Friday, May 23, 2008

another chapter of my story

I don't know if anybody has noticed, but over the past several weeks I haven't really posted much of anything as far as substance goes. It's all been about cinnamon biscuits, driving over down-spouts, Pepsi or just picture collages.

There's a reason for that.

I have been avoiding posting about something -- since I wasn't quite sure that I wanted to -- but I think that the time has come for me to get it out in the open. I haven't been ashamed or anything; I just wasn't ready to talk about it. But now I think I am.

By now you are probably all familiar with my on-going struggle with depression. I think the last time I talked about it, I was on an up-swing and I was confident that I had equipped myself with the proper tools to fight it if it were to rear its ugly head once again.

But that turned out to be not exactly true.

If you remember back in February, I struggled with a headache that didn't seem to want to go away for a couple of weeks. I may not have blogged about just how much that knocked me down, but it was really a horrible experience for me. And from that experience stemmed another bout of depression. And a bad one at that.

The Monday morning after the worst of my headaches had finally passed was a rock-bottom morning and I remember it as vividly as if it had just happened yesterday. I woke up that morning knowing that I had to get the girls up and get Joelle ready for school.

But I could not get out of bed. Literally.

I can't even properly explain how I was feeling, but I honestly did not think I was going to even be able to go about the simplest task of getting my daughter to school. And that terrified me. It took everything in me to actually step out of bed and get myself going. I had to take everything one step at a time.

Get out of bed. Take a shower. Get dressed. Wake up Joelle. Get her dressed. Wake up Malia. Give the girls something to eat.

Luckily for me, it was my neighbour's turn to drive her daughter and Joelle to school because I knew that I just would not be able to face anybody that day. After Jenn dropped off the two older girls, she came back to my place and we kept each other company. Just by her being there, she helped me through one of the hardest days of my life and since that morning I have felt an unbreakable bond with this dear friend.

After that day I knew that something had to happen. I could not go on like this any longer, never knowing when it was going to disappear and unexpectedly pop up yet again. I needed some control back in my life.

So on Valentine's Day I made an appointment with my doctor and was given a prescription for an anti-depressant. That day was a mixture of emotions. Relief. Anxiety. Hope. Fear.

I was to start taking the pills the following morning, but by the time I woke up that Friday morning, I had all but talked myself out of taking them.

I don't really need them. I'm sure I'm just over-reacting. Everybody has bad spells, it doesn't mean that they need to go on anti-depressants.

Now, don't get me wrong. I am not someone who has a problem with needing to rely on a prescription for such things. My hesistancy in no way had to do with me feeling like a failure by admitting I needed them. Rather, it was fear that made me take another step back and re-evaluate the situation.

Plain and simply: I was scared. Scared about starting down this new and unknown road. What would it feel like? What side effects would plague my body? Would I have to be on this medicaton for the rest of my life once I start? Would I be able to experience other feelings, or will this pill always make me feel happy?

I made the decision to phone one of my cousins who knew exactly what I was going through, and it was during that encouraging and supportive phone call that I swallowed my first pill. Without her help, I doubt I would've actually gone through with it.

But going through with it was the best decision I ever made. And my fears were soon put to rest as I slowly felt the positive effects of this medication with minimal side effects. I also was relieved to discover that I could still feel every emotion while on this prescription -- happiness, sadness, excitedness, frustration, joy, pride, nervousness, fear. My cousin said it best when she reassured me: "It will make you feel the way Andrea is supposed to feel." It wasn't giving me fake emotions -- just helping me get that re-balance to make me feel like I used to...before all of this began 2 1/2 years ago.

So why am I telling you this? There are a few reasons, really. One reason is that I wanted to continue where I left off. I have been open about my struggle all throughout my blogging experience, and I felt that this was an important chapter of my story.

Also, I am always amazed by the outpouring of love and support that I get through my blog-world, and prayers and support are always welcome -- and needed. Just because I am taking anti-depressants, it doesn't mean the battle is over. Sure, for the most part I am feeling 'normal'...but there are still times when I struggle with below-the-surface emotions.

And thirdly -- maybe my experiences can be helpful for somebody else reading this. Maybe somebody else is unsure of what is the right step for them in their journey through depression and this post can be of some help or encouragement.

And if nothing's always therapeutic for me to be open about each leg of this journey. Thanks for walking beside me through every step of the way.


Kellan said...

I often think about you and even have worried about you - having somehow sensed maybe, your sadness and your turmoil - I don't know. I am glad to hear that you are finding answers - that things are looking up in such a positive way. I hope things continue to improve and you find that balance that makes your life sweet and easier and I will be here if you need a shoulder or and ear. I am sorry you have had to go through this - I hope you are on the other side - on THE UPSIDE!!!!!

Take care, my friend - I will see you soon - Kellan

mama said...

hope it will continue to help....maybe you just need that extra little boost you know!? Thaks for sharing and being so honest

andrea said...

thanks for sharing. talking about it helps others understand what the reality is really like. I want to support you as you continue to walk this journey. love and prayers my friend.

Kelly said...

I am fairly new to your blog but I remember the headache issue back in Feb. I am glad that things are looking up for you. My mom and my grandma often struggle with depression. My mom goes on and off meds often due to that same stuggle you talk about. Should I take it should I not? She is currently on a med that she feels works the best for her, and I can tell she is doing much better. I hope things continue to go well for you. I will be thinking of you.

Jody said...

Your honesty and openness on this topic will do amazing things to help you on your journey as well. I am so proud of you to seek help but also not just assume medication will be the magic answer. Us women cannot comprehend or explain the wild things that go through our minds and hearts but I am so thankful for you to find something to help lift the fog so you can find the truth in who you are. I am praying for you today.

Pam said...

Oh Andrea, I am so glad that you are finding the path to feeling better. I love your cousin's statement- it will make you feel like Andrea is supposed to feel. Very powerful. I am glad you are finding your help - be it in a friend next door or in some medicine. I believe God is giving you the tools to fight this battle.

I also believe that you were meant to post this. For me. If you posted a few weeks ago I would have read it and love that you are finding help. But, lately, I have been much more down then up. More fights. More blahs. I have struggled with the idea that maybe something is wrong here or am I just going through a normal thing that we all go through. I think you were meant to share this now so I could feel your strength and know that it is okay if I am depressed and that doesn't make me a bad mommy or wife. It may very well be something I can't control and something I need help to fight. So thank you Andrea. Thank you for being that friend I so much needed but couldn't find anyway but here!

Heather said...

Andrea, thanks so much for sharing what's been going on. I've struggled with depression on and off for almost 20 years. It's not fun, but for me, knowing that I was not alone helped me tremendously.

You are not alone in your struggle. I pray that God works through His mighty healing power (and thru the medication that He has provided) to bring you back to wholeness.

Carl & Kathy said...

Thank you Andrea for sharing about your struggle. By being real about what you are going through, you ARE encouraging to those around you. I will continue to pray for you and your family. Love you lots.

Xandra said...

One of the reasons I enjoy blogging and reading other blogs is because there is a theraputic aspect to it. We are able to share and get feedback about things that are often difficult to verbalize.

I'm so glad that you've been able to find some balance, and appreciate your honesty!


Xandra said...

One of the reasons I enjoy blogging and reading other blogs is because there is a theraputic aspect to it. We are able to share and get feedback about things that are often difficult to verbalize.

I'm so glad that you've been able to find some balance, and appreciate your honesty!


Roo said...

first of all -- LOVE the new layout. very nice.

secondly, GOD bless you = you are a bold brave courageous woman. may your days continue to get clearer and lighter to carry.

love you!

Jenn said...

You are such a good writer.
I'm so glad you took that very big step and are experiencing "Andrea" again.

Anonymous said...

I am gald to hear you are feeling like yourself again, and that you took the leap and found that the medication is a good thing and is wokring weel for you!

Anonymous said...

sorry to hear u hit a low. but sometimes u have to in order to get back up and continue on. best of luck to u....thinking of u

Mamarazzi said...

Andrea, thank you for sharing this. i spent 2 yrs on anti depressants and i know it was a much needed step to get my life back. i HAD TO DO IT!! i tld myself it was only temporary, that it would pass and it did. i was able to take 6 months and ween myself 100% off of them. i learned alot about myself during that really hard time and the biggest lesson was that i DID NOT need to do it all by myself, that it was ok to give it to God. He was there for me...i felt brave, i felt good and i felt happy. and NOT ONE time did i tell myself "oh its the meds" i told myself over and over that I was making the choice to be happy, feel good and not get overwhelmed with life. i stopped convincing myself that i would "be happy when..." and started finding the JOY in the JOurneY. it was hard, somedays i REALLY had to look deep to find it...but it was there and it was MINE!!

you are in my prayers tonight!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing about your depression. Depression is a disease that has been kept undercover for way too long. People need medication for all kinds of other diseases and depression is no different. I commend you for bringing this subject out in the open. I have someone very close to me that has been struggling with depression for 6 years and this has made us very aware of the stigma that is placed on the word "depression". I wish you all the best on the road to making you feel like yourself again.

Leeann said...

For what it is worth...I'm proud of you.
I origionally went on anti-depressants for migraines. Silly, I know, but apparently they work for those, when you can't take migraine medication (I as nursing).
I couldn't BELIEVE how different I felt! Only then, did I look back and think "Holy crap....I WAS depressed and THAT'S what was causing my migraines!"
Yay for meds. Gotta love 'em!

Melanie said...

I have noticed and have wondered if you were doing okay.

If you have a chemical imbalance then you need medication to help you feel like yourself. Your cousin is so right!

Praying for you!!

Joanna said...

Thank you for being open and honest about it. When I stumbled upon the blog world reading what others went through help pull me out of depression. I felt all alone but in blogworld I'm not.

When I started to blog I was over a lot of the dark days. I don't have insurance and don't see a doctor so the pills aren't an option for me but I know you gotta do what you gotta do and there is no condemnation in Christ Jesus.

Hold your head up high, girlfriend, because you had the guts and the courage to get help anyway that you have to.

common mom said...

So glad you are feeling better - and SOOOO glad you have such wonderful support to help you through the difficult times. What a tough decision . . . but sounds like the right one. It's amazing how us mommies tend to convince ourselves that what we're feeling is just part of being a tired worn out mommy and we can deal with it, when really, there actually is something wrong.

So glad you got the help you needed and I hope you continue to feel well :-)