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!