Me & My Depression
I remember the first time a doctor told me they thought I was depressed.
I was 38, and struggling with RA, fibromyalgia pain, and severe allergies. I had put on about 45 pounds from steroid treatments and was chronically exhausted. My stress levels at home where pretty high, the hubby and I had lost the ability to communicate effectively with each other, my son was having some major set backs with his OCD, and my daughter was just trying to be seen in the midst of the chaos.
The guilt that I was somehow responsible for everyone’s unhappiness weighed so heavily on me that it was a huge effort just to breathe.
Back to the doctors office…
This was a follow up where they go over blood work results and such. She was brutally blunt with me. She said, according to my blood work, I would be “dead of a heart attack” by the time I turned 45. She told me I was fat and needed to loose weight, to start exercising, and deal with my stress in other ways than eating crap…
I burst into tears.
Those who know me, know that I don’t cry in public, EVER.
I was angry at her for being so cruel. She was right, but geez! Did she have to be so blunt?!
She also told me she thought I was depressed and that if I got myself back in order, the depression would get better.
I remember being kind of insulted…”I’m not depressed, I’m just sick and stressed out!”
She said, “yes you are, and depressed too.” I remember leaving thinking, “that’s the last time I will ever go back there!”
When I got home I sat down with the hubby to give him the bad news…
My cholesterol was too high, my blood sugar was borderline diabetic, my blood pressure was too high, I was 60 pounds overweight and if I didn’t change something, the doctor said I was going to have a heart attack.
I didn’t tell him about the depression…why? I couldn’t begin to admit I was afraid of being seen as weak as well as sick. It took me a few more years to realize depression is not a sign of weakness. It’s a natural human response to the bad things that happen to people in this world.
I think what I said scared him because we had a big fight about me clearing out all the junk food. I’m certain he was upset because he had been confronted with the reality that he could lose me, that I could actually die because of my poor health. It was just easier to fight about something less scary, like will we ever have ice cream and chips in the house again…
That’s when something in me sort of snapped.
I was sick of feeling sick all the time. I was angry that my body was attacking itself, and sick of feeling sorry for myself and asking why me?
It’s not fair!
No shit! When has life ever been fair?
I know there are so many people out there, so much worse off than me, but It’s hard to feel grateful for not being sicker when you feel awful, and hopeless all the time.
I felt like I had to carry everything alone, when in reality, I had a very capable partner who was shouldering as much as he could right next to me.
Looking back, I can’t really say why I didn’t ask him to help me. I think it’s because I didn’t want to burden him anymore than I already was.
What I know now was that, for him, he needed to help me but I wouldn’t let him.
It took me way too long to really let him in, like somehow my weakness would make me less than worthy in his eyes. How crazy is that? It’s in sickness and health right?
I just felt like he got the short end of the stick on that particular vow.
It would be another 5 years before I admitted to him that even though I had lost 45 pounds, worked out 5 days a week…every week…for years…I still felt unhappy.
It made no sense to me! I had everything anyone could ever want.
I had a husband that loved me more than can be put into words, I had two kids who were killing it with school.
I mean like, genius level kids!
I had my parents who were unfailingly supportive and friends that all cared deeply about me.
I had a beautiful home and anything anyone could need for creature comforts.
How could I still be unhappy???
The turning point in my relationship came when, one day, I was laying on the bed as my muscles twitched and throbbed(it was a flare day). I was watching a show that absorbed my mind so I wouldn’t notice my body so much.
The hubby came in and curled up behind me and asked me, “what’s wrong?”
That’s when I finally told him, “I think I’m depressed”.
We both cried that afternoon.
I felt lighter after I told him, It’s not like he didn’t already know, but it was a big deal for me to verbalize it to him.
I still struggle with depression as a result of my autoimmune condition. The chronic state of my inflammation makes this a daily reality.
I chose not to try antidepressant medications because my depression is rooted in inflammation caused by my autoimmune illness and antidepressants don’t really address inflammation.
I use diet and exercise to stay on top of it. I have way more good days than bad days now.
I try to stick with my Ketogenic eating plan as much as possible, because my body responds very well when I eat that way, plus it has the least amount of foods that I’m allergic to, making it easier for me to follow.
I’m in less pain and have fewer symptoms of depression when I stick to my eating plan.
I have set backs whenever my lungs become uncooperative and I have to rely on steroids to breathe. Each week on steroids equals about 10 pounds of weight that will take me months to get back off.
I try to be positive about it and thankful that stretchy jeans exist so they can grow and shrink with me.
I’m thankful that I’m still here, that my heart is strong and that I’m as healthy as I can be.
I wake up every day and appreciate the fact that I have a job where I get to help people like myself. I never dreamed that the thing that was such a burden to me would become the inspiration for the career I love.
Massage therapy is really helpful in combatting depression. It’s a natural way to trigger the brain to release those feel good, pain relieving chemicals that are so important for emotional and physical wellbeing.
My first massage at 28, changed my life! It was the first time since I was 12 that I wasn’t in pain. That gift started me on the path that led me here.
I will be doing a future post all about the Ketogenic Diet, why I chose it, and the research I’ve found to support it for most neurological issues.
Thanks to everyone who has given me such constant love and support. I am so blessed and lucky to have all these special people in my life.