IMG_6416(2)-004

From ‘Darkness’ to ‘Light’, by Diane

Depression was a companion of mine for most of my adult life. As I try and recall now, just when it began it’s a bit difficult to say, but I guess after I had our second child it crept into my life. I remember going to the doctor and telling him how much I was crying and upset so much of the time. He told me at the time that I should get out of the house more, and gave me a sedative to take. I tried but of course couldn’t take them because it made me too tired to look after the children.

Fast forward to when we moved into our first house, and we had our third child. There were periods of time when the depression would come and go, but I didn’t really recognize it as such. I guess I only thought I was tired and so busy, and therefore ‘emotional’.

We moved again within five years, and the periods of feeling ‘down’ became more evident, but again when I went to the doctor, he gave me sedatives to calm my nerves, which of course didn’t address the real issue. I went through many years with intermittent depressed episodes, but I was not directed to anyone that really helped me get to the core of the problem.

There were enough periods of time when I functioned well enough to care for our children, work outside the home part-time and sometimes full-time, and maintain the house. My husband did help with the workload, but found it hard when I would fall back into my emotional shell of depression. He simply did not understand what it was all about.

Then when I was 33 years old I had the worst episode, and was hospitalized. In spite of my family’s protests, he and I decided that I would have ECT… electro convulsive therapy. My doctor had asked for a consultation with a psychiatrist and suggested this as an option. As I felt I couldn’t go on the way I was, by this time feeling suicidal, I had three treatments. While I will never know what would have happened had I not done so, I believe that they did save my life.

For a while the ‘darkness’ seemed to disappear, but then it returned intermittently for the next 30 years. There was a multitude of therapists and psychiatrists during that period of time. It was just talking and medications and change of medications over and over. All of them I guess wanted to help, but none seemed to be able to, before slipping again and again. Then we moved when my husband retired, to a small town. I began seeing a doctor that seemed to hold the key. She asked me if I wanted to begin CBT… cognitive behavioural therapy, along with the anti-depressants which I had been on (and off) for most of the past 30 + years.

While this might not be the method for everyone, it was for me. It was not an instant cure-all but within a period of a couple of years I got to the point of daring to believe that I could be free of this ‘darkness’. The veil started to lift, and although I thought that I would be on the medication for my life, the doctor started to wean me off them. For many of course medication is a life-time reality, because of the chemical imbalance.

I have been free from depression for the past eight years or so. There have been times of sadness since, but there is a difference between that and the ‘darkness’.

Even though this mental disease was present in my life and my family’s, I was blessed to be able along with my husband, to raise our children, see them married and have children of their own. Do I think that any of them have scars because of seeing their mother go through difficult periods? I’m sure that at times it must have been hard for them, but I have asked them as adults, and surprisingly they only remember that they were loved!

I do believe that they are more sensitive individuals as they seem to have a compassion within them that perhaps developed during times when I would sit with them and try to explain why ‘Mommy’ was not feeling well. I wanted them to understand it had nothing to do with them, but only that I had times where I was having difficulty and needed help from the doctors.

Depression took its’ toll for sure, but it’s part of who I have become, and because of having been through it, there have been occasions when I have been able to encourage others suffering from it too, and to let them know that there is someone who understands, and to give them hope that it is possible to go from darkness to ‘light’.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that my faith helped me also, because I knew that God was alongside of me every step of the way. Having said that, being a Christian and suffering from depression brought its’ own challenges as well. I felt as I believe others do, that if I had more faith I wouldn’t have had this problem. That only made me feel worse than I did, and I felt I had to hide it, and I did as long as I could. Of course that was something I came to terms with. Christians aren’t exempt from difficulties in this world, and that most definitely includes mental illness.

_____________

My name is Diane and I am a mother of 3 children, grandmother of 8 and great-grandmother of 1. I suffered from depression as my post says for most of my adult life. I managed to raise however along with my husband of 51 years, our children and help with our grandchildren at times too. I went for many years with depression, but not really being treated as such, but instead post-partum or just being emotional. I contemplated suicide on more than one occasion, but thankfully it never came to fruition. Today, I am able to say that I am free from depression but that’s not to say I don’t sometimes feel ‘down’, because I do, but there is a definite difference. My hope was that in blogging about it from time to time, to somehow help others going through the same thing, and most of all just to let them know, that they are not alone and to give some hope. The STIGMAMA site does this in a very big way and I’m sure has helped many.

Diane blogs at http://hometogo232.wordpress.com/

K&Rface

Stereotypes: Don’t Trivialize Suicide, by Rev. Katie

Like most people, I find those Auto correct fail posts hilarious. These posts show screen shots of people who’s autocorrect turned a normal text into something highly embarrassing. However, I have noticed an interesting thing in many of these posts. When the texter notices the auto-correct fail, sometimes their next text is something like:

“I am going to jump off a bridge now.”

Copyright Bipolar Spirit 2014.

“I am going to kill myself now.”

Or check out this one where someone is “literally” going to kill themselves from getting a weird text from her mother, and then her mother tells her not to be “crazy.”

I know that these are just people responding to extreme embarrassment and overall this is not a big deal. However, this does tell us something about the way we look at causes of death by suicide.

People who die by suicide do not die because they are embarrassed like what happens with an auto-corrected text. It makes no sense that we even joke about killing ourselves when we are embarrassed.

Death by suicide is due to the deepest despair. It is the result of a brain that is broken and has convinced a person of any number of false realities such as: a loss of meaning and purpose in life, the belief that one is a terrible person, unworthy of love, and even your loved ones would be better off without you. Or the belief that you are inherently evil, worthless, or deserve to die. Even that is not a good enough description of it. There is no way to adequately describe such despair, or to know what exact ways in which any one person’s brain has created a faulty reality for them. Mental illness manifests differently for every person.

We need to stop using phrases like “I am going to kill myself” so lightly. It’s not a joke. It’s not an appropriate way to express general embarrassment or incredulity at something. It’s a misunderstanding and trivialization of a dangerous illness that is no joking matter.

Blessings,

Rev. Katie
___________

Rev. Katie Norris is a Unitarian Universalist  community minister with a specialty in pastoral care and communication for people with brain health disorders and their families. She works to raise awareness and end stigma of these illnesses through community outreach and public speaking. She comes to this work through personal experience as someone living with mental illness. Katie is also co-founder of the Carolyn L.Farrell Foundation for Brain Health. Katie’s young son describes her job as “talking a lot.” She is a wife, mother, CrossFitter, corset wearer, dog parent, and she has a love for all things fairy tales and fantasy. She fiercely believes that everyone is loved just as they are, and that an essential part of easing human suffering is showing others that they are loved, and helping them live life to the best of their ability. 

This post was republished as suggested and with permission. The original post can be found here: http://www.bipolarspirit.com/2014/08/stop-using-phrase-i-am-going-to-kill.html

image

The Mountain of Wellness, by Jennifer Nendza

Eleven years ago on September 29th, 2003, I tried to kill myself by swallowing fifteen Excedrin migraine. I was transported via ambulance from my dorm room to the local hospital where they gave me active charcoal, and luckily the effects of such allowed my liver to NOT suffer any ill effects. I begged the psychiatrist on staff that night to allow me to be discharged, with the stipulation that I’d follow up with my personal psychiatrist.

I was unable to follow up, because the next day I was informed via letter from the dean of students that I was expelled from the university for violating their code of conduct (which included not harming others, or myself). Four days later I packed my things and moved home. Thus began my trudge up the ‘mountain of wellness’.

I went through about three years of half-hearted attempts at counseling, where I’d lie to doctors and tell them what they wanted to hear because prior to all of this, no one ever really gave my ‘episodes’ much thought. I was a theatre major, so obviously I was just being “over dramatic” when I’d self harm or lock myself in my room for hours, crying non-stop.

Around 2006, I met my husband and shortly thereafter started making a genuine attempt at trying to figure out exactly what was wrong with me. I was diagnosed with bipolar II disorder, and generalized anxiety disorder, and began medication. Over the next years, I continued on my journey up the mountain. I had relapses and setbacks, but also great accomplishments. My husband was by my side through all of this – he never wanted to fix me, just wanted me to be as well as I could – not just for us, but for myself. He’s my inspiration most days when I feel like the walls are closing in. He reminds me that everything is manageable – even my disease.

We married on Dec. 1, 2012, and I promptly got pregnant. It was a surprise, as I didn’t intend for it to stick as quickly as it did, but for some reason I didn’t feel joy. I felt dread. Antepartum depression hit me, hard. I had previously been able to manage my issues without medication, but was quickly put back on an anti anxiety med, and re-started therapy with a practice that specialized in women who were suffering from postpartum and antenatal depression.

The therapy, along with medication – got me through my rocky pregnancy. I had irritable uterus and was generally feeling miserable, but finally was able to connect with my growing baby and enjoy the fact that I was creating a life that was made from love.

Why do I start with that back story?

Well, I do it because on September 29th 2012, ten years to the day that I tried to kill myself, I went into spontaneous labor and delivered my beautiful daughter, Magnolia Rebecca; at 33 weeks. She was incredibly healthy and only had a ten day NICU stay, and over the past year has showed me a tenacity for life that is unmatched by anyone else I’ve ever met.

If you would have asked me on that day ten (now almost eleven) years ago, if I could have imagined myself not only as a wife to an amazingly supportive and fantastic man, but a MOTHER to a child of my own – I would have called you insane. I would have told you that I wasn’t worth it; that I didn’t deserve that kind of love or happiness….that there was no way someone could love me that much.

But there I was. Giving birth to the product of that love.

My daughter is a constant reminder that, even when I have set backs, that this climb is worth it. Trying is worth it. Existing is worth it – she reminds me every day with her smile. She’s living proof that no matter how low you get, you can rise up out of the darkness long enough to feel the sun, and try to heal.

I don’t claim to be “cured”; I still have hard days, sometimes hard weeks – but I do have a constant reminder of my strength, which is a huge help.

So, that’s my story. I want to share it for moms or even just women who think there’s no way they will ever climb out of that all-encompassing black hole called mental illness. It can get better. Maybe never perfect, but better – and better is about as close to perfect as I could ever get.

Thank you for listening.

______________________

Jennifer is a soon to be mother of two who lives in Philadelphia. She lives day by day, in a home full of rescue animals, her husband, her child(ren), and a lot of patience and love.