Updated: Apr 3
Name: Jessica Flaman
Age: 33 years old
Occupation: Art Therapist & Grief Blogger "Conversations About Death"
Location: Toronto, ON
I was around 21 when my depression started to manifest. I was in an unhealthy relationship that was emotionally abusive, and ended up with an eating disorder. I started to feel really unfulfilled in school and I was going through a lot of really big changes that were out of my control. At the time, I was so embarrassed and ashamed that instead of asking for help I started to pretend like everything was fine. It got to the point where my roommates thought I was going to class when in reality I was pretending to leave and locking myself in my room all day. Eventually, everything started to snow ball and it became so unbearable that I had to say “fuck it” and leave.
I ended up taking a year off of school and moved to my parents’ place. I had to tell them what I was going through. At the time they didn’t really know how to name what I was going through. Eating disorders and depression weren’t nearly as understood as they are now. They tried their best to access services for me, but it was really challenging. The doctors and therapists they sent me to were terrible. They focused solely on my size and weight and overlooked the fact that all this pain was all stemming from a severe depression. When I realized that therapy wasn’t working; I turned to my family doctor for support who just fucked me around on a whole bunch of different medications. It was awful. It wasn’t only emotionally tormenting, but physically. I was in hell. Like, for example: he put me on anti-psychotics, which was completely unnecessary. I ended up switching doctors, thank God, and ended up being prescribed the medication that I have since been consistently on. I mean, I’ve tried to go off of it before and I would be okay for a certain amount of time until some super difficult life event would happen and then I would need to go right back on it.
There is so much stigma around taking medication and people can be really judgemental about it. But for me, if I need to be on medication, that is fine because it is just one piece of the puzzle. If it works for you it works for you; and if it doesn’t it doesn’t. You can’t just focus on one component of treatment and think it’s going to fix everything. Medication won’t fix everything. I put in the work. I went the therapy. I learned the foundations of nutrition and intuitive eating. I moved out west. I reconnected with nature and the mountains… and then I was taking medication. I had a good support system and in the end everything together worked for me. A few years after all of this I was diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder and Generalized Anxiety Disorder. Having the diagnosis and having a name for it brought me a lot of peace. And knowing that it is physiological took a lot of the shame away. So all and all, it started at 21 and it took me until I was 25 to figure it out. It wasn’t four years of complete shit, it was a step by step process and helped me become who I am. Depression will always be a part of me. So, it was a process of learning how to manage and live with my depression, not to be cured of it.