I don’t know why I’m capitalizing “depression”. It really shouldn’t be given the importance of capitalization. Perhaps it is because it has made it’s way like a force back into my life at the moment and seems just that prominent.
Three weeks ago it became very clear to me I was in the midst of a major depression flare. I say “became clear” because it usually takes me a couple days to identify that this is what is going on rather than something more simple like hormone shifts due to a menstrual cycle *insert eye-roll here*. Typically by the time I recognize the symptoms for what they are, they usually begin to dissipate. Not so much this time. As a matter of fact, as I was trying to fall asleep two nights ago, I felt depression’s ugly grip still deeply rooted in my intestines. It felt like two hands were literally squeezing and pulling at my gut. I could visualize it so clearly…and then the tears came…again. Three weeks ago, May 21 to be exact, I was doing my workout, which I had been having great apathy towards working out lately. During that workout there was a move I could not do and I began fighting tears. I almost quit the rest of the workout but there is an underlying tenacity within me that is relentless and would not allow me to quit. I pushed though but let the tears flow, helping purge the “issues in my tissues” (did you know we store negative energy inside our tissues and it can surface and release through waves of emotion after a hard workout?). I recognized a barrage of negative self-talk and the lies I was telling myself. I was not thinking rationally (please note I have not had any thoughts ever of hurting myself – I love my beautiful life and all I grow into through my struggles).
I had made an appointment with my medical provider because I have been feeling quite tired lately despite getting about 9-10 hours of sleep each night, but have very poor quality sleep when I do. I thought she would recommend sleep study or want to check my thyroid. After filling out my PHQ-9 (a depression screening tool), I scored a 7 – which all-in-all isn’t too shabby, but I have never scored more than a 3…and I’ve been filling out these forms for at least 18 years. My provider did do a few blood tests, which were all within normal limits, and ended up increasing my antidepressant. I was hesitant but knew it was what I needed. I felt like a failure – that I was not able to get out of this flare on my own and now needed to increase my meds which I had been on the lowest dose of ever. But I knew it was the right decision.
I recognize several stressors which may be contributing – health issues with my mother and taking on care of a parent; my oldest son working hard to make sure all things line up for getting into college, as well as leaving for boot camp (he left this morning *all the tears* – God help me if he ever deploys!!); that same son taking the ACT prior to leaving; several trips to pay and plan for over the next four months; and anxiety over my husband asking me to make our marriage legal in a small backyard ceremony/reception (we call each other husband/wife but have not filed paperwork/been legally married). I realize this last item should be a wonderful and exciting time but with how irrational I was thinking, I could not relax about it. We have since figured out a plan that allows us to have our own private ceremony with just us and also have a small reception for the family…and I am excited for it.
What I want to know is, what brings these flares about? I have been the most stable I have ever been with my depression over the past year and a half. I have even been able to trial going off of my antidepressant for about six weeks. Doing so helped me recognize I still need a little boost with medication for balance. I have an amazing husband, a beautiful relationship, am so proud of my kids, love my job, am the happiest I have ever been in life…so what gives? As a nurse with a psychiatric nursing background, I have seen a lot of the ebbs and flows of mental illnesses, however the most preplexing to me is depression. Most of the other illnesses remain stable as long as you follow your treatment plan, however depression seems to have a mind of its own…flaring up whenever it damn well pleases.
All I can say is, never give up, never stop battling this bastard of an illness. Find your support and climb out from under the clouded veil of depression to hold onto that support. I know it is hard. I know you do not want to. However, you will come through the storm much sooner if you face it head on instead of allowing it to have its way with you. I know I am still fighting this flare, but it is slowly leaving my body. I can see little glimmers of my true self breaking through the clouds. I will never stop fighting.