Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Striking a Blow to Depression

Recently I discovered what other people were born knowing. The joy of waking, of getting out of bed, of laughing, or being together, of speaking without fear or anxiety. Of deciding firmly and strongly and not looking back.

Two months ago, I wandered into my doctor’s office. I knew I was hurting. I’d been hurting for some time. I’ve been treated for depression on and off for most of my life. I’m okay with that. I accept that taking pills is part of my reality. This is fine with me. I realize that if I were diabetic or had heart disease I would take the same steps.

So, I walk into my doctor’s office and I want to try something new. I have my little speech prepared. I’m ready, because I don’t want to cry. I simply want to ask for what I need and get the hell out of there.

He asks me a simple question. It’s always the simple questions that unravel us. “How’re you doing?” But he doesn’t just ask. He’s not just making conversation. He looks at my face, into my eyes. He knows why I’m there and he waits patiently for an answer. He watches my face contort as I try to control the coming tears. I am powerless. I begin to weep, unabashedly, uncontrollably.

“I feel like crap.” I confess. He listens. He nods. I pour it out. All the symptoms, all the hurt, all the torment. And in the confession comes a release. There is constantly a tight, grey fist curled around my heart, at the very center of my person. I can feel it squeezing me, bruising me, crushing the good to a pulp. What’s left is fear and anger and insecurity. It oozes out between the stone fingers and pours into my life, into the lives of the people I love.

But in the confession, I conquer just a little bit of that fist. I shove back against the constant arm wrestling happening inside me. I tell that fist I don’t want to live like this. Without sleep. Without joy. Without love. There has to be another way.

My doctor is amazing. He spent an hour with me that day. We talked through the many answers, including ones that are not strictly medical, but spiritual, physical and relational. Those are the ones I control. The chemical stuff? Yeah, I got nothing on that.

So he prescribes a new medicine. I’m skeptical but relieved. At least I’m doing something. Moving. Trying. Talking.

Two weeks go by. I start waking at 5 or 6 am. Not tired. Not anxious. Not worried about jobs or kids or the organization of the day, or whether the spoons are put away in the right places. I wake up feeling rested. I think, “Okay. That’s...weird.”

Then, I start wanting to run. WANTING to run. Again weird. And the more I want to run, the more I run, and the more I run the better I feel. And the better I feel the more I want to be with my kids and talk to them and hear them and love them and be their mom. And the more I respond to them the more they respond to me. This is quite lovely.

Other delights happen, too. I asked my husband, “Is this how you feel all the time?” I’m shocked. Amazed. Humbled, thankful and overjoyed. I have never, in my life, felt as good as I feel now.

I keep trying to put my finger on it. I feel like if I can’t explain it it will change, or worse, stop. Or if I don’t put words to it those closest to me don’t know exactly how much better I feel. And I want them to know. I want them see who I am. That tight fist clamping my chest was actually just one part of the crushing pain I lived with. A hard shell surrounded me, feeding me lies about my worth, coaxing insecurity and embarrassment into my heart, like a plume of foul fragrance. Leading me to think I had to fit into a certain ideal in order to be of value. That shell got shot to pieces. I feel, if not invincible, then definitely like I could kick some ass.

I’m not saying I’m cured or healed or perfect. I’m saying there are always options and choices and another avenue to try. I’m saying if you’re hurting tell someone, tell me, tell your mom, tell anyone. That dark grasp can crumble.


  1. Thank you for sharing your truth. Thank you for sharing your hope. I am so glad you have found something that seems to make a difference. I tend to experience waves of sadness...some days/weeks are great, then a great swell overtakes me. With meds the wave is not quite so strong or debilitating, but I know it is there. I am thankful for the good days & try to make it through the sad ones without sinking into the depths. It is a journey. Bless you.

  2. This makes my heart happy. I was on anti-depressants from the time I was 17-22, but they never seemed to work. At 22 my doctor did what she had been talking about for years, diagnosed me with Bipolar. I hated the diagnosis, but once I started the right medications, my life changed so much! It was just like you said, I was wondering if EVERYONE felt that way all the time! Thank you for being bold enough to share with us what's going on in your life.

  3. Ok ok, gotta take a breath here. Jen? Jen Jen my twitter tweet Jen?! Heelllloo!! How have I not known more about you all this time? Traveling at warp speed on the salt plains of Twitter, I decided to stop the car today, step out and, you know, visit people, read some posts, ask for directions.

    So your Etsy shop - drool. Gorgeous. Uhm, your photo above?? Frame it. My brain has filed it under Happy Happy from where it shall oft be retrieved and admired. Your writing? Write everyday of your life. Please.

    Ok Twitter Jen. I must go back to work now. You go on being fabulous. Crikey ... I can't believe I've been missing out. I'll be back. xo

  4. Karen, much love to you for the glowing words. A little stroke of the ego goes a long way. We need to get together in Tulsa. Autumn and Lorna, sadly, my tale is not unique. I am glad both of you are facing your own mountains and valleys with wisdom, support and honesty. It's the best way. I pray that both of you continue on your path of healing and discovery. When we begin to be honest about life's challenges, we not only take steps that make it easier, but we learn that we are not alone and find comfort in the community. Peace to both of you.