Disconnected: What Depression is and What It’s Not

I’m coming to you live from Starbucks which has never been a writing place for me, but home has been holding me hostage for months. This is essentially my therapist’s game plan at work if you will. You may also be wondering (or not) why you haven’t heard from me in a few months and there is indeed a few reasons for that as well. Largely those reasons are a) I’ve been living a life that has not agreed with me (which may eventually be something I talk about) and b) largely I feel like why does anyone care what I have to say…sure I’ve said it before and as I scroll through social media myself most often times I am annoyed at what I read. Why add to that? Well like anyone else, I want to feel like what I have to say is valued/important because of what I’ve experienced in life. If anything, I want to feel RELATABLE not a  KNOW-IT-ALL. God knows I do NOT have all the answers at my fingertips. So let’s reconnect shall we…

I’m going to go back to Januaryish of 2017 – 1 month before me and Paul get married in a private ceremony, couple months post trip to The Brook Hospital (mental hospital) for me, and things mentally are still not good. It was after the work day and Paul was wanting to go to the police academy to work out, but he knew I was not in a good place. Knowing this, he would not leave me alone at the house by myself. The dude physically put pants on me and forced me out of the house to the gym even if I was going to sit in his presence at a different location outside the home. Tears form in my eyes at the thought of the burden I must have put on him. On different occasions, he would tell me “I’m scared I’m going to come home and find you dead.” And to think he married me 1 month later. 

So I fast forward to now, and my depression is about the same as it was then and of course my biggest support is no longer here and I think how badly I need him. Without this being the most obvious, depressing post you’ve read, I just want to give some education about severe depression in case you or someone you know deals with moderate – severe depression. First of all – depression is NOT A CHOICE. If it was, those that deal with it, would gladly think their way out of it and choose happiness. It is paralyzing. It is not lazy. It is laying in bed because every cell in your body is exhausted at the mere thought of simply existing. For me, it is hoping that non-existence comes sooner than later, even fanaticizing about it. It’s feeling everything but then feeling nothing at all. 

I recently asked a new psychiatrist I’m seeing to explain to me what physiologically is happening in my brain to make this happen. The nurse in me needs to know what is happening with my body. Saying my circumstances, chronic disappointment etc is the reason is not enough for me. His answer….”chronic stress.” To be honest with you, that was not good enough for me. Yes I have endured A LOT of stressors in a short time and most of you know that. But I’m not going to act like my life as a whole has been absolutely horrific – there are many people who have it worse than me. My therapist actually gave a much more beautiful answer (which I can’t remember lol) but it is many many factors. So it is not my fault, it is not a choice I have to make on whether to “get over it,” so what am I going to do?

I have been fighting depression for almost 5 years now. I have tried various anti-depressants and even anti-psychotics to boost the effects of the anti-depressants I am on. I am now to the point where the efficacy of switching meds is too low. The next step is trying TMS (transcranial magnetic stimulation). This has about 60-70% chance of working and the purpose of this is to stimulate nerve cells in the brain to combat symptoms of depression. If this does not work, then ECT will be considered which is electroconvulsive therapy. Something that I have also learned is that if you have the gene MTHFR (which of course I do) you are less likely to respond to anti-depressants. And I will also be doing ongoing therapy because for moderate to severe depression, medicine and therapy are necessary for treatment. I’m literally checking all the boxes to help myself and nothing is working. I started working out almost a week ago for 30 minutes daily and honestly have not seen a benefit. Studies show that exercise does improve depression. My therapist educated me that it takes 3-8 weeks to see benefit from exercise.

The truth is I’m tired. I’m angry. I’m sad. I’m noticeably withdrawing from people I love and avoiding social interactions. I most certainly do not find joy in most things. I curl up with my Baron, the dog Paul chose unknowingly for me, and my tears hit his fur and I think to myself how much I long just to be held and understood. I ask myself how much longer I can endure. A few songs come to mind from church and the lyrics are…

“You understand me, God, you understand me” – Bigger Than I Thought

 

“Even when I don’t feel it you’re working

You never stop working

You are way maker, miracle worker

Promise keeper, light in the darkness” – Waymaker 

I KNOW I am not alone in my feelings. I know that many struggle in silence. I know that many downplay their depression or do not take others who struggle with it seriously. I know many people go on/off depression meds on their own (which I highly discourage). Also, I struggle hard with this particular season (winter time) like many others which is called seasonal affective disorder or seasonal depression. My therapist recommended a lamp where you need 30 minutes of exposure daily and the lamp must be 10,000 LUX. You can get this on Amazon for $40. I have not tried this yet but plan to. 

One thing I have told myself is that I am resilient – I am a fighter. I have made it this far for a reason. I have breath therefore I have purpose. I long so badly for eternity where we are without depression, anxiety, suicidal ideation, death, loneliness. But this disease is no different than physical disease – it must be dealt with as it will not just go away. Get the help and mental peace you deserve. Keep fighting until you find it. I ask my mom how many times are we going to do this (change meds/add meds) and she says, “until we get it right!” 

 

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