What Depression Is Like For Me

I wish I could tell you exactly how I first became ill with Depression. Unfortunately, there is no single answer to that question. The major symptoms of Depression literally hit me all of a sudden. It was several years ago, and I was right in the middle of throwing a birthday party for one of my son's. The house was full of energetic 4th graders and out of the blue I started crying and I couldn't stop. I didn't know why I was crying or what was happening to me. Up until that point, my life had been a whirlwind of activity. My three children were all in elementary school, and I was blessed with the task of being a full time mom. I used to joke that I had become a "professional" volunteer, as I was constantly involved in something. I was a Girl Scout Leader, PTA Chairman, Sunday School teacher, Mom's Taxi, Doctor Mom...you name it. With God's help, there was nothing I couldn't do. But that day would turn out to be a major turning point in my life. Thankfully, my mom lived nearby and I called her over to manage the rest of the birthday party.

Three days later our house was full again. This time it was Christmas Day. To be honest, that day is a blur to me. But the next day I'll never forget. Some of our relatives had stayed overnight, and more were expected to arrive. We decided to go out for breakfast, and it was all that I could do to keep from crying at the restaurant. It had hit me again. A gigantic feeling of doom. By the time we got back home I was in tears and had to go back to bed. I spent the rest of the day crying alone in the bedroom with the sound of laughter and voices echoing down the hallway. I didn't know what was wrong. I'd never heard of Depression as an illness, but my sister-in-law had. She asked me if I wanted her to call a doctor. I said yes, and that started my search for a "cure" for my Depression.

Several month's later... along with a lot of prayer and trial and error, I found a doctor and some medication that helped me get back to feeling normal again. I've had a few relapses since then. During the summer of 1997 I took myself off of my medication and tried taking only an herbal remedy for Depression called St. John's Wort and some Amino Acid supplements that my doctor had told me about. Unfortunately, they didn't work for me. I spent most of that time in bed, unable to function.

A page from my diary

The following is a letter that I wrote during that period. I forgot that I'd written it until just recently I found it. I never showed it to anyone, but I include it here as a way of sharing what Depression is like. If you have Depression, maybe you can relate to some of my feelings. If you don't have Depression, it may help you to better understand someone who does.
For me, living with Depression is not living. It is simply existing from one day to the next, except...it is far from simple. It is difficult. Very difficult. The difference between living with Depression and living without it is like the difference between night and day. With Depression I am paralyzed. Held back by my own irrational fears. Tied down by extreme sorrow, dread, and sadness. The worst part is, I hate myself for being this way. I don't want to be like this. It would be so much easier if I could enjoy being a prisoner of my own mind. Or if I were totally unaware of the lifeless, pathetic person I've become. But that's the problem. I am aware. Painfully aware. I am in a place that I don't want to be.

The guilt is overwhelming. Guilt because I cannot be the wife, the mother, the daughter, the friend that I once was. I try to cope by secluding myself. I can't handle interacting with people as if I am still my normal self. And I don't want to disappoint and burden others with the way I really feel.

I am drained of all pleasure in life. Things that used to interest me are now abandoned. Like a ghost town, my past life has withered away. I see my garden outside through the window. Overgrown with weeds and dying from lack of water, yet I do nothing. It is summer. What I always called my favorite time of the year. I can't even imagine myself spending hours in the yard, taking great care. Weeding, pruning, fertilizing, watering. Enjoying the work as much as I enjoyed the beauty of the flowers that resulted. I see my camera collecting dust on the shelf. I used to wait for the sun to produce just the perfect lighting in order to capture a picture exactly as I wanted it to be. Or spend forever in the darkroom, experimenting with my negatives. Developing one print after another, lost in the enjoyment of the entire creative process. Those are just two examples of what used to be a full and enjoyable life. Now I feel like smashing the camera into pieces and having my entire yard bulldozed just so I won't have to be reminded of that person anymore. That person. The one whom everybody wants to have back, including myself.

I honestly can't remember how it felt to be that person. It certainly wasn't me. I can't even force myself to go to the end of the driveway to get the mail from the mailbox. Sometimes I hope that this is all just a bad dream. That I'll wake up and be glad that I'm awake. Instead I wake up and I'm sorry. Sorry that I have to face another day.

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