By: Schatzie Brunner

It was the spring of 1975. I had been living in New York City for six years as a PR executive. I was at a cocktail party at a friend’s Fifth Avenue penthouse, enjoying a conversation with the publisher of The Wall Street Journal, trying to be as knowledgeable and erudite as he seemed to be.

Then in mid-sentence (I have no idea what I was talking about), I began to cry, which turned to sobs I could not contain.

My date, Bob, quickly escorted me to a nearby bedroom to try and help me relax and catch my breath. But I kept crying. In fact, I could not stop crying. Bob made our excuses, and we got into a cab headed for my apartment. I distinctly remember Bob asking me, “Are you having a nervous breakdown?” I couldn’t answer him at the time, but that was precisely what was happening. I continued to cry for the next five days and experienced the relentless physical pain of sleeplessness. It was torture.

That was 43 years ago. I have been medicated since then and on a journey to recovery—sometimes excruciating, sometimes enlightening, but always moving forward and proactively seeking help and healing. As I continue my journey, I am now committed to helping others get help long before they find themselves in a similar dark place.

Back then, what I had not realized was how long I had been struggling emotionally. Yet if someone would have pointed this out to me, I know, I would have laughed it off as a ridiculous joke, no matter how well-intentioned that person might have been.

My “don’t-worry-I-can-handle-it” mentality didn’t work then, and I promise, it never works.

Just as I firmly believed I was A-OK, there still was a nagging doubt or two that periodically occurred to me: life had changed, and maybe I wasn’t really OK.

I later realized that my inner-voice—you know that voice that talks to you all the time—was a constant stream of self-hate and criticism. That was the voice I had been living with, quietly haunting me on some unconscious level for years, never thinking that wasn’t everyone’s reality.

If you have had or currently have any version of thinking or self-talk that resembles what I’ve described, please take this Depression Assessment. This is a free and confidential questionnaire, offered on my non-profit’s website, New Way Now, that can tell you what level of depression you may be struggling with, and where to find help.

It’s critical to understand that only you can reach out for help. Even if you have no idea what form of support you need—do something. If family, friends, or others in your life have repeatedly asked, “Is everything OK?” lately, or you have a vague sense that things aren’t OK, it is up to you to reach out.

If your inner voice isn’t continually reminding you of your unique gifts and accomplishments, make sure you know how to recognize depression symptoms. And if you or a loved one is questioning whether you’re suffering from depression, please take New Way Now‘s free Depression Assessment.

My breaking point at that cocktail party in ’75 was a turning point in my life, and I chose to reach out and get help. I encourage you to do the same, or if you know anyone that is struggling, please be supportive in their effort to get help.