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!