Wednesday, February 11, 2004

A Serious Topic
My Current Mood: The current mood of crimsondove at

This blog is not going to be the normal warm and fuzzy you usually expect when you come here. But, then again, life is not always warm and fuzzy. I hope you’ll bear with me.

Yesterday, I reached out to someone who was in pain and in the whirlwind of depression. I relayed to her some very personal experiences of my own, of which I will share with you today. As I slept last night, it came to me that I needed to come out of the proverbial closet yet again about a deeply personal, very important matter. Some of my friends know what I went through, and others would be surprised. Either way, here it goes.

Last September, I turned 31. I walked away from a lucrative job permiated with abuse, I was planning my dream wedding set for October, trying to find a home for my new family, and dealing with a lot of personal issues with my family. I was very much in love, and spent most of my time at my fiancé’s home. I told my family I was busy job and house hunting, which I was. But it was a smoke screen.

I spent most of my day in bed, sleeping. I didn’t want to get up, I didn’t want to go out, and I didn’t want to eat. The last thing I was hoping for was a job, or a life, I just wanted to curl up in a ball and disappear. This should have been the happiest time of my life, and I couldn’t even face picking up my own wedding dress.

One day, Lindi came home from work to find me still in my PJ’s sleeping in her bed. She told me that it was time I joined the land of the living and if she had to come in there and get me, she was going to. Through her love and support (and swift kick in the ass), I went to my doctor.

My doctor talked with me at length about how I was feeling. We discussed the depression, the anxiety attacks I started having out of the blue, and he prescribed a small dose of the antidepressant Celexa. I felt worthless - weak - that I had resorted to medication to help me grab the reigns of my own life. I, literally, cried myself silly in his office, but he carefully explained how as we grow older, our bodies will change, especially for women. With that change also comes brain chemistry changes and 97% of all women will experience some form of depression by the time they turn 35. He gently convinced me to give it a try.

I went to my mother and explained what the doctor was doing, and she told me that through her bouts of depression, she wishes she had had the courage to do exactly what I did. She told me that she was proud of me. She retold her years of depressive feelings, mostly due to her physical pain, but also the toll it took on her emotionally. Knowing that depression runs in families, her revelation soothed my already tattered ego a bit, and I realized that indeed there are some things that are truly out of my control – until I take control.

While taking my medication, I never felt that I was drugged up or was someone I wasn't. I still experienced all of my normal feelings, but the intensity changed… the whole world wasn't coming down on me. I was able to focus, regain control of my life, plan my wedding, begin a job, and generally put everything back on track. Everyone around me noticed this positive change.

I didn’t take it forever, and I was lucky to find a medication that helped right off the bat. I have known others that spend years trying to find medication that helps their disorders.

Could I have gotten through without medication? Probably. But it occurred to me while going through this ordeal that I should treat my depression as any other medical condition. I remember going through similar experiences from the outside while with Grace. I watched the struggles of those with mental illness and their loved ones find acceptance for their situations. I remember looking for that acceptance in myself.

To that end, I believe that mental illness, emotional illness, is simply an illness to be treated, and beaten. We wouldn't deny ourselves the medical help necessary to beat cancer. The mere thought is simply outrageous. Then why do deny ourselves that same level of help when it comes to mental illness? We are merely afraid of judgement, that somehow admitting we have a problem and seeking proper help through medication and therapy displays our insecurities of being “crazy”, “nuts”, unreliable, unproductive, a “head case”. I am here to tell you that once you can get past the stigma you feel and begin treatment, you will wonder what stopped you in the first place. Sometimes therapy isn’t enough, just as physical therapy won’t always make the pain of knee surgery go away. There are an abundance of tools if you look for them – and medication is one of the more powerful tools for the toughest of times. If I had to do it again, I wouldn’t think twice.

Trust me, no one will judge you for helping yourself. And if they do, you really should examine if they are people who care about your well being. You are your own harshest critic, and if you allow the fear to consume you, the help you seek will always be inches away from your fingertips, like a mirage in the desert.

I am just grateful for the love of a good woman, the understanding of family and friends and the courage to face the unthinkable. I am grateful that I helped myself by laying down the pride that comes with anyone who is of strong, stubborn will and turning my life over to the universe, and asking for blessings.

They came ten-fold.


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