Saturday, June 28, 2014

My Depression: One Year Later


Dear Friend,

It's been one year since I had a breakdown and slid into a near infantile state for a month. Friends and family brought meals and took turns caring for our children while I slept for 15 hours at a time. My face and hands felt numb. At first I needed help to walk to the bathroom. On a good day, I would sit in my rocking chair on the front porch and stare at my flowers. I couldn't read more than a line or two at a time. New information made me feel very tired. I found it difficult to make simple decisions.



Healing from depression doesn't happen overnight. It's been a long, tough climb out of a dark hole these last several months. I feel wiser and stronger now, but I'm aware that I'm still vulnerable in some respects. At the beginning of this summer I struggled a bit. My husband and I were concerned that I was headed back down into the darkness. I felt as though I was standing close to the edge of a crumbling embankment.

We had to regroup and take a close look at what things were stressing me too much. I made some hard choices for the sake of my health, but I can say with confidence: I'm getting better about saying no when I need to say no and I'm caring less about how things appear to bystanders.





I'm living life differently now -- imperfectly -- but differently. I'm more careful with my heart, my time, my friendships, and my health. I'm deliberately making space for a slower, more peaceful lifestyle.

Currently that means that while much of my family is out having exciting adventures in the wide world this summer, I'll be staying close to home.

I'm heeding my doctor's advice.

"What weighs on you most?" she asked. 
"I can't keep up with our lifestyle and I don't want to disappoint my kids."
"Your kids don't need you to do everything with them. They just need you to be there for them. That's all you have to do. Of course you care for their basic needs -- beyond that just be available to listen and encourage them. That is what they need most from you. The rest -- all the extra stuff that people run all over the place for -- isn't necessary. If it stresses you, don't do it. Just be there."



So when I start to feel frustrated with myself for being a tortoise in a world of hares, I try to recall my doctor's words. I'm learning to accept help when it is offered. I'm grateful for the village of support that has been there for my whole family. Our community has blessed all our lives. We've made some wonderful bonds through this!

I had been considering writing about this topic when I came upon this post by Elizabeth Mallory. You can follow the hashtag she created on Twitter: #yesIstruggle

Have you ever struggled with depression? How are you now? Feel free to tell me as much as you feel comfortable sharing in the comments below.

Love & Prayers,

Adriana

21 comments:

  1. The depression you have been through is so severe(although i would love to sleep for 15 hours at a time!) I hope you are doing well and happy as you are reading this.

    The closest i have been to feeling depressed was after i quit my job. I had this brooding feeling of failure. I was so scared and there were lots and lots of negative thoughts going through in my head about my future. I cried myself worrying for days. And there was this sense of all is vanity and chasing of the wind. It's a bad state to be in. What lifted the dark cloud for me was walking. haha.I walked and walked and walked. I walked it off from afternoon till night laying down my burdens one by one to God.

    And then i learned to meditate. Learning to inhabit my present moment is the most liberating thing. protects me from dwelling too much on my thoughts.

    P.S. When my mom is happy i am happy too. When she is sad it makes me kind of sad too. So don't worry about disappointing your kids just do what would make you feel fine.

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    1. "That brooding feeling of failure" -- I know that feeling, Sheena!

      Walking was one (of many things) that helped me too. When I was too weak to walk and too fatigued to read, I spent time looking at pictures I had taken of walks from times past.

      Meditation is important. I'm glad you brought that up. The time I spent at the silent retreat last fall was medicinal. I felt held by God during those hours by the river. The labyrinth was a helpful tool. I was able to leave all the negative voices at the door as I walked in. That retreat was a turning point of healing for me!

      Thank you so much for sharing your perspective on your mom's happiness. That means a lot! :-)

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  2. A tortoise in a world of hares - that's beautiful, Adriana. It describes how I see myself but didn't know how to articulate. I am so glad to read of this year of recovery and that you are learning how to recognize the things you need to do and what to avoid. Blessings and prayers for you and the family, Adriana.

    Tim

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    1. Tim, You were one who encouraged me during the staring-at-flowers phase of this journey. I'm very grateful for your friendship and prayers. Blessings for you and your family as well.

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  3. Yes, I have, and still do, battle depression.
    http://ellenmandeville.com/the-depression-beast/
    Recent medicine trials for ADHD have knocked me down hard. It's still too current and painful to write about. I also am a tortoise surrounded by hares.

    Ellen Mandeville

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    1. Ellen, This line of Scripture struck me when I read your post --
      "The Master has had mercy on me."
      When I went on a silent retreat last fall, our instructor encouraged us to ask God for one thing during our time of silence. I asked for mercy. http://www.classicalquest.com/2013/10/silent-retreat-part-two-how-to-use.html

      Thank you for leaving a comment and your link. I'm praying for you now. Hope you feel reprieve from the pain inside soon.

      P.S. Tortoises unite! :-)

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  4. Dear Adriana - thank you so much for sharing this part of your life with us. It sounds like you have a wise and helpful doctor. And I'm thankful to see how God helped you through other people, through times of meditation and retreat, etc. I think these times must leave a lingering feeling of vulnerability which is both good for us yet hard.

    I can't exactly call this depression as such but I have had a really difficult year-long struggle after the breakup of a 27-year friendship. I thought of your tortoise-and-hare comment because my friend (who is also a writer) has had so many successes this year with work published, prizes won, etc. -- while I feel stuck and rooted in the same place, same routine, etc. But Jesus has shown me His presence. I accepted His invitation to share in His sufferings, and He's drawn me closer to His heart. I took Him at His word about peacemakers being blessed, and while my friend rejected my attempts to reconcile, He has shown me I am a child of God So I can't regret the lessons learned this past year despite the difficulty. Blessed are the tortoises, for they will rise on wings like eagles. (I'm paraphrasing there.)

    I've also been helped by Marlena Graves' new book A Beautiful Disaster. I won it in a blog draw last month; God must have known I needed it so He rigged the draw! :-) I've found her a wise and gentle mentor through the wilderness.

    As usual, I've gone on too long! Thanks again for sharing, Adriana, and for the photos; they speak of peace in a way that 1,000 words could never do.

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    1. "Blessed are the tortoises, for they will rise on wings like eagles." -- I like that! :-)

      Jeannie, God has also helped me through dear blog friends like you -- to a large degree, actually. Thank you from my heart for your constant encouragement. I always feel honored and delighted to receive your comments. And the longer they are, the better! I view you as a mentor. Truly. There is so much wisdom packed in your comments and blog posts.

      I too have a friend who has rejected attempts to reconcile. Your experience of drawing closer to the heart of Jesus by sharing in His sufferings is very moving. "He was despised and rejected."

      Your peaceful spirit emanates from all you write. I agree with you most heartily about not regretting lessons learned.

      I will check out A Beautiful Disaster. I see that you've written more about it on your blog. Heading over to your place now!

      P.S. I finally finished Emma this morning!!! So good. A pleasure from start to finish. Nothing like Jane Austen to help one battle the blues. :-)

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  5. Thank you for sharing a bit of your journey, Adrianna. I'm glad your doctor, family and village of friends are supporting you in prayer and practical ways. May you find rest for your soul as you move at a tortoise's pace.

    I have struggled with a couple of rounds of severe depression. I learned there is no quick fix, no pithy "snap out of it" when you're swimming in a sea of molasses. I learned in my first round of depression that I'd neglected self-care in a warped version of being a good Christian wife and mom. I had no bloomin' idea how to care for myself, which contributed to my emotional implosion a few years ago.

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    1. Michelle, Your description of swimming in a sea of molasses is spot on. I can remember thinking over and over, "I don't want to be sad!" But there was no quick fix, to be sure.

      Neglecting self-care was one of my main issues, too. I'm still healing from some physical problems I developed from 10yrs of childbearing & sleep deprivation. Getting medical attention has put me on track toward a more positive mindset in general. I cannot stress enough to anyone struggling with depression: Make an appointment with your doctor for complete physical, ASAP!

      Thank you so much for sharing your experience, Michelle.

      P.S. I can't wait to read your new book!
      http://www.amazon.com/If-Only-Letting-Go-Regret/dp/0834132508/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1404141238&sr=8-1&keywords=regret+michelle+van+loon

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  6. Thanks for sharing this with us, Adriana. I'm so glad that you had a lot of support and that you are doing much better. You are such a lovely person, and I hope that God will continue to heal you and to give you peace about the changes you're making in your life.

    My worst bout with depression was when my oldest son (now 21) was 7. He has autism, and at that time we had switched him to a special ed school because he had become aggressive and was getting into a lot of trouble at the public school. I was also trying to do a special diet for him (a very picky eater) in hopes that it would help (it didn't), and I felt like I was going to lose my mind from the effort and frustration. I felt so exhausted, overwhelmed, depleted and kind of detached in a weird way. I started to go to a Christian counselor who felt medication would be appropriate, and she talked to my primary care doctor, who agreed. Oh, I do remember filling out a questionnaire at the doctor's office, and one of the items I was supposed to answer as "always, usually, seldom, or never" was "I feel needed and useful." I remember I wrote in the margin, "I feel needed but not useful." In other words, I knew my family needed me, but I felt so ineffective and like a failure. The medication and counseling did help a lot, as well as things gradually getting better circumstantially regarding my son.

    Thanks again for being vulnerable and sharing with us! You are very loved -- by your readers and your family and friends! : )

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    1. Sandy,

      Your encouragement always gives me a boost. You really know how to make a person feel needed and wanted. Thank you so much for the blessing of your friendship!

      I can relate to all of the adjectives you used to describe your experience with depression: exhausted, overwhelmed, depleted, detached, ineffective, like a failure. And also that feeling of being "needed but not useful." I'm so glad you got the medical attention and counseling you needed and that things have gotten better for you and your son through the years.

      My good blog friend, Jeannie Prinsen, has children on the autism spectrum. I love her so much -- I think you would enjoy getting to know her too. Consider this a formal introduction! Jeannie, meet Sandy. Sandy, meet Jeannie. :-)

      http://prinsenhouse.blogspot.com/


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  7. My dear friend, yes, I do know what it's like to have Depression, to come so far through it and be afraid of falling back in. XOXO I'm there right now. I feel so much stronger, so much healthier, but, like you, I need to live differently now, more aware, more careful, more understanding. Self-care is so huge, isn't it? Wishing you deep healing and much courage. XOXO

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    1. I've learned much from you, dear Krista. Who knew 20yrs ago, we would be extending support to each other from opposite ends of the earth! Still blows my mind. Thank you for being open about your journey. Love & prayers for health & peace of mind. ♥

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  8. Hi Adriana, I went back and read your post from a year ago, and I remember that it made me cry. The worst part of depression is the feeling that you are all alone and nobody cares. "I am your keeper and you are mine" is what I think you said (if I go back and check I will lose my comment...). We need each other so much, to cook dinners and write letters and pray, but we have to let each other know. Too often I haven't done that, so I applaud you (and the people who have stepped up to the plate and helped).
    Yes, depression is cyclic. I remember being told at the Mood Disorder Clinic where I went that depression comes and it goes, and the ones who survive are the one who realize that. When I am in the pit, I try to hang on and pray. But I really should reach out more and ask for help (I said that already, sigh).
    I know with all my being that God has a great heart of compassion for you and me and for all those who struggle, and I actually feel that I have drawn closer to Him through my illness. I just wrote this poem recently, I hope you like it. Love in Christ, Maureen

    When I am bruised, O Lord, you won’t break me
    When I am smouldering, you won’t snuff me out
    O Lord, you come near to the heart that is broken
    And you lift up the fallen whose spirit is crushed

    Heavy-laden I come, for you give me your rest
    Weary and wandering, you teach me your way
    Your gentleness, Lord, is the strength that supports me
    And the burden you give me is easy and light

    When I am needy, you’re there close beside me
    When I feel condemned, you are at my right hand
    Yes, out of your goodness and love you have saved me
    And dealt with me well, my Deliverer and Friend

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    1. Dear Maureen! Oh my! I feel richly blessed by this poem. What an honor that you shared it here on my blog. Thank you so much. "Your gentleness, Lord, is the strength that supports me." Such a true and worthy spiritual insight to ponder!

      I admire the bravery and gentle strength that your poem emanates. Writing about our struggles with depression is humbling, but I think this is one way of reaching out, both to help others and to be helped, don't you agree? It's certainly a step in the right direction! It's comforting to know that you have drawn closer to God through your illness. Love & prayers, friend.
      P.S. I didn't think to link that old post when I wrote this one. Thank you for mentioning it. It was helpful for me to go back and read it today. http://www.classicalquest.com/2013/07/i-am-your-keeper-and-you-are-mine.html

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    2. You're welcome, Adriana! I am thrilled that you felt blessed by my poem. Your kind words are like balm to my soul!
      I agree that writing about our struggles is a way of reaching out. I hope that people read what I write and feel encouraged that God is a great source of comfort and healing in the midst of it all.

      You mention in this post that you feel like a tortoise in a world full of hares. Do you know this kid's song:

      "All God's critters got a place in the choir
      Some sing low, and some sing higher
      Some sing out loud on the telephone wire
      And some just clap their hands, or paws, or anything they got, now!"

      You have a place in the choir! God needs you to sing with exactly the pitch and tone that He has given you. Your contemplative nature may make you more susceptible to depression, but it also enables you to write touching words and accompany them with beautiful photographs.

      I know you love flowers. Here's a verse that I prayed for you the other day: "The desert and the parched land will be glad; the wilderness will rejoice and blossom. Like the crocus, it will burst into bloom; it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy." Isaiah 35:1-2a Bless you! Maureen

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    3. I'm so moved that you prayed that verse for me, Maureen. Thank you, from my heart. Now that passage has an extra-special association. Like a gift.

      And the kid's song is fun! Love it -- especially the critter part. We just got a new puppy -- so that would be the perfect song to sing with my kids! :-)

      Blessings to you as well, Friend!

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  9. Whoa, I had no idea Adriana.
    You are a super-competent person, managing to read and write with 5 children.
    Yes, the secret will be cutting back, and just doing the things you really want to do. I am reading a book called "Essentialism" recommended by Michael Hyatt which suggests saying no to 90% of opportunities, and just focusing on the 10% which forward one's own goals and interests.

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    1. Oh my word! I wouldn't call myself "super-competent!" But you are very kind, Anita. This suggestion to focus on the essential 10% sounds interesting. Essentialism is now on my wishlist. Thank you!

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  10. Hello dear,thanks for sharing your journey.I wanna say with the words of Tullian Tchividjian,"The deepest fear we have,‘the fear beneath all fears,’ is the fear of not measuring up,the fear of judgment.It’s this fear that creates the stress and depression of everyday life."Be happy.
    ^^^^^^^^^^^^^
    is depression a disease

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Blessings,

Adriana