- Mental Health
Depression, the Silent Killer
No longer trapped by depression....30 years later
Clinical depression can be the diagnosis for depression if feelings of intense sadness are accompanied by:
feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness, and helplessness that persist for many days and weeks. This individual may be unable to function normally unable to carry out normal day to day activities.
Those who suffer from it may mask their symptoms, mask their feelings, mask the loss of joy so well that others have no idea that you are being ravaged by the silent killer.
DISCLAIMER---I am not a trained psychologist or psychiatrist. I am an individual who has suffered from clinical depression. This account is primarily how it affected me.
The Storm Within Spiraled Out of Control
Hold On...You Will Be an Amazing New Person
Behind the smile, there was no joy...
What it is...
- Depression is a mental disorder that affects at least 350 million people world wide. People of all ages suffer from this disorder.
- According to the World Health Organization (WHO), it is the leading cause of disability worldwide .
- More women than men are affected by depression.
- When depression is at its worst, it can lead to suicide.
- Depression can be effectively treated.
- More women are affected by depression than men.
- At its worst, depression can lead to suicide.
Without realizing it, the silent killer had permeated my life. I experienced many of these symptoms and wound further down into the depths of loneliness and sadness further away from those who loved me.
Few things in the world are more powerful than a positive push. A smile. A world of optimism and hope. A 'you can do it' when things are tough.— Richard M. DeVos
Symptoms that may be experienced
In the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), there are cues that can be used to identify depression. Depression will occur in an individual if five of the symptoms listed below are present.
- Substantial weight loss or gain
- Feeling restless
- Frequent thoughts of death or suicide (not a fear of death)
- Feeling and displaying a depressed mood throughout the day, especially in the morning
- Have little or no energy each day
- Feeling worthlessness or being filled with guilt almost every day
- Inability to concentrate and make decisions
- Inability to sleep or excessive sleeping almost daily
- Noticeable lack of interest or pleasure in most every activity almost daily
A Powerful Song That Says It All...You May Fall....but Never Ever Stop the Climb
Patti---age 24.....Patti---age 34....When did it begin?
POSSIBLE RISK FACTORS
women are two times more likely to suffer from major depression
the peak ages are 20 to 40
three times more likely if a family history is present
Separated and divorced individuals are more likely
married men less likely than unmarried men
married women more likely than unmarried women
possible within six months of giving birth
Negative lfe events
may have possible connection
early death of parents
may have possible connection
Have you ever been diagnosed with clinical depression?
A different experience
According to some mental healthy professionals that I have spoken with about CD, if someone demonstrates these symptoms within two months of the loss of a loved one is not considered clinically depressed.
In addition and equally as important, like with most of illnesses, someone who suffers from this mental health issue may not experience the same symptoms in the same way as someone else. How long the symptoms last, how often they manifest themselves, and how extreme the symptoms are vary from individual to individual.
For me, that helps me to understand why I was able to mask my symptoms as well as I did as I fell deeper into the hands of this silent killer, depression.
This is a classic...when I saw it for the first time, I was recovering from my depression. There were parts of it that shook me to me to my core.
In November of 1982 I crashed. For years I had felt that I had the weight of the world on my shoulders. I felt that I was never doing enough, giving enough, becoming enough.
Being perfect in every way was my mantra. And often I did not measure up. This self imposed vision of who I thought I must be weighed on me each day.
In college I tried to excel in every class, when I earned my Masters again excellence was probably more important than what I learned (in hindsight I think that was probably true although I was not aware that I was thinking that way at the time), and when five years later I earned my Ed Specialist, only the top scores were good enough.
The standard was too high
I had been a wife for nine years and of course I had wanted to be wife extraordinaire. You could have eaten off of my floors as I kept them spotless. Every Satu I got up and stripped the wax, on my hands and knees, and then reapplied wax to make them sparkle.
Every meal was prepared from scratch and in no room could a spec of dust be found.
Not only was I a wife but I was a Mother and this part of my life was probably the sanest. My daughter brought balance and joy to my life. Being the Best Mom was easy because experiencing life through the newness of her eyes caused an awakening within me and has remained so most of our life together.
However, as it sometimes does, the perfect life, the perfect wife, the perfect Mother found herself divorced.
Today there is no room for depression in this life...
Unwanted things happened that I felt could not be repaired. It was not a clear cut "HE" as at fault. It takes two individuals deeply invested in monogamy to make marriage a success (not to mention all of the area facets of marriage).
I wanted us to work…to continue our lives together but it became a trust issue and parting of the ways became the way to fix it. It was not a cavalier decision. It just was the one that made sense at the time.
However that event was one more layer that sent my life finally spiraling out of control. For weeks and even months the tears flowed endlessly. Perhaps it was the final trigger that sent me further away from the healthy feelings that I thought I had owned for most of my life.
Wishing for what had been or what might a been, much of the joy left my life.
Suicide and depression
Read how depression is an early symptom, sometimes, of thoughts of suicide.
The joy was gone...
And while joy did return for a few years somehow the sadness, the emptiness, the feeling that I was out of control would return and not leave.
At the time I did not realize what was happening but this was the beginning of my clinical depression.
The dawning of a new day brought more sadness and more loneliness. And nothing, not even the face of my precious daughter could cause this tunnel in which I was now trapped to release me and allow me to find joy once again.
There was just no pleasure in anything at all any more. Things I had loved like hearing the excitement in my daughter’s voice, walking on t he beach and feeling the salty spray on my face, spying a newly bloomed flower, reading an amazing story…none of these held any interest for me.
Making an effort to go through the day to day activities including going to the classroom I had loved for many years became an albatross around my neck. .
I was unable to return to school and the children I had loved that fall. Sucked further into this hell hole, I was almost totally powerless. Thankfully I was able to return to live with my Momma and Daddy so that my daughter had to be there for her. I certainly was not.
Descent into hell
Finally I had fallen so deeply into a void that left me virtually incapacitated. I no longer ate and my only food source was from the Ensure my Momma practically forced me to drink.
I decided I would move to Pennsylvania to live with my sister thinking that maybe a change of scenery would make this despondency that had absorbed me would evaporate. That did not work. As much as I loved my sister even her smiling face and her joy at getting to know my daughter, it did not stop me from drowning even more completely. So, as suddenly as I had arrived, I departed and headed South to the rural home I had lived in for many years.
By the time I arrived there was no light in my life. I found little reason to go on and began to have thoughts of death. I feared that something horrible would happen to me or to my loved ones. Not realizing that I was dangerously close to some rash decision, I drove myself to a local Crisis Center and checked myself in hoping to find myself once again. And, it worked.
It was not a sudden magical ascent from hell. I remained in the Crisis Center for one week, voluntarily. It was determined that I had clinical depression and my treatment began. I attended private sessions with a psychiatrist daily as well as group therapy. I no longer felt as if I were strangling. The silent killer had not claimed me.
After I left the Center, I attended outpatient care and at the end of six months I was only going in to meet with the doctor once a month. And not long after that I was released from care.
The return to me was a journey which I have traveled since those frightening days. I only had treatment with a medical professional for a short time but from the time that I found myself once again I developed a new mind set which I live by to this day.
- I do not allow myself the luxury of becoming mired down in whatever it is that may cause me emotional turmoil.
- I refuse to allow anything to pull me into the grip of the silent killer, depression.
- That does not mean that I do not experience sadness but
- it does mean that I do not allow it to turn me inside out.
- Making every effort to find something positive that I can do to dissipate the sadness or disappointment when I face it is how I have reprogrammed my thinking.
- . Retraining my thinking so that despite the negatives that I may face, I am able to carry on.
- Is it always easy to do?
- No but it is a commitment I have made and that I live by.
the Silent Killer
Perhaps you wonder why I have named it the Silent Killer.
To reiterate: I have done so because those who are swallowed up by clinical depression are able to become chameleon-like hiding behind walls that keep their illness a secret.
I became a master at hiding how hopeless I felt.
No one knew. Not even my Mother. I had tried to explain to her how I was feeling but I really did not want her to know.
I did not want to be the source of a new pain in her life.
You will never start living until you've realized that your life is your own unique gift. So, live it uniquely in your own unique way, the way you were created to be; unique! Don't imitate someone else's life, you will only blend in, when you were created to stand out from the rest of the imitators. Live your life, your own way; your life was given to you, not to someone else.
— Geraldine Vermaak
On the Way Back
So hiding behind a new mask every day, I ascended further into the pit that would have sucked the life out of me if I had not sought help.
The difficult part of this illness is that if you are depressed, truly depressed, it is very difficult to accept that you are and seek help.
Too often, those who are feeling overwhelmed and unable to cope do take their lives.If you know someone who is experiencing the symptoms mentioned in this article, make every effort to get help for them before it is too late.
I am so very thankful that many years ago I sought help and began my life anew.
One very important part of my therapy was learning to put me first. That was totally opposite of anything I had ever done. Everyone else's needs and wants came before mine. That is not that I was this wonderful person. It was just that was the way I thought things were supposed to be.
During therapy sessions, I learned that in order to be the best for others, I needed
- to be the best me.tTo take care of my needs first and then take care of others.
There of course are parameters for this prescription. When you have children, their needs seem to supersede yours as they do need you.
- You are encouraged to take some time in every day for YOU alone. It does not need to be a long period of time but it does need to be you time. Women particularly need this time for themselves because we are all things to all people as a general rule.
- So, a drug free way to keep yourself mentally healthy is to set aside a bit of time in each day to pamper you.
- Go for a walk
- Go sit on a park bench and read for a bit,
- do something to renew your spirit.
- You will be glad that you did.
© 2013 Patricia Scott