Tuesday, September 10, 2013

my journey with depression

  • Hi, my name is Gillian and I have depression. 

    I have struggled from depression since I was 16 (maybe even earlier according to my mom) but never got official help until I almost took my life at the age of 17. 
    I was in my room when I just felt so alone. I felt a darkness I had never felt before. I went into my bathroom and looked at myself. My crying, swollen eyed, mascara running down my face self. I hated who I was. I didnt know who I was really. I opened the medicine cabinet and grabbed my pills. I was ready to take the entire bottle of pills and end my life. What was I good for anyway? I was always fighting with my dad and older brother. I didnt have many friends. I felt like a total loser- especially at school. I hated how I looked. I just hated life. I opened the lid on the medicine and then a feeling came over me. A feeling of peace. In that moment my tears went from fearful tears to peaceful tears. I felt my Heavenly Fathers love for me in that instance and knew he was telling me I could do this. I could get through this. I was important.
    So, up the stairs I went to give my mom my pills. I told her I almost took them all and that I think it was time I did something about my depression. It was the first time I ever admitted I was depressed out loud. I'm pretty sure my mom cried.. I can't remember.
    At the time, my bishop was a psychiatrist so I met with him frequently. Not only could he give me spiritual guidance, but he gave me professional guidance too. In many ways I feel like he saved my life too. Besides my mom and bishop, no one else really knew about my depression. I hid it. I didnt want anyone to know that I wasn't anything but happy.
    I still struggled in silence for years- until about 3 years ago when I came out about my depression on my blog.
    I have been very open on my blog about it and feel I have gotten both good and bad reactions from it. Some people think I am crazy for sharing such personal things and some people love that I am open about it because it has given them the courage to seek help as well. I have been told by people very close to me that they feel uncomfortable reading about my problems and my personal things. But thats who I am. I may not have been that way 3 years ago, but I have evolved into someone who doent want to hide who I am. I have flaws. (SURPRISE!) I'm tired of hiding my feelings. Its only human to have problems once in a while. Sure, being a debbie downer sucks.. so I try to keep it light most of the time. But keeping it real is who I am. Back to my story...
    I was on medicine (Amitripteleyne not sure of the spelling) for 3 years till I got married at 20, and decided to ween myself off. (I couldnt afford it once I was off insurance). I thought I was ok off of it, but those first few years of marriage proved to be trying because of my constant ups and downs.
    My depression got really bad 3 years ago after having tried to get pregnant for a year. I found out I had PCOS and gained a lot of weight, and I just didnt feel happy at all. It seemed like my husband and I were fighting over nothing- and that I was crying over everything. I told my husband one night that I didnt even know if God was there anymore. I didn't want to live anymore. I didn't understand why this trial had to come to me, especially since it seemed I had NO support. Some of my siblings thought it was in my head and some of my friends abandoned me because I was so negative. My husband assured me that I was important, and that God was real. And that I needed help, yet again.
    Soon after, I saw my bishop and he encouraged me to get some counseling. I think some of my depression comes from my relationship with my dad growing up. (no, I am not blaming him) We both just struggled to get along in every way possible. Now we get along great, at a distance. I do love my daddy. It also comes from being very self conscious. And just from having a chemical imbalance in my body. I started counseling through LDS family services, and had a wonderful experience. I also saw my doctor, Dr. Elizabeth Dayton and I told her I thought I was depressed. I broke down in her office, and she cried right there with me as she listened to my problems. She held my hand and told me that there was no shame in getting help. It had been about 3 years since I had been on a medicine, and I was ready to try anything to get me back to myself, strengthen my marriage, and make some friends. I was tired of being alone.
    After getting on medicine and doing counseling, I lost 14 pounds, and then got pregnant! Now I have a second one- Strangely too, because I haven't had a period or ovulated in over 3 years. I believe God delayed my motherhood experience so I could help myself. Sometimes you have to help yourself before you can help others.
    So many people just do not see the realness of depression. If you haven't experienced it, or known someone very very close to you who has experienced it, you wont understand. And that's ok. But it's not ok to discount someone's feelings. Or to pretend its not real. Or that it's all in our head. Because you have no idea what it's like. The best thing to do is to try to be open minded. And just BE there for your loved ones that suffer from it. Just listen. Know that it is real for them. and most of all, support them 100%.
    I started on 20 mg of Prozac, and have been on it for 3 years now. There are times I run out and test myself to see if I still need it and yes, I still need it. I may need it for the rest of my life, but I am ok with that.
    I am happy to say that I really am happy. Of course I have my days and moments. And those suck. But with the help of medicine, the Gospel, support, and love, I feel I am conquering my depression.
    My story is real. It may make you feel uncomfortable. But I'm not hiding who I am. Who I was, who I have become. I notice a change in myself. A change for the better. I have more of a positive outlook on life. I am not near as negative as I used to be. There is no shame in getting help- i'm certainly not ashamed to be on medicine if thats what I need to do to be happy!
    A talk I love that is about hard times/depression is Do Not Despair by Ezra Taft Benson. READ IT. Its great:https://www.lds.org/ensign/1986/10/do-not-despair?lang=eng

    "If you are lonely, please know you can find comfort. If you are discouraged, please know you can find hope. If you are poor in spirit, please know you can be strengthened. If you feel you are broken, please know you can be mended."-Broken Things to Mend by Jeffery R. Holland


Jess Clark said...

Well, I'm glad you've found something that helps with your bouts of depression. None of us leads a perfect life without challenges and we all could do well to "walk a mile in each other's shoes." It sounds like you're coping well but certainly had some serious struggles. Good luck.

Rachel MM said...

Thank you for sharing this Gill! I'm sorry to hear about your struggle, but I want you to know you are not alone. What a beautiful reminder of the need to rely on the Lord and on others. The Lord once reminded me that I should not be upset by my weaknesses, for it is in them that he has room to make them my strengths. Our weaknesses bring us to our knees and keep us humble enough to admit we can't do it alone. Recognizing the need for help isn't a sign of weakness, but a sign of strength. I love you, Gillian! Never underestimate your strength!

“There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are messengers of overwhelming grief...and unspeakable love.”
-Washington Irving


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