Depression is society’s ugly little secret … especially if it is attached to “grief”
Our culture has done a huge disservice with its perception of grief and our polite society has done an even greater disservice with its perception of depression.
That being said, I realize that my story is not so unique, truth be told we have all suffered with depression at some point in our life perhaps to different degrees and for a host of different reasons – some will never relate to the magnitude of my suffering [and I hope you never will] but this is my story, my account of the paralyzing effects of grief and my descend into what I have described as the depths of hell. I write this today knowing how incredibly fortunate I am to be here at all – to even tell my story. I can only credit my faith, my belief in God and the promise He made to me on that night I said my final Good Bye to David – and yet I want to be very clear that when I finally did get to my knees in prayer, the skies did not open up and a bright light did not beam upon me – nor did I hear harps and violins playing as God miraculously made my life “all better” – what happened was the beginning of a difficult path that has lead me to a place where I could allow God access to begin a healing and the restoration of both my mind and my body. I continue to approach each new day with the realization that I will forever be susceptible to the sadness of grief that can lead to despair and ultimately that very dark place of depression that I once knew as my reality and that nearly destroyed me.
I have become more determined in dispelling the myths that circulate – of both depression and grief. Depression often referred to as “self-pity.” Grief – the myth perpetuated that says one can “get over it” – grief and loss. Clearly if a person can get over it – it certainly eliminates the need for others to face the reality and totality of loss – in my life as well as their own. Their sign should read “come back when you’re ok and when I don’t have to deal with you” Unfortunately grief has no end date – there is no timeline and I simply had to accept that I would never “get better”. We assimilate to the change – the life changing event that has now become a part of who I am.
I was “clinically depressed” [a normal reaction to loss, crisis, or traumatic event intensifies and the symptoms interfere with normal, productive living] (1) sadness – moody (2) painful thinking; negative thoughts about self, lack of motivation, indecisiveness (3) physical symptoms of sleeplessness and loss of appetite (4) anxiety – irritability (5) delusional thinking – and while I recognized my state of mind as did those in my life at that time, it was plausible, understandable and unfortunately nothing that caused alarm. One of my fatal mistakes was relying on a support system that believed the myth or simply didn’t care one way or another either way the further I sank into my despair the further isolated I became. My point being is that is it so crucial to surround yourself with those that will love you unconditionally and encourage your efforts – I want to emphasize “your efforts” and not the expectations of others which I have come to learn is all too common – sadly. Unfortunately at the time I believed that it was just me – I was doing it [grieving] wrong and driving people away from me. I would learn some of my grieving lessons the hard way.
Those who suffer from depression are often subject to dissociation and why not – our mood is sullen, we are agitated – over sensitive to what people do or say. Our misdirected anger that comes from that feeling of hopelessness. Our lack of concentration and preoccupation with the inner turmoil – our daily fight to survive. We are not pleasant and not accommodating, I could hardly identify my own feelings. Admittedly I could have done things in a more productive, positive manner but grief is a complicated mess of emotions – overwhelmed I found it increasingly more difficult to keep in step with those around me – grief is also exhausting and depression – debilitating. Shame attaches itself to depression immediately and the general feeling of hopelessness and despair fill your every thought. Obviously I would not have the courage to end my life out right but I wanted the pain to end I was literally catatonic – paralyzed by my grief and well on my way to my own demise.
I would soon discover that although I did not have the capacity or the presence of mind to recognize what was happening in my life the stress of the trauma I had suffered would no longer be denied – I was tortured by the image of David’s lifeless body – as it played over and over in my mind there was no escape. Tortured with guilt that I had not arrived home sooner that evening – tortured by a profound sense of helplessness that I was unable to resuscitate him – tortured that each time I closed my eyes I could not escape the images of that evening – I ceased to sleep at all. My spirit was broken and I was simply okay to just let go I could feel myself slipping and I felt powerless to do anything about it. A daughter’s prayer and a son’s commitment – my first recollection was a conversation that transpired between my children and myself – a plea that perhaps only a Mother’s heart could hear. I was ashamed at what I had become, this empty shell of a person that had given up and given in but they would offer compassion – to them I owe so much.
One step at time I began to find the resources to start rebuilding my life. I knew that I needed to be healed of that haunting memory of my husband leaning into the pain was not enough I had leaned alright almost to the point of no return – I would have to rely on God and trust that He not only wanted to, but was able to heal my mind and allow my soul to find peace – rest.
I celebrate 120 days of sobriety – I walk 10 miles each day. My body [system] has suffered some damage as I found myself in the initial stages of starvation but the choice of a healthier lifestyle is helping my overall recovery. A new support system that is a positive force in my life – I find encouragement and accountability. I am learning to embrace my new life and my experience has taught me the value of my own worth – my strength to overcome.
… when asked about my journey my answer is very simple, “Those who are grieving need love, patience and understanding”
Philippians 4:6,7 … do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.