I can’t believe HOW much better this year is than last. For about 1,000,000 reasons.
I am enjoying a lot of little things a lot more than I used to. Teaching, my students, my home, my dog, my husband, my family.
I was talking to Stephen, the sweet-but-still-very-missionized brother (meaning, he’s still trying to get back into the flow of life), and he mentioned how weird he thought it was that I have been struggling with depression. He said that he would have never guessed that that was something that was eating away at me. Naturally, this led to a conversation about typical symptoms and things that can come up with depression.
I think I mentioned before how this is something I have struggled on and off with for years. But I never really realized how bad it WAS until I have been on medication and going to the occasional counseling to help me realize how crazy-down I was at times.
In a way, I think the headaches I experience on and off were a “blessing in disguise.” All through college I felt like maybe I was a bit depressed, but I just needed to “put my big girl pants on.” Suck it up, and everything will be fine. Really, why should I be feeling down when I have so many opportunities in my life, and LITTLE KIDS ARE STARVING IN AFRICA!?! I would have never gone to the doctor to say “I think I might have some sort of depression.”
Then the headaches came. February/March of ’08 marked the arrival of dizziness, pain, and hopelessness. I think perhaps the fact that I was having to finish up my crazy student teaching experience on my own with the love of my life, my rock, being 1500 miles away starting his new career up put me over the edge. We both needed each other, and while the phone made it possible to communicate with him almost every day, it still wasn’t the same as having each other physically there.
I wish I had known then what I do now about myself. It took a year of tests, multiple doctors, and stress to find a doctor that was willing to listen to me, that this was more than just overly sensitive whining. I wish I had stood up for myself and what I suspected I had all along.
I found a good article today on MSN.com that address depression. I really liked specific parts of it.
“Depression invaded my life in my mid-40s,” says Tom Johnson, who was formerly publisher of the Los Angeles Times and CEO of CNN. “It sapped me of my strength, robbed me of my energy, and brought me, inexplicably, to the brink of suicide. Just the act of getting out of bed and into the shower each morning was tough. I was baffled by the sadness, by the loss of self-confidence, by the feeling of being trapped at the bottom of a deep, dark well.”
Like many others, Johnson did not seek help. He explains, “I felt that going to a psychiatrist would be a sign that I was somehow defective.” Stigma is another trap associated with depression. Dr. Carolyn Robinowitz, former president of the American Psychiatric Association, has seen its effects many times. Those experiencing depression often feel pressure to “pull themselves together,” “take charge,” “suck it up.”
While I am not better, and I still have bad days, I am so glad that I have my friends and family, and especially Jared, that have stuck around while I have struggled with becoming a better self. I know it hasn’t been easy, but it means the world to me.