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Effexor, Self Awareness, and Maturity saved my life

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Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Effexor, Self Awareness, and Maturity saved my life

I’m going to write the post of my heart.  The post of Naomi. The post of weakness.   Because if there is one thing that I know in my heart I should do, it is speak these words.  I would much rather keep this  part hidden, but to not talk about it brings shame to something that should be shameless.  Before you read on… if you don’t know the story of Alexander’s birth in May of 2010, please read this post FIRST.  And if you continue to read – please read until the end.

This past year has been one filled with fears.  Fears for my family, fears for my son, and fears for others.  Because I have seen a glimpse into the hell that is depression.  I’m not talking about feeling a little blue.  I’m not talking about having a bad day.  I’m talking about the life-is-over-darkness – depression.  The truth is, Effexor, Self Awareness, and Maturity saved my life.  (God… is – as always – present.) But this post isn’t going to focus on that part of my journey.  Many God loving people experience depression.  And. No. One. Talks. About. It.

Do you want to know what it feels like?

Imagine the most heartbreaking moment you can remember.  Picture yourself crying that ugly cry.  Remember the clutching of your heart as fingers squeeze it until your chest hurts.  You can’t breathe.  Every breath is labored and you struggle just to exist.  Your head hurts as you replay hurtful words, broken dreams, actions that cannot be undone, and the what – if’s that won’t go away.  And there is no relief.  None. You blink your eyes… still all that pain. You fall asleep… still all that pain.  Each day, each moment.. you beg for mercy… and … still all that pain.

I prayed. And… honestly, there was no relief.  I really believe that was so I could write this post.  So that one year later – I could stand proud and tell others what it looks and feels like.

I have always liked to nap.  I love to nap in the living room, with the sun beating down on my face.  Last summer, I slept almost all the time in the darkness of my room.  I pulled all the blinds.  I turned off all the lights.  I slept all the time… In the darkness that mirrored my heart.

I did not return phone calls.  I didn’t talk to people.  In fact – Ray and I sent out an e-mail specifically asking people not to contact us.  He has always been a private person, but I have always been an open and public person.  Many of my closest friends sent me congratulations on the birth of “Nicholas” because they thought that was going to be his name.  I couldn’t even tell people his name.  I just didn’t have the energy to speak to anyone.

I know I have alluded to it in the past… but I really did not do anything to provide for my family during this time.  I did not cook, clean, do laundry, tuck my children in, cuddle them, give them a bath, play with them, … I didn’t even eat supper with my family.  And it’s not because no one noticed.  Ray did everything possible to get me to at least eat.  I couldn’t.

I was once asked by a doctor’s office if I thought about taking my own life.  My automatic answer was, “No.”  My mental response was, “How could I leave Ray to deal with our life alone?”  The doctor was satisfied because of my automatic “no.”  He couldn’t read my thoughts.  I could have walked out of that office and he would have been satisfied.  But you and I know my mental thoughts were not appropriate.  If I really was so far from stepping off that cliff into oblivion – I would have thought, “No! I have too much to live for.” 

Maturity and self awareness saved my life. I asked that doctor for help.  I told that doctor that I needed something to help me battle the darkness. 

If I would not have known the signs of depression AND been mature enough to know I was “faking” normalcy – I might not have been able to write this post.

So why share it?  Why write this?  Why expose something so personal?  Because I worry about other people.  Especially today’s youth.  I feel like most of you are thinking, “well, she gave birth to her son; she heard he was not going to survive or have any quality of life. She battled this tough road… no wonder she was depressed.”  And that might be true. But what about all of those other people who experience depression just because they experience it?  What if no one notices?  What if that person can’t ask for help? What if they don’t recognize the signs or aren’t mature enough to stop lying. To others or themselves.  How can my experience be used in a positive way? 

I am not ashamed to say that an anti-depressant saved my life.  Does it make me less of a person? Does it make me weak?  Did it make me a Naomi?  Maybe.  Does owning it – Out. Loud. – make me a Ruth? I think so. 

I always wanted to be a Ruth.

I decided to publish this post today because…
1. I just needed to get it out.
2. I have a lot to do tomorrow…
3.  I would like to reach as many people as possible with this post, so I linked up with Pour Your Hear Out Wednesday. 

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At August 10, 2011 at 5:25 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was diagnosed with clinical depression when I was 18 and put on medication..I am still on it today (I stopped while trying to get pregnant through nursing) I'm glad you aren't ashamed to talk about it. I'm not either. The way I see it..some people need high blood pressure meds, some for cholesterol, for diabetes..I need mine for serotonin..

At August 10, 2011 at 6:11 PM , Blogger Shell said...

Such a brave post. Thanks for sharing.

Depression is something a lot don't want to talk about- but once you open up, it's amazing how many people admit they feel the same way.

At August 10, 2011 at 7:26 PM , Blogger jen@its all about me said...

I glad that you decided to "come out"it takes courage. I don't for one minute think there is anything to be ashamed or embarrased about. Life can and does get overwhelming and when it does depression can come.

For me it crashed literally into my life July five years ago when my son and daughter died together in an accident.

Although I chose therapy and not medication as my solution; I too shouted it from the roof tops because it saved my life!

Kristen, people are really very understanding and very open about depression and other types of mental illness for that matter.

I've written about my therapy (after the fact) to some extent on my blog, thinking it might be helpful; as you did with successful experience with antidepressants. What you say can help someone, maybe even save a life. What a wonderful gift.

At August 10, 2011 at 7:41 PM , Blogger Meredith said...

You are right that people don't talk about it in the church... I was terrified to admit that I needed help after my second son was born. But when I did open my mouth, I got more support and validation and encouragement to take the meds from my friends at church.

I was relieved.
This is a powerful post... and you are on the other side of it now.
That is an incredible victory.

At August 10, 2011 at 7:42 PM , Blogger Bonnie@TheFragileXFiles said...

Great, heartfelt, honest post. Thank you for telling your story, I especially appreciate where you explain how it's that worst feeling you ever had in the world, and it won't go away ever, no matter what....

At August 10, 2011 at 10:40 PM , Blogger Melissa said...

This is beautifully hard, thank you for sharing. I am in my third battle with PPD and for the first time reached out for help. Meds can help and are not a sign of weakness, we speak our truths to help those that are afraid to speak.

Thank you for sharing.

At August 11, 2011 at 7:54 AM , Blogger Shell said...

I'm back to say thank you so much for your comment. A draw from the head? Oh my, I can't even imagine.

At August 11, 2011 at 1:30 PM , Blogger Kristen said...

Thank you so much.. for those of you who have encouraged me publicly and privately. The posts, comments, and e-mails have helped to reassure me that this was the right post at the right time. Thank you all.

At August 11, 2011 at 2:29 PM , Blogger Helene said...

First, I applaud you for sharing this. Posts like these are never easy to write or to share publicly. You'll never know how many people you have helped by sharing your experience with the world.

I suffered from PPD and I've written about it in graphic detail on my blog. I'm always shocked by some of the comments from women who also suffered from it but were afraid to talk openly about it or weren't sure if they were suffering from it but they just knew something wasn't right.

Like you, I'm not ashamed to admit that I needed help to get through it. Therapy and Wellbutrin saved my life. It makes me sad to think of how long I suffered in silence before reaching out for help.

Thanks again for sharing this!

At August 14, 2011 at 11:35 AM , Blogger Heather H said...

You describe depression so much better than I ever have. Thank you for sharing this amazing post!

And I am glad you are doing better.

At August 15, 2011 at 11:22 PM , Blogger Heather said...

I've been a little behind on my blog reading, and I've been reading things out of order in my google reader... so i only just read through this and your Naomi/Ruth post. Very interesting analogy. First, kudos to you for getting help from your doctor, and then also for talking about it. And second, I think you get to call yourself a Ruth... you've journeyed from your familiar homeland to a strange, new place, and you've been redeemed. Would it be a stretch to call Alexander your kinsman-redeemer?! It might be time for me to reread Ruth, but I'm sure you could flush out that analogy somehow.

At September 29, 2011 at 8:20 AM , Anonymous Denise said...

Thank you for writing this. I am finding that there are so many people who have had the same feelings and have worked through it. It's not easy but can be done. Sometimes things seem so hopeless but then you read that you can hope and it helps.


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