Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Depression Profile: Kelly "Depression can't be fixed, it can only be managed"

Name: Kelly (name has been selected from a random name generator. Well, not really. But wouldn't one of those come in handy?)
Age: 33
Location: Utah

1. Have you ever been officially diagnosed? How do you classify your depression? (i.e. post partum depression, anxiety/depression, clinical depression, etc.)
I have been diagnosed by my doctor with clinical depression and anxiety disorder. I also suffer from post partum depression.

2. How long have you been depressed?
I remember being sad and having anxiety since I was about ten. I remember contemplating suicide often during my teen and early adult years. My symptoms became the worst after I had kids. When my life is overwhelming, then my symptoms become worse.

3. What are you like on your worst days?
My mind won’t stop. I think about way too many things in a very negative way. Everything sucks…Everyone sucks…The world is out to get me. I have the type of depression that makes it so I don’t stop moving and worrying about everything (versus the type where you stay in bed all day). On my worst days I am running around like a mad woman while I stress and freak out about everything around me. My body can’t keep up with my brain. This is frustrating to the point of me yelling and screaming and panicking over everything. I cry a lot, and feel so alone.

4.What are you like on your best days?
I am calm and can think things through reasonably. It occurs to me on my good days that this is what “normal” feels like. I can accomplish things. I am not annoyed by everything. I smile and mean it.

5. What kind of treatments have you pursued?
I have taken Lexapro and Zoloft without any great results. Lexapro made me gain 60 pounds so I decided to go get off it. I tapered off it slowly, but the withdrawals were still unbelievable. I came very close to killing myself while in the withdrawal stage. It was one of the darkest periods of my life. I decided, after that experience, that I didn’t want to be dependent on medication again. While initially it helped, and I am not against medication for anyone with depression and anxiety, it just isn’t for me.

Since then I have tried to take a more holistic approach. This approach takes a lot more time and effort, but the benefits have been positive for me. I exercise at least two hours a day and I take a combination of B vitamins, vitamin D, and a supplement called inositol. [Laura's note: Hi Readers--sorry to interrupt. I have never heard of inositol before. Drop me a line or comment and tell me what you know about it. I plan on doing a more in depth post on it in the future and would love your input.] I also get at least 20 minutes of sunshine/outdoor light a day. While I still have really bad days occasionally, and every day is a little bit of a challenge, all of these things I do make it better.

At one point this last year I was walking 12 miles a day and this made me feel better than I ever did on medication. But of course that kind of commitment is hard to continue on a daily basis.

I have also tried therapy and I have not found many benefits to this for me personally. I suppose I just haven’t found the right therapist, though I have tried several. I feel like they want to fix me and move on. Depression can’t be fixed, only managed.

6. How do you feel your depression has affected your spirituality? How would you describe your current relationship with the Church?
I once had someone of my faith tell me, “You’re kids deserve a happy mom.” It was said in a judgmental way. That sums up my feelings about the Church. Mental illness is misunderstood. I feel judged by most people of my faith. I also feel like the Church has way too many expectations to meet, and it is impossible for a depressed LDS person to meet all these expectations. This leaves me feeling less than whole and guilty and not quite up to par.

I have also been told to pray harder, read my scriptures more, have more faith. It is funny that these things are not told to people with physical illnesses, only mental illness. Sometimes this makes me feel bitter and lonely.

I hope to someday have the faith I need to make it through this life without being angry and feeling misunderstood. I need to look past other people's weaknesses and insensitivity. However, right now in my life I need more people to lean on and it seems there doesn’t seem to be many who are willing. Where is the Christ-like attitude we are all supposed to have?

Sometimes the thought of going through this illness every day is overwhelming to me. I lose faith, I become angry at God, I don’t understand why I have to deal with this lonely disease that very few people understand. I also see some signs of mental illness in my children, and this makes me angry that they will have to go through this, and I had a part in it.

So to be honest the last couple of years while my depression has been at its highest, my spirit and faith have been at their lowest.

7. What do you wish other people understood about depression?
The thing I wish people mostly understood is that depression and anxiety are real. They can be just as debilitating and life threatening as a physical illness. And for the most part depressed people just want someone to talk to without judgment.

I want to thank Kelly for this. I really appreciate her honesty about her relationship with the Church. There are so many demands on our time and energy and there are a lot of individuals who don't understand how consuming mood disorders can be. All that makes it so difficult to remember that we go to Church to worship the Lord and reconnect with our Savior--not to tell others what to do or judge them. Some Sundays, when I'm depressed, a spiritual experience feels impossible. I want to commend Kelly for persevering through this. She is woman of real inner strength.

If you would like to share your story (as anonymously as you'd like) please email me at lolapalooza AT hotmail DOT com. Please put "depression profile" in the subject line so I know you aren't a spammer.


Becca Jones said...

While I am not questioning Kelly's doctor's diagnosis, I think it might be interesting to readers of this blog that the kind of 'agitated depression' that Kelly describes is very close to a particular variety of ADD that is often misdiagnosed as depression with anxiety--and it is effectively treated with exercise, vitamin b, and traditional ADD medications (but often doesn't respond well to traditional depression meds). You'd have to be seen by a psychiatrist who specializes in Adult ADD for it to be properly diagnosed, I think--most physicians don't know about it and think all ADD is hyperactive, and all symptoms of depression point to a depressive illness.

Becca Jones said...

Also, I totally appreciated the comments about how difficult it is to maintain faith when you are suffering with depression--Mormon makes it clear that faith can't happen without hope, and depression makes hope difficult to grasp and cling to--through no fault of the person who is suffering.

I totally respect and admire people who persevere through trials that make it physically hard to believe.

Anonymous said...

This is "Kelly." Becca thank you for your comments. I have often wondered if some of what I experience is Adult ADD. Your comments make a lot of sense for my situation. I will look into that.
I do want to say though that I do have bouts of true depression where I loose interest in everything around me and my thoughts are suicidal and ugly and I don't have motivation to do anything.
Do you think you could have ADD, depression, and anxieties?
(Man my brain really is messed up :)

Becca Jones said...

Most people who have ADD also have a parallel condition, with the most common including depression and anxiety disorders. So yes, it is very possible. The nation's foremost expert on Adult ADD is Dr. Hallowell, and he says that you should treat the ADD first and then the depression because some medications for depression make ADD worse. My husband and children have ADD with panic disorders/social phobias, and they certainly complicate each other!

I have a sister with ADD with depression, and she takes a medication called Effexor XR, which is an anti-depressant with stimulants in it--it works, but not as well as separate treatments for the ADD and depression.

"Delivered from Distraction", by Dr. Hallowell, and "Healing ADD" by Dr. Amen are two excellent books about this and both can be found in the library.

Also, I can get the name of a psychiatrist in Provo who specializes in all this who one of my other sisters was treated by, if you want. He's excellent, but has a 6-month waiting list unless you are in crisis right now. (His partner is not as good, though, so don't let them talk you into seeing him.)

Anonymous said...

Becca thanks for the info! I am actually clear up North in Utah. Do you have any ideas on doctors around the Logan area?

Becca Jones said...

I don't know any north of South Salt Lake. Sorry.

Logan area is beautiful, though. My brother lives there, and I lived in Richmond before leaving for my mission back in 1997.

Becca Jones said...

I think Dr. Hallowell's book actually has resources in the back to help find doctors in your area. He recommends you see a child psychologist because they have more training in adult ADD than adult psychologists, who often don't believe it exists.

Hope you find someone! If you do, could you let me know the name so I can pass it on to others?


Th. said...


I really don't avoid the topic on hand on purpose, but I thought you might be interested in 1 2 and 3.

Anonymous said...


Thank you for such an open and honest post. There are so many LDS women who feel similarly and need to know that they are not alone. I agree with you - people with physical disabilities are not told to read their scriptures and pray more nearly as much. I've heard that line in regards to lds women struggling with depression numerous times.

I think in the best possible world, this topic would be discussed MUCH more, and women (like us)struggling with depression would be able to find friends who support and love us, regardless. This includes days that we want to stay in bed all day, and on good days where we want to take our kids to the park!