J. Scott Berry, executive director of the Tavares Chamber of Commerce, wants others to know how to get help.
When did you realize you were dealing with depression?
I believe I’ve dealt with depression my entire life but wasn’t sure why I was feeling the way I felt. It wasn’t until my third attempt with therapy (that) my counselor suggested I had ongoing depression. Even then it was embarrassing.
What feelings brought you to this realization?
I have numerous symptoms … but not at the same time. Sometimes I can’t get out of bed or leave my house. Sometimes it’s for a day, but I have had this last for weeks. Sometimes I am very short-tempered. There were times I abused alcohol or drugs. I’m not sure if that is a symptom so much as an attempt to avoid depression.
When did you decide to get help?
In 2010, I had the worst bout ever; it lasted a solid year. I ended up in the hospital and almost died. Thank God (and I do mean that literally) a friend recommended a great therapist who helped me identify triggers, face hard facts about my life and taught me coping mechanisms. Once I began addressing it, I noticed a change.
What kind of help did you receive?
Therapy worked for me. It takes longer and it’s harder because you have to crawl into your attic, drag out that box, dust off the cobwebs, open it up, and deal with your past. However, it was worth it.
Do you have some tips you are willing to share about living with depression?
At this point, I start every day with a possibility of it being a “low” day and try to embrace it and deal with it. Morning “quiet” times are crucial. I often sit alone, put on my favorite Broadway music, and enjoy a concert for myself. Or, sometimes it’s a sad movie I know will make me cry. I get the emotion out!
But mostly, it’s being truthful with your support system, whatever that is to you. And everyone has a support system; it may surprise you who it is. Be honest with them, do not be embarrassed. Lastly, it’s OK to feel low or sad but don’t wallow in it and don’t beat yourself up.
I recently made a huge, stupid mistake. I’m sorry for it, wish it hadn’t happened, but the former me would’ve plunged into depression. I didn’t. I accepted the consequences, learned a lesson, and am moving forward.
That’s what I did today. I hope I can do that tomorrow.