I have a list next to the computer of blog ideas—just little reminders in case there isn’t any inspiration. The following topic has been on the list for at least a couple of months—but I could not bring myself to blog about it. But, as you may know, I’m all about the truth and I’m also a big fan of education. Maybe this blog will help someone else, or maybe just shed a little light on something relatively unknown. That’s the only reason I’m putting this out there.
When I was twelve I had my first “major depressive episode.” I changed schools, and the stress was too much for me at the time. I spent every night huddled in my bathroom crying and writing in my journal. My parents were angry at me for my inability to “snap out of it,” but I could not bring myself to stop crying. When I was sixteen I had a similar “episode”: I wandered the house in sweatpants and couldn’t bring myself to eat. If I talked to anyone on the phone, I ended up shouting or crying. I drove away my friends, and worried my family to no end. I lost about fifteen pounds. Eventually, I climbed out of my hole, but it was a slow journey and took a long time.
It would be easy to say that I suffered from depression—something that many, if not all, Americans will deal with at some point in their lives. But this easy answer did not satisfy me completely. If depression is an episode, why couldn’t I shake it? Why did the negative record player stay with me long after my symptoms had passed? Why could I remember feelings of melancholy going back almost my entire life?
When my husband entered the Air Force four years ago, I had to get a comprehensive physical examination including filling out several questionnaires about pre-existing issues. The doctor casually told me, “you don’t have depression, you have dysthymia” Huh? This is a pretty new diagnosis used to differentiate between people like me and the people who can’t get out of bed in the morning. Simply, dysthymia is low-grade depression that can last months or even years. You can still have a major episode, but it’s completely separate from the dysthymia. My spell check doesn’t even recognize the word, but I bet you could name someone with the symptoms if you thought about it. Dysthymics are functional, but unhappy; they doubt themselves, and people with this diagnosis are at the highest risk of suicide of any of the depressive disorders.
Knowing what was wrong with me really helped. Sometimes I need antidepressants, sometimes I don’t, sometimes I need a shoulder to cry on, sometimes I’m OK. I’m vigilant about my moods and am careful not to slip into my old ways. I try to value myself even when the record player in my head says not to. My husband is my biggest cheerleader, but I’ve also had to learn to stick up for myself and not let other people get me down. I’m not talking about this to get pity, and I know some people hate this kind of talk (Karla). That’s why I don’t usually say anthing about it.
I’m mentioning this solely because I think it may help someone else. Here’s a pretty good internet link if you want more information. If you think you may suffer from this then please seek some professional help—you have no idea how easy it can be to treat.
PS: Mr. K’s youngest daughter is sick–please put her in your prayers.