It’s very difficult for most of us to be vulnerable to others. Especially, to those who don’t know us well and we’re certain we can trust. With this subject matter, I’m going to go out on a limb, open myself up to you, become susceptible to all of you, and pray at least one someone can be helped, as a result.
Depression is a subject very personal to me. My mother suffered from it causing me to be an adult by the tender age of nine. However, she was diagnosed as cyclic manic depressive. We now call it bi-polar disorder. One day she’d be depressive to the point of suicidal, the next she was on the complete opposite end of the spectrum, laughing at every little thing, up and about to the extent of giving three young children a life of hope. Unfortunately, the hopeful part never lasted long. She attempted suicide several times, in different ways. It deeply affected me. Praise God, the biggest thing it did was taught me to NEVER do that to my loved ones.
When I was twenty-seven, I too, was diagnosed with depression. I was put on medication and it controlled my symptoms. As the years went on I learned I was in the group of clinically depressed. That is the most severe form of depression. When my medicine was no longer working for me, we had to change to something else. I could always feel when my prescription was no longer working for me, I’d let my doctor know, we’d change it up, and off I’d go. I managed very well. In 1998 too many things came at me at the same time and I was no longer coping. I retreated to bed and stayed there for weeks. My husband, at the time, took charge, found a psychiatrist and carried me to her. I spent the next couple years working through the history that took me to such a dark place. Sorting through all my dirty laundry was the best thing I did. Was it easy? Not in the least. Was it necessary? Absolutely!
For all these years, I’ve functioned as anyone else. After so many years, when whatever I’d been prescribed was no longer effective, we just changed my medicine and I’ve been fine. When something bad happened I’d get depressed, but like anyone else. I’d do what anyone else would do. I’d go for a walk, I’d journal, I’d sing and dance to upbeat music, I”d talk it through with a friend. I’d get beyond it. Many years ago I had a doctor who told me the medicine he was changing me to, was the last one I’d ever need and I wouldn’t need to change anymore. Great!
Fast forward to the beginning of this year. I was beginning to feel as I did every time my drugs were no longer working. The doctor I originally had was gone and I had a new doctor. He has the bedside manner of a bedpan. When I saw him in February for a routine follow-up, I strongly considered talking to him about how I was feeling, but as I said, not Dr. Personality. I figured I had to do more to pull myself up and out of all the negative feelings I had. I had to fake it till I’d make it.
As many of you know, my daughter and three granddaughters live with me, I’m helping raise the girls, so even though I’m a grandmother, I’m an active parent with my daughter. I’m engaged and was planning a wedding. I work full time and write novels on the side. Then my fiancé and I decided to start a publishing company. Let’s just add one more thing to my heap of responsibilities. It just about took me under. By April I was in a bad way. It took everything in me to just put one foot in front of the other. The deeper I sunk, the thicker my walls became. I wouldn’t allow anyone in my pit with me. My family said and did loving things, but I couldn’t believe them myself, so I stopped hearing them. I imagined all sorts of things people were saying behind my back, though. Was it reality? Doubtful now that my mind is functioning properly again.
I went back to the doctor. He changed my medication and set me for a follow-up in June. It took me a full month to ween off my old medicine and onto my new. I figured by the end of May I’d be right as rain. Ah, no! What started happening was, I found myself getting angry. Very angry. I thought I could hold on until I revisited the doctor in June. Instead, I got a letter from his office rescheduling my appointment for the end of July. Oh hell no! I knew I’d never make it until then. I’d NEVER had this happen on anything else I’d ever been prescribed. I understood how people went postal. That’s how I was feeling.
I called my doctor, spoke with his nurse and said this wasn’t working. I really needed him to change my prescription. She called me back the next day to tell me Dr. Bedpan said he wouldn’t change it, there was nothing else he could do and I needed to go to a psychiatrist. The hopelessness I felt, at that point, was beyond definition. My fiancé said to go find another doctor. It took me another month to do so.
My family was fantastic, as they tried to insulate me and keep me from doing anything stupid. As I said, my history made me determined not to commit suicide. However, I felt all day every day, if God took me, I’d be out of my misery and would eliminate the misery I saw my loved ones going through, because of me.
Our minds are so powerful. Our bodies are made up of all kinds of chemicals. When those chemicals are out of balance, they seriously affect our mind. My mind was not in a good place and I FOUGHT every day to keep from lashing out from the built up anger I was feeling. By the time I got in to see my new doctor, my father passed away. That almost took me out. I just wanted to give up. I was hurt, angry, restless, either ate too much or didn’t eat, slept fitfully or slept for endless hours. Everything about my life seemed insurmountable. I could see no hope. Let’s add insult to injury and the good living I make in my full time job had no impact anymore. Everything I had was gone and I was in financial ruin. I put everything I had into the company, still owed people and couldn’t make my bills. I saw NO hope.
I saw my new doctor. She walked into the room, introduced herself and said, “How are you today?” I burst into uncontrollable tears. She pulled up her stool and a box of tissues. Once I got myself under control, I explained. Her response, “Well, this isn’t your drug, let’s get that changed.” I about hugged her! She had me stop it that day. There was no weening off it. She just told me to take no more and switched me to a new medication. Happy to say, this works. and I’m on my way back to myself and all the hope in the world.
If you have ever suffered clinical depression, you know it’s so much more than just having the blues. Well-meaning people who try to help, but haven’t ever experienced deep depression, say things like, “It’s just in your mind. You need to change your mind. All you have to do is put on some upbeat music. If you force yourself to get up and dance or sing, you’ll pull yourself out of it.” Thank you for your opinions, but that tells me you have only been depressed not to the severity too many of us experience. If it were that simple, so many of us wouldn’t experience this disease to the point of debilitation. I was actually to a point of such despair, my granddaughter’s prepared themselves for my death. I’ll never allow an unfeeling, insensitive doctor let me to get to that point ever again.
NO one knows your body or mind, better than you. If you’re going through the depths of despair and by doing some of the things I’ve listed all ready, you are not able to pull yourself out of it, please seek professional help. If you’re not sure if it is depression, here are just some of the things that help you identify clinical depression according to the Mayo Clinic and WebMD:
• A depressed mood most of the day, particularly in the morning
• Loss of interest in normal activities and relationships
• Symptoms are present every day for at least two weeks
• Fatigue or loss of energy almost every day
• Feelings of worthlessness or guilt almost every day
• Impaired concentration, indecisiveness
• Insomnia or hypersomnia (excessive sleeping) almost every day
• Markedly diminished interest or pleasure in almost all activities nearly every day
• Restlessness or feeling slowed down
• Recurring thoughts of death or suicide
• Significant weight loss or gain
We, in this era and society, have more mental stimulation and responsibilities than ever before. We don’t allow ourselves to slow down, let alone stop to tend to our mental and physical health. Technology has been able to help make our lives better, but it’s also caused us to be overstimulated and cram more into each day. My prayer for each of you, is to recognize and adjust accordingly. Be disciplined enough to take a break and don’t listen to others. They don’t know you like you do. The world is full of overachievers who end up like we’ll be, eventually. If you are unable to do it alone, please talk to a professional. Suicide is already too prevalent. Your loved ones don’t want to lose you, let alone lose you too soon, unnecessarily. I can say these things because I’m repeating the things said to me for so many months now.
Be healthy and happy and enjoy your life!