Depression is an epidemic that is affecting countless people who don’t even realize that they are suffering from it. If they do realize they are suffering from it, they generally don’t want to seek help as they feel it’s a social no-no, and others will think less of them for it. Or, they simply don’t know where to turn. Allow me to share my battle with depression and hope that it helps even one person in the process.
I had went through a depression when I was a teenager. I got a little bit of therapy for it and moved on. Life was good. It has it’s up’s and down’s, but as most of us know you have to take the bad with the good. However, a few years ago it reared it’s ugly head once again.
On March 16, 2006 I had lost a baby cousin of mine. Her name was SGT Amanda Pinson and she was 21; 11 years younger than myself. A lot of people say good things about those who have passed, but we always said good things about her long before her passing. She was just one of those special people, with a huge heart, who we were all convinced was going to change the world for the better. Her loss was the single most devestating I had ever had to endure. My heart was literally broken and my soul lost in a paralyzing reality that I did not want to accept.
Shortly after her passing more events unfolded that were profound: two friends of mine went missing after a night on the town only later to be discovered mutilated and their bodies in two separate locations; another cousin was killed in a fiery car accident; I lost my aunt to cancer and my best friend had died from a rare heart disease called Long QT.
Needless to say, my heart couldn’t bear anymore pain and my brain was completely thrown off. What I mean by this is the chemicals in my brain could no longer process information as it had before; it was, in a sense, shut down. Emotionally withdrawn. I didn’t see the signs warning me of what was to come, but others around me did. I was angry at their suggestion that I needed to talk to someone as I have always been able to control me and my life with the utmost precision.
I suffered for two, long, agonzing years of the darkest place ever known. I separated myself from family and friends. I made up excuses of why I couldn’t do certain things, visit certain places, etc. It was a rare day that I actually smiled. Don’t get me wrong… suicide was never an option. I never allowed it into the equation.
One day, it hits me…hard. Something had happened that forced me to face what had happened to me and that I needed help. I had my first, and hopefully last, nervous breakdown. Obviously, it was horrifying. I was scared, vulnerable and concerned of what step to take next. So, I didn’t – I didn’t want to admit defeat. I stayed in that frame of mind for about another month until what I call divine intervention stepped in and made me.
I had been diagnosed with diabetes about a year before that which obviously played another part in my depression. I was feeling very ill one morning, jumped up and immediately got sick. The next day, I couldn’t walk. I had been falling asleep, off & on, for a couple of days. I finally called my mom, who had been out of town, and told her to come to my apartment as I was unable to take care of my daughter. Upon her arrival I began what I call “Two Weeks of Self-Realization”.
She had walked in, took one look at me and said, “Oh my god, I’m calling 911”. Evidentally I was a little green, not breathing normal, etc. When paramedics arrived they immediately put me on oxygen, put me on a gurney and took me away to the hospital of which I spent 12 hours in the emergency room being attended too and poked at. They checked me in. The next morning I was rushed to ICU and diagnosed with diabetic ketoacidosis; my blood sugars were amazingly chaotic to say the least. The next step was diabetic coma and they had told me that all of those times I was falling asleep, off & on at home, was actually me…passing out.
To add to all of this I was also diagnosed with pneumonia in both lungs. I had aspirated while getting sick and the infection was really bad. Then they advised me that I had diabetic nephropathy aka kidney disease. The reason I couldn’t walk is because I was dehydrated and my muscle in my leg had lost mass and my sciatic nerve was hitting a bone everytime I moved.
The odds of me leaving that hospital, alive, were not in my favor. It was then that I realized I didn’t want to die and had to make a huge effort to get better for my daughter’s sake. Six days later I came out of it. I spent another 8 days in the hospital. While I was there, I had spoken with a psychiatrist who advised me that I was definitely depressed and he gave me medication for it.
Within a week I was doing much, much better! I have been on my anti-depressants for over a year now. They’ve had to adjust my prescription a bit more since, but now everything is very balanced. Life is just… wonderful. It took me a while to accept that it was okay to take something, that it wasn’t my fault nor was I ‘crazy’ because my heart & mind couldn’t bear the pain I was being put through. More than anything, I came to the conclusion that it was acceptable to be human and that I couldn’t control every aspect of my life.
When I think of those two years I can’t tell people a lot about it. My recollection is, at best, minimal. I suppose for some safety mechanism my mind has blocked 99% of that time frame. Not the losses. Just the time afterwards. I can honestly admit that it doesn’t bother me as I don’t want to remember. Because what I do remember is, as mentioned before, a very dark, lonely place.
I’m grateful, in a strange way, that I had the chance to experience the pain. It made me realize so much about myself that I didn’t know. It made me appreciate life; even the downsides. I appreciate my health; because coming that close to death you never realize how quickly it can all be taken away until you’re facing it. More than anything, it made me value my time with my daughter… she saved me. Without her I know I wouldn’t have found the will to fight. She has no idea the profound effect she has had on me.
So the moral of this story is simple. Depression is real. It’s not something to be ashamed of. It won’t go away until you get help and you don’t need to be afraid to get that help as you’re not alone. More than anything, there is an end to it and it is going to be okay.
If you’re suffering from depression please seek the advice and attention of a medical professional. Talk to your doctor about possible medication to help you. Contact a therapist in regard to talking to someone who can walk you through the process of healing from depression. It’s a real disease, but there is a cure. All you have to do is take the first step.