Friday, July 19, 2013

My shoes...

One thing I have learned since my initial struggle with anxiety and depression has started is that no matter how hard I would have tried I could have never really understood what another person was going through until experiencing it myself.  Never.  With that being said, I know our Father in Heaven has a plan of happiness for each of us.  I know He wants us each to be happy.  I also know that depression is a very real trial that some are given - not because of sin - but because of a need for growth.  Growth we are all in need of. We are each given our own trials to help us grow and become more like the Savior, and closer to our Father in Heaven. Some trials are a single occurrence that we make it through, (hopefully) learn from, and (eventually) move past. Other trials are more long lasting.  Things we struggle with for long periods of time, sometimes for a lifetime.

For me (and many others), depression and anxiety are trials that I have to deal with in the long-term.  My bouts with these trials are not because I'm straying from the things I know to be right, but because I have a physical ailment that keeps my brain from functioning properly to allow me the choice to be happy.  Thankfully, modern medicine has developed pharmaceuticals that can work to correct this imbalance, much like they've created them for other diseases.  While it often can take several months and trial and error with different medications and different doses, the results can be extremely helpful when the right prescription(s) is found.  I was blessed that when I sought help from my doctor, she recognized the depression was a result of the general anxiety disorder/PTSD and she knew what prescription would be right for me.  I have been on the medication for almost two years, and have had very good results with it.

A few weeks ago I had about 10 days where I was without the medication.  It resulted in quite literally the worst week or so of my life.  I would wake up in the morning with this pit in my stomach that made me want to die.  Literally, death was something I wished for.  No matter how much I prayed, cried, read, or pleaded - the feeling was still there. A deep feeling of despair that loomed over me through everything I did.   I was also dealing with more anxiety attacks in a day than I had in the previous six months combined. I would get short of breath, my stomach would start to turn, and I was extremely afraid - but I didn't know of what.  The room would often spin, and at times I felt like I was having a break from reality.  A day dream that felt real, and that I couldn't get out of no matter how hard I tried.  During these times I was not doing anything that deemed me unworthy to feel the Spirit, but it felt nearly impossible to do.  Matt called upon the power of the Priesthood to give me a blessing of comfort.  However, instead of a release from the trial, I was told it was something I had to bear, but it would strengthen me in the end.  This was the point where I felt the despair might swallow me whole.  For the first time in my life, even after struggling with depression for over two years, I had a glimpse of understanding as to why some feel suicide is the only option.

Thankfully it was only a couple days later that I was able to get back onto my medication - and I was blessed that in only two days I was feeling noticeably better.  It's been about two weeks since I've been back on my medication and while I am still dealing with daily anxiety attacks life is much more manageable and is continually getting better.

Now, why the blog post?  One of the other things I was told is to share my experience whenever prompted to do so.  One thing I've learned the most from my experiences the last couple of years is how ignorant most people are to the validity and severity of depression.  It is not something that someone can just 'get over'.  When a person struggles with depression, they literally no longer have the choice to be happy at any given time.  We should never assume it's because a person is making bad choices, or choosing not to be happy.  We should also never assume we understand what they are going through.  As with all things, we should comfort, lift, and support - not judge, demean, or lecture.

As a side note - there are some excellent articles by general authorities on that can shed light for both those suffering and those who know & care for someone suffering.  I've linked a couple of my favorites below.
Myths on Mental Illness
Broken Things to Mend