I have twice in my life been formally diagnosed with depression. The first time was a few months after the birth of my last baby. Postpartum depression, baby blues, all nice words for the deep, deep hatred I had of self. I loved my baby; all my children, really, but I was so tired, so so tired. I spent so much time caring for all of those around me, I neglected to take care of myself. But that is what you have to do when you have 5 kids, a full time job, a calling at church and a husband who was constantly being deployed to Saudi Arabia with the USAF.
Even when my now ex-husband was in state, he was just one more person for me to take care of. Picking up my two youngest kids from their babysitter was the only time of day that I could sit for a moment and actually relax.
I stayed on anti-depressants for three years. I weaned myself off the medications and was…OK. We were living overseas and I had a few really good, close friends that gave me as much as I gave them. Emotional support, actually caring what I thought and felt. Never downplaying my feelings, telling me I had worth.
I am still on anti depressant medication from the second time I was diagnosed. This time it was January 2008. I had spent the holidays and, frankly the previous six months, in a sinkhole of self hatred. My only joy was my children and a few moments of each day at work. I was so lonely. I could be in a room surrounded by people and feel as though I was alone on an island.
When I went to the doctor to get the formal diagnosis I was asked by every medic, nurse and doctor that I came in contact with do you feel like killing yourself and are there guns in your home. I said I had thoughts but there was no way I would use a gun, guns are messy, and knowing who I am; I would not leave a mess. No, in my suicidal thoughts I never died by my own hand, per se.
Did I really want to die? No, what I wanted was for someone to take care of me. My suicidal fantasies were always accidents, no one would ever know I had done something to myself. My car would run into a tree – she must have swerved to avoid hitting an animal or something in the road and over corrected. That was the most common scenario that ran through my mind. If I were crossing a street and a car came barreling towards me, would I have run out of the way…I don’t know, maybe not.
Four years later, I am doing much, much better. I did a little over a year of talk therapy. I am still on anti depressants, and I am ok with that. I left my husband and got a divorce. He spent his entire life is spent putting his needs above everyone else, even above the needs of my children, there came a breaking point where I decided enough was enough and I left.
Do I see a time where I won’t need the chemical support to keep my emotions on an even keel? Maybe but for now, the chemical support is what I need. I have a really good team of friends and co-workers who along with my children give me awesome emotional support but I am alone a lot. And in those times of aloneness, not loneliness – aloneness, my brain thinks far too much, and my chemical crutch is what gets me by.