17 different women, 36 crazy children, 0 babies in utero
Adventures, Advice and Questions from a group of Mormon women who met in Queens, NY and have now scattered all over the place.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Cure for the Common Depression

My first bout with depression was during my senior year of high school. I was in a zone/funk/episode of life that was really all-encompassing. I was trying to figure out my next step in life; where to go to college, what to study, who to be. I was so low and so down, I knew I was officially depressed. I was busy and I didn't have time to do anything about it, but just wait it out.

I eventually broke out of it and got back on a better path. Since then I have graduated from college, started my career, gotten married, had two kids and moved 5 times. I have suffered major illness, deaths in the family, and the challenges of motherhood and career. And though I switched to waterproof mascara during my first pregnancy (and never switched back by the way), I can say that I was happy for most of it.

I considered myself quite fortunate for loving motherhood and having next-to-nothing baby blues. I was worried about having a second child, but once I had been her mother for a year, I thought: I made it, I can do this, I am OUT of the woods.

Then my second bout with depression hit this past summer. I got home from California and I never recovered. I blamed it on jet lag for a few weeks, but my sleeping became increasingly off, I never felt rested, I was agitated and anxious all the time. I blamed everything on my kids. I could barely function. My worst point was around the beginning of September and I just stood and sobbed for no lucid reason. My husband was patient but did not quite know what to do with me. I didn't know what to do with me. I was numb. I could not talk to anyone. I did not call my friends, I did not call my mom, I just walked around like a zombie.

I was desperately trying to figure out what was wrong. In theory there was nothing for me to be sad/agitated/upset/tired about...I could see quite clearly that I had a blessed life, beautiful family, amazing opportunities, but the reality was just not paralleling that.

After exhausting every possible explanation,(it's natural to feel low after a high like my trip to CA, maybe you are still harboring bad feelings from "the past", maybe you are having issues with a particular person or situation....)I finally reached out to a friend. The email went like this: I think I'm depressed, how can I know for sure? She sent me a link to a test on the web. The scoring went somethingn like this: 0-10 sad, 11-25 sorta sad......54-over SEVERELY DEPRESSED. I scored a 62.

When she heard that, we made a phone appt. (b/c she lives out of state). She talked me through it and made things a lot clearer for me. After that phone call, my good days started outnumbering my bad ones. I started to find genuine joy in my life again.

For a while there I was blaming a lot on my two challenging children. I was only seeing them 1-dimensionally: Kids with Needs that I cannot fulfill. Now the light is shining again, the merkiness is clearing, and I can see them in all their dimensional glory: 32 flavors, and then some. The other day I found myself saying their names over and over again in my head, and quipping about what great names those are, and what great girls they are to go with those names. I am so glad to be back and fully present with them again, and I am so grateful that they loved me all the while.


  • I'm curious. Did your friend say anything in particular that helped pull you through or was it more the act of reaching out of your dark bubble and being heard?
    posted by Blogger Deborah at 12/01/2006 06:26:00 AM  

  • kage-what is the website for that test?

    I completely understand. I know of at least 3 different times in my life when I was clinically depressed, but luckily wasn't severe enough to warrant medication. Twice it was post-partum --however, the 2nd time it was PP was 6 months after my baby was born. (just letting women out there no that PP can strike anytime, not just the first month). The biggest dip, however, was in college, before I met my husband. And it was BAD. Luckily, I had understanding roomies and a fabulous Bishop to rely on. And my parents were great, too.
    What finally got me out of it, though, was a Priesthood blessing --and then acting on that blessing, repeating the things that were said and reminding myself that I was important.
    I can't remember how I got out of the PP --perhaps just time?
    Anyways, I'm sorry you went through that and I'm glad it's over!
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 12/01/2006 06:29:00 AM  

  • deborah, because she had been validated in her own struggle, she could share signs of her depression and coping mechanisms, and validate me.

    I recognized similar behaviors and feelings in myself, and it actually made it calm down a bit because it had a name and I could finally deal with it.

    I don't have the website anymore, but I bet someone reaidng this might be able to find one...
    posted by Blogger Kage at 12/01/2006 06:42:00 AM  

  • :-P I'm assuming you mean me Kage?

    Here is a quiz that you can take, and there is a list of other quizes available at this site. PLEASE REMEMBER that these are just basic quizzes, and can't take the place of a qualified person (doctor, therapist, etc.) in terms of diagnosis. Don't be afraid to reach out to someone if you need help - sometimes that's the hardest thing to do.

    And if a friend reaches out to you, the most important thing to ask is if they are thinking of hurting themselves or someone else. You're not going to put ideas in their head that aren't already there, and if they say yes, you need to get them help immediately. It's bigger than anything you can handle at that point.

    If your friend isn't at that kind of danger point, he or she might just need to talk with you and be heard, or they might want to talk with someone professional, but not know where to turn or have the energy to do it. For me, that's one of the hardest things about being depressed - it can be like climbing Mt. Everest to make just one phone call.

    So where do you go to get help? There's lots of places to turn, including the bishop, who will know what to do. But I also have found that many insurance companies have a mental health line you can call for referrals and they are very helpful. Also your state or county probably has a mental health line you can call, or talk with your doctor.
    posted by Blogger marian at 12/01/2006 08:03:00 AM  

  • Good for you for recognizing the depression - that's the first step, realizing something is wrong. So many people are in denial about depression, but it rarely ever just 'goes away' on its own.
    I always had to have other people intervene when I got really depressed. Sometimes it takes people on the outside when your insides aren't functioning...happily...to help yo see that something's wrong. I'm also thankful for meds. :) They stabilize me and allow me to come out of the funk in my brain and see things in a clearer perspective. Hooray!
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 12/01/2006 08:07:00 AM  

  • marion, I did not want to out you....left it up to you.

    v- I don't want you to think that either of mine just WENT AWAY...breaking out of my first depression was really specific and involved people, but I didn't think those details were relevant for the post. This is actually a cross post from my blog, and the original version includes details of that, but this version is slightly different.

    After recognizing my depression, it took at least another 6 weeks until I felt ok almost every day. And I still have moments where I feel on the verge...and I think about going to therapy a lot. I would like to try that before meds, though I know meds help a lot of people, and I am not against them, I just already take allergy meds and bc meds, so I want to try to avoid it if I can.
    posted by Blogger Kage at 12/01/2006 09:58:00 AM  

  • therapy has always done it for me, I've never done meds. I'm a little scared of them actually, but I do know that a lot of people are quite happy with them
    posted by Blogger marian at 12/01/2006 11:22:00 AM  

  • oh and thanks kage, I'm fine being outed but I appreciate your sensitivity
    posted by Blogger marian at 12/01/2006 11:22:00 AM  

  • i took anti-depressants from age 16 to 21. i was diagnosed with major depressive disorder (MDD) at age 17 following a suicide attempt and diagnosed with a panic disorder at age 19. i saw psychiatrists and therapists, self-medicated with drugs and alcohol, withdrew medically and/or failed my first three semesters of college and was unable to work full-time due to my condition. i like to call those times my "dark ages"

    i have been off of medicaiton for over a year now. i am about to complete my 4th semester at the local community college where i currently have a 4.0. i work full-time, teach sunday school (non-Mo), own a townhouse, planned a wedding and got married. getting out of a severe depression is really hard work. i had to really WANT to do it rather than not care about anything, as i did for years.

    sometimes i like to pretend that i don't have depression and that it is a thing of the past. however, i will always have to deal with it - i scored a 35 on that test (mild-moderate). i really have to be aware of myself now, and learn to stop and take care of myself when i feel overwhelmed instead of falling into that dark hole again. not being on medication, i have been more aware of the physical accepts of depression & anxiety - body aches, teeth grinding, diarrhea, fatigue, etc.

    i don't really want to ever go back on medication, however i know i may need to again at some points in my life (i.e. i am most likely going to get PPD). exercise and eating right do A LOT to help with depression and anxiety. i find yoga to especially help with the physical symptoms. certain vitamins/supplements like omegas, calcium, magnesium, B vitamins and even a multi-vitamin help a lot too.
    posted by Anonymous brenbot at 12/01/2006 12:48:00 PM  

  • brenbot-
    you are my hero. I love you, girl.
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 12/01/2006 04:31:00 PM  

  • I've had serious depression twice in my life: when I was 17-18 and after the birth of my second child. First depression was due to the situation I was in, second was PPD and hormonally driven. Both were painful, but for different reasons. I'm grateful that I had a friend and husband to turn to when I thought I had PPD - it made reaching out and getting professional help that much easier. When I was 17, however, I was clueless about what was happening to me - just felt like I was falling deeper and deeper into a hole that I couldn't find my way out of. I never want to go there again...but if I find myself back at that place I am now prepared to fight.

    I'm glad that you got through it, Kage.
    posted by Blogger chloe at 12/01/2006 06:35:00 PM  

  • Brenbot, Good for you for getting your depression treated BEFORE you had kids. My mom was chronically depressed while I was growing up (and I think she was as a teenager as well), and it could be pretty difficult for me to deal with at times. She seems to have it under control now, but it would have been nice to have a happier mom.

    I don't know that I've ever been classically depressed, but I have had problems with anxiety. Not long after my dad passed away, I started having panic attacks but didn't recognize them as such. I thought there was something wrong with my heart....I would always have bad chest pains during them...went to several cardiologists, etc. only to be told it was "in my head." It is pretty amazing how truly physical anxiety and depression can feel.
    Hope they never come back, but if they do (just like Chloe and others said), at least I'll know what to do.

    Thanks for this post, Kage!
    posted by Blogger Jen at 12/01/2006 07:26:00 PM  

  • Brenbot- and everyone else - also watch out for prenatal depression. When it hit, it hit me HARD. The up side is that I was already on anti-depressants to treat it when the baby was born, and probably due to that, I haven't dealt with PPD (which all doctors say I most likely would've had pretty severely.) There is little support for pregnancy depression (unlike for PPD), so just be aware of its reality.
    Oh Kage, I wasn't trying to say that your depression just 'went away', I was just making the point that sometimes it's hard for people to recognize that something is wrong, or that people want to deny that anything is amiss and they just hope everything will go away. The fact that you reached out to someone and worked through it shows that you recognized what was going on desired change. I applaud that.
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 12/01/2006 09:16:00 PM  

  • Hey, I just want to say I empathize with anyone who has dealt with that monster called depression! Kage and others, I'm glad you could get through it and be happy!

    It can be so debilitating and discouraging, especially when you can't seem to find a cause or a method of relief. I've of course had severe depression throughout my life and the best help has been other people who actually seem to care and understand. Please never tell anyone who is depressed to just snap out of it and have a positive attitude! That can make them feel even worse because they've likely been trying that all along. Often, not even prayer, fasting or scripture reading will cure it if it's serious. And if your bishop, mission president or other church leader is NOT helpful, don't leave the church. Not everyone understands.

    I had great luck in the past with Prozac, but now years later it doesn't do the trick. Nothing does, really. I only keep going because I have some loved ones who have reached out to me in my darkest moments. Sometimes, like when you're a mom, you can't get rid of the stresses that aggravate depression. But it helps A LOT when someone else really understands and shows a bit of support.
    posted by Blogger Squiddy at 12/04/2006 02:37:00 PM  

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