By Joshua Pierce
Rev. Mdiv. RADT, contributing writer 

Living with depression, anxiety

Cornerstone Center for Substance Abuse Treatment


July 23, 2022

Rev. Joshua Pierce, Mdiv. RADT

Depression is difficult and hard to open up about. I have dealt with depression since I was in eighth grade. The few times I worked up the courage to speak about it I was told, "You just need more friends," "what do you have to be sad about?" and "there are people out there who have it worse."

The message I and many others who struggle with depression and anxiety disorders receive is, 'if you just tried feeling better you'd be fine.' That is not how mental illness works. It would be like telling someone with a missing limb to, 'just grow another one.'

The messages those of us who struggle, with depression and anxiety, receive make it nearly impossible get the help we need because of the shame associated with these disorders. I did not reach out for help until I was in my mid-20s. I was driving to work and there was a large creek by the road. During a moment I will never forget, I struggled to not drive into the creek and end it, but there was water in the creek that day and I heard drowning was a horrible way to go. So I drove to work, told my boss and thankfully he understood what I felt and got me the help I needed.

Sadly, no quick fixes exist. I spent nearly a decade learning to manage my depression through medication, therapy and developing a routine that keeps me stable. At the time, I did not know that depression has two main causes, situational/environmental or physical/biological. For some, depression and anxiety can be caused by the situations life throws at us and requires therapy to learn to process and cope with the situation in a healthy way. At times situational depression requires medication for a short period of time, allowing the individual to become functional long enough to work through their environmental cause and then being weened off the medication.

On the other hand, and after months of tests, medical appointments and therapy, I discovered that the cause of my depression is physical. For reasons unknown, my brain does not produce or regulate chemicals properly. Meaning that I will most likely be on medication for the rest of my life. A fact that took me quite some time to accept and be okay with. Especially as a pastor, I felt the stigma attached to mental health medications. I had to overcome the narrative that having a mental illness means I am lacking spiritually. For several years I hid my depression and my medication from everyone, save for my doctors, boss and a few close friends. But, that choice only fed the stigma related to mental illness and the need for medications. Stigmas cannot be overcome and people will not feel safe enough to reach out for help unless we begin to be open about our issues and struggles.

For those reasons, I try to be an open book about my continued struggles with depression, the medication I use to manage it and the therapist who guides me through it.

My encouragement to those who struggle with depression and anxiety is to reach out for help. Our Tehachapi community is blessed to have many quality therapists. Here at Cornerstone we have therapists and a pastoral counselor who can help. If you are struggling today, don't hesitate to reach out and we will work to find you the help you need. Give us a call at (661) 750-0438. Cornerstone is located at 410 W. J St., Unit A, in Tehachapi.


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