illness

Depressiony Depression is Depressing

That title is redundant, but I wrote it that way on purpose.

It’s amazingly accurate.

You feel depressed, so you go looking for a way to cheer yourself up, but that doesn’t work. So then you’re even more depressed because your attempt to de-depress yourself isn’t working.

How do you describe depression without using the word depression?

None of these other words ring true and encapsulate what it means to have depression.

You don’t really have depression:  it’s more like depression has you.

If someone has never experienced true depression how do you distinguish it from being sad or discouraged?  

It seems like every description I’ve read falls short.

I’m going to try to define it myself.

I’ve had episodes of depression since I was 12 years old.  

Sometimes, it was because something had happened, like when my grandmother died when I was in middle school.  

Sometimes, it was medication induced or hormone induced. I reacted extremely poorly to one medication for hormone imbalances and within an hour of taking it, I was suicidal.

I am incredibly sensitive to medications and have to be extra vigilant.  

I have a pact with my mother that as soon as I feel “on the edge” –the beginning signs of suicidalness– I’ll call her immediately.  I have taken her up on that on more than one occasion.  

Anyone who deals with depression needs a lifeline, someone who they’ve promised to call and who is willing to help them –someone who will drop everything and come to their aid if they’re feeling suicidal.

Since suicidal thoughts are so incredibly out of character for me, it is an easy early warning sign that something is very amiss.

Although I’m not sure how to put into words the difference, situational depression, medication induced depression, and hormonal induced depression feels slightly different than actual psychological depression. Not better or worse, just different.

That’s what I’m dealing with right now for the first time in many years.  

It is definitely part of my autoimmunity, something I’m prone to.

Real depression is beyond sadness.  It is beyond being discouraged. It is beyond feeling hopeless.

It’s as if the part of your brain that is supposed to remind you that hope exists shuts off.

Heaviness in my heart.

Sinking in my soul.

Laughter seems empty.

Joy seems hollow.

Because this involves brain chemicals, it’s not too far off to say that the hope is shut off. If I understand the mechanics of depression correctly, the chemicals that are supposed to move feelings of happiness, hope and joy around your brain stop working properly.  

I’ve walked this path before and saw the signs immediately.  

I’ve already discussed this with my doctor, and we’re working on a treatment plan.  

Part one of the treatment plan is to try drinking Perrier spring water regularly.

Remember how I said I react to medications? There are low levels of naturally occurring lithium in this spring water. We’re going to see how I respond to it rather than trying medication.

Lithium, according to my doctor, is very safe especially in low doses (less than 5 milligrams).

I’m also doing a nuerotransmitter test from my doctor through Pharmasan Labs. It will test the levels of brain chemicals to see what is deficient. This way we’re not blindly guessing what brain chemicals I need.  

So, this post is affirmation: if you’ve dealt with depression, you’re not alone.  

You’re not less holy because your brain chemicals are out of balance or misfiring.

You’re not choosing to despair just because you feel it.  Although,  it is possible to choose to despair and be in sin, so we have to watch ourselves for that. I do know people who choose to not believe that God will see them through.

Know this: depression lies to you.

Depression tells you there’s no hope. We may feel like there’s no hope, our brains may not transfer the hopeful chemicals to where we need to have it, but we know in our minds that God is our hope and the reason we don’t have to despair.  

We know that how we feel is not trustworthy.  We need to know how we feel so that we can address those imbalances.  We listen to our emotions, but we shouldn’t believe them.

Emotions are lying liars.

Depression is a test of mind over chemical, mind over emotion.

I choose to believe that God is there and that I have hope and purpose even if my brain is broken and not transferring those chemicals or transferring the wrong chemicals

And, I choose to act in wisdom. I identify those feelings and get help.

Depression also lies and tells us that life is not valuable. It undercuts the basic desire to continue to exist.

Depression is one of the only things that can counteract natural self-preservation. It’s really quite amazing and powerful if you think about it.

Amazing and powerful in a bad way.

But still powerful.

I’ve dealt with this long enough to know that you don’t mess with depression.

It makes serious problems, and I had better take it very seriously.

I don’t wait to get help.

If I see the warning signs, I get help before it gets out of hand.  

God put me here for a reason. Depression is part of my journey.

It’s kind of a dark and terrible part of that journey but part of it nonetheless.  

If we look at scripture we see that David, Isaiah, and many others had times in their lives when they could have been depressed.

David said his soul was downcast within himself.

That sounds like a pretty good description to me.

Even Jesus when faced with the cross felt abandoned by God and cried, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

I’m not saying Jesus was depressed only that it isn’t a sin to feel forsaken.

David lamented when he felt depressed, but he always came back to the conclusion that God was his hope.

Hope.

We can continue to have faith and hope even when our emotions and our feelings are lying to us.

child (7)Now faith, in the sense that I am here using the word, is the art of holding on to things your reason has once accepted, in spite of your changing mood.  – C.S. Lewis

Or in spite of your psychological imbalance.

I choose to believe there is hope in God –no matter what I may feel, not matter what my brain chemistry does.

My faith is in God alone.

There is nothing that any person on this earth or even my sickly, illness-ridden body can do that will deter me from choosing to hope in God alone.

Blessings,

Sarah Forbes

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