I am living with depression. Long term clinical depression, often labeled as a chemical imbalance in the brain. Throw a little anxiety in the mix and I can be on the verge of a panic attack all day every day. For me, it is a disease. One that is brushed off and said to be just in one’s head. It is very serious. One that effects not only my brain but my whole body. It could kill me if I let it. If I ignored it, this illness could overtake my life and slowly destroy me. I don’t want this. No one wants to be sick. In our culture, mental illness has a stigma. We don’t talk about it. The shame placed on this illness is pathetic. I have no shame. And neither should anyone else.
I have dark times. My brain can’t process things quite right. It’s as though a fog rolls over my body. Sometimes I liken it to a Dementor sucking the soul out of my body. In addition, my depression shows up in forms of loss of interest, sadness, tiredness, insomnia, and physical pain. I hurt everywhere. Aches and pains in places I didn’t know was possible. Layer this on the emotional pain and confusion I feel, I feel as though I am slowly dying.
The anger threw me for loop. Yes, my depression shows in the form of anger. I am mad at everything. The littlest thing can send me into a rage. I live in a world of frustration, bitterness, and anger. It is a lonely place to be. Depression sucks the joy right out of my life. Also, I over process. The smallest decision I must make becomes this long drawn out back and forth argument in my head. Let’s label this anxiety. I can’t make a decision and then accept whatever decision I made. My brain is so out of control that it sends my body into a panic attack. Survival mode. Flight or fight. A full blown attack that makes me feel as though I am having a heart attack. I can’t breathe. My pulse is racing and the ringing in my ears is deafening. Then my brain analyzes for days on end. This is not a fun way to live. Each day I am scared of my feelings. What was going to be thrown at me today and how was I going to handle it?
This is how I lived. Not anymore.
I was on an antidepressant in college and weaned myself off. I focused only on myself and being free of my depression. It was a full time job. However, I couldn’t keep that up. Life wasn’t going to let me do that anymore. I have been on a prescription antidepressant since January 2009. Every morning I take a little white pill. I have adjusted the dosage over the years to meet my needs. I have added counseling, exercise, and now writing to help maintain the disease. I have grown and birthed 2 babes. Nursed both of them a year all while taking meds. I was never worried of the medicine harming their little bodies. I worry more that this illness is a hereditary illness and they may have to deal with it in the future. It has helped me get through 5 moves in 7 years, a NICU visit, 4 ½ years of motherhood with an addition to Postpartum Depression. And now it is getting me through a separation and impending divorce.
I never was afraid to take an Rx. I never thought it would make me turn into someone I didn’t recognize. I knew it would bring me back. Making me ME again. It makes me stronger, steadier, and healthier. It makes me a better mom. I am not ashamed. I am not living in the dark anymore, always waiting for the next panic attack. A little pill lets me live. To my full potential. I may always have to take an antidepressant. I still have days where the dark clouds threaten to drown me. I am aware of what I need to do to fight them back and let the light shine in. Most days are good. Depression and anxiety is real. It is a disease. One that I am controlling and living with.
And I am thriving.