Dealing with Depression
Depression and anxiety are something that I have struggled with for many, many years. I’ve always had, what felt to me, like a valid reason for it though. It could be anything from finishing school, getting pregnant one month into marriage, marital problems, money problems, bad jobs, more money problems, medical issues, moving, and on and on. If I was feeling down, I would be able to easily say it was due to one of the above mentioned ‘problems’ and shrug it off. The depression and anxiety would come and go over the years and for a long time I just managed to go with it.
That’s not to say that my life has been so problem ridden that I just couldn’t ever be happy! Everyone has issues. Many of which are exactly the same as the ones I wrote about above. The real problem is me. It’s just taken me until now to actually realize that.
The Breaking Point
I hate taking medicine. I don’t really know why though. I’ve never been a pill abuser and don’t even have someone who is, close to me. I barely take Tylenol for headaches. It’s just how I’ve been. Eventually though, it got to the point where I just couldn’t function anymore. The anxiety was so overwhelming that I spent every waking moment in a state of pure panic. I would wake in the morning and have a few seconds before my brain would kick on and the thoughts would begin assaulting me again. I knew I needed medication, but I was struggling to make it happen.
The hardest part was to make the call to a doctor. That sounds so weird to say now. I was scared, ashamed, and embarrassed. I looked up different therapists in the area and debated for days if I should call. Honestly, my biggest fear was that they would say I was a lunatic and they would commit me. I would be taken from my kids and never see them again. Of course, that thought only fueled my anxiety and worried thoughts. At some point though, even with the fear, I knew I needed help.
I called a few of the therapists on my list and none of them could see me! It was very frustrating! I had pushed through the anxiety of even calling, to then be told no one could see me! Someone recommended that I call a General Practitioner and see if they might give me medication. I called them and they got me in the next day. After a few questions, the Dr. said that I had Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and anxiety. He put me on Zoloft and wanted me to follow up with a therapist that he set up for me.
It took a few weeks for the Zoloft to do its thing, and I can’t say that I love taking the medication every day, but it sure does work! In addition to the medication, I was seeing the therapist and started feeling infinitely better! I was able to live my life again. It felt great. The debilitating anxiety and the obsessive thoughts have since gone, but occasionally the depression still sneaks into my life.
Struggle in Sweden
Last winter I hit a really hard place. I could barely drag myself out of bed to just get my kids to school. It was an internal battle to just smile. I wanted so desperately to have fun with my kids and enjoy my life, but I just couldn’t. Luckily, I have a great family and amazing friends who helped to ever so slowly pull me out of my hole. They may not have always know just how sad I was, or maybe they did, but sometimes just the smallest words of encouragement made the biggest difference.
I tried blaming this bout of depression on the lack of sunshine here in Sweden during the winter months and on some other health issues. I know that lack of sunshine causing depression is a legitimate thing and many people do struggle with it. Who knows, maybe it was a contributor, and maybe the annoying medical issues also added to it. But the simple fact is this isn’t a new experience for me.
The Ultimate Point
As I look around at my life right now I couldn’t ask for more! When life was tough, it was easy to explain it away. Now, I feel like a selfish, spoiled brat for being depressed about anything.
What I would really like to get across though, is that being depressed and having anxiety is a real disease.
If someone has cancer we don’t tell them to suck it up and deal with it. We show compassion and we offer help when needed. That doesn’t mean me, or anyone else who is suffering from depression, wants a pity party all the time. Absolutely not. But, if you notice us slipping into our holes and withdrawing a bit more, reach out. Maybe a simple invite to dinner or a movie, help with their kids, dropping off a ready-made lasagna one night, a sweet text message about what they mean to you, etc. can be just enough to throw a ray of sunshine into a very dark day.
I guess for me, I will always be a little bit sad, a little bit anxious, sometimes emotionless, and sometimes checked out; BUT I love my family, I love my friends, I am so lucky and incredibly grateful, I love my life, and deep down I really am happy.