6 hours ago
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.