Photo by Miguel Angel Ruiz Sanchez
Depression is no stranger to me; Yeah, I’ve known the demon’s seductive power throughout most of my life. There have been too many times when I’ve been unable to avoid tumbling downward, and it seems to have taken way too long to learn my warning signs, indicating something is just not quite right.
My first major depression occurred after the early death of my father at age 44. I was 14 years old, entering high school within the month. I have never done a search about grief to find out what is a “normal” (I try hard to avoid that word, since I’ve never met anyone or thing which I would consider normal) length of time for grieving the death of one’s parent. That first year I went about life at school in a rather numb state, crying silently every night in my bed, lest anyone should hear. I did ask to see a psychiatrist, as I was afraid that I was going “crazy,” but was reassured by my mom that I wasn’t—and that was that. No one talked about my father; no one referred to his long illness, the toll it took on all of us. No one talked.
That’s how I grew up—no one talked about feelings. So, I poured them out into journal notebooks; and when I did finally meet with a therapist in my early 20’s, I recognized that I’d been grieving all those years, unable to come to terms with the loss.
I’ve suffered several depressions since then: during a difficult marriage…the year before my divorce (my first time taking anti-depressant meds) …the year when I couldn’t find a job…the year spent working in a terribly toxic atmosphere—ultimately landing me in a psych unit for almost a week…and returning there for another week, eight months later. The hospitalizations occurred in 2016, so it’s not that long ago, and I can see that this depression has been the most difficult, still lingering around. It’s been very helpful for me to trace back and figure out how and what I was feeling about life going on around me, as well as within myself. I can see that each time it’s been tougher to wade through…
I have to mention in all this, that I have been in some form of psychotherapy since my 20’s (!), and taking meds pretty consistently since I turned 40. For me, this combo is good, strong and productive. Particularly when I do a lot of work outside of therapy sessions—i.e., journal writing, staying active, focus on self-care, avoid the pity parties as much as possible—then, I feel ok. But this has meant trying many different medications—for anxiety and depression. Some work for a while, then they are increased—which works for a while. Then they don’t, and I end up with a whole new regime. Psychiatrists are no longer gods to me, and I have become pretty strong at standing up for myself, letting the doctor know that some med is no longer working. I figure no one knows the workings of my brain better than I do. So, I have become my strongest advocate. But it took a long while to get here…
Some studies indicate that if you have suffered more than one major depression, that additional periods of depression may be more likely. That information scares me. But I continue to explore the ways in which my quirky mind and feelings work, and how my soul attempts to send me signals that I am really hurting—and when I do encounter the demon again, well, my aim is to try to manage the journey a day, an hour, or even a minute at a time.
I am a social worker and educator; as both, I have always been interested in self-development and spiritual growth. I have worked as a religious school educator for over thirty years, and hope this blog will prove helpful to readers, and myself.