Thursday, October 24, 2013

The Mean Reds

October is a month that is awash with the color pink and we know what those ribbons mean.

With all that saturation, you probably don't know what the green ribbon represents.

October is Depression Awareness Month.

I would love to share a bit of my story.    Please forgive the  page jump.  I hate them when other bloggers use them but I'm only doing this because this post has a few curse words.  I don't use them in writing unless I'm quoting and like to warn people before hand.

I like to peek at my husband's facebook account because his friends are more interesting online than mine are. (Seriously, stop with the constant baby pictures!)  I recently read a status from his former classmate that asked if there were really that many people who truly had anxiety and depression.  She must do some sort of coding or billing and noticed that diagnosis coming up a lot.  That didn't really bother me.

What she said in the comments irked me so much. 
" It's unbelievable to me. At some point Americans turned into a bunch of pussies who think they're never going to have financial trouble, marital problems, a broken finger nail or bad hair day and now they run to their doctor for meds. I am going to bring back and old but poignant statement: Life's a bitch and then you die". No one said life is easy! Gotta man up and roll with the punches"
I lead a very charmed life.  I have a great husband and kids.  I like my job.  We have some troubles but nothing that keeps me up at night.  I also suffer from severe depression and anxiety.  Usually it only hinders me from going to social events, which includes going to church or out with friends, and has me thinking a little too critically of myself.  Sometimes it gets so bad that I can't get out of bed and I listen to audio books to keep the terrible, awful thoughts from constantly flooding my mind.  At my worst, I was suicidal. 

I go to a doctor.  I take an antidepressant.  I need to see a therapist but I haven't found one I like that I can afford.  I use resources available from church.  I am not cured but these help a lot.  I still have thoughts that I am worthless.  When my husband gets irritated with me, my mind automatically tells me that he would be better off without me.  When I am at my best, I can immediately tell myself that depression lies.  When it's bad, these thoughts snowball and all I can think about is the fact that I am the biggest pile of manure on earth and everyone would be better off without me. 

When I was at my worst, I only got out of bed to go to the bathroom, get small snacks, and to go to work.  I listened to audiobooks and my Scriptures nonstop because concentrating on the words forced those thoughts to the background.  Seriously, I listened to the entire Harry Potter series in eight days.  I cried.  My cat spent every day in bed with me, laying at the opposite corner from me, a constant presence.  When I cried, she came over and nuzzled my head.  The only time she left me was when my husband was home.

One day, I was laying in bed, feeling terrible.  I remembered that I had an old prescription bottle of sleeping pills with only a few pills gone.  I had figured out how to just stop existing.   I got up to look for these pills with no tears or histrionics, just as if I was going to the bathroom.  My cat, who usually stayed put whenever I moved, got up and headbutted my leg and started meowing like crazy.  She followed me out of the room and continued to vie for my attention.  I realized what I was doing and dropped to the floor and just hugged her while I cried.

This was still not a turning point for me.   A few days later, I had the same idea.  Again, my cat did the same thing. Again, I changed my mind and went to back to bed.  It still took a few weeks to get to the point where I could muster the energy and motivation to get up and do things.  Sometimes recovering from a bad episode is occurs quickly and sometimes it takes a long time.

I've told a few people that my cat has a special bond with me and that she saved my life.  I don't know if they believe me.  I don't care. I know it is true.

Right now, I am doing okay.  I have a husband who is incredibly supportive.  He makes sure I take my medicine and helps stop my destructive line of thinking.  I have a great nurse practitioner who looks at treating the whole picture and not just tossing a prescription at me. I have a supportive network of friends who I can call on anytime I need them.

I just want depression and mental illness to not have this stigma surrounding it.  I want people to know that they are worth a lot even if they do not feel that way.  I want people to know that you can't just snap out of it. 

If you think you have depression, talk to someone.  Anyone.  A family member, a friend, doctor.  Get help.  If you think someone you care about has depression, help them get the assistance they need. 

If you would like more information on depression, visit the National Institute of Mental Health. 

If you are curious about the title of this post, it comes from the movie Breakfast at Tiffany's.

Thank you for reading this story.  It is really just a small part of my journey with depression but it is an important one.   It is not eloquent and sometimes I'm not even sure if it is coherent but it took a lot for me to put this on such a public forum.  Thanks.

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