This is the story of Miss S (the "S" stands for surviving and smiling) an LDS woman living in California and dealing with depression. I am so grateful to her for sharing her story here.
Looking back, I've probably always suffered from some kind of mild depression. I was raised in a home (not LDS)with a lot of yelling and name-calling. I had my son when I was 17 and never married his dad. I went through two divorces before 25. (Sounds really crazy when I say that out loud!)
The first time I thought I had depression was in my second marriage. I was always angry at the man I married (although, later I found out my anger was misdirected. I was actually angry at myself for marrying him). I'd have anger episodes that felt borderline psychotic: breaking down, screaming, shaking, so much fury. I got a quick prescription for Prozac, took it 3 days and threw it out because I figured I wasn't depressed chemically, it was just my situation. So, "we" started marriage counseling together and I kept going by myself after the separation. I started learning about myself and what I needed in my life--how to be happy by myself and those kinds of things.
I met my current husband shortly after that, joined the church at 26, married him at 27, had baby #2 at 28 and baby #3 at 30. My youngest is now 8 months old. I noticed depression kicking in around my seventh month of pregnancy. I didn't realize that's what it was until later. In retrospect, I think I probably suffered from PPD with my previous pregnancy also. My depression was hard to admit to, and to realize that it was depression, b/c for me, I become angry when I'm down. Also, to admit to depression is taboo in my family; "nobody" has it, but looking at my mom, I'm sure she does too. Anyway, I thought it was just PPD and that it would wear off.
My oldest child's father committed suicide 6 years ago. He suffered from bipolar disorder and was suicidal from the time I met him at 13 years of age. Growing up with him, I thought he was faking it, trying to get attention, that he could control it, that it was all "in his head." I tried to get him to focus on other things to distract him from depression. I didn't realize it was a REAL illness until after he died at 24. It was a long road. He turned to street drugs to self-medicate and by the time he got professional help, the meds counteracted and did more damage than good. He died within a year from that time.
I've been on Prozac for about 5 months now and I've tried to wean off twice. I noticed the first time that the depression signs came back right away. The second time, not so much, but a little here and there. I'm nervous that I will need meds the rest of my life. I really don't want to "need" medication, but so far I've noticed that I'm a much better person, wife, mother, etc. with it. I feel better on the medication, but I don't like being dependent on it. I'm only on 10 mg, at one point I thought I'd need more, but I'm taking it every other day now and doing fairly well. Maybe I'm getting better?
But then the other day I was so tired all day, got absolutely NOTHING done at home and had to drag myself to the scout court of honor at church. I've been very tired lately and thought I might be prego again (not to my excitement), but found out that it was PMS (Yay!). I need my energy back.
I like Prozac for the simple fact that there aren't many side effects. I do have night sweats, but not too badly and I get tired off and on. I have some really good, energetic days and other times sleepless nights and dragged out days. My appetite is normal and I've succeeded in losing some weight that I've been working on--but I hear Prozac suppresses your appetite so that might be part of it too.
Spiritually, my depression has affected me a great deal. When I'm not on meds, I'm a monster and want to be left alone; I'm angry and ungrateful. When I'm on meds, I'm indifferent to emotion. I've only cried three times in the last 6 months: once was at church when the Spirit hit me and I couldn't stop crying. I was a mess! Another time I was talking to my good friend and told her I couldn't figure out why I was emotionless. Then the flood gates opened. Either way, I continue to go to church even when I don't feel like it. My husband has helped us stay on track there. I love being active in the church, but many times I feel like I'm going through the motions. I don't set aside the time I should to pray and read scriptures. I think if I did, it would help more. We haven't been to the temple as much as we should b/c of small babies, but my husband just heard a great talk about how we should make the time to go no matter what. He is going with our 13 year old on Saturday to do baptisms with the youth. I might go and do a session on my own if I can find a babysitter.
I wish other people knew (I'm still learning this myself) is that IT IS OKAY. It's okay to be depressed. It's okay to ask for help. It's okay to be on meds. It's not your fault for being depressed; you didn't do anything wrong, it's just a trial in life. I still have trouble going to the clinic b/c I feel weird. I feel uncomfortable, like a freak, like I don't belong and I'm always nervous there. But just because I'm depressed doesn't mean I'm crazy. I'm still learning this. I haven't told my mom or my sister or my son for fear that they will think I'm nuts and should be doing this on my own, without a shrink or meds. I'm so grateful to have a supportive husband. Without him, I probably would go nuts!
We (my readers and I) send you our support and prayers, Miss S! Good for you for building a support system and making an effort to include the Lord in your life and trials. Even if you can't make it to the temple, all the small and simple things you do make a difference. Thanks again for sharing your story.
If anyone else would like to share their story here please email me at lolapalooza AT hotmail DOT com. Put "depression profile" in the subject line so I know you are not a spammer!