I am going to talk about a subject that people don’t like to talk about. They would like to pretend it doesn’t exist or maybe they really don’t believe it DOES exist. Depression (and other mental illnesses) still carry a stigma in our society. The reality is that 20% of Americans will deal with at least one depressive episode in their lives, and women have a higher depression rate than men. Think about it in these proportions: if you have 10 women in a room, 2 to 3 of those have dealt with, or will deal with, depression personally. So, we can’t ignore it. We NEED to talk about it more so that those who are dealing with depression won’t feel so alone and ostracized (if they actually let it be known they are suffering), and to educate the women and men who are suffering daily and not realizing it is depression that they are dealing with and that there is help available.
Slowly swallowed by the pit
Let me tell you a little of my story. I have dealt with depression most of my adult life. I know now that my mother (who passed away six years ago) was probably clinically depressed all my life. I have at least two adult daughters who struggle with depression and anxiety. (Depression tends to run in families.) I have been treated in the past, took medication for several years and also participated in therapy through the years.
I suffered a major breakdown in July of 2010. I was under extreme stress and was majorly depressed, but I couldn’t even slow down long enough to realize it. I was put on stronger and multiple medications, started weekly therapy and took a medical leave of absence from my job. Slowly, as the months went by, I began to feel better–MUCH better. So much better that I thought I should try to go off my medications. I really didn’t like the idea of having to take antidepressants and anti-anxiety meds the rest of my life. They had already been reduced, so why not come off of them? I felt almost normal again.
This is where depression will lie to you and play tricks with your mind. I felt better because of the medication. But I listened to that voice telling me that I can handle everything. I had been doing fine, so this should not be a problem. And, I seemed to be doing fine…at first. I was working hard on my writing and my blog, had written and published an e-book, was guest posting and contributing to multiple blogs and had plans for growing my consulting and coaching business.
That was in April of this year. I quit the meds and began taking some natural supplements. And I did okay. For a while. It seemed.
Looking back now, by August, I had begun to slow down. I was not writing as much, not going out as much, and not as active online. And, it continued to get worse. This is where that lie comes in again. Depression can sneak up on you very slowly until you don’t even realize it has you in its clutches.
By mid-September, I went to my doctor with some physical ailments (which I believe now were probably just a manifestation of the depression). He sent me home with some medications for the ailments, but no antidepressant. I continued to sink deeper and deeper. By this time, I was only doing the least I could get by with–writing, cooking, cleaning. I spent a lot of time sleeping and, unfortunately, a lot of time alone, ruminating over and over about how bad I felt. I just had this heavy weight of oppression over me. I literally felt like I weighed 1000 pounds and had no strength to carry that weight.
I never felt suicidal, but I did have some very disturbing thoughts. Here are some of the things that went through my head: “My husband deserves better than this. It is not fair to him to have to deal with me.” Or, “I am good for nothing anymore. I can’t do anything for myself hardly. Will somebody come and make me get out of the bed?” And, “I don’t want to die, but I don’t want to live like this anymore.” I eventually started looking at psychiatric hospitals online. That is when I pulled myself together enough to go see my psychiatrist.
The weight begins to lift
After successfully starting a medication that I had taken previously for several years, by the third day I was amazed at how much better I felt. Even though I was not “cured” or happy, or chipper, I realized that the weight of oppression was lifted. And I became very sad for me, for the woman in pain that I was, that I had let myself suffer for so long, needlessly. I made a decision that week that it was okay by me if I had to stay on medication for the rest of my life. I would never deprive myself of insulin if I were a diabetic or high blood pressure medication if I had high blood pressure. Why would I deny myself the medication that can work to balance the chemicals in my brain and keep me from that painful, dark place that I had slipped into?
I beg of you, if you feel down, stressed, drained, overwhelmed, please don’t rule out that you could be depressed. Go to a doctor, a therapist. Talk to someone.*
If you feel suicidal or thoughts of death, please call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline 800-273-8255.
If you are suffering, PLEASE call your doctor. Or, if you are so numb you don’t care, PLEASE call you doctor.
*I am NOT a medical professional. This is MY story, you must work with your doctor to decide what is best for you!
I won’t tell you that medication is the only answer to depression, or the final answer. There is a lot more work to be done, and I write about it this post: Depressed people need a 12 step program. But for now, I am so glad to feel almost normal. Or should I say almost myself. (What is normal anyway?) And I hope that by sharing this difficult story for the world to see, that I can maybe help someone else find the strength to climb out of the pit.
Some of my other posts on depression:
[author] [author_image timthumb='on']http://www.primeparentsclub.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/40MomsClub-Self-Contributor-Bernice-Wood.jpg
[author_info]About the Author
Regular Contributor Bernice Wood is a mother of 4 young adult kids, plus Nana to 7 grandchildren. After a major life change summer 2010, she began blogging to journal her personal struggles and transition. To help others avoid the pitfalls of stress and burnout and learn to live a more healthy life, she recently launched her new blog at Living the Balanced Life. [/author_info][/author]
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Sites That Link to this Post
- Depression is a Sneaky Little Liar | Living the Balanced Life | November 7, 2011