Tuesday, November 15, 2011

It is not a form of insanity...

I want to tell you something revealing about me.  There was a time in my life when I was clinically depressed.  It was the worst time of my life.  Everything was dark in my mind.  I had feelings only of profound sadness, complete and utter worthlessness, and fear.  I felt I didn't deserve to be alive and that the rest of the world would be better off without me.  I did not, however, formulate any plans for doing away with myself.  I suppose I wasn't completely dead inside.  Somewhere deep down, my inner self was struggling for some light.

There are those who, first of all, just don't understand what depression does to a person.  They think you should just get over it and cheer up.  Like it's easy to do that.  When you're in a deep abyss with no means of egress, there is no "up," cheering or otherwise. 

I wasn't an idiot about it.  I knew that it was a physical problem and that it was fixable.  I just didn't know how long it would take.  I went to my doctor and told her the situation.  I didn't have to be diagnosed by her; I knew for a fact that I was depressed.  She prescribed meds.  I took them.  The side effects were almost as bad as the depression.  So I went back.  She prescribed other meds.  Same deal.  So I went back.  Then she referred me to a psychiatrist.  He and I talked and he gave me an intelligence test.  (Don't know what that was for, but I went along.)  Then he left his office for a minute and came back with samples of some meds (one for depression and one for anxiety, depression's constant companion), handed them to me and said that anyone as intelligent as I could figure out how to take them.  Well, it was written right there on the packaging.

Things got a little better.  It took weeks, though, before I felt better.  After a while I was not as afraid of the world outside our house.  We started doing things.  I went back to my night class.  I drove by myself.  But I could still feel the pressure of depression.  I began to despair that I would never again be able to forget the sadness, worthlessness, and fear.  I realized during all this that depression had been creeping up on me for most of my life before it hit full-force.  I also found out that depression can run in families.

And then Richard found out that we were going to have to move.  I was against it.  I became disengaged from the process of preparing, packing up, and moving.  But I did it anyway, though I felt like a zombie.

The worst of it happened years ago.  After a while (and after we had moved), I thought I was over it and I weaned myself off the meds.  I was okay with that for a while, but then it started to creep back into my life.  I waited a little longer than I should, but I finally took some action.  I got more counseling and more meds.  I'm a little disappointed that I can't get rid of the depression and anxiety without the drugs, but after a while, I started having little nanoseconds of actual happiness.

They were few and far between, but these moments started coming more and more frequently and lasting longer than a nanosecond.  I will be a slave to the meds for the rest of my life, but I remember and once again know happiness.  I feel it.  I'm strong.  I can approach people I don't know at a party or meeting and start a conversation.  I'm happy about my advancing age.  I fought long and hard to get here.  Now I want to live forever -- or at least as long as my long-lived grandparents. 

Depression is caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain.  The meds provide the balance.  There is always hope.


Donna said...

I hear you, Marie. I've been on meds for nearly 20 years After lots of trials with meds that were worse than depression, I've been happy on Welbutrin (the old-fashioned kind, not the time release, which made me CRAZY) for about a dozen of those years. I know I could live without them, but why? With them, I can be happy and confident. Without them, I'm lethargic and dour.

Janice said...

Well said my friend. I myself have gone through similar times..several times in my life. I loved my drugs. But somewhere along the way I ran out or forgot to take them. So I must be better. :). Thank you for revealing yourself. You know I love you and we need to get together! 40 years is way to long.

Bridget said...

This post should be required reading for anyone who thinks it's so simple as "feel better." I've had the same experiences as you have. My sister had a friend who was so depressed, she committed suicide, and my sister still thinks the friend didn't "try hard enough."


TheUnSoccerMom said...

Unfortunately, there are many people out there who criticize those on meds for chemical imbalances. and I hate to say that many of those people are Christians. But I have a way to hush my fellow Christians up for being ignorant. God gave those Doctors and scientists the ability to create those meds to help with the chemical imbalance.

So happy you have found your combination that helps you. Life is too short to not be happy. ((HUGS))