Almost anything can cause depression
- You are aging and are not physically capable of living your life the way you have previously.
- You have an illness (maybe even several illnesses) or injury that is limiting your life style.
- You have lost a love one (including a pet) and the loss seems more important than your desire to live on.
- You are separating, separated, divorcing, divorced or just plan lonely and you do not believe anyone will care if you are gone.
- You have retired, lost your job or had to end your career on disability and now, unexpectedly, feel useless and or guilty.
These are signs of clinical depression.
Your first step is to stop thinking of yourself as a victim and take control of your situation. The first step toward improving any situation is to change the way YOU feel about the situation.
- Call and set up an appointment to speak with you family doctor. Notice that the term I used was "speak with".
- Take a list of your present medications and a list of your symptoms.
The list of medications can alert your doctor if you are suffering with a reaction to multiple medications. The list of your symptoms will help you remember just what you are going through.You are able to speak with him and give him a comprehensive blueprint of your situation. You are in control of your doctor's visit. He is now able to prescribe test and x-rays. The results of the test will guide your doctor in determining if you have a brain tumor or are suffering with clinical depression or something else. If it is a brain tumor, you and your doctor will determine in which direction to proceed. If the diagnosis is clinical depression, your doctor may suggest medication, a psychologist or both.
Living in depression is dangerous and deadly. I consider myself an inside expert. This blog is not to give you my medical advice. That could be just as deadly, not to mention illegal. It is to give you information from someone who has suffered with it on and off for over thirty years. I am someone who has walked in your shoes and overcome its potentially deadly grip. Your shoes were so tight on my feet that I contemplated suicide two times. Now I realize that in each instance, the only thing that kept me from carrying out that pressing desire was I found something to live for. In those instances, dying seemed so much easier than living. I found something to live for.
My first encounter with depression was at the age of 24. My marriage was starting to deteriorate. I did not know what to do to get it back on track. I felt lost and alone. I was an active churchgoer. But I would not have dreamed of telling my minister (my father's best friend) that my husband had been unfaithful and to get back at him I had an affair also. I had committed adultery-a sin. I was that quite lady who was at the front of the church, with family in tow, each Sunday morning. It all looked good. However, it was a mess. It felt messy.
I very seldom went into a liquor store. However, I did that evening. I bought a fifth of wine. I drove to the edge of the river where the boats go into the water and I set there. I cried and I drank wine. I reminisced over how wonderful my marriage had been and tried to understand how it had gone so wrong. I set there looking at the water and thinking that all I had to do was to put the car in drive and put my feet on the gas. I could not swim. No one would know where to look for me and no one would care.
Somewhere In all that sadness, I saw our child. He is my only son. He is the child for whom I would do anything. Would I live for him? Or would I leave him here to wonder why his mother chose to kill herself. Would I leave him here to wonder if it were something, he said or did? Would I leave him here for other people to tell my story? What would that story be? No one knew what was going on in our family (not my friends and not my family). Moreover, who would raise my five year old? How would they raise him? Because of my actions, would he grow up to one day take his own life? Yes! I found my reason to live in the eyes of my son. I could not I would not leave him!
Twelve years later, an arthroscopic knee repair, a gallbladder removal surgery and a total knee replacement within fifteen months kept me homebound. Before my family doctor diagnosed my Rheumatoid Arthritis and my gynecologist diagnosed my gallbladder problems, I had been sick for years. I went through countless medications and examinations before I found the doctors who diagnosed my illness correctly. Nevertheless, I still suffered sharp pain that would stop me in my tracks. Despite countless tests by specialist, no doctor found it. Scar tissue from a previous hysterectomy completely blocked my colon. That was the reason for the sharp pains and that was why I found myself in emergency surgery. Within two years, I had four surgeries. Then I realized that something was not quite right at home again. My marriage had ended. I just did not know it. The-none- funny thing was; I did not see it coming.
This time I was not suicidal. I was angry, hurt, sad, and I felt terribly alone. I was clinically depressed. My doctor prescribed anti depressant medication. What resulted was someone who did not cry, did not complain and easily managed. I found myself complying with whatever was asked of me. I stayed in that marriage five more years. I had to come off the medication to find the strength to tell MYSELF enough! I am not telling anyone to stop his or her medication. What I am saying is there may come a time that you no longer need the medication. It is up to you and your doctor to decide when that time is.
The last depression was the big one. A combination of medical problems made it impossible to continue my career. I fought medical retirement with every ounce of energy I had. It really is true that "what you resist persist". I had surgery on my right knee twice in eight months. In addition to Rheumatoid Arthritis, Osteoarthritis was causing my spine to deteriorate. I developed Type2 Diabetes, High blood pressure, Men Eire's Disease, glaucoma and chronic fatigue. Between the clinical depression and the combination of medications, I slept more hours than I was awake. When I awoke, I was still in chronic pain. I felt and looked sick. I needed the assistance of a walker or a cane most of the time. In addition, I felt that I was in financial ruin. I saw no end to the whole situation. I got into my car with the intent of not returning home. However, instead I found myself at my mother's grave. I remember setting there talking to her through my tears as if she were setting in front of me. I do not know how long I was there. It was one of those ugly cries. I cried so had that my entire body shook. I fell asleep on top of her grave. When I awoke, I was no longer hysterical. I felt at peace.
I returned home and called to talk to a therapist. I talked to him for several hours. He made an appointment for evaluation. Hospitalization was not required. I was on suicide watch, by my family, for about two months. For two months, I was never alone. In addition, I was again on medication. This time I took anti depressants for about two years and I was working through therapy for about a year. I understood my disability, but I could not understand this overpowering sadness.
In the thirty years that I worked, something that I never thought I would say is "I missed the people whom I worked with. I missed certain aspects of my job". I understood my illness. However, I could not understand the longing to be back with the people I worked with. At a recent Retirement Dinner, I received my answer. Eleven out of the twelve former employees I talked with said they too went through clinical depression when they retired. Some made a point to mention that it took several years for them to get over it.
What I know now is this; I may not be able to change my situation, but I can change my attitude and my thinking about my situation.
I was afraid. Fear is paralyzing. I was afraid to make, what I thought were, major decisions. I was afraid that I could not live financially comfortably once I went on disability. I was afraid of how people would judge my disability and me. I was afraid of losing the people around me. I was afraid of losing the things I had accumulated. I was afraid of dying. Some days I was afraid I would live.
What I learned is this
- Living in fear is leaving in a state of resistant to change. Resisting change causes anxiety and depression.
- It does not matter what anyone else says or does. What I say about me determines what I believe about me.
- What someone thinks about me is of no consequence to me. How I feel about me changed my life.
- If someone leaves, then it is time for them to go. I may or may not miss them. Nevertheless, it is time for us to part.
- My living situation has changed. I do not worry about how perfect my house is or is not. I enjoy my home as it is today. If I feel like cleaning, I will clean. If I do not and I have company, I enjoy my company.
- The Bible says it best "This too shall pass". Good or bad, life changes from moment to moment. I no longer fear those moments. I accept that they are and adjust accordingly.
I love to hear and fell my heartbeat. It makes me grateful to be alive! I now know how to stay that way.