When I wrote the little blurb about myself (over there to your right) I make a comment about how
modern pharmacology keeps me smiling. I thought I'd take a minute to explain that comment.
About 17 years ago, I was diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder. At the time, I was going through some major stress in my life. As women try to do, I was taking everything on myself and thinking I should be able to "fix" everything even if it wasn't even my problem. It got to yhr point where I was about one step from making what is called "a permanent solution to a temporary problem. When you're this sunk into a black hole, it's REALLY hard to pull yourself back out of it. A lot of people find this hard to understand. You get a lot of comments like " Just think positive", "Don't worry so much", and "Think about all the blessings in your life". What people don't understand, though, is that the person with depression can't help worrying, can't think positive, and doesn't see blessings in their life. I remember my mind going around in circles worrying about EVERYTHING, thinking that everything that was happening was my fault, and that if only I could do something different everything would be better.
I think that's where the idea that depression is a chemical imbalance of the brain comes in. The depressed person is LITERALLY unable to see anything in a positive light. And, of course, there's the feeling that everything going on is your fault, everyone in your life would just be better off without you. Luckily, I was able to spend a few days in the hospital and start getting my head on straight, as well as starting on some good drugs!
For quite a while even after you're feeling better you have to deal with the continued feeling of "I should be able to handle this" and some shame for having to take drugs in order to feel better about yourself. It took me five or six years to get past those feelings. I finally came to the conclusion that I have to think of depression the same as any chronic illness. If I had diabetes or high blood pressure I would have to take medicine for the rest of my life, so what's so bad about taking pills for depression?
Now I DO feel grateful for my entire life. I don't take on everyone's problems, and I do feel like I can handle almost everything that comes along. Even though I've had to change medications several times ( sometimes they seem to become less effective over time) I'm grateful that there are pills available to help me feel better. (And so is DH, believe me!) Sometimes I worry that when these pills lose their effectiveness, "what will I do if there's no more pills out there?, but in general I just try not to think about that. No need to start worrying about something that may not happen for a while, if ever.
So this little blog entry is not to make anyone worry about my mental health. I really am doing great right now. I just wanted to try and explain some of what a person goes through when they're suffering with depression. I know it's hard not to try and reassure a person that "things will get better", but the best thing you can do is just be there for them. Try to stay in touch and let them know that they are not alone. And if you think they are getting to the point that they might take that permanent solution to a temporary problem, do your best to encourage them to seek help. Let them know how much you love them, and how much you'd miss them if they took that drastic step. Don't be shy about bringing up that scary subject. You might find they are hoping someone will bring it up, because they're too scared to admit they need help.
In closing, let me just say that I'm more grateful than I can express for all my family and friends out there. You were there for me when I desperarely needed help. You may not even think you did anything, but believe me, you DID!