed, there's nothing wrong with you. It is very treatable. I have gone through it. I'm going through it right now. I've taken some time off from work, to manage it, because before I'd press through, I'd push through, not doing that anymore. I know I'm going to be better, I already feel better, with the new medication. My hair's coming out, but, again, I'd rather my brain be healthy than my hair be healthy. I'm here, I love you, and you will feel better once you get help. All right, my friends talk soon.
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