With the tragic passing of Robin Williams, there has been so much discussion lately about depression and suicide. We will all miss him terribly. His passing has really raised awareness about this insidious and horrible disease. I can personally attest to how horrid it is, having suffered from chronic depression and acute anxiety over a two and a half year period. It seemed to have been kicked off by the death of my grandchild following on the heels of 4 consecutive hospitalizations for me and having several stents put into my heart arteries. It began a spiraling down very deep into darkness and misery. I never used to understand how someone could take their life, but I can now, after experiencing that hopelessness that overtakes you and robs every ounce of joy from you. I am healthy now thank God, but I remember all too well what I went through over two years ago. I understand the suffering and I have deep compassion for those going through it. I was always an optimist and a happy person. I know some have chronic depression that they fight all their life, but I did not. Nobody would have ever expected that to happen to me, but it did. It can overtake anyone at any time. Thanks to a good doctor, the right medication finally, and the loving support of my husband and family, I was pulled up and out of that dark hole. I was one of the lucky ones!
I also know that the disease called clinical depression is unlike the normal depression that we as humans go through sometimes. Clinical depression I learned is the most hopeless disease of all, robbing one of all hope. You cannot believe you will ever be well again. It causes you to lose your appetite and affects every organ in your body eventually. We now know there is a direct link between brain mood and the physical body. Those chronic horrible thoughts that are really uncontrollable, wreak havoc on your body organs and for me each one of them began to malfunction in some way. It affected everything. Even my teeth hurt and felt too weak to chew food. Nothing worked right. The misery was both mental and physical. I saw several specialists about problems with my body. A constantly recurring infection caused me to be on an antibiotic for over a year. Every ounce of energy was drained away leaving me so depleted that the slightest effort to accomplish something put me on the couch exhausted. I spent most of the day on the couch. It took extreme effort to get out of bed in the morning and find anything to wear. Taking a shower was so much work that it often took until mid afternoon to finally get it done, if it got done. I could not make the smallest decision. The depressing thoughts consumed me and I read self-help books and inspirational books and yet I could not absorb any of it. My grown kids, sisters and a few friends tried to encourage me from afar, but my constant response became “I can’t” . I prayed to God to release me from what almost felt like a dark entity had moved into my body and taken over and wanted to do me in. If that was so, that entity did not know anything that I had learned in my life. After thirty five years of studying Astrology, I forgot it all and everything else I ever knew. The dark thoughts were all consuming and allowed nothing else in.
I lost my appetite, and thus so much weight that my clothes practically fell off me. I lost my friends because I didn’t want to see anyone or be social, it was too hard and I looked terrible too. I couldn’t carry on a decent conversation with anyone because my mind couldn’t think of a thing to say. I couldn’t cook because I couldn’t remember how I had made meals all those years and I was too drained to even try. I couldn’t drive the car because my mind could not take the stimulus nor remember how to do so many things at one time, such as using the manual shift, checking traffic around me and remembering where the place was that I wanted to go and how to get there. I was terrified of having an accident, so I only drove short distances with my husband in the car. He encouraged me to drive the car and so I tried when I could, which wasn’t often. He pushed me to get dressed and got me out the door when he could, even just to the supermarket. I didn’t want to go anywhere.
After I was into this for over a year, I finally begged for help, knowing it was getting worse every day. We tried several doctors, before finally finding someone who would not only dispense pills, but listen. I did finally take pills, but I didn’t want to because I was afraid I would become addicted to them; especially the anti anxiety pills that worked quickly but one needs a larger and larger dose for the same effect. I could get as relaxed as possible and the anxiety still grabbed my chest. The antidepressants take a long time to work and several of them prescribed for me did not work on me at all. It was a long and slow process and the combination of the right doctor, the right pills, the support of my husband and the plane ride east to see family and my newest grandchild all worked together to help me heal.
I must say that I don’t know how anyone gets through it alone. I had my husband whose support and love and care kept me going day after day. He took on all the cooking, cleaning, laundry and everything else that had to be done. He tried helping me in every way he knew. We went nowhere and saw nobody and I felt really bad for him, but I was unable to do anything about the situation. God bless him and the others for hanging in there for me for so long.
I am healthy in mind, body and spirit now. My gratitude is overwhelming. I learned a lot through that experience and I am still processing it. I knew I wanted to write about it when the time was right, hopefully to help someone else who is in the throes of it right now. Despite feeling hopeless, it is possible to get well. I did and I have never been happier. Life is good now and I am back to being my positive, optimistic self and enjoying every single day. I don’t miss an opportunity to have fun, to be kind to others, and hopefully you will too! Please don’t give up on yourself!