This is a story about friendship, depression and medication. Odd combo, I know.
Thursday’s Truth: We need close friends who are willing to tell us if/when we need medication.
We need close friends for many reasons but for the purpose of this post it’s because someone needs to live life closely enough with us to know when something is off. Someone needs to know us well enough to know when we’re okay so they’ll know when we’re not okay. Often it’s not so apparent to us. It’s the “can’t see the forest for the trees” scenario.
I have never had to take much medication. I’m thankful for that. But after our second child was born I went through postpartum depression. I had a 2 year old who didn’t want to miss one second of the party and a newborn who had just joined the party and liked to hit the buffet every couple of hours. Put those together with a husband who was either at work or on call all. the. time. and I was one tired mama. Tired often leads to depression.
Although I did have close friends then, I didn’t need anyone to tell me I was off. I knew something was wrong. In a moment of clarity, I remember sitting in our recliner just staring. Brainless. Motionless. Lacking all motivation. I realized I had been in that place quite a bit. Somehow I managed to snap out of it when the kids needed me. The will to love my kids over myself was and still is very strong. I’m so thankful for pictures and video from those days. I remember watching one of their birthday party videos one time and being shocked that I smiled and looked happy. I just don’t recall smiling that much. Or at all.
After months of that, I decided to call my doctor. I went to see him and he told me I could either join the gym or go home and pack for the mental institution. Although the thought of having some alone time and meals prepared for me was appealing, I chose the gym. 🙂 He also gave me 30 days of Prozac just to “get me over the hump”. Do you remember when Prozac first came out? I don’t even know if it still exists today or not but one of the side effects then was suicide. I only told two people I was taking it. 1) Because I didn’t want everyone to freak out and think I was a nut job (even though I was). 2) Because back then (20 years ago) if a Christian took anti-depressants, it was a sure sign that they weren’t spending enough time with God. and 3) Because I needed a couple of people close to me to watch for signs of suicide. Exercise and my “hump” medicine worked. I lost weight, got healthy and felt like a new woman.
This past weekend I had a mini meltdown of sorts. My week had been awful. I’m in the beginning stages of “mean”opause. (I’m not super happy about what the next few years have in store for me and those close to me but I know lots of women do it and everyone seems to survive so it must be doable. But can I just give a blanket apology in advance now?) Anyway, I was tired. Things just don’t work out so well for me when I’m exhausted. My brain goes into neutral and my heart kicks into overdrive. I happened to be away with my Mom and sisters for the weekend and my sister sat on my bed and basically said, “Girl, you need medication.” 🙂 She really just suggested it because she’s nice like that (and/or was within punching range) but that’s what she meant.
The thought of possibly getting to the point of depression again scares me. It’s a low I don’t want to get to ever again. I’ve been on the brink of it for the past couple of years because, with all that’s gone on in our lives, I’m tired. Really tired. And I know it’s a real possibility.
So to be proactive and hopefully get myself in a better place at the starting line, I have decided to exercise more (read: some) and I ordered some natural remedies today and will give them a go. I’m not a fan of medication, but I am a fan of having someone close enough to me to suggest that I might need it. I asked my sister to help me notice if the natural remedies are helping. It’s a hard thing to measure so I may not notice.
Do you have someone in your life who knows you well enough and will sit on the bed with you and tell you, “You need medication!”? Someone you can trust if they do tell you that something is off? Someone to walk this with you? I pray that you do.
Update April 2017: In May 2016, nearly a year after I shared this, we were in the throes of planning an overseas move. I felt myself spiraling with anxious thoughts. If anyone asked me how I was doing, my first thought was “overwhelmed”. I spoke to my doctor and we agreed that the natural remedies were a good idea but that a low dose of medication would be a better idea in this season. I cannot even begin to express how life-changing this medicine has been for me. I’ve said multiple times how much I wish I would have had it since I was 16. The moral of this story is to keep having conversations, listen to those you trust, keep seeking health, keep fighting for YOU. You are worth it.
In all seriousness… for someone who is in the deep pit, this post might seem light-hearted, but I know full well that depression is not light-hearted. It is heavy and we need someone to help us navigate through the weight of it. If you feel you are or might be suffering from depression, please seek help. Seek help until you find it. Seek help until you feel better. Keep living until you feel alive again. Do not give up. There is no shame in loving yourself enough to ask for help. Don’t go this alone. If you don’t have a friend who can be honest with you, can I be that friend? Let me tell you that it’s ok to hurt, it’s ok to be where you are. It’s just not ok to stay there. I will post some resources in the comments to this post. Also, anyone is welcome to comment with resources they have found helpful. Please check back and know you are seen, know you are loved and know that you are certainly not alone.
This is a book recommended by a friend who is a therapist. http://www.amazon.com/Feeling-Good-New-Mood-Therapy/dp/0380810336/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1434627971&sr=8-1&keywords=feeling+good+david+burns
Great post! Thank you so much for sharing. I’m so relieved the church seems to have moved past such parochial views toward brain health. The brain is an organ just like our other body parts. The thought that it’s off limits for being sick and needing medicine is rediculous. I’m blessed to have had a Christian psychiatrist and therapist to help me navigate my own journey through therapy and meds. It’s important to have a specialist treating the brain bc it can be tricky identifying the right medication. I’m glad you create space to talk frankly about these things. Thank you for your blog!
Thank you for your comment, AnnieLaurie. I’m also thankful that the church has moved past the taboo of getting help. Our church has an incredible counseling center. People need help and we need not be ashamed to ask for it. I love that our church makes that such a priority.
Also, this is part 9 and the final essay in Shaun Groves’ series on his depression journey. The link to all essays in the series are at the bottom of this link’s page. http://shaungroves.com/2013/01/beggars-fortune-part-nine/
That thing you are so good to encourage the #FTLofWriting team with…It belongs to you today. You are giving someone the permission to go second.
Thank you, Kelly. I’m humbled and grateful if I’ve done anything to encourage another to be brave.
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