I’m not an expert in depression. If I was, I would hope that I would have my treatment figured out by now. This is a tough one to write. Not because I’m necessarily embarrassed by the stigma associated with depression, but because once you write it out it highlights what a frustrating rollercoaster it can be.
Talking to people who have never experienced it, feels like standing at the edge of the ocean with someone telling you you have to swim across, knowing the impossibility. How do you perfectly articulate the feeling, the experience, the journey?
I’m writing this for the people out there who have had or currently struggle with depression, for the ones who have it managed and for the ones who don’t, and the ones who think this is something they struggle with – but continue to push it aside.
Looking back, I think it was something I struggled with starting early in college. I can see the symptoms now, the isolation, the anxiety attacks, the random mood swings with no explanation. But it peaked three years ago after we moved to Seymour. As my lifeline tells me – I checked an enormous amount of the “life stressor boxes” in a small amount of time. New job, new town, newborn, 18 month old twins. It was a rapid, and somewhat unwanted change. I’ve always said that I tend to push it off through keeping busy. When I’m going constantly, I don’t have a lot of time to think about it, my mind is preoccupied. But it finds its way, and creeps back in.
I started medication and after lots of personal struggle that year, felt like it finally helped. A year after starting it I stopped due to “feeling fixed”. I didn’t want to be on pills forever, to be dependent on something other than myself. That’s only what the really depressed people do I thought, and I’m just temporarily depressed. (To elaborate here I have had several people confide that they struggle continuously, and others who just have situational depression, there are in fact variations).
Several months after stopping the medication I felt symptoms again, so I jumped into my own business, again preoccupying any open mental space I had. Later that year my dad died, and I expected it to trigger me into a downward spiral immediately. I felt accomplished that the grief overwhelmed me, but the constant depression seemed temporarily at rest. And I had something severe to blame the sadness on, of course I was overwhelmed and depressed, I lost my dad. It was a blanket to hide under.
About 6 months ago it returned on a more daily basis. The cloud. The not being able to shake the weight. The bailing out of things I typically enjoy to stay home more, when honestly the house can be a suffocating trap. Random anxiety attacks at unprovoked times. Feeling trapped and unmotivated, not having much to look forward to. Struggling to get through my days at home with the kids.
Thoughts of guilt, anger, and frustration that I wasn’t my healthiest piled up. The feeling of having a suffocating life regardless of the fact that you love your husband, your family, your job, and have a clear perspective of how overly blessed you are made me feel disappointed in myself.
I workout a lot. I take care of myself the best I can. I do things I love. I take breaks. I write. I pray. I believe in God. Why are all those things not quite enough?
There is not a perfect fix. It’s not a one size fits all solution. It is different for every person. It is messy, and extremely complex.
Something my counselor mentioned awhile back that clicked was “people who are genetically predisposed to, or in general suffer from high cholesterol can’t always control it. They are prescribed management medication knowing they will probably be on it indefinitely. They don’t feel guilty asking for and receiving help. Why isn’t mental health the same?”
It isn’t something you choose. And I wish it was something that we could choose away. It can be a burden. Not just for me, but for my family. I have awesome support from others who understand, and have been my crutch when I’ve felt completely over my head. (I will add I have never had thoughts of suicide, but that is a serious component for some through depression, and should not be taken lightly).
It takes a large amount of vulnerability to talk to others about it. Less from embarrassment and more due to having to thoroughly explain it and feel like I have to present a reason for what “caused” it. I can’t always label what triggers it more significantly at certain times than others, and I have not found the perfect solution for what combats it when it is at its worst. I think it can be different every time, helpful right?
Not having control is frustrating. All the control freak personalities like myself are saying AMEN! And though I am typically very emotionally open, this has been one of the things that has been most difficult in my life to explain and properly communicate.
I am still experimenting to find a medication that works best for me. I am using people who have previously and currently struggle with depression for support and encouragement. I am talking more openly with my husband about it. And I know that although it may always be something that’s there, I have a lot of support and options. Let me repeat that, THERE IS A LOT OF SUPPORT AND OPTIONS. No one is too deep to be helped. No one is immune, (no not even Christians who believe in God and pray, yes – people have told me not doing enough of that is my problem before). I love Jesus, but He hasn’t taken my crazy away. Just saying.
No one deserves depression.
I hope this reaches out to someone who needs to hear it. I hope it encourages people to turn to somebody they can trust and tell them what they’re struggling with. I pray those turned to are accepting, sympathetic, and willing to help. If they’re not, go to someone else. Keep going until you find someone to help. Don’t just talk about it though, do something. Go see your doctor, find a good counselor, and start taking care of yourself immediately. You are absolutely worth being at your best, whatever it takes. I want to support others, not judge. If you need someone to talk to about this who can sit, listen, and relate, please feel comfortable to reach out!
Also-I have a wonderful recommendation for a counselor in Wichita Falls. And I know a pretty awesome family practitioner who starts in Seymour next week :).
This link is a great resource for websites to educate, support, and help those suffering from depression: