Depression…a deep, dark secret


I have discussed this topic before, from the standpoint of someone who has experienced it from the inside looking out and from the outside looking in.  I’ve seen it from all sides.  I’ve mulled it over a lot, and dealt with it first hand.  I’ve been miraculously healed of depression and brought out of the deepest, darkest pit imaginable into freedom…and after that, to slip slowly back into it wondering why God left me…why was this happening…that time to be healed through doctors and medication.  It was God’s way of teaching me (or trying to) that the brain is an organ of the body…like the heart, or the kidneys.  It’s not a character flaw if something goes wrong with your brain.  All kinds of things can affect it…once again…like the heart or the kidneys or any other part of the body.

The problem is that because problems with the mind, or the brain, affect the way we think and act and our emotions, it doesn’t feel the same as if we suddenly clutch our chest because we’re having a heart attack…or if we start coughing and sneezing and know we are coming down with a cold, or the flu.

Even though I’ve mulled over it, experienced it, understand it…I still do the same thing.  If I feel myself slipping into a depression, one of the first things that sets in is a sort of panic…”Oh no…please not that!  I have to buck up and not let this happen!  I have to pray my way out of this!” Would you tell someone who was having a heart attack to buck up…to pray their way out of it? And sometimes, circumstances in life do get us down.  But there is a difference between that, and clinical depression that is caused by hormonal imbalances in the body, although I think that circumstances can accumulate and if they go on long enough, they can cause those hormonal imbalances.  But depression is also something that has been found to be hereditary, and that is an absolute physical problem.  And no matter how much you might like to, you can’t always pray your way out of it, or snap out of it, or pull yourself up by your boot straps or whatever.

But in thinking about it a little more, I realized that some of us just have this need to be strong…period.  And I’m as guilty as anyone else with this.  I don’t want to be sickly.  I will try to tough it out.  Last year I was having dizzy spells and headaches and just really not well.  I refused to go to the doctor.  No insurance, the desire to not build up medical bills I couldn’t pay, etc…pride with all that, prevented me from taking care of myself.  My daughter told me repeatedly, “Mom, you need to go to the doctor!”  I finally did.  And my blood pressure was 190/124.  I was on the verge of a stroke.

Sometimes we can’t see what’s going on as clearly as others can, and that’s true in the case of depression like any other problem…and even more so, I think.  But if you see a person clutching their chest and saying, “I’m okay…nothing’s wrong”…but they keep doing it every day, or every couple of days…you’re going to be concerned.  If you see someone looking pale or tired all the time, you might suggest that they take vitamins at the very least…but you would probably encourage them to get a checkup from a doctor.  And if you see someone happy and positive and on top of the world one day, and two or 3 days later lying in the bed and crying their eyes out…and repeating that cycle over and over…you will probably think something’s not right.  And if you love that person, or care about them at all, you won’t shrug it off.  You’ll go to them and tell them, “Something doesn’t seem right.  Maybe you should see a doctor.”

I wish so much that we could just get to the place of really not being ashamed of things like depression or mental illness…really understanding and accepting it for what it is.  That said, I do know that sometimes if a person has problems with depression, even if they just express being down, red flags might go up all over the place that are unnecessary.  And yes, that can be frustrating at times.  But it’s also true that sometimes people just don’t see what’s going on as clearly with themselves as others can.  And if I’m up and down like a see saw and others express concern, they’re not calling me crazy.  They are simply concerned because they care.  And there will probably always be those who don’t, and won’t understand it, and who will think it’s a character flaw or in the case of Christians, that your faith just isn’t strong enough or you’re not right with God somehow. (sigh) Frustrating, for sure.

Depression and mental illness are way too often a deep, dark secret.  But they shouldn’t be.  Please help me make them not be, by making it safe to say, “I don’t think I’m well, and I think I need some assistance with this.”  I hope that someday it’ll be as safe to do that as it is for any other medical problem.

Love and blessings,

Anne

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About Anne Sikes

"But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us." (2 Cor. 4:7) Sharing the journey through daily thoughts and struggles, examination of Scripture, poetry, music and art.
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15 Responses to Depression…a deep, dark secret

  1. Skye says:

    Well said, Anne. This is a topic I’ve been giving a lot of thought to recently, as we’ve been studying in my psychology class all the ways the neurons and neurotransmitters in the brain can malfunction – or just be built differently – that makes it hard for some people to get sufficient brain chemicals to feel okay. Definitely there are life circumstances that can contribute to depression, and while everybody probably goes through at least one episode of depression in a lifetime, there are also biological differences that make it harder for some people to get out of a depression and stay out. And I guess those who *can* snap out of it fairly quickly don’t understand why others of us can’t. It’s really unfortunate that there is still so much stigma and misunderstanding attached to depression.

    However, the stigma surrounding depression IS changing, slowly but surely. Even just in the twenty years since I was a teenager, people have become much more open about admitting they have depression, take anti-depressants, or see a counselor. If you think about twenty years ago, you would never have seen an ad on TV or in a magazine for anti-depressants, but now they have them all the time. I believe that eventually, depression will be understood for the biologically-based illness it is… just probably not as quickly as you or I would like. Love you! xoxo

    • Anne Sikes says:

      Love you too Skye…and thank you for your response. You’re right that it’s changed a whole lot. My parents were told when I was 12 years old that I needed to see a child psychologist, and it angered them toward the doctor who suggested it. And even through my adult life, I’ve seen a lot of changes in the attitudes. Unfortunately we don’t just have to change others’ attitudes about it, but our own when we are experiencing it. Because I remember just thinking I was going crazy…thinking I should be able to make it stop and that because I couldn’t, something was wrong with my character, or at times with my faith. It’s difficult to see it as a medical problem when it’s our thoughts and emotions that are affected. And it’s worse in many ways than another physical illness. I’d rather have just about anything else happen, than to experience depression. But understanding it as I do does make it easier, and the acceptance you talk about that has come more and more makes it easier too. :) xoxoxo

  2. Reblogged this on miguel in belgium and commented:
    Great post!

  3. Pretty well sums it up Anne…It’s good when those who have suffered from it (as have I) speak out and not only try to help others that are going through it…but also help the bystanders understand it a bit more…Diane

    • Anne Sikes says:

      Thanks Diane. I think it helps to make some sort of sense out of horrible experiences if out of them, we work to bring awareness and understanding. Depression is awful…and it’s insidious. And I’m just talking about that one here, but there are so many other things that can go wrong with the brain. Love you! <3

  4. prewitt1970 says:

    You are amazing, strong passionate and wonderful. I couldnt agree with what you just posted more. It’s not a flaw, nor lack of faith it is and or can be a very physical- chemical thing. My mother suffers from clinical depression among other things and I have dealt with it first hand all of my life. As well have I had my bouts since my diagnosis delt with this beast myself. So again too you and many others. Be patient, strong, kind and gentle. Thank you for sharing this with us. Best wishes. Benjamin.

    • Anne Sikes says:

      Thank you so much for your very kind response, and for sharing in your own experiences, Benjamin. I wouldn’t wish the experience on my worst enemy…it’s horrible, and I’m sorry you and your mother have gone through it. But wouldn’t it be nice if the attitude towards this was the same as it is if someone has some other illness. For example, if a person has a heart attack, they are surrounded by loving support, but if a person has a mental illness, it’s so often a sadness and horror coupled with any concern…a whispering even. And that’s so, even with all of the advances through the years in understanding. Thank you again, very much. Blessings! –Anne

      • prewitt1970 says:

        I apologize for making any part of my reply about me or mine. And thank you for your kindness. I agree we (society) tend to repress the emotional illness that stem from the brain and it’s complications. I think because we really still don’t know how to fix it. I do how ever have a thought that maybe we should stop viewing these people as broken and start excepting them for what they are, social norms are only what we have made them over generations of acceptance of a certain view or mindset. Van Gough was crazy, pollock depressed and we call them genius. So many poets and artist through out time have been “tortured” souls. Maybe they just were who they were. I’m sorry to ramble on your site. Be well.

        • Anne Sikes says:

          Please don’t apologize!! There is no need to at all!! I am always glad when people relate and share from their own experiences and perspectives, whether they agree with my post or disagree with it even. :)

          There are many famous people…especially (I think) really creative or brilliant people, who have dealt with depression and mental illness as you point out. A lot of the poets and composers have been drug addicts or alcoholics too…self-medicating for their turmoil within. I think that because we are so secretive about it, and so ashamed so much of the time if we’re experiencing it, people even still today aren’t quite aware of just how common it is, and how many people live with depression or some other mental illness.

          Thank you again Benjamin!

  5. lbtk says:

    Just experienced the blood pressure thing a couple of weeks ago. I love my kids, but my two oldest have moved back in for a little while — which means I have 6 adults and my granddaughter (who is 9 months) under my 1300 square foot roof. This is only temporary and so far, we’ve been able to be respectful of each other’s needs. But the thought of it all collapsing and turning into WW3 is ever-present in my mind. I think this is why I’ve had problems with the BP. I also think I’m exhibiting signs of depression. I have an appointment with my doctor in about 10 days.

    This blog was so timely for my life right now, Anne. I have missed being on the computer at will. Having to share with others has definitely cut into my blog reading time. Thank you for your words of truth. God bless you, friend. Sandy

    • Anne Sikes says:

      Sandy, will keep you and your family in my prayers. I’m glad you have an appointment. That is a definite stressful situation…I live here with my 2 grown daughters and almost 11 year old granddaughter, and I’m not sure what the square footage here is, but it’s very tight. Especially with all the ‘stuff’ in here that there is. We do pretty well, but definitely have our moments.

      I’m glad you got your blood pressure straight too. I’m presuming you are on meds now? It can be really serious. I’ve missed everyone on here. But life is going in a mostly different direction right now. I have been posting a lot of poetry on 20 lines or less, but haven’t even done that in several days now.

      Thank you so much for sharing what you’re going through Sandy. Much love to you through this time, and please let me know how it all goes. Will be praying. ♥ –Anne

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