My Bout With Depression and How To Get Help
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines depression as a psychoneurotic or psychotic disorder marked especially by sadness, inactivity, difficulty in thinking and concentration, a significant increase or decrease in appetite and time spent sleeping, feelings of dejection and hopelessness, and sometimes suicidal tendencies. There are different types of depression, some are mild, some are associated with mental disorders and others are based on chemical changes in the body. The depression I am talking about is not associated with mental disorders like bipolar.
After my husband died and everything in my life changed, I found myself in a very rough situation. I was in great pain from the events that had just happened and those uncovered after his death. In addition, I had become a single mom of two boys, my mom lived with us, the responsibility for every decision to be made in the house rested solely on me and I was the only driver. Within the next six weeks, I found myself in a counseling office with a counselor telling me that she didn’t often tell people they were clinically depressed, but she was at that point with me. She referred me to the psychiatrist that was in the same office and I agreed to go.
I could barely function. There were times when I honestly had to remember to take a breath. I’d learned to live in bad situations throughout my life. I knew how to survive and make it look like I was fine, so I was able to still do what absolutely had to be done on a daily basis. However, I couldn’t think clearly at all. It was like living in a fog. If I absolutely had to make a difficult decision, I had to pray through it, try to relax and clear my mind. Most of the time I was able to make some type of decision, but I know some of them weren’t the best or even good, but I, at least, could move forward and go to the next thing that had to be taken care of at the time. I really would have loved to stay in bed all day, though, but that wasn’t an option.
Depression By the Numbers
Through the research I have done, the consistent numbers on depression are as follows:
- Over 120 million people worldwide suffer from some form of depression.
- 1 in 10 Americans suffer at some point in their life.
- Women suffer from depression more than men.
- Over 80% of people with clinical depression don’t receive treatment.
- Over 50% of those who commit suicide suffer from major depression.
- However, 80% of the people who seek treatment are treated successfully.
It is frightening to know that 80% of the people in the world suffering go untreated and that 50% of sufferers end their lives to escape. So many fear that seeking treatment or even admitting they are struggling will lead to being talked about, ostracized and humiliated. Unfortunately, the choice not to speak up and admit the need for help is not only a possible choice between life and death; it is definitely a choice to not live life to the fullest.
So often people think that to admit there are problems in their life that they are unable to handle is admitting weakness. I believe the opposite to be true. Being honest about what you're feeling and stepping out in asking for help is a huge show of strength. I will tell you, though; it is extremely difficult work to conquer depression, especially if there are past beliefs, old tape recordings running through your mind and/or abusive memories through which to work. However, I personally know that walking through life emotionally limping along, trying to show others how you've got everything together while you're really falling apart is even more difficult. It is like being imprisoned in your mind. Living in fear and never allowing yourself to become who you were made to be is a loss too steep to pay. In addition, change, growth and becoming stronger never happen when you're just trying to act your way through life.
When and Where To Seek Help
I realized very quickly that I needed help. The events surrounding my depression led to me becoming a shell of myself. I felt like I was drowning in all that was surrounding me. I was beyond overwhelmed. I knew if I didn’t get help soon, something was going to break in me. So, I contacted the counseling center at my church. I met with one lady who then referred me to a counselor I could see for as long as I needed because the church counseling center only worked with those who needed more short-term help. The church even paid for my counseling and the counseling of my children for a period of time. The counselor they referred me to now sees me at a discounted rate from her regular rate.
The common thought as to when to seek treatment is when depressive symptoms inhibit your life everyday for two weeks. Go to your doctor, a hospital, your church, a mental health facility or a counselor, social worker or psychiatrist. If money is an issue, there are many churches that offer free or discounted rates for counseling. If you are contemplating ending your life, have overwhelming feelings of guilt, shame or like you have no value, seek help immediately.
Treatment Is Available In Many Forms
There are many different forms of treatment for depression. These range from surrounding yourself with family and friends and beginning or staying involved in activities to medication and even hospitalization. The treatment I received was medicine, several forms of counseling, and writing about what has happened and how I felt during those times. Believing fully in the redemptive power of Jesus’ love, coming to Him in prayer and refusing to drop out of life were the approaches I took on my own in addition to professional help. I know these choices made a huge difference in the recovery I have made so far. This is what is working for me. However, for about a month, I went to intensive therapy daily with other people who were suffering from various problems. While I was there, a few of the people ended up going to a hospital to get the help they needed. It was so brave of them and the best choice for their freedom.
There Is Hope For You and For Others
While treatment and working through the problems are needed to recover for many, there needs to be more. It is fairly common knowledge that we need to have balance in our lives. I believe that applies even when fighting depression. Eventually, there will be cracks in the mortar of depression and light will begin to shine through. That light feels so amazing! When those cracks appear, and even before, if at all possible, in my opinion, those fighting depression literally need a break. There has to be time when all the feelings are not center stage. There also needs to be a focus on others, at least trying to engage in others' lives, and at least attempting to do things that would normally be enjoyed. If we start to live life solely as wounded, bleeding people for too long, we begin to think there is nothing but the darkness. We look for the other shoe to drop in every situation. We have to be able to see that, while we are in a hard place at the time, there is hope and there is so much more on the other side of depression.
The treatment you receive doesn’t just help you, your family and those close to you, but those you come in contact with will definitely benefit from it as well. One outcome from my journey that I hadn’t expected was learning that I had become an example for others who were hurting or had hurts from their past. My pain was transformed into a positive in helping others. I have been able to see good come from my experience. Please understand that I'm not saying we need to bare our souls to every living person and constantly wear our hearts on our sleeves. That is not living wisely. However, by living authentically, as we begin to heal, others see the changes and the joy returning to our lives. This fact doesn’t make the pain and depression easier, but it does bring a different value to the experience other than gaining your life back.
The main point I am saying is if you are diligent and work hard at beating the depression, you will conquer it. You will regain your life and will be stronger for it. At times it seems impossible to continue and you may wonder if it’s worth it. Believe me, it is!