I’ve read that high blood pressure is a silent killer. I never imagined that depression could kill too. Depression killed my joy. Depression killed my faith. Depression killed my marriage. If high blood pressure is a silent killer then depression is a serial killer.
Something was wrong with me. I felt so sad; so drab. I’d lost myself. I wore a made-up face in front of my husband and children. I crafted a dark place in my mind to harbor anxiety and guilt. I consulted a psychologist associated with my church. It was hard to talk because I couldn’t identify my feelings. He suggested I take a personality test. I readily agreed. I had a great personality. Everyone said so. At least everyone used to say so. But recently I’d begun to avoid the people I’d once felt comfortable around.
The test repeatedly questioned if I was afraid of snakes. I chuckled each time I ticked ‘Yes.’
On the question that asked if I believed in God I boldly checked ‘No.’
I sent the questionnaire back, confident the psychologist would suggest a simple cure.
“You’re depressed,” he said.
I was shocked. I was speechless. I was insulted. Depression meant mental illness, which was shameful.
“No,” I told the psychologist. “That’s not possible.”
He put his hand out to reassure me. “You may very well be experiencing dysthymia, sometimes referred to as mild, chronic depression. It is less severe than major depression. However, you may want to consider seeing a psychiatrist who will determine if you need medication.”
I stood and hurried out of his office. I wouldn’t hear of medication. Anti-depressants? For me? No, thanks!
I was determined to fix myself. I would be stronger. I would find a project to work on that would keep me busy. However kind the psychologist had been he’d failed to see that I only suffered from a case of the blues. Everyone felt sad now and then, didn’t they?
I found a project and in the process made new friends. I felt myself rising to the top. I felt happy again. But at night I was restless and couldn’t sleep. I worried endlessly, and like a dog with a bone, I buried those worries during the day only to take them out again at bedtime and gnaw on them to the point of exhaustion. After I finally fell asleep I would awaken the next morning blurry-eyed and weary.
The project came to an end. I held a farewell party in my home, but when I shut the door after the last guest had left I inexplicably began to sob. My heart raced in my chest.
My eleven-year-old son saw me. With a terrified look on his face he asked, “Mom, are you okay?”
I wasn’t okay. I couldn’t breathe. I was having a heart attack. I was going to die and leave my children motherless. I fell onto the floor in a heap. My husband sent me in an ambulance to the ER, but he stayed behind to shield the kids from my ridiculous hysteria.
The ER doctor diagnosed the episode as a panic attack, and she strongly advised me to seek psychiatric help. This time I complied. I saw a psychiatrist who prescribed medication. He referred me to a psychologist for talk therapy. The psychologist recommended books that helped me to understand there is no shame in being diagnosed with depression, and that depression is a genuine illness which stems from numerous causes.
Today, I take medication and practice the coping skills I learned from the professionals. I also started a journal, parts of which I have shared here. I once believed that depression was a killer. I understand now that denial caused the demise of so many important things in my life.
I have a good life now and it is one that I thank God for every single day.
“Depression carries a high risk of suicide. Anybody who expresses suicidal thoughts or intentions should be taken very seriously. Do not hesitate to call your local suicide hotline immediately. Call (1-800-784-2433) or (1-800-273-8255) — or the deaf hotline at (1-800-799-4889).” WebMD.com