I met a man today who asked me my name. Why is that odd? Well, it was the first thing that he said to me. Not thinking anything of it, I replied, “Sonya.” He then said, “Ah..Sonya. In Spanish, that means ‘the dreamer‘.”

I chuckled to myself after he said it. He was spot on. I am indeed that – a dreamer.

I spend countless moments throughout the day dreaming of possibilities. It’s not always about myself. In fact, in most cases, it is about others. I dream of the day when my children will each reach their destiny and fulfill their hopes and desires. I dream of the days when my friends will be able to live comfortably and securely without any troubles or anxieties. I dream of a time when the world will stop being a place of such hatred and condemnation. I am a dreamer.

I am that person that envisions the glass half full. I’m a half-fuller. LOL. I made the t-shirt – glass on the front with the saying, “half full of it.”

I haven’t always been this way. There was a day when depression ruled my every thought and being. I was quick to snap and bite like a rabid dog. I was not at all pleasant to be around or a joy to be with. There was this dark cloud that hovered over me and shadowed my very being. I was miserable and I made my family even more so. My kids and husband walked around me as if on eggshells. At first, I thought it was just a part of “going through the change.” Sure, I knew how to mask it when ever outside the home in the presence of strangers. But in the confines of my own home, I was hell to contend with.

I can say that now, because that’s who I used to be.

All of this came to a shattering halt one day when I was at work. I found myself totally incapacitated. I couldn’t think clearly. I had panic attacks after panic attacks that were relentless. I felt like I was losing my mind and I didn’t know why. Was it just stress? Was I merely exhausted. Why couldn’t I control my thoughts or my rapid heartbeat?

It felt like my heart was going to jump out of my chest. I was in crisis.

I knew NOTHING about depression or how it could manifest itself and rear its ugly head. I didn’t know because it was one of those things that you just didn’t talk about in our community. Sure, there were a few conversations here and there – mostly held in the confines of groups of church folk. I had often heard that depression was one of those illnesses that you could just “pray” away. With this level of ignorance, I found myself very much unprepared to handle something that was very real.

Had it not been for the wisdom of a co-worker (a younger one at that) who had dealt with depression, I shutter to think what could have happened. She insisted that I call my physician IMMEDIATELY.

It was through a diagnostic evaluation that we discovered that this was not a one time occurrence. Throughout the various stages of crisis in my lifetime, I had learned to mask the symptoms just to survive. I learned that depression is indeed an illness. Just like our heart, lungs, liver, kidneys and other organs get sick, so can our brain. And just like those organs, sometimes it requires invasive strategies to heal.

My experience shed a new light on me. It opened my eyes to a whole new world regarding the issue of mental illness. No longer do I think of the images of people walking aimlessly talking to themselves when I hear the term. That’s what the media has taught us to look for. But instead, I am reminded that there are people who look just like me who sometimes need a little help in balancing out what’s inside their head.

I remember my husband attending my follow-up appointment with my doctor after we decided on and began a form of treatment. We both had noticed how much happier I was. I was absolutely radiant and joyful all the time. My husband asked my doctor, “what have you done with my wife?”

He smiled at my husband and replied, “I gave you back the person that she really is.” Amen, doc.

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