Friday, February 28, 2014

Depression: Let's Talk

“When you're lost in those woods, it sometimes takes you a while to realize that you are lost. For the longest time, you can convince yourself that you've just wandered off the path, that you'll find your way back to the trailhead any moment now. Then night falls again and again, and you still have no idea where you are, and it's time to admit that you have bewildered yourself so far off the path that you don't even know from which direction the sun rises anymore.”  
- Elizabeth Gilbert (author)




Depression is a difficult thing to talk about.

It is also a difficult thing to write about...especially if you are considering actually publishing it.

Any illness that falls under the category of "mental illness" is - if it is something from which you suffer.

While taboos about mental illness have certainly decreased over the years, it seems as though "mental wellness" is what more people focus on.

I am not saying this is a bad thing. Overall emotional and mental wellness is important. Social media is lit up with inspirational quotes from everyone from Chopra to Gibran to famous celebrities to life coaches and motivational speakers.



But sometimes - to someone suffering from a mental illness - particularly depression - the whole "pull up your socks and keep moving" messages can be...well...frustrating.



There are still many a person who believes that depression is more about a "state of mind" rather than a medical issue involving a chemical imbalance in the brain.

Now yes. Like many illnesses and conditions or whatever you choose to call them, there are a myriad of "severities".

Some people suffer from "clinical depression" - which, in short - involves an issue with optimal levels of serotonin in the brain.

Some people suffer from "situational depression" - which involves a depressive state brought on by an event or events in one's life (for example, the death of a loved one, an accident, the diagnosis of another illness/disease, chronic pain, the loss of a job/financial hardship, addiction, the break-up of a relationship/marriage, etc - the list is endless.)

Then there is postpartum depression which is common to mothers after the birth of a baby.

Let me stop here to remind you all that I am not a doctor. Nor a nurse.

I am not here to give you long, detailed information about different kinds of depression, nor do I claim to know all of it.

I don't.

I am here to remind you that depression is very often an "invisible illness".



Someone can look happy on the outside and be crying on the inside.

Someone can seem to have it "all together" when they feel as though everything in their world is falling apart.

Why am I sitting here...at my laptop...reminding you of this?

Well...I am doing this because I have struggled with clinical depression (and anxiety) for the better part of my life.

There I said it.

I am also someone who many people look at and thinks she has is all together.

I post inspirational quotes on Facebook and Twitter. I write about health and wellness and being present and how happiness is all in how you react to what life throws at you.

Photos of me smiling, of my children playing and being silly, status updates and antidotes filled with witty banter about my "crazy yet wonderful" life fill Facebook and this blog.



And I am not in a depressive state all of the time. I have a blessed life. I consider myself extremely lucky.

I have three, beautiful, healthy sons. I have my own home. I have a job I enjoy. I have amazing friends and a family that is probably the best and most supportive family in the world.

I am usually someone who is what many would call a "high-functioning" person who suffers from bouts with depression. I have had ups and downs, but I have been able to manage it (with help) for many years. Sometimes fighting harder than I should have, in retrospect.

But right now I am admitting that I am currently struggling.



Clinical and situational depression, some physical health issues, stress and lots of life change (including the break-up of my 17 year relationship with my husband - the father of my three boys) have resulted in my body finally reaching its limit.

The "what comes first - the chicken or the egg" scenario applies. Did the stress cause my physical symptoms or was it the other way around?



Well...after many consultations with several doctors, it seems it really is a miss-mash of the two.

I am currently on leave from my full-time job - as prescribed by my doctors - to take stock of my health.

I don't like to seem "weak". When I work, I want to be fully present and top-notch. When I parent, I want to be engaged and really there for my kids.

But when it is all that you can do to muster up the physical and emotional strength just to get out of bed in the morning (usually after not sleeping very well - very common when one is depressed and anxious) - it is next to impossible to work and parent effectively.



And so guilt and worry come in to play. And I am a self-proclaimed "guilt and worry" junkie. I want to be the "best employee" and "the best mom" and "the best friend" and "the best daughter"...and the list goes on. And if I don't feel I am doing my "best", then I feel like I am just not doing whatever it is...well enough.



Intellectually, I know that I am good enough.

I know I am a great person, a hard worker, a good mother, a reliable friend and all that wonderful stuff. But lately, this often does not translate over to the emotional side of my inner voice or "critic".

But there is good news.

I am finally....FINALLY...putting myself first - as much as I can.

I have realized that I can't be as effective as I know I CAN be at work or at home or at play unless I take the time to stop and take care of ME.



And I wanted to let you know this because I am sure many of you reading this struggle with similar things.



And I want you to know...you are not alone.

So that's it.

Now the question is...will I actually publish this post?

Will I have the courage to really put it out there?

So much has been written in my personal journals...but will I actually but this out there in the blogosphere?



Well one thing I always venture to do with my writing is to help people. To extend my experiences outward in hopes of making others feel that what they are going through is not something they are experiencing by themselves.

So if you are reading this now...well...there is your answer.

Mind...body...spirit.

And courage.

I had to put a "Wizard of Oz" reference in here.


These are the four cornerstones that I am addressing to bring myself back to the Lora I know I am.

I'm gonna get my sparkle back.


The one that sparkles.

Smiles,

Lora




7 comments:

  1. Thank you for being brave and for sharing your story Lora. I suffer from clinical depression as well. And I do so mostly on my own as people just don't seem to understand. I appreciate your honesty and for having the courage to publish this post. Wishing you strength. You have given me a little more. K.N.

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  2. Lora I admire your courage to share.
    Thank you. So many suffer in silence.
    Sharing our stories matters. Your story with help many reflect. Thank you for putting a face to this issue. Most appreciated.

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  3. I am so happy to hear you are FINALLY PUTTING YOURSELF FIRST. It is something we women do, put ourselves on the back burner and that never turns out well. I know because I did it all my life and in my 30's fell apart. I have suffered my entire life with depression and anxiety and mood swings. I admire your courage to share and I appreciate what that takes because I do it too. Please remember your strength is greater than you perceive and LOVE YOURSELF fully all flaws included. I found for me when I really really learned to Love myself my life changed. I got closer to the top of the list and believe me it was good for me and my two girls.. Sending lots of love to you.. Hugs

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  4. I've been pretty open about my struggles with the big D for the past 10+ years. It's an exclusive club honey, with some pretty amazing membership. :)

    BTW - you haven't lost an ounce of your sparkle, it's just under a warm and comfy blanket right now. xoxo

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  5. Lora, I applaud you for sharing. And I'd like to add my voice to the small choir forming to tell you that you're not alone. I've had struggles big and small over the years with the beast, so I can relate to everything you've written in your post. Keep fighting! And know that you're admired and loved whether you feel you're sparkling at the moment or not. I'm really glad to hear that you're going to truly take care of yourself; I'm learning that self-love isn't a bad thing, but a necessary thing if you want to be healthy, mind, body and soul...it's a tough thing for people struggling with depression though. Good for you, my dear; sending you light and love!

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  6. Great writing.

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  7. Depression does not have a solitary reason.It can be triggered, or it may happen suddenly without being connected with a life crisis,physical illness or other danger.With early detection,diagnosis and a treatment arrangement comprising of medication,psychotherapy and lifestyle decisions, numerous individuals show signs of improvement.Be that as it may,left untreated,depression can be wrecking,both for the individuals who have it and for their families.

    Laura Smith.

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