Friday, December 17, 2010

Getting In Touch With Depression



Depression is an oft used noun in today's vernacular.   It is also commonly misunderstood.  To better comprehend the complexity and seriousness of depression, I am going to describe the mental illness and provide excerpts from my personal journal to frame understanding.

Lost and Hopeless

I wish I were somewhere else.  I can't be a good wife or parent.  Ben, and the kids, would be better off without me. I feel like I'm living life in a fog--the only happiness I feel is filtered through the murky vapor of sadness...or whatever it is.  I know it's my fault I feel this way.  I need to be stronger, should be stronger, but it's hard when hope feels so far away.  I can't even see it on the horizon.

Some common symptoms of depression include overwhelming "hopelessness, helplessness, inappropriate guilt or regret, and self-hatred."  Depressed people exhibit a constant low mood and often lose their ability to experience happiness with activities that they used to enjoy. (Source: Wikipedia.)

I have never contemplated suicide, but I have had a few periods in my life--as a teenager, a sophomore in college, and after this miscarriage--that I convinced myself the world, and my family, would be better off without me.

I Am Grateful, Dang It!

I have so many blessings in my life:  Beautiful children, an amazing husband, warm shelter, delicious food, and supportive family members.  Yet I know that I'm not worthy of them.  The negativity that surrounds my thoughts is proof of what an ungrateful wretch I have become.  I can hardly say a kind word to my husband, let alone give him a compliment; my eyes are constantly flashing with anger over the little things my kids do that are a normal part of their development; I avoid my friends because I am sure they notice how deficient I am in so many areas.

A common misconception is that a clinically depressed person can snap out of it if they try to develop a more grateful attitude, pray more, or have more faith.  This is false.  A depressed person is already hard on themselves.  They recognize how great everything is around them, but they cannot bring their mood up. It's a brain thing.

I remember looking at myself, as if from above, and shaking my head.  Obviously, I told myself, I am unfaithful.  Worthless.  With these phrases incessantly going through my mind, I had trouble sleeping, eating, and facing the world.  I would wake up and cry knowing that I had to parent my kids that day; me, an awful mother, would be alone with them.  A miserable place, indeed...*

*After I finished writing this post, I saw how much I had written** and deemed it necessary to break it up into two more manageable posts.  I will post part two sometime next week.

**Seriously, this took quite a bit out of me so you had better appreciate it.  Frankly, if I don't get like 1000 comments I will probably never write again.

Image courtesy of FreeImages.

32 comments:

  1. I never really understood it until I had the "baby blues" after Camie was born for a couple weeks. And that probably wasn't even close to depression, but I definitely couldn't "snap" out of it. I had no desire to. I wanted to wallow. I hated it. I knew I wasn't myself but I couldn't do a darn thing to get back to myself.



    And like I said, that probably isn't close to what those who have gone through depression have to face. I can't imagine. I'm sorry that you have to face this. But BELIEVE me, your hubby and kids would be so much WORSE off without you. Even if you don't believe it, just hold onto the knowledge that those around you love you no matter what and we enjoy having you in our lives.

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  2. I'm delighted to be the first of one thousand!!

    And I'm here appreciating your clarity and honesty. There's so much sense here - and so much nonsense among so many assumptions and misconceptions.

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  3. You're right, the word 'depressed' is used so loosely. I have had periods of deep sadness and melancholy - which took me a while to 'snap' out of.. But I've never suffered from clinical depression, and I really feel for those who do. And, it must be so frustrating to deal with others' ignorance.

    And, your husband and kids are better off with you - not the other way around!! But, I know you know that deep down inside. Those two little monkeys are blessed with a wonderful mother who is doing her best - and who loves them to pieces... They couldn't ask for more. And, one day, they'll tell you that. Might be years away, but still - something to look forward to.

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  4. Amber - you are very brave. You tackle subjects that most people pretend don't even exsist. I don't believe I've ever experience actual depression - I have had thoughts and doubts as I go about life (especially with motherhood) that make me feel like I'm no good and worthless. But I've stood helplessly by as those I love are trapped in a dark and gloomy state. It's a sickening feeling not really being able to help.



    I know that, by you sharing your experiences, there will be people who are comforted and enlightened by your words. Thank you for sharing such a personal and sensitive subject with all of us! Love ya!

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  5. I am really struggling with my depression again. You've hit the nail on the head with what it feels like. I'm here.

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  6. Beautiful and heart wrenching. Your raw honesty is breath taking. Brava.

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  7. Sweet, sweet, sweet, Amber - I don't think that you received my message that I don't have your full e-mail address, and I want to e-mail you as you requested. Especially after reading this. And thank you for being so brave and sharing. You're a wonderful person. Genuinely. I hope you know that.

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  8. Well said. I don't deal with depression, but anxiety. It sucks. And actually depression and anxiety are heavily linked. As someone who has worked in the mental health field for years, it's amazing how much stigma is still out there.

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  9. Sweet Amber, is there anything I can do to help? Does medication work for you, have you tried it in the past? My little sister is struggling with this as well and I'm just sick as to what I can do to help her. Thanks for explaining it more I've thought lately that I've been experiencing depression but after what you wrote I realize I'm no where near that and need to stop using that word. Please do write what others can do to help!

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  10. I'm living on the other side of the depression wall, as it's my husband who suffers from it. It's hard for me to see him give in to the hopelessness and sleep for 18+ hours a day during the weekend and sometimes during the workweek. It's his only escape. I wish there was something I could do to help him. I know that it isn't a reflection on me or on our kids...that he wants to spend time with us, but his brain doesn't give him that option. I know that in my mind, but sometimes it's hard to feel that in my heart.



    You are a brave woman, Amber, and I admire you for doing the hard work of mothering with the added burden of depression. I'll tell you what I tell my husband: there are people around you that love you and that aren't going anywhere. We will be here for you when you need us. Just hold on to that thought. And take your meds. :)

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  11. Oh, Amber. I hope the fog clears soon, friend. We're all here guiding you through and reaching for your hand, even though the journey is yours.

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  12. Sister-in-law squared here! I've suffered from depression and it's recently gotten worse (runs in my family). I'm kind of afraid to go to the doctor, but I keep having to tell myself that it's biology, not something I can really deal with alone. I'm glad that you understand that what you feel isn't your fault, it's science's fault. I hope that you can find a way to feel like you should: a great mother, wife, [insert other roles here].

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  13. I can resonate with everything you wrote. It is so hard for me to feel motivated to be a mother when I feel as though everyone would be better off without me. I've been doing better this year, but I was clinically depressed in my teens and I did think suicidal thoughts and even planned how to do it. I still struggle with thoughts of suicide when depression hits hard, but slowly I am having more up days then down days. I written about depression on my own blog.

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  14. I'm sorry I missed this, I'm sorry I haven't been reading. As you know I'm working on coming out of a fog of my own. And I get this. Inside, deep, where it counts I do. I know it intimitely. The more we talk of, the hire we lift the burden of despair. Bravo for sharing, for being brave my friend.

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  15. I like what Serene did! Let me know if I have to put up more comments. I'll be happy to do so. Anyway, it's quality not quantity.

    So, many happy thoughts to you. We will meet for virtual coffee soon.

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  16. You are so clever!! I guess I'll keep writing. JUST BECAUSE of your comments. : )

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  17. Thank you, Cathy, for your kind words. Seriously? I'm not such a stickler for comments these days, as I believe the friendships are more important, but occasionally my sarcastic side comes out, especially after a darker post, and I must lighten up the mood. You know?

    Tell me more about this virtual coffee, I would really like to join you. : )

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  18. Good for you, Amber. I mean, not that you have have it (which is really crummy for you) but good for you for writing about it. Mine reared up nastily and virulently on my mission and it was terrible. I swore that I would be open about it later and hopefully help other people by letting them know that they weren't alone. I think writing can also be very therapeutic.

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  19. "It's a brain thing." So, so true and yet so hard to grasp ... for many disorders or illnesses. You're doing a wonderful job of sharing the reality of what you've experienced.

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  20. Oh Amber, how brave. To share your authentic truth and to hit publish. I am proud of you. I hope the blurriness that you feel lifts. I am certainly rooting for you. xoxo

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  21. Okay - here is an example of Virtual Coffee. Basically you just post about your week (usually) as if you were talking with a friend over coffee.


    http://www.trainstutusandteatime.com/2010/12/virt...

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