Thursday, September 20, 2012

Changing Subjects

Talking about depression…is too depressing right now.

Hello, lovelies! There have been no outcries or hostile messages in regards to my blog abandonment, so I take this as a good sign…a sign that there have been no tailspins or withdrawals from my lack of “lectures” on the subject of depression ;)  To give the briefest summary I can possibly give in somewhat of a run on sentence, I will say that my depression got way way…way out of control, and it took a long long…long time to get my head on straight…and then a settling period had to take place which resulted in a separation of myself from anything practical or productive…like a zombie being cured and not quite knowing exactly how to function properly for a while. I hate zombies. I can’t believe I just used that analogy. But I really really…really hate zombies. Anywho! That is what happened!

I really don’t have the energy to explain it further than that right now, but I will eventually because I feel like I need to keep talking about it…depression NEEDS to be discussed. I just can’t do it right now.

So! I’ve got lots of things to share…I hope that y’all will enjoy my subject change for a while, and I hope to maybe reach a broader audience…get this blog out there to the masses…get paid to blog…become rich…oh I’m sorry…I was doing some free writing J

Okay! See y’all again soon! Hugs and love!

Burning for Answers

pencil on paper 2001 

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

A Dilemma With Depression

My doctor’s appointment is tomorrow morning to see about new medicines to treat my depression. I was on Zoloft most recently, and it made me feel terrible!!! So when I stopped taking it, I had some time where I felt so much better…and then I was really keeping myself busy with exercise, chores, and art projects…I could literally “feel” my depression underneath the surface…like a sense of this imbalance…and I was dreading when I might start feeling the symptoms more intensely…hoping that I would get to the doctor before it got out of control. It is so important to stay on your medicine when you’re being treated for depression…your doctor needs to be the one to help you transition to another medicine or off the medicine all together. I told y’all before that I went about this the wrong way personally…I stopped taking my medicine before talking to my doctor. This was definitely the wrong thing to do and could have potentially been dangerous. I’m lucky that I’ve been okay, but the last few days have been another story. I could feel myself losing my grip…it’s like starting to slide without being able to stop…and then hitting a wall! I hit the wall today.

Sometimes there are moments or situations in our lives that act as a sort of trigger that cause us to lose that stability…even with medicines or alternative treatments. Sometimes something happens that causes us to feel those symptoms of depression a little more intensely than what we’re use to feeling when we’re being treated. It’s just a part of living with this condition! If you think about it, anyone living with a medical condition, and being treated, will still have days when they experience symptoms of their medical conditions. My trigger has been exhaustion! My husband has been gone on underway for more than a week, and this always messes up my ability to get an adequate amount of sleep…mostly because of our 1 year old puppy. It takes more energy and attention with him when my husband isn’t here to help. I feel silly talking about this given than we don’t have children…but a puppy is still like a child to me…I have another living creature I have to take care of! Lack of sleep Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday night caused a break down today. I spent most of the day crying for no apparent reason…and I couldn’t stop! I also wanted to just scream at the dog, curl in a ball and sleep, and eat junk food…I couldn’t shake the deep sense of sadness all day. Depression just sucks…simple as that…and today has been a sucky suck day…yes…sucky suck. I took a two hour nap and ate a hamburger and fries…I also received a very brief phone call from my husband…all of these things made me feel a little better today. So I decided it was time to share my college paper with y’all!

I wrote this paper earlier in the semester, and I edited it later for my portfolio in the class…it was a freshman level English class I took my sophomore year (my freshman year was focused on math and science classes due to my major before changing it for my sophomore year…just so y’all know). I was really proud of this paper…it was written only a year and a few months after my diagnosis with clinical depression. Luckily for me, I never went through a period of time when I didn’t feel like it was something I couldn’t talk about. There was a time when I didn’t understand it and a time when I didn’t want to acknowledge it, but I always knew that my mama was there to help and support me with whatever was going on in my life! So I believe that when I finally opened up about everything to my mama and went to the doctor, I had accepted the condition as a part of my life (even if I did spend years on and off my medicine like I told y’all before). Writing about it then was a way for me to research it and share it with my classmates hoping to shed some light on anyone who was questioning the possibility of depression in their lives. I’m going to share my summary about the paper…this was a way for us to identify our audience and keep our minds open to the varied opinions we would receive on our topics in that class. There are notes on my paper from my professor as well, so periodically you will see parenthesis and italics where I will clarify or amend something from my original paper. My hope in sharing this paper with you all is that you will see that after almost 10 years since I wrote it, the same symptoms and thoughts are still relevant today…it is a war with the same battles over and over…but every victory means something, and those of us with depression are just going to have to keep fighting! DON’T GIVE UP!

A Dilemma With Depression

My audience is anyone interested in depression on a level that can be easily understood by anyone. Doctors, nurses or anyone in the medical field might notice the lack of professional terminology, but they will understand the symptoms of depression and how they affect their patients’ lives. The audience can be seen as a worldwide audience except for the fact that a statistic specific to the U.S.A. is used and except for the lack of any mention of worldwide issues that may cause depression.

I hate this feeling. I can’t control it. It plagues me like an infinite time of darkness. But, this feeling isn’t present all the time, and the darkness isn’t infinite; however, I’m always aware that it’s somewhere inside. Despite the medication and support, the depression is there. It’s a clinical diagnosis; it’s one that is hereditary and unavoidable, it seems. People look at me, and they hear this story, and it doesn’t make sense to them. “She’s always so happy. There’s no way that this girl could be depressed!” We that are depressed are either really good at covering the illness up, or we can’t help but show it. No one knew that there were times when I would curl up tight in a ball at night and wonder about the most painless ways I could kill myself. No one saw behind my eyes that need to escape the endless mood swings and feeling of little control. But, it was there. As I write this paper, I wonder how free it would feel just to let go of life. You read this and you either feel a distant pity, or you want to reach out to me. You may be clinically diagnosed with depression. You may know someone who is. In general, I am a positive, open-minded, outgoing, and optimistic woman. Why am I depressed? Maybe knowing the facts and the sources will offer some kind of hope or help to those of us who are depressed and can’t seem to understand why!

“Sometimes depression seems to happen because of a stressful event. Sometimes it seems to happen for no reason at all. Today, it is widely recognized that depression is a medical condition that may be associated with an imbalance in the delicate chemistry of the brain. It is thought not having enough of a brain chemical called serotonin may play a role in depression.” (Zoloft) I visited four web sites, and they all said the same thing. I’ve always heard these kinds of statements, and I’ve always accepted them with a strong conviction. It makes sense. But, no one can walk into a doctor’s office and say that losing their job, a loved one, or something as emotionally draining has caused them to have depression (I mean that yes these situations can cause depression, but a doctor must diagnose clinical depression). It would be even more ridiculous to approach a doctor saying, “You know, I really think the neurons firing around in my brain are just a little off balance. I think I’m depressed.” Neither of these scenarios would work. A doctor has to hear about your symptoms, and then tell you if you are clinically cursed or currently experiencing an unpleasant part of life at the moment. These were my symptoms, and these are just a few of the common symptoms of depression: “Persistent sad, anxious, or ‘empty’ mood; insomnia, early-morning awakening, or oversleeping; decreased energy, fatigue, being ‘slowed down;’ thoughts of death or suicide attempts; difficulty concentrating, remembering, making decisions; and persistent physical symptoms that do not respond to treatment, such as headaches, digestive disorders, and chronic pain.” (Depression Alliance) These symptoms are experienced on the down days, and the days that I am feeling good are still haunted by the question of when the next down day will occur.

My doctor in Oklahoma, the doctors I’ve seen in this little college town, Lamoni, and my neurologist up in Des Moines, say that I’m depressed. There are many different types of depression; some of these are Major Depression, Dysthymia, and Adjustment Disorder with Depressed Mood, and each has its own diagnostic criteria. Luckily, my own depression doesn’t seem to be as severe and just scanning over the symptoms of these major depressions make me shudder (My recent research indicates that “Major Depression” encompasses a variety of different types of depression. I’m not sure how I grouped that particular one here because clinical depression was listed as part of the definition. Huh!). Check out for the many symptoms of these types. “Depression comes in many forms and in many degrees.” (Depression Alliance) (My professor wanted me to elaborate more on this point, but I’ll do that later on or leave it up to y’all to look up!) With this in mind, doctors have to prescribe the appropriate kind of treatment for each patient’s case. There are antidepressants, cognitive behavior therapy, interpersonal therapy, and problem solving therapy. (Treatments for Depression) In extreme cases electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is needed (My professor asked if this was still controversial. The answer then and today is still yes! Dr. Oz just had a show about it, but I didn’t catch it. If you want more info, I recommend Google, but it still scares the crap out of me!). It’s important to find which treatment will provide the most help. Knowing if you’re depressed or not requires personal reflection because unless someone else notices, we may be living our lives with a controllable illness that we don’t realize is present (like missing out on living life to the fullest!). Too many bad days can add up! I had to figure out why I wasn’t the same person for so long, which in turn led me to speculate depression. My mom saw it too because she had been there and still is today, so together we made the mature and responsible decision to seek help.

I’ve lost loved ones. My heart was broken by a boy I loved dearly. The path of my life seemed to go nowhere for so long. School was stressful. Did these things cause my depression? Am I depressed because it was bound to happen due to heredity? Why am I depressed? I’ve researched this topic, and I’ve learned things I all ready had a vague understanding of. I’ve talked with people before about depression and the ways they overcame it. I take medicine now, and the day s I feel down I reflect on what may be causing them. People who are depressed search for the source of their medical illness, and they try to find ways to escape the sadness and frustration. We look to facts about symptoms and treatments, and we take comfort in knowing the little pieces, like how one in every six Americans will experience depression in their lives. (Zoloft) We know that we are not alone. But, how do these facts, statistics, lists, opinions, and new insights help us understand our depression? They don’t. Scientifically, it all comes down to an imbalance of firing neurons in our heads (This statement is a little too simple. I can’t say that it “all” comes to an imbalance of chemicals in the brain…science is still researching depression to this day). We’ve seen the commercial with the bouncing smiley face that isn’t so smiley! It all happens in the brain. However, understanding why just doesn’t seem to offer any comfort. Let’s receive the treatment, and let’s try to be optimistic. Let’s not ask why, but instead let’s ask how to continue overcoming depression. Let’s take the facts and throw them away as soon as we know that we have the right stuff to make us better. Let’s be there for one another and help those who will come to be in our shoes someday.

Depression Alliance: Frequently Asked Questions – Symptoms

Treatments for Depression


When I read this, I actually feel a little proud of myself. I was 20 years old then, and I’ll be 30 this year. Then and now, I was rallying people to fight this illness…and it’s even more important to me now because I’ve only recently learned that so many people are afraid to approach this medical condition and the treatments available. I think I have 2, 3, or maybe 4 more posts to cover everything else I want to say about depression. There are different types of depression and different treatments to consider…and there are things like exercise, diet, meditation, and prayer that are helpful as well. Depression isn’t black and white…it’s a lot more complicated and involved. After reading this paper, I am even more fired up for the battle with this illness! I’ve been fighting it for more than a decade…and I’m only getting stronger. It’s time for all of us to get our war paint on!

Monday, January 30, 2012

My Fight With Depression

So we’ve broken the silence. We’ve decided that we can talk openly about depression…it’s nothing shameful…it’s nothing we can just “get through.” Right? Right? Y’all agree don’t you? I’m going to assume that I’ve been met with a resounding and enthusiastic “Yes!” You should be feeling better…simply based on the fact that you shouldn’t be feeling alone…you should understand the support that is out in this world. I’m your biggest supporter too…I’m here to listen and talk it out. So now that we all agree! … Of course, y’all know I’m kidding…you might not be on my band wagon yet, but I have hope that you’ll hop on soon enough. Just remember IT’S A PROCESS and DON’T GIVE UP! Let me share my story as briefly as I can!

I believe that I probably started experiencing the symptoms of depression when I was about 14 or 15 years old. I had a harder time dealing with my feelings concerning conflicts and upsets and let downs…the sadness was overwhelming. I was always kind of an odd child…I guess to put it simply, I never felt like I fit in…like I was always an outsider. So, as I reflect on this time in my life, I probably never thought to question my feelings because I may have just accepted them as the weirdness that I felt like I was. Hey, I was okay with my weirdness haha;) It wasn’t until I got older that I started having suicidal thoughts…and of course I knew that this was not normal! But still…it wasn’t until I was 19 that I knew I had to do something, and so I began talking to my mama about it. One morning I stayed in bed crying and crying and crying…mama came into my room and asked what was wrong…I didn’t know…I just didn’t want to get up. She made an appointment with a doctor right away! Based on my family history, my symptoms, and recollections over my life up to that point, I was diagnosed as being clinically depressed…a true medical condition rather than a temporary condition. I could go on with a lot of little details from this point on, but to fast forward a little bit…I started on anti depressants and saw a psychiatrist. The psychiatrist was short lived because he had a very patronizing attitude towards me and blamed everything on me being a teenager and being in college. The medicine was the biggest challenge…and if you visit with people who’ve been battling depression for some time, you’ll almost always hear a tale of the process to find the right medicine! This was my biggest frustration! For the next 8 years, I switched medicines 7 times and went through periods of time of not taking my pills…I thought I didn’t need them during those times…and I would feel fine for a while until I didn’t any more. My mama always knew when I was going through a down time…all she had to do was ask, “Are you feeling ok?” And I would break down in tears…and she would lecture me on the importance of taking my medicine. “Amy, depression is a medical condition. You have to treat it as a medical condition. Just because a heart patient or an asthma patient might be feeling well, doesn’t mean they can just stop taking their medicines. You have to take your medicine…you have to keep yourself stable.” After years and years of this lecture and years and years of major ups and downs, I finally understood what my mama was saying…and I started back on my medicine and I’ve stuck with it for the last 2 years or so. My insurance has changed and so for the last few months, I’ve been trying to start on a new medicine that will be completely covered. So I’m going through the frustrating process again…it is so hard…

When I’m down, I have to make myself get out of bed…if I didn’t have a dog to take care of, I would probably stay in bed all day. If I didn’t have to worry about how my husband might perceive me, I wouldn’t make the effort to put make up on or dress in something besides stretchy pants and t-shirts…I wouldn’t cook meals. If I didn’t have a dependent dog and a hard working husband, I would have to fight the desire to just wallow! Depression is crushing…not only are things slow and dark and dismal inside, there are physical aches and fatigue…a genuine feeling of hopeless despondence. It does not matter how good your life is…everything is going great…no problems or nothing major anyway…being clinically depressed means dealing with sadness, loss of interest, fatigue, aches, and all the other symptoms without any obvious reason…it’s just a part of the everyday! When I’m on my medicine, I don’t have to go through that all the time…there are still down days…but they are easier to get through…the medicine makes me feel more stable! And there is NOTHING wrong with being on medicine…like I said…clinical depression is a medical condition…medical conditions need treatment! Right now I’m waiting on a doctor’s appointment to see about trying a new medicine…Zoloft did not work for me. DON’T GIVE UP. So I’m going back and seeking other options…it’s just a part of the process. I think that because I’ve been fighting this condition for so many years, that I can handle it a little better because I know that I will come out on the other end of this feeling stable and functional again!

I’m exercising and eating healthier…I don’t drink soda and limit the amount of caffeine I consume…just the occasional couple of cups of coffee;) I pray and try to meditate as much as I can with a hyper dog always around! I try to stay busy with projects and plans. I make an active effort to not let my depression ruin my days…it is work…hard work!

I want to point out my most recent mistake…I shouldn’t have waited until I was out of my Zoloft to make an appointment. I know that most times you have to give new medicine a while to start taking effect in the body. But the Zoloft was actually making me feel worse, and I made the decision to change my dose time to see if that would help…when I made that decision, I should have immediately called my doctor so that she would know the medicine wasn’t working…so that I could see her before I ran out of the medicine, and so that she could decide the healthiest course for me to take. I messed up. When a medicine is making you feel worse, don’t try and figure out a solution yourself, call your doctor. Rookie mistake! Sheesh! At least I can share with you that living with depression is about learning as you go! Oh! One other thing I feel like is crucial to share…others have recently shared the same feeling…

I feel completely crazy inside my head! Depression left untreated can seriously make you feel crazy! But it’s a crazy you keep to yourself…until you’re visiting with a friend and one of you admits it and the other one exclaims, “Oh my gosh me toooooo!!!” Now I can’t explain a safe crazy and an unsafe crazy…my crazy is a safe crazy because I know I’m feeling the way I feel because of my depression…but it can still be debilitating! I just wanted y’all to know that in case you’re feeling that safe crazy too…if you think you’re crazy may be unsafe…get off your butt and call your doctor. Y’all safe crazies need to call your doctors too!

So! My appointment is February 9th. When is your appointment? What steps to treatment are you taking?
I’ll share my college paper next…I just read it again after 10 years since I wrote it…I think y’all might find it educational!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Breaking the Silence & "Shame Shame Shame"


PubMed Health says:  “Depression may be described as feeling sad, blue, unhappy, miserable, or down in the dumps. Most of us feel this way at one time or another for short periods. True clinical depression is a mood disorder in which feelings of sadness, loss, anger, or frustration interfere with every day life or longer.”

WebMD says:  “When you have depression, it’s more than feeling sad. Intense feelings of sadness and other symptoms, like losing interest in things you enjoy, may last for a while. Depression is a medical illness, not a sign of weakness. And it’s treatable.”

I will be referencing to the information I gather on these two sites throughout this series of entries on the topic of depression. I don’t want to make this like a research paper and bombard y’all with references…so! If you are interested in where the information is coming from more specifically, just google “depression” and links to PubMed and WebMD will be at the top of the page!

I’ve got a rough outline so far of how I’m going to talk about this with y’all…I kind of scribbled it down pretty quickly because I was eager to start discussing this! Definitely not an outline my college self would have been happy with lol:) I’m going to go ahead and kind of let y’all know how it’s going to play out…but it’s subject to change…and please forgive the roughness of the outline!

*My story (in summary)
*College paper
*Are you depressed? (clinical, temporary, family history, etc.)
*Doctor and treatment (meds, alternative treatment, lifestyle, etc.)
*Stopped treatment and feeling depressed again
*Living with depression

Like I said…kind of rough! Throughout this entire thing, something I’m going to emphasize over and over is this: IT’S A PROCESS!  Everything about depression from asking the questions to receiving the diagnosis to seeking treatment and every little step and moment in between is a process. The key, and something else I will emphasize over and over is this: DON’T GIVE UP!

"Shame Shame Shame"

I wanted to share this drawing because I feel like maybe this is how people feel about depression. I was inspired to share my thoughts, stories, and experiences about and with depression because of some recent discussions I’ve had. What started these discussions was an approach that started kind of like, “I need to talk to someone and I don’t know who to talk to.” Or “I am not good about talking about this with anyone…it’s hard for me to open up.” Or “I don’t know what others will think if I talk about this with them.” These aren’t direct quotes but rather a general summary of how we started talking about depression. I never felt like any of these people felt ashamed…but I wondered if maybe there was a subconscious feeling that neither the person nor anyone has ever been aware of with this medical condition! I also thought to share this drawing because of the sadness that I felt when I created it…my shame came from other actions that came from depression…but not depression itself. However, I wanted to have a visual for y’all of the depth of sadness that comes with depression…the feeling of solitude inside one’s self…the feeling of drowning in one’s own tears. As a person with depression, if you keep that inside you and don’t seek help…even if just starting a conversation with a friend…it will get worse and worse! My thought for today is this: BREAK YOUR SILENCE! Emerge from that solitude and lost place inside your mind and confront what you are feeling as the possibility of a medical condition! There is also the possibility that what you are feeling is temporary rather than clinical…but you still have to talk about it…you mustn’t keep it locked up. Whether it’s clinical or not, you cannot just “get through it!” You will have to seek help and treatment and again IT’S A PROCESS but DON’T GIVE UP!

I don’t want this first entry to get too long and wordy, so I’m going to begin wrapping it up. Next time I will tell you more about my own story and share a paper I wrote in college. Please don’t wait on me to write this all out if you are questioning whether or not you are depressed. Go ahead and call your doctor…start your journey towards treatment and feeling better…look to me as someone on the path with you. We are all in this together! As I continue writing about this medical condition, hopefully we’ll all learn something and feel motivated to take a proactive approach to depression. And remember:




Monday, January 23, 2012

Restoration and Black Hole Sun

this is my most recent project...i've been working on it for a month now...not steadily but rather on and off. i guess i wasn't feeling inspired for a while there. i was more preoccupied with stress over finding a job and preparing for my husband's deployment. however, a lot of changes in plans have developed! i will be moving to my home state during tom's deployment, and because of this, i won't be looking for a job until i'm settled back in out in oklahoma. so! my only stress now is getting ready to put our things in storage...and of course...still preparing for deployment...being separated from my best friend and love of my life for almost all of the second year of our marriage. sniffle. such is the military life. gotta suck it up!

so i'm back on track with my art! feeling inspired once more and feeling that intangible need to create!  part of this rejuvenation also comes with my new goals and personal determination to better myself. so let's deviate there for a bit before i go more in depth about this new piece...

i feel so ugly and gross. i feel like this body is not my it all of sudden got so much older and more pathetic. it's been really really...really hard. there are other reasons for this inner perception i possess, but i can't really talk about them here. fortunately, i believe that i've finally made it to a breaking point...a point where if i don't turn it around...i'm only going to get worse and worse. i use to be so fit and healthy...limitless energy! now i'm uncomfortable in this body...this body limits everything...this body keeps me from being the person i use to be. and i've been whining about it for a long time...every now and then starting new exercise routines or sticking with healthy eating habits...only to fall off the wagon or lose a grip on the dedication. not this time! it's been about 3 weeks now that i've been working out and eating better...and i've been pushing myself hard this time and even through pain and hunger and fatigue! i know with complete certainty that i am going to reclaim my former self this time...and i will be better than i've ever been!

so this's been a part of this personal restoration...i've been channeling memories of how good i use to feel in to this drawing...summer time memories and lake memories! memories of a time when i was young and healthy and had the world at my feet. as i've been drawing this i've had some song lyrics stuck in my head...

"black hole sun, won't you come and wash away the rain? black hole sun, won't  you come? won't you come?" (sound garden) of course the rest of the song doesn't necessarily fit with this drawing haha...but this particular part is somewhat fitting! i'm reflecting on the past...wishing for the sun in a sense of new light and...wash away the rain in a sense of ridding the gloom. make sense? this drawing is going to be a whole page of color and somewhat psychedelic's going to be vibrant and vivid. vibrant and vivid...that's how i want to feel too!