Coping with Depression

I’ve still been pretty down and lonely lately.  I’m not going to lie.  I’m doing my best to stop whining about it, but sometimes life just hits you.  It’s not like any one thing is bad.  I have it quite good, honestly.  However, I suffer from Bipolar II disorder.  Basically that means that nothing has to be wrong for me to feel depressed and I can seem perfectly happy at times and nobody but my husband and those closest to me would know otherwise.  I take medicine to treat the disorder.  I’m sure there are many out there with a thought on the matter of my method of treatment.  In respect for my current state, let’s not put down a method that has saved me from the depths of the darkest time in my life.

It’s funny how life works.  I never had much sympathy for depression or people that had to take pills to make themselves “happy.”  Sadly, I looked at it as a weakness on their part.  It seemed like the easy way out to just take a pill when life got “too hard.”  Boy, was I put in my place.  A pill is not a cure-all and depression is not the definition for merely having a bad week.

Depression first hit me in the form of Postpartum Depression (PPD).  My husband would tell you it hit me the moment I learned my Mom had Ovarian Cancer.  Maybe he’s right.  I just know that it did not become crippling to my daily functioning until after my eldest was born.  It’s truly disturbing how handicapped it can make you.  Seeking medical attention was the first step in the right direction and the hardest.

As if you don’t feel down enough, you have to walk in to the office and say, “I give up.”  Of course, taking medicine isn’t giving up, but it sure feels like that.  You feel like such a failure.  I tried to be smart about it and coupled my physical health care with mental health care and began seeing a therapist in April of 2007.  At that time, my Mom was still alive and looked at my need for therapy as a failure on her part.  It’s amazing how seeking help somehow implies that we’re weak or a failure.

Thankfully, I had a therapist who helped me address my need for medicine in a healthy light.  She reminded me that depression is as real as Diabetes.  Diabetics need medicine for their health.  It doesn’t make them less of a person to take that medicine.  The medicine does not make things perfect by any means in either case.  It makes one functional.  It brings the individual as close to “normal” as possible.  Certainly, there are additional things that Diabetics and individuals that suffer from depression, or what’s now been diagnosed as Bipolar II disorder for me, can do to help fight off dangerous episodes.    I suppose I need to up my momentum to do those activities.

Exercise is a good start.  How ironic though that what you need most during those lows is the first thing that you can’t even imagine attempting.  That’s when I try to start small.  First goal, don’t fall asleep.  Sleeping just begets more depressive thoughts.  When things were really bad, I slept for hours on end both day and night.  It sounds heavenly for the exhausted working Mom, but I was an at-home-Mom and that’s just considered flat out neglect.  So, stay awake!

Reading is another excellent tool.  There are so many things out there to uplift and edify.  Particularly, reading scriptures.  I’ve decided to work on this part of my life.  I suppose this paragraph isn’t relevant for those that read my blog who do not have faith in a Higher Being.  Though, I wonder, if scripture reading would help all readers regardless of their faith.  The scriptures merely teach some basic truths and do-good-attitudes.  For me, it helps me see the bigger picture.  My Mom doesn’t seem as far away, as silly as that may sound.  For instance, we read scriptures as a family tonight and we were reading about the Lord’s ability to give us strength beyond that of man.  Then we asked one another in what ways has Heavenly Father given us the “strength of the Lord” in our personal lives.  My first thought was that He gave me strength to move from all that I’ve ever known in Southern California.  At times like this, it’s particularly hard to be away from some of my core support from back “home.”  The second thought though was how Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ have given me strength to live my daily life without my Mom around.  I miss her so very much.  Her physical absence in my life has changed me in ways that I did not anticipate.  Then, I recall the bigger picture and take comfort that my time with her is not done.  It’s eternal.

Another thing that helps me cope with these lows is admitting that I need help, as mentioned above.  These times are less frequent with medicine on board, but I still need help.  It’s that whole pride thing that gets me every time.  I don’t want to admit I need help.  I don’t want to admit that I’m not doing any of the things I should be doing.  I want to pretend that I’m perfectly fine.  Isn’t that easier for everyone else around me?  Please don’t take this as a cry for help, as I really am functioning fine and my logical mind is still in control enough to recognize the many blessings in my life and the support that I do have.  Honestly, because I am properly medicated and do have an excellent support system, I don’t think I’m feeling any different than the rest of the population who has a down time now and again.

But maybe if you are reading and feeling more down than your typical behavior, try the above mentioned things.  Try to get moving, get reading, and get help.  Whether you need medical help or an increase of emotional support, don’t think less of yourself for asking for it.

If you are fortunate enough to be in a happier state at the time, remember Scottish author, Ian Maclaren’s, advice to, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”

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