“I Didn’t Know I Was Depressed” : What Is Depression?

I Didn’t Know I was Depressed……


Every Friday evening for two years, Genna spent the evening in tears and feelings of deep despair. She was married, raising her two year old daughter, and miserable. Her marriage was a farce and her husband was emotionally and physically abusive. At work she appeared to be efficient and well-organized; happy even. What everyone didn’t know was that she dreaded the end of the week and spending Friday nights alone. Her husband didn’t come home and if he did, he didn’t stay. He would find a reason to leave or declare he had an event to attend—without her. She was a commodity, not a wife. She didn’t tell any of her friends or family how she felt because they thought she had the storybook life.

She was driving on the highway one day and wondered if she turned the steering wheel just a little into the big truck in the lane next to her, if anyone would miss her or even care. There were weeks, days when she couldn’t sleep. She had bouts of insomnia that didn’t go away regardless of what she did. She got out of bed because she had to, not because she wanted to. Most days, she could stay in bed forever!

One Friday night, her daughter found her sobbing in her room and she asked her why she was so sad. She tried to make excuses, but she couldn’t tell her why she was feeling down.

It was years later that she learned that during that time, she was depressed. Here’s why:

Genna read an article that described depression as a combination of symptoms that interfere with a person’s ability to work, sleep, study, eat, and enjoy once-pleasurable activities. There are times you may feel sad, lonely, or hopeless for a few days. But major depression — clinical depression — lasts longer and is disabling. It can prevent you from functioning normally. An episode of clinical depression may occur only once in a person’s lifetime. More often, though, it recurs throughout a person’s life.

If you suspect that you are depressed, Howard County General Hospital offers a free, confidential screening for depression October 10th from 3-5:00 pm at the Wellness Center Medical Pavilion, Suite 100, Columbia. The two-hour event includes lecture, video, self-assessment, and an individual evaluation with a mental health practitioner. Register now or call 410 740-7601 for further information.

Signs of Depression:

  • persistently sad or irritable mood
  • pronounced changes in sleep, appetite and energy
  • difficulty thinking, concentrating and remembering
  • physical slowing or agitation
  • lack of interest in or pleasure from activities that were once enjoyed
  • feelings of guilt, worthlessness, hopelessness and emptiness
  • recurrent thoughts of death or suicide
  • persistent physical symptoms that do not respond to treatment, such as headaches, digestive disorders and chronic pain
  • When several of these symptoms of depressive illness occur at the same time, last longer than two weeks and interfere with ordinary functioning, professional treatment is needed.

To learn more about NAMI Howard County visit www.nami.org/sites/NAMIHowardCounty or call 410-772-9300 for more information about programs and services for people living with mental illness in Howard County.


Beverley Francis-Gibson is the Executive Director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) of Howard County.

1 Comment

  1. very valuable….thx….:)….