I've struggled all my life with depression. Thinking back, the first time I realized I was depressed (and I mean clinically depressed, not just "it's a rainy day and I'm bored" depressed) was when I was about nine years old. Puberty - and the insane events in my life that coincided with puberty - increased the depression and introduced anxiety.
When I was in my young twenties, I was put on anti-depressants and they made such a wonderful impact in my life. I was a single parent working part-time and attending college full-time, plus a regular attender at church. I felt in control of my life and was genuinely chipper. In my mid-twenties I got pregnant twice - back-to-back pregnancies - and for the sake of the babies, went off my meds. And was so rushed and stressed that it took me three years after my youngest was born to realize I hadn't bothered to go back on the anti-depressants.
"Well," I thought to myself. "If I've been able to handle all these years without them, even with young children, I must not need them anymore." And so I didn't bother asking my doctor for them. And even in later years, when my doctor stressed the idea, I resisted out of a false sense of pride and - yes, I admit it - superiority.
Which, looking back on it, made me a stuck-up b*tch. And during those years, I didn't realize that I was self-medicating with things like junk food, caffeine, and escapism into books.
(now, don't think I'm saying reading is bad. It's a wonderful activity that I still indulge in regularly...but just like anything, it can become an unhealthy addiction if you are using it as a crutch.)
When I realized I was slipping into a dangerous area of OCD, I resisted by intentionally keeping small parts of my home cluttered - which of course added to my anxiety and thus added to depression. And then I would get too down to even clean the intentional clutter and grow even more depressed and anxious...a vicious cycle that swung up and down with my moods.
Injuring my back earlier this year - and the resultant loss of mobility - triggered a tsunami of out-of-control mood swings that sent me down lower than I've been before. And of course, every time I swung low I'd binge eat to feel better. Then I saw the scale and realized I'd developed a new all-time weight high.
This past week, I came to my senses and cried "Enough!!!!" And went to the doctor to talk about anti-depressants and other medical treatments. I'm starting on the new medications today, and such things rarely go smoothly. Dosages will need to be adjusted and some meds will need to be changed, so it's going to be rough going for a while here - but at least it's in the right direction.
Another thing that came to light during my visit is that my iron levels are frighteningly low at ten (if I recall correctly, normal is somewhere around 40-55). Low iron leads to exhaustion and breathing problems, and can contribute to depression as well, so I'm on a prescription-strength iron pill that I am supposed to take three times a day. Iron pills can...um...how do I say this delicately? Gum up the works? Because of that, I have been prescribed a fruit heavy diet with lots and lots of water. So breakfast this morning is going to be almost all fruit, and lunch will include fruit. Snack will be nothing but fruit, and dessert after dinner? Yup, you guessed it - fruit.
Good thing I live close enough to a wonderful store with a huge produce section at low prices, because none of the things I've planted that are fruit-bearing are actually bearing large amounts of fruit. And Sean was wonderful and bought all sorts of frozen fruits to make smoothies with on days when I run out of the fresh stuff.
No one likes to discuss their imperfections, and my struggle with depression, diet, anxiety, and OCD are difficult to admit to. It's hard. It's painful. And it's freeing to be able to say "I need help"...even when that help comes from a prescription bottle.