24.10.11

Depression: Truth In Words

I have severe depression. No I am not just over-dramatically sad sometimes. I am not an attention seeker. I have a diagnosed mental illness that will require medication for the rest of my life.

Telling me to "cheer up", "look at all you have" or "tomorrow will be better" isn't going to change anything. Using "tough love" and telling me to "pull it together" or "stop being dramatic" also isn't going to change anything. You can't talk me into being happy.

Depression is not an emotion.

Though depression manifests as a complex series of emotions, it is not. It is an illness.

When I am in the midst of a depressive episode I can not see the forest for the trees. I feel like I am being crushed from the inside out. My thoughts and emotions are irrational. I am full of self-doubt and loathing. The chemicals in my brain no longer function properly and often leave me a sad trembling ball of hatred.

Depression can take on so many physical characteristics. The worst of which for me is the feeling that I can not function within my body. I stop eating, sleep more then I am awake and get severe headaches and body pains.

Sadly another manifestation of my personal depression is that I self-harm. I am lucky enough to be able to control it now, I have managed to keep my thoughts rational enough to prevent causing myself harm. I often do this by venting. Instead of turning inward, I turn outward. Most people don't understand this at all. They see it as drama. They see it as attention seeking. They dont see it as a safe substitution to cutting, drinking, or pill popping.

Though my issues are very real, I take them to a place far beyond what they need to be, seeing situations through desperate eyes and a heavy heart. There is no light at the end of the tunnel, no silver lining, only blackness. During my down times I dont have many choices that I am capable of making. If my mind had it's way I'd shut the door, sit in the dark, listen to angst filled music and get drunk while cutting myself. THIS is where I am given my only choice.

Even in complete darkness we are given choices.

I choose not to cut.

I choose to take care of my child.

I choose to cry, vent and sleep my way through the pain.

I choose to survive.

It has taken me years to get to this point. Many people will never get to this point. The demons are often stronger then the will to survive. I have lost friends to all the demons. Alcohol, drugs, self-destruction and suicide.

Reading back this all sounds so hard, clinical, emotionless. Here's the boiled down version...

I didn't choose to have depression. I didn't choose to have social anxiety issues. I don't know why I have them, what causes them or if they will ever go away. What I do know is that I hurt. I hurt from the top of my head to the tips of my toes. Anyone who doesn't believe we have a soul, is wrong. I know this because I feel mine, in the absolute depths of my despair, I can feel it. It's worse then heartache, worse then loneliness, worse then any other pain I have felt.

It. Fucking. Hurts.

No one is perfect. We all have issues and demons to battle. Mine are demons in my head. I quell them with medication and time. I dont judge your demons, don't judge mine.

To paraphrase, "There but for the grace of a higher power, go I."

16 comments:

  1. Wow, it sounds as though you have come a long way, and I admire you for speaking out about this. It's an issue in our family that has always been kept in the dark. I hope to some day talk about my families' struggles and show people that, as you say, it's not about "pulling it together." It's a chemical imbalance that requires a multifaceted recovery approach. Medication, talk therapy, proper support, exercise and a healthy diet. Thank you for sharing.

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  2. Powerful post. I understand as I've gone through a similar journey. Unfortunately, many don't understand.

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  3. Well said. I've written a lot about my depression, and I wish more people would come out and talk about what it's like and how it's affected them. I've been in recovery for several years now, although a recent relapse reminded me just how much those pills keep me from the precipice. Thanks for your honesty.

    http://blog.kristincraiglai.com/2011/01/monkey-on-my-back-depression-part-1.html

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  4. Christin BossenberryOctober 24, 2011 at 3:02 PM

    Thanks for saying what I've been trying to for so long. And thank you for putting it out there so I can share the mesage with others. It's nice to know others out there have gone through a similar journey and that my daily struggles are not something I alone experience.

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  5. People who makes those comments are so lucky to have never experienced this sort of thing before. It's frustrating how much misunderstanding there is regarding depression, and it is often hard to make others "get it", partly because it takes so much energy and guts to try to explain.

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  6. No one can understand what it feels like to live with depression and anxiety. I went through a period in my early 20's where I was having anxiety attacks daily. It was easy for everyone around me to tell me "you're not going to die" or "you're not having a heart attack" or even the simple word "breathe!". But they didn't know how I was feeling at that time, how terrifying it was, and how much of a deep hole I had crawled into out of fear. I've had one attack since having my two children, and thankfully they haven't come back again. I am not clinically depressed and therefore can't say that I know what you're going through. But I can sympathize and empathize with you. Thank you for speaking so honestly about your life - I'm sure that each and every day, you help someone in an indirect way. Keep doing what you're doing and stay strong :)

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  7. It is astounding how many of us (yup, me too) suffer some sort of depression, anxiety or other mental illness.

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  8. Beautifully written Jodi. You are a very talented writer.
    Thank you for sharing your story.

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  9. I agree with this person: "amorninggrouch said... People who makes those comments are so lucky to have never experienced this sort of thing before."

    My mom told me when I was going through the worst of it that I "just liked to wallow," and that it had been months and months and I should be "over it." In the meantime, I felt like I was bleeding to death from the inside, and I wished I actually WAS bleeding to death, because then at least there would be something paramedics could do. When it's physical bleeding it can be stopped, stitched, bandaged... but when it's emotional bleeding, what then?

    I took myself off of meds a few years ago because I switched health insurances and didn't have a new doctor and I thought maybe they weren't really doing anything. I KNEW that was a stupid thing to do, and did it anyway. I learned pretty fast that they *had* been doing something, and at that point I decided that I didn't care if I had to be on them the rest of my life if it stopped me from feeling like that again.

    I don't tell my mom that I'm still on them and didn't tell her when I still saw a therapist. She doesn't need to know. She only put me down for it.

    (((HUGS)))

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  10. If you cannot "talk" someone out of depression (I really DO understand this) what can I do or say to a friend who is suffering terribly from depression? What can help? Other than just to be there and check up on her - which I do. Although every time I leave her home, I feel as if I have not done enough.

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  11. Is it ok if I link this blog post up to an article I am doing on the same topic. Feel free to visit my site if you like to make sure it's in keeping with yours. I, too, suffer from severe depression and will have to take meds for the rest of my life. I get so tired of being told to think positive and look at all the things I have etc... You said it so well that I want to link up as back up!

    Awesome work here and I am glad I found your blog.

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  12. Susan - I thought about this a lot and I'm going to have a whole post on it soon. The most important thing I think, is to let them know that how they feel is ok. It is ok to feel lost, sad, lonely, angry, scared, heartbroken, frustrated, anything. We don't control the emotions that depression forces upon us and people need to know that feeling these things is fine.

    Rebecca - I would love that! Feel free to email me any time and let me know if/when you post it. Just click up on Talk To Me :D

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  13. I appreciate your honesty. I have battled with depression since my teen years, got it under control in my late 20s and early 30s and now have post-partum depression. It wasn't until I started talking openly with friends that I realized so many of them had been through or are going through the same thing. Sharing helps others understand we can't it... now if only my husband understood!

    Karen
    www.nakedmommydiaries.com

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  14. While I do not suffer from depression, my daughter does. First-person accounts such as your powerful post help me understand the pain she's experienced, pain so great last year that I didn't know whether or not she'd survive it. She did. She is. And I continue to learn. Thank you again.

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  15. I also suffer with severe depression. Pretty much have been pushed away from my family, and god knows why- I guess not fitting in, not sure. But have done the best I can with controlling it over the past 30 yrs. It is a horrible illness to have, and am grateful for the previous post's...

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  16. http://www.mydragonflygarden.com/2011/12/december.html

    Here is a link to the blog post I wrote using your post-- thank you so much for the privilege of being able to use your words

    Rebecca

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Lord knows I have an opinion, you should have one too!