NORTH TEXAS (CBS 11 NEWS) – “Always, I wanted to feel better,” said Rasalicia Fajardo as she reflected on her more than 20 years of dealing with depression.

Fajardo says she understands first-hand what Robin Williams may have suffered through during bouts of depression.

“I was doing so bad I was not getting up from bed,” she recalled. “I was not taking showers. I was not brushing my teeth. I was just in bed or maybe hiding in my closet crying the whole day.”

Fajardo believed every little problem was somehow crushingly catastrophic in size. Her thoughts were often suicidal and she couldn’t escape the pain.

“Basically, depression hurts,” she said plainly. “Your muscles, your body, you have aches. You have pains. It’s not just emotional. You have pains physically.

Trying to explain further Fajardo said, “Your body hurts. When you have depression all the systems of your body is depressed.”

Fajardo felt alone. But therapists say depression effects tens of thousands of North Texans every year.

“There are more than 200 suicides just in Tarrant County alone,” said Carol Nati, Medical Director at MHMR of Tarrant County. “There, on our 24-hour hotline, we get about 70,000 calls a year to the hotline.”

According to NorthStar Behavioral Health Authority, Dallas County alone had 269 suicides in 2012. Collin, Rockwall, Hunt, Kaufman and Ellis Counties had 124 total suicides that year. Combined, those six counties and Navarro account for 33-percent of the state’s mental health users — and that does not include Tarrant and Denton Counties.

Interestingly experts believe there are many more people who are affected by depression and don’t even know it.

“Depression is an illness, just like high blood pressure and diabetes,” said Fajardo. “The only difference is you can measure high blood pressure with exams. You can measure diabetes. But, you cannot measure mental illness. But it’s an illness.”

Resources to find help are available 24 hours a day from the MHMR of Tarrant County I-Care Call Center at 817-335-3022 or 1-800-866-2465.

Other mental health resources include the NorthStar Behavioral Health Authority and Mental Health America.

(©2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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