Living with depression is like living on the edge of a cliff and continually riding a roller coaster up and down and on it. Often times I’m just grinding along the edge of it like those skateboarders at the X games. Just grinding along half on and half off the edge.
Currently, I’m riding above the edge, enjoying the ride in the sunshine and beauty of the mountains. But a couple summers ago, I was planted firmly at the bottom of the valley. And so I wrote.
I share with Y’all today as a reminder to myself and to those who suffer from depression to stay vigilant in our pursuit of the mountaintop. It is there.
This first appeared on PaulaTisch.com July 18, 2016.
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No, I’m not OK. It’s really an ongoing issue that is just getting the better of me. Usually, it’s worse in the winter. Worse when I’m really tired. Worse when I’m especially stressed. Worse when… But this is summer. The sun is high in the sky and has been out daily. My pool is clean and welcoming. My son is home from deployment. My son and new daughter-in-law are happily married. My husband is wonderful and working very hard to make me happy. So what is the problem?
Because I’m really not OK.
When Favorite Baby was about 4 or 5 I became aware of an increasing trend towards feeling “cup half empty”. I was tired a lot, but that isn’t that unusual for a mother of four. I didn’t want to get out of bed. Didn’t want to do much. And I couldn’t think, make a decision or anything. I became bitchy and cranky, always seeing the worst in others.
I also had a couple of anxiety attacks where I felt I couldn’t catch my breath. It was difficult to be in a room full of people, even those I loved without feeling crowded and wanting to crawl inside myself.
Over a period of time, I eventually began thinking that those other moms, those other women, those other people – you know the ones, the ones with real depression and anxiety – the other ones that turned to vices and suicide, well they didn’t seem so crazy to me. That is a scary and sobering place to be.When those other people, the ones who resort to vices or suicide no longer seem crazy to you, there is a problem. Reach out! Click To Tweet
So I called my doctor who had been helping me to watch my increasing symptoms for a while and eventually I was diagnosed with depression. Yup, me.
Me and the other 120 million people worldwide who struggle, suffer, live and breath depression daily. Some of us are lucky and find our depression to be situational, brought on by some trigger or situation. Others, like me, find ourselves in a daily battle.
The thing is, I have been riding this mental health roller coaster for the past 15+ years and been doing quite well. I have managed my medication seasonally. I have introduced essential oils and aromatherapy to help with mood swings. I try to stay in tune with my mental health and have wonderful support from Big Jon.
I’ve been fairly successful at keeping the depression in check with very few anxiety episodes.
In fact, in the beginning, I was amazed at how great I could feel. I seriously didn’t know that I could feel and live in such a positive state of mind. There is an interesting benefit/seriously sad outcome from being diagnosed with depression. It is the realization that you have been struggling and hanging on for so many years without knowing that this isn’t normal.
There is an interesting benefit/seriously sad outcome from being diagnosed with depression. It is the realization that you have been struggling and hanging on for so many years without knowing that this isn’t normal. Click To Tweet
Not everyone feels this way. Not everyone works so hard to put a smile on their face. Not everyone lies in bed for several minutes or several hours trying to bring themselves to get up and shower. Not everyone is exhausted from just living. Feeling like this is NOT normal.
It can be better. Life should be so much better.
For the past ten odd years, I have actually been great. I’ve found a medication that works for me, Effexor XR. It has a few frustrating side effects but nothing unmanageable. And there have been times I’ve added Wellbutrin to the cocktail mix if need be.
I’ve been good. Sadness, frustration, and all the other emotions that go along with living are normal and manageable and healthy. They are the highs and lows of daily living and I appreciate them more than one might think.
Now – suddenly, my go-to remedies and solutions aren’t working. I find myself falling backward on my roller coaster and I didn’t see it coming at all. You say “How are you?” I say “I’m doing well.” or “I’m fine.” But I’m not. I’m really not fine at all.
There is no rhyme or reason that this should be affecting me in this way, at this time in my life. It could be some change in my body chemistry. It could be menopause. It could be the excitement of our summer. It could be nothing.
And that’s just it. I need to remind myself that this is the way God created me. That I get to go on this journey of self-discovery that sometimes leads me to lethargy and loneliness. I didn’t do anything wrong to bring this on myself. I did not ask for depression, but here I am.
Something has changed and I just want to be real with you about it. To let you into my world so that perhaps it might open a door for you – An insight into another’s journey with depression. Maybe we could talk about it, pray about it, learn about it. Let’s have a discussion about what is really happening. Let’s not paint the exhausting, beautiful picture of perfection. Let’s open up and be real about living with depression.
Let’s be real about this lack of feeling. Let’s be real about this lack of energy. Let’s be real about this lack of interest… in anything. No, I’m not OK anymore.
It’s time to revisit the medication. Time to reexamine my essential oils. Time to research some other alternative methods for dealing with depression. It’s time.
I’m going to own it. I am living with depression and I’m not OK.
But I will be.
I would love to chat with you, email with you, encourage you if you are living with depression. Please reach out to me. 🙂