Depression isn’t worth fighting alone — find help

Once upon a time, a girl sat in a high school library.

The library had windows looking onto a sunny courtyard. It had big tables where kids studied and swapped what passed for gossip in the 1970s. The girl sat alone at a desk facing a wall.

She tried to read, but couldn’t concentrate. She heard her classmates’ cheerful banter, but it seemed filtered, as if she was listening from under water.

The girl was thriving, by outward appearances. She had friends. She was close to graduation, ready to move on to college. Inside, she felt dead.

Once upon a time, a woman slouched on a sofa.

In an upstairs bedroom, her newborn angel of a son slept the morning away. Her older children, the pride of her life, were at school. She sat alone, clicking through TV channels. Hearings on the impeachment of President Clinton droned on through the day.

The woman was doing well, her friends and family figured. After her husband died, she hadn’t missed a beat. She had kept working. She had figured out the lawn mower, had taken the kids on vacation, had gotten the Christmas tree up. Inside, she felt dead.

I was that girl, that woman.

I get a little blue every winter. The two episodes I just described weren’t blue periods. They were black holes, black as night. They passed, like sinister storm clouds blown away by fresh winds.

I gutted out my depression. I don’t recommend it.

Today is National Depression Screening Day. I mark the day with this timeworn thought: Do as I say, not as I do. If you’re in a black hole, get help.

Healthy Communities for Snohomish County, a coalition of health providers, today is offering a way back out of the fog. There are free programs at four sites:

  • Compass Health, 4526 Federal Ave., Building 2, Everett: 6-8 p.m.

  • Stevens Hospital, 21601 76th Ave. W., fourth floor auditorium, Edmonds, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

  • Arbor Place, 12806 Bothell-Everett Highway, Everett, 10 a.m. to noon.

  • Providence Everett Medical Center’s Silver Lake Clinic, 12800 Bothell-Everett Highway, Everett, 4 to 6 p.m.

    The programs include information sessions and brief private interviews. No diagnosis will be made, but referrals will be provided. To sign up, call Stevens Health Source at 425-640-4066, then press 2.

    According to the National Institute of Mental Health, more than 17 million Americans develop depression every year. If you’re in a black hole, numbers mean nothing.

    You’ll recognize yourself on the list of depression’s symptoms: a lack of joy in life; sleeping more than usual or the inability to sleep; changes in eating habits; difficulty concentrating; unusual sadness; feelings of worthlessness and hopelessness; and thoughts of death or suicide.

    Sufferers of major depression have at least five symptoms. Dysthymia is a milder, low-grade depression. Bipolar depression is a phase of manic-depressive illness; sufferers have extreme highs and lows. Symptoms of seasonal affective disorder come in winter, when lack of sun triggers a biochemical reaction that brings loss of energy and excessive eating and sleeping.

    I never stayed in bed all day or quit taking showers. I smiled through the blasted blues, preferring to keep my mental state a secret.

    I’m here to say it now. I was depressed. There is no shame in saying it. Just look who has.

    Last year, Tipper Gore revealed that she received counseling and medication for depression she experienced after a 1989 car accident that injured her son. The wife of the vice president and Democratic presidential nominee said she hoped her story would spur others to seek treatment.

    In a 1994 memoir, former first lady Barbara Bush wrote that in the 1970s she was overcome by depression so severe that she feared she might end her life by crashing her car. The mother of the GOP presidential nominee also wrote that she muddled through on her own.

    I muddled through. Don’t do it. Depression kills. In my case, it wasted precious time.

    If the black cloud returns, will I take my own advice? I’d like to think so.

    Talk to us

  • More in Local News

    Mel Jennings sits in his structure during a point-in-time count of people facing homelessness in Everett, Washington on Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023. Mel has had a brain and spinal surgery, and currently has been homeless for a year. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
    Annual homeless count aims to give snapshot of housing crisis

    Volunteers set out into the rain Tuesday to count all the people facing homelessness in central Everett.

    Catherine Berwicks loads ballots into a tray after scanning them at the Snohomish County Elections Ballot Processing Center on Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2020 in Everett, Wa.  (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
    Lawmakers push to boost voting in county jails across the state

    A House bill envisions an approach similar to what’s been happening in the Snohomish County Jail for several years.

    Vandalism at Seaview Park on Jan. 21, 2023 in Edmonds, Washington. (Edmonds Police Department)
    Police seek suspects in repeated vandalism at Edmonds parks

    Vandals have done over $10,000 of damage to parks across the city, including suspected arson and graffiti with hate speech.

    One worker looks up from the cargo area as another works in what will be the passenger compartment on one of the first Boeing 787 jets as it stands near completion at the front of the assembly line, Monday, May 19, 2008, in Everett, Wash. The plane, the first new Boeing jet in 14 years, is targeted for power on in June followed by an anticipated first flight sometime late in 2008.  (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
    Boeing workers long-exposed to carcinogen far above legal limits

    The company confirmed in depositions that parts of its Everett plant still don’t meet 2010 standards.

    CarlaRae Arneson, of Lynnwood, grabs a tea press full of fresh tea from Peanut the server robot while dining with her 12-year-old son Levi at Sushi Hana on Thursday, Jan. 5, 2023, in Lynnwood, Washington. CarlaRae said she and her son used to visit the previous restaurant at Sushi Hana’s location and were excited to try the new business’s food. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
    Peanut the robot waitress is on a roll at Lynnwood’s Sushi Hana

    She’s less RoboCop and more Rosey as she patrols the restaurant, making sure everyone has a drink and good time.

    Traffic moves along Highway 526 in front of Boeing’s Everett Production Facility on Nov. 28, 2022, in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / Sound Publishing)
    Boeing settles with Everett security guard claiming chemical exposure

    Holly Hawthorne was assigned to Building 45-335 at the south end of Paine Field, while employees used aerosolized chemical sprays nearby.

    A section of contaminated Wicks tidelands on Thursday, Jan. 19, 2023 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
    Port acquisition marks next step in toxic cleanup on Everett waterfront

    Private owners donated land near the contaminated Wicks Tide Flats to the Port of Everett. Cleanup work could begin within the year.

    FILE - In this photo taken Oct. 2, 2018, semi-automatic rifles fill a wall at a gun shop in Lynnwood, Wash. Gov. Jay Inslee is joining state Attorney General Bob Ferguson to propose limits to magazine capacity and a ban on the sale of assault weapons. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)
    Democrats advance assault weapons ban, new rules for gun buyers

    The measures passed a House committee without Republican support. They are part of a broader agenda to curb gun violence.

    U.S. Attorney Nick Brown and the victim of a brutal attack in 2018 answer questions from reporters on Jan. 27, 2023 in Seattle, Washington. (Jake Goldstein-Street / The Herald)
    White supremacists sentenced for racist beating at Lynnwood bar

    A federal judge handed out stiffer sentences than prosecutors had asked for in a series of sentencing hearings Friday.

    Most Read