Thursday, January 8, 2009

This is my story

This is an older post from my blog on myspace. Since the topic of depression has been raised on 2 other peoples' blogs lately, I felt compelled to repost that blog. I feel telling my story is one thing God has called me to do, in order to minister to and educate others out there, and to break down the stereotypes about mental illness.

This blog is a long time in the making. I have come to a point where I have done enough research and come to terms with my own self enough to let loose. I know the facts and I feel no shame for who I am, because I can't change it. I am who I am, flaws and all.

I am going to lay it out there. I have one very unbalanced brain! I struggle with bipolar II - a chronic form of rapid-cycling depression - and a generalized anxiety disorder. I used to be ashamed of that, but I no longer am. Because that knowledge has literally saved my life.

**If you suffer from depression and are easily triggered, read no further. Though I promise, there is a happy ending.**

How could knowing all that save my life you may ask? Isn't ignoarance bliss, as they say? Couldn't I have risen above it with prayer and positive thinking? Isn't it just a matter of how I deal with things? Wasn't I just throwing a pity party?

Let's rewind to October 2006. I was in such a deep hole of depression. I was stressed out and sad and struggling within my own self. And I had no reason to feel that way. But nevertheless I did. Things with my sister were good then. She was approximately 7 months clean, so no stress there. I was involved in my son's preschool, but got no pleasure from it. My marriage started to unravel, but I didn't know why. Everything set me off. My kids started to feel my imbalance and were acting out, and everything they did set me over the edge. I would yell and scream and cry and lock myself in the bathroom to get away from them. I would call my husband at work and ask him to come home because I felt I wasn't capable of being a mother. I couldn't function. I was consumed. At it was engulfing everything in my life.

Just before Christmas, I was ready to leave my husband. I don't advocate divorce, I'll never stand for it (except in extreme cases like abuse), and couldn't believe I was at the point I would even consider it, much less start taking steps to follow through on it. I felt if I could just be free of him and start over, then my life would pull itself back together.

Still, I wondered if there wasn't more to it.... I knew I had depression. I have suffered with it since I was 11, and the anxiety for as long as I can remember. Its why I was a chronic crier in elementary school and junior high. I began to suck it in by the time I got to high school, and for the most part, I felt free of it once I got to college. Though I would still occasionally slip and "freak out."

Finally I was at the end of my rope. I flipped out one night and drove into a baseball field parking lot with a view of the hospital and stood there in the pouring rain wondering whether I should go to the hospital or go home. I felt so conflicted that I took my house key and kept digging it into my hand, trying to bore a hole in it, in hopes that somehow it would take away some of the pain. In hindsight, I probably should have gone to the hospital. But I was still determined to uphold my "perfect" image, and going to the hospital would end all that.
I decided right then and there, I was going to do whatever it took to fight for myself. Nobody else was going to help me. They all "lived to far away," "had their own problems," "couldn't afford it...." I realized nobody was going to get me better for me. I had to take the proverbial bull by the horns and just kiss off everyone else's excuses and concerns and do it, regardless of the consequences it may pose for others.

I saw a psychiatrist and within 45 minutes, he diagnosed me and handed me a prescription for a medication he assured me would give me the relief I needed. That was the turning point.

Slowly, I began to realize how much in my life that I was sabotaging. Others weren't sabotaging me -- I was sabotaging me! My marriage was falling apart because neither me nor my husband could deal with me anymore. My kids were becoming unruly because it was the only way they could get my attention. My business suffered because I was too depressed to do anything with it. My sanity was slipping because I didn't have the knowledge to know what was going on with my own self. Even my faith began to falter big time and I was close to turning my back on God because I thought He was doing this to me, that He had failed me, and therefore must be a "feel good" myth I had bought into.

But I started to cope again, to love again, to see the truth again. To other depressed people, I now tell them that while you are still consumed with the disorder, it is impossible to see reality. Everything in your life becomes distorted within your own mind and perceptions. Everything looks different under the power of depression. To those still in it, I am telling you now, fight for yourself! Fight for your life! Don't inhibit your own self any longer, and do whatever you need to do! Life is too short to spend it miserable, to spend it losing the people and things that are vitally important to you.

In short, the knowledge and the medication have set me free. I love my life again for the first time in so long. I see the beauty in the things and people around me. I take care of myself and my relationships. I cherish the people around me, and try to lighten life for them. I treat them with the love and kindness they deserve. And I am a lot gentler on myself. I no longer expect perfection out of myself and accept that I am going to make a lot of mistakes in life, and that is perfectly okay. As long as I remain true to myself and continue to take care of myself, everything else WILL be okay, and it will fall into place. I have mental clarity for the first time in my life. I am finally, for the first time, a fully functional adult.

So now my passion is to educate others and to dispell all the myths out there about mental health. It IS real! It IS important! And it CAN affect anyone! And yet, there is still such a stigma and so much outdated information about it. It is a brain disorder. Basically, it is diabetes in the brain. The same way diabetes takes nutrients and cannot process and distribute it effectively in the pancreas, depression does exactly the same thing in the brain. The nutrients are there, but the brain cannot process them, so the brain is nutrient deficient and cannot disperse the chemicals that keep one "balanced" from cell to cell. So I say to you, if you can accept diabetes and support people getting help with that condition, why not mental disorders? Its the one thing (along with addiction) that people are scared to accept is actually medical, despite all the research.

Whether you suffer a mental illness or not, I urge you to start taking some action. Do something! Demand some change! Get the ball rolling in your area for support groups and proper public education on mental health. There is so little out there, and people with mental illnesses already feel so alone in their struggles. Things HAVE to change so that more people can come out the other side and not live like I have any longer. We need to help because it DOES save lives. It has saved mine, and that is proof enough for me.

1 comment:

Joyful_Momma said...

I am so glad that you sought help when you needed it.