Thursday, October 23, 2008

Follow-up

All I can say is, from the bottom of my heart - which is pretty low right now, thank you.

I think it's pretty obvious what's going on in my life lately. I have been struggling for months, but it all came to a head this week. I had what I guess you could say was a nervous breakdown. (I'm reminded of the movie The Kid: "This is my first nervous breakdown. Never had a nervous breakdown before ... not quite sure how it's supposed to go ...") I'll spare you details, but let's just say I wouldn't recommend it.

Since then, My Man has taken the two oldest kids to a friends' house all day - every day. While it's for the best, you can imagine how that makes me feel. I'm not capable of caring for my kids.

This morning I was kissing Little Prince goodbye and crying (of course - it's amazing I have any tears left), explaining that he was going to a friend's house again because Mommy was sick and sad.

He gave me a big "super-hug" (the best anti-depressant I know), kisses all over my face, and then asked quietly, "You're not sad because of me, are you Mom?"

Well, that REALLY released the waterworks.

Of course I explained to him that no, I wasn't sad because of him - I was just kind of sick and crying a lot. I told him he was the best kid ever and I loved him so fiercely and, if anything, he helped me NOT to be so sad. LP is the definition of happy.

I. Suck.

Oh, Lord, don't let this affect my children!

I've been doing a lot of thinking these past few days. In some respects, that's not a good thing - certain thoughts should be avoided. But I've came to a lot of other conclusions.
  • Depression is a disease. Like the flu or a cold or cancer, it's a sickness. It can affect anyone and everyone.
  • You can get depressed for a variety of reasons. Sometimes it is due to a hormanal shift - such as menopause or having a baby. Sometimes it is triggered by an illness or stress-inducors or a hectic lifestyle. Sometimes you get depressed for seemingly no reason at all.
  • You don't have to "defend" yourself for being depressed. ("But I'm going through a really hard time right now! I have a million things to do! You wouldn't believe how awful my life is!") Some people have horrible lives and are happy. Some people have wonderful lives and are depressed.
  • Depression is not a sign of weakness. Or lack of faith. Or mean you're a bad person. Of course, being depressed does not mean you surrender your agency - depression, in my opinion, does not "cause you" to commit suicide or hurt your loved ones. It is absolutely a determining factor - but cannot FORCE you to do anything.
  • You absolutely cannot "snap out of it." Or "change your attitude." And you UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES can get better on your own. Some people need medical intervention - and that's okay. Some people need counseling - and that's okay. Some people need unconditional, unending support from family, friends, and the Lord - and that's okay. Some people need all of the above - and that's okay too.
  • In regards to taking medicine - drugs - to battle depression: here are my thoughts. (I can do that. It's my blog, neener neener neeeee-neeeeer.) Going back to the idea that depression is a disease. Would you feel bad taking cold medicine? Do you begrudge an epilectic patient his seizure medication? Or a cancer patient his chemo? Many times, depressed patients have true, chemical imbalances. I believe that who they "really are," is who they are on medication. As black and white as healthy vs. sick.

I am depressed. I have been struggling with depression for probably five months or so. I would talk to My Man about it - talk to my friends about it - talk to my leaders about it. Always the answer was, "Pray more. Serve more. Be more." I would bounce back for a while, put on a happy face and be okay. Then crash again. Eventually, the "happy periods" would get shorter and the "crashes" would get deeper until it all became too much.

I am taking aggressive action. I watch movies when my thoughts become too loud and I can't turn them off - reading doesn't work; I can't concentrate. Mr. Squishy and I have gone for lots of walks. Long ones. I've been praying for strength to remember who I am and not let my "natural man" take over. (Thanks, Kim.) I have unplugged the phone and ignored the house. I have slept a lot. And as horrible as it makes me feel, I have parceled out my kids while I get better.

They are what keeps me hopeful. I love my kids more than any words in English or Portuguese can express. They deserve the best mom I can be. I never want them afraid of me - to see me as anything else but a loving mother trying to exemplify the Savior's love.

This I know: I can do this. I have faith that the Lord will not let us be tested above our strength, and He would never trust me with His precious children if I wasn't capable.

Someday I will proudly declare that I Beat Depression. In remission, you could say. Because depression truly is a cancer for the soul. It is heartbreaking that, as a culture, we do not value "depression survivors." When someone mentions that they had depression - it sounds flippant. Small. Weak.

I call for Depression Awareness Month. We should get ribbons and bracelets and 5k runs as well. From my research, it affects 15-25% of the population. Truly, it affects EVERYONE. Because these 15-25% have children. And parents. And spouses.

I am so grateful for a loving husband who firmly views this depression as a disease and nothing else - and a disease that can be beat. I am grateful for his love - for his strength - for his belief that I am still the most wonderful woman and mother alive.

I am grateful for my Savior - who knows pain-for-pain, tear-for-tear what I'm feeling. That He can and will succor me - that I can be clean and pure and happy again.

And I am so grateful for you. I debated for a while whether or not to display my mental health issues for all of cyberspace to gawk at. Do I want perfect strangers to think I'm a nutcase? But I made a decision. I may feel embarrassed - vulnerable - but I might help someone. I might help someone understand themselves better - or someone they love. And most of all, I might GET helped. I DID get helped. I thank you for your concern - for your love for someone who, in many cases!, you've never met. THAT is the power of the internet, people. The power of women. The power of love.

Now I'm going to go call my mother before she buys a ticket to Brazil. Or maybe not.

32 comments:

Sarah said...

You definitely don't suck.

Hang in there, sweet girl.

Day by day, hour by hour, second by second if that's what you need, just hang in there.

Heather of the EO said...

I did get your email and I have a crying Asher pulling on my leg and Miles is saying MAMA over and over and over and I have to take him to school and we're not dressed.

But I will have time after we get Miles to school and Asher takes a nap. I'm going to spend that time emailing you. Because I really really want to and I totally get you right now. Totally.

Soonly!

Pam said...

I love you Becky! Thank you for posting about, unfortunately, a taboo subject. I have no doubt that you have helped many women in the last few days, on top of the countless throughout your life. Thank you for your perspective on this disease. I will add an extra prayer for you and your family. You are amazing!
Pam

Erin said...

Sometimes I feel like those who only write about the good things on their blogs are lying to themselves and to everyone who reads their blog.

I don't want to be one of them. I love that you wrote about this.

(And I wrote on my blog today about my insecurities. I love people who are honest with themselves and others.)

Good luck dear!

Heather of the EO said...

Sometimes my weird email address makes my messages go to people's junk mail. So I wanted to let you know I've sent two emails to you. Just as I promised :)

You're amazing, you really are!

Becky said...

I don't want this to sound trite, but what you're going through sucks. It just does. I wonder why we get the trials that we do. I guess some day we'll find out, and we'll find out why they were good for us.

But it still sucks.

You are a trooper.

Kim said...

Depression is one of the absolute worst things in the world. I am so sorry you have to deal with it.
Much healing light coming your way.

charrette said...

(I'm here via Heather.) You expressed yourself, this illness, its realities, its ugliness, and your own struggle for help and for hope so beautifully here. Excellent post. Heroic, even. Thank you, especially, for what you said about medication. And awareness. You will reach and help so many other women by having the courage to be so honest about your own experiences. First and foremost so they know they're not alone in this.

Francesca said...

you are a very brave, very strong and very awesome young woman. You will get through this and you will come out stronger. It will not bet you.
My prayers are with you
A survivor
Francesca xx

Baby Tunnel Exodus said...

We're praying for you, and sister, I've been there. In fact, I'd wager to say there isn't an honest mother out there that wouldn't say she's been there too. It happens. It hurts. And it HEALS. Jesus, Time, and yes even sometimes Doctors, can Heal up the mess. Remember God will always use your Mess for His Message. Keep your chin up and your head bowed.

(((HUGS))) & Blessings, Whitney

Kristina P. said...

What an eloquent post. I'm a social worker, so I work with people with mental health problems.

Depression is absolutely real. It's not something you can just snap out of, and sometimes, prayer isn't going to be completely effective.

I fully believe that we have medicines for a reason, and for many people they are necessary.

Thank you for being open and honest. :)

Rocketgirl said...

You are dead. right. about almost everything - I am SO glad you are taking such a matter-of-fact view of it all. When I have my bouts, I can go MONTHS without seeking help, with Jared and I fighting constantly before I can see clear enough to know he's right - the problem is't him, or any situation - it's my body, and I CAN get it fixed. Getting to that poit is always a haul though, and I'm so proud of you for getting there. The one thing you are not right about is that you are a bad mom for this - LP needs the best mommy possible, and that means sometimes you need time off to recharge. Kids are selfish and don't understand - but if you don't - you'll end up not having the patience and inspiration to be that awesome mom. So for his sake - take care of yourself so you can take care of him. I felt horrible about needing breaks too, but she loved me so much more when I was able to think clearly and be nice after some off time.

So glad you blogged honestly - isn't the web fabulous?!?!

Jessica said...

Thank-you for sharing this (arrived her from Heather's blog). It has given me hope and understanding . . . I think that the Enemy attacks us so often in our emotions. It is a battle, you are so right.

Brooke said...

This is the first time I have come to your blog, via Heather of the eo, because I knew I needed to read it. I have struggled with depression for about 12 years. Some years are better, some are worse. You can't fix it with scripture reading and prayer, though I know those help. God put mental health professionals and medication on this earth because he wants us to get better. I think a lot more people struggle with this than are willing to admit it, or even know what is wrong with them. Good for you for helping those who need it, and thank you so much for your honesty. It is very hard to put yourself out there like that, and I admire you so much for it.

lizzy-loo said...

you are on the road. although for me understanding it doesn't make it go away. step by step girl, and don't tell your mom not to come. take all the support you can and don't feel guilty. i went to counseling while in brasil but you know how doctors are there drugs were out of he question. hang in there

kristi said...

Becky my love, I agree that if medication is what you need, please, please take it. I agree with the person who said that Heavenly Father has created this medication so that those who need it can use it to get better. If your mom is able to come, then maybe she should. I wish that I could come and help you, but we both know that isn't possible. I also wish you could come here so that I could take care of you. Because I seriously would. I love you!!!!

Abra said...

I have struggled with depression since jr. high.
I was diagnosed with postpartum psychosis after my second child was born...
I'm bound and determined to not let that affect my kids whatsoever.
It's a tough struggle, couple that with feelings of unwant, or unloved, and I can dig myself a nice big old fat hole of worthlessness faster than it takes for me to write this message.
I can only say that my heart goes out to you.
I don't know you, but I love you, and my prayers are directed your way.
hugs and kisses
A

Kim (Davis) Loudon said...

Thank you SOOOOOOOOO MUCH for posting that. You helped me sooooo much in understanding myself and my situation more...you are RIGHT ON. I am soooooooo sorry you are dealing with this. I am sooooooo glad you have a wonderful and supportive hubby and that you are getting some help with the kids until you can kick this. I LOVE YOU. You are my favorite ever.

Heather of the EO said...

Hey lady,
I'm a wee bit worried-I hope you got my messages...
I totally understand if you'd rather not reply, but know I'm praying for you and thinking you're awesome.

Anonymous said...

Becky,

You've already made the most important realizations in depression...it's not your fault, it's not something that you can just will yourself over, and there is no shame in getting or asking for help...it's the best and bravest thing you can do to beat this.

Stick with it, things will and do get better, I know from personal experience. Also, your kids are great, they're going to come out of this just fine. We love you guys.

Ben, Jennetta, and Baby

Anonymous said...

Hey Becky,

This is Brother Tario. I just want you to know that we are thinking about you and will add your family to our prayers. Wish you guys nothing but the best.

Melting away in H... said...

Thank you so much for posting this message. I often wonder if I have depression myself. I completely admire your honesty and you definitely have been touched by it! Thank you and you will be in my thoughts and prayers. Oh and a shout out to your hubby, he really is a keeper, to be so kind and understanding, and gentle about this! Wish I was there to give you a big hug!

Kimberly said...

Oh hun, sorry I've been mia and missed all this. You've got an awesome support network and though I'm late in responding, my answer to your question is a resounding yes. I could write for pages about it, but I feel like you've already heard what I'd want to say.

It's real. We don't want to believe it. We're pre-conditioned to be skeptical about it and to think we're just weak, but it really is real. Trust your instincts. You can recognize when you have control and when you don't. Hold yourself accountable only for what you have control over, and try oh so hard to let the rest go.

When we collapse in tears because everything is so suddenly TOO...MUCH..we can't control that always. But we often choose how soon we get back up again, how much we hug and cuddle our children to reassure them when all we want to do is curl up and start crying again.

Emma is four now. It's been a full year since the really, really bad time. And I've seen in her an empathy that is unusual for a child her age. She's seen her mummy hurting. And she's seen her mummy work hard to overcome that and become stronger. While I hate that she hurt along with me, I'm glad I'm teaching her that.

Caroline said...

I'm not sure if you remember (or if I ever told you) in high school, but I struggled with depression as well. Unfortunately it came about in college too. But I want you to know that everything you stated in your blog is 100% true. It isn't a sign of the weak as so many people think when someone confesses they are depressed. It isn't something that can just change with a better attitude or outlook. It is a disease. You are not alone. In every sense of that phrase you are not alone. :)

I'm glad you wrote about this. You've said it so much more eloquently than I could have ever stated. You're a trooper. You will get through this. You will.

Rachel H said...

I too am a survivor of the big D!! A combination of Medication, therapy, and blessings helped me through and taught me coping skills that are with me to this day! I am so grateful that it can be dealt with and overcome!! You seem to be an awesome strong girl and I know you can come out ahead of this! I am rooting for you!!

Real Mom, Real Life said...

I know this is months old, but hubby just sent me to the link to it. He keeps saying you and I are twins.

I have experienced this same thing! I struggle with it. And one day I will beat it too.

This is a great post. More people need to be open about this. You have touched a lot of people here.

lisastassforth said...

You will get through this depression. Your post was most excellent. Very articulate. Hang in there. ( I know this post is months old, but depression can linger)

Julie said...

A friend sent me the link to this blog, knowing that I had basically a nervous breakdown a couple of weeks ago.

It's like you looked into my head and wrote what you saw there.

I still have my little ones with me during the day, but now I wonder if I should try to have someone help me out with that because I am most definitely not the best mother in the world right now.

Thank you.

elesa said...

I think research shows that only 15-25% of the population face depression because only 15-25% are willing to ADMIT it. I bet the numbers are higher than that. And you are AWESOME for writing about it. thanks.

Perpetual Mommy Exhaustion said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Annette Lyon said...

I think I found your blog well after you posted this--but I think there was a reason I stumbled on this post today. I needed it. It's stuff I've known forever, but there are times you need to hear it again, and this is one of them. Thanks.

Pink Panda said...

I just found your blog and love it! I know it's kinda freaky when people you don't know comment on your blog, but that's ok. I was diagnosed with Major Depression in Nov. 08. I have four kids. In February 09 I had a melt down and was diagnosed with Bipolar II. Since then I've been able to be stablized but it was one of the worst things I ever went through. Ever. I loved your blog post. It really made me feel that someone else has felt what I felt. Thank you. Megan