Monday, April 19, 2010

~Mental Health Monday Guest Blogger~

Today's guest blogger is Debra from Our Imperfect Life. Here is her story which is reposted with permission from her March 4th,2010 blog entry

That Dark Storm Cloud
Today I am going to get a little serious & I hope you don't mind. I would like to talk about something that has been on my mind a lot lately & that is depression. I have never really spoken about depression before with anyone besides my doctor, my husband & my friend Laura in Virginia. But I feel the need to get this off of my chest.

I have dealt with depression in the past after each of my 3 miscarriages. It took a lot for to admit it to MCS but also to myself. And it was even harder picking up that phone to call the appointment line to request to see a doctor.

We were stationed in Virginia at the time and for about a year, things were very difficult for me. I was still a newlywed, moved away for the first time, had a baby among the miscarriages, a husband in the military who was gearing up for his second deployment, financial issues, trying to find my Dad with no luck, my son being burned, my Mom had a heart attack at a young age with triple bypass surgery and many more things. To say I was stressed was an understatement. The straw that finally broke the camels back was a huge confrontation that I had with some friends. I mean it was downright awful. I had made some very poor choices & turned into a very hateful, evil person. And that ultimately cost me some friendships. Having that happen was a blessing in disguise. That incident made me open my eyes to what had now become my reality. And what I saw, I did not like. I didn't like the person I had become. I was hurt, angry, embarrassed & terribly sad.

One morning, I woke up happy for once. I had an amazing man who not only loved me but help me to create an adorable & wonderful son. I realized that at that time, I was not the Mom I wanted my son to have. I was an emotional wreck but praise God I was never abusive, violent nor suicidal. So I picked up the phone & placed that very important phone call that eventually changed my life. The clinic was able to get me in that day. So off MCS, The "baby" Brain & I went.

At the clinic, I just sat in the room with two of my most beloved people in my life & a new doctor & cried. She was such a compassionate & kind woman. She listened to me explain all of my feelings, all of my actions and all of my fears. After about a good hour in that appointment, she recommended me speaking to the Chaplain to help guide me to seek peace. But she also prescribed me Celexa.
For the first few weeks, I felt exhausted & not really feeling any different. So I put in a call to my doc who stated that was normal & to give it another week or two. If I didn't feel even the slightest difference after that, then we would discuss upping the dosage. After about a week, I did start feeling a little better so we decided to keep the low dosage & see how it would work.

After a couple of months I felt like my old self again. I didn't realize I was running low on meds so I called to ask for a refill. My doc was on vacation & the others in the clinic wouldn't give me a refill without coming in. I was a tad annoyed by that because we had a lot of things going on around that time so I didn't know when I would be able to make it in. I knew it was not recommended to just go off cold turkey but I did it anyway. Surprisingly, I didn't have any ill effects & I still felt great afterward. So that was good. But it was also good that I came off the meds right away because just a few days later we found out I was pregnant. Unfortunately, we had miscarriage #3 several weeks later in January.

Of course since there was a history of depression now, I was worried about falling into that dark hole again. I was completely broken up by that loss again but determined not to allow myself to become depressed. MCS was deploying in 3 months & I refused to ruin that short amount of time I had with him.

Naturally I had those days were I grieved but overall, I felt well. I didn't feel that dark storm cloud looming. So I continued to stay off the Celexa. I am thankful too because about two weeks before MCS deployed in April 2001, I found out I was pregnant. The Littlest Princess was born in November of that year...two weeks to the day after MCS returned from deployment. She was 6 weeks early.

Fast forward to November of last year. I didn't have any other bouts of depression in about 9 years & wasn't ever on Celexa again despite many tough times over the years. I survived having my tubes followed by a uterine tumor that ultimately lead to a hysterectomy, another deployment, another move, buying & selling a house, MCS living in CA for 3 1/2 years while the kids & I were in TX, the deaths of all of my grandparents, 2 heart surgeries for MCS, skin cancer scares with The Brain, a move to Japan & many other things. And I survived all of those without ever being depressed or needing meds.

Until November that is when life decided to throw me for a loop again. I got the news that my Dad had died. I was beyond devastated. You see, I have not seen my Dad in 30 years & have been desperately trying to find him since I was about 16. My Dad had some serious demons when he returned from two tours in Vietnam & when I was about 2, my Mom just couldn't take it anymore. She & my Dad divorced. About 2 years later she remarried & we moved from Kansas to Texas. My Dad eventually moved to California but I was never able to track him down. I found his brothers & was able to talk to them a little but they too had not had any contact with him or seen him in many years.

My dreams of meeting my Dad were squashed. I would never know if he loved me or if I looked like him. I had a huge amount of anger & hatred toward my Mom for taking me away from my Dad & for not trying to stay in contact with him. Losing my Dad before I could ever see him was a huge blow that I just could not handle.
In November when he passed, I had to fly from Japan to California to handle all of his affairs. He never remarried after my mom nor had any other kids so I was on my own to handle his affairs. He had no family there in CA & unfortunately MCS & the kids were not able to come with me. This was all on me. So I went to an area I had never been before all on my own to handle one of the most traumatic times I had ever had to deal with. I was out of the country away from my kids for the first time. I was the one leaving MCS this time instead of the reverse. I was gone for 8 days. And then I had to go back again in December on my own to finish everything out.

By January I was feeling that downward spiral. I was constantly exhausted. Always sick. I had no motivation to clean my house or do any activities I would normally be involved with. I had hit rock bottom again. It was time to ask for help again. And I did. I have been on Celexa now for about 6 weeks & feeling so much better!

So why did I share all of this with you? Well, there is a reason. I wanted to share my story with all of you & encourage those of you dealing with depression to seek help. Please do not be afraid to ask for help! Asking for help proves that you are an amazingly strong person. Hiding from this is what makes you a coward. Reach out to those you love & those you trust. Don't linger in the shadows & withdraw from life around you! Doing so will only cause the storm clouds to roll in thicker & last much longer. Reach through them & find your rainbow. Because in the end, there are people around you that love you very much & don't want to see you hurting.

I completely understand the stigma that comes with being labeled depressed. I really do which is the reason I have kept this a secret for so long. I didn't want people to judge me or laugh at me for being weak. I didn't want people to feel like they had to walk on egg shells around me. And I sure didn't want to embarrass MCS by him having a broken wife. I wanted people to think I was a good Mom & a good wife. I wanted to be respected for who I was. But eventually I realized that they couldn't see those good qualities in the real me because I was hiding behind a facade.

Please please ignore the judgments from others & do what is best for you & your family. There are many people out there who believe depression is just a cop-out & excuse for being a jerk & often times meds are over-prescribed. But depression is a very real issue. One that does unfortunately affect many. Please heed my advice & do not let those who reek of judgment stand in your way. Get yourself some help & prove to yourself that you can do this!

And if anyone ever wants someone to talk to who will not judge you, please do not hesitate to email me. I would be honored to be a listening ear & sound board for you! God Bless!

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