Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but when dreams come true, there is life and joy (Proverbs 13:12 NLT).
A heart without hope is ripe for depression. Hope lifts us up; depression drags us down (Touch Points of Hope, 2003, p. 97).
In my last post, I mentioned how on Christmas Eve 2010, I had hit one of the worst emotional bottoms of my life. I made it through the night, only to have to take my mom to the hospital the next day and spend Christmas Day in the hospital with her. My mom spent about two weeks in the hospital and then another several weeks in a rehabilitation center for intense physical therapy. In total, my mom spent about a month away from home. In the meantime, I was all over the place. I was caring for her, going back and forth to the hospital and rehab center, talking with doctors, social workers, trying to maintain things in the house, etc. I had to get the house ready for my mom to return home. I also was working a part time job and trying to do school work. I got into a horrible fight during this time with one of my nieces. For some reason during this time, I was getting sick every other month. I had a sinus infection and cough that would go away and then come right back. My body and mind had no time to deal with the emotional rock bottom I had hit on Christmas Eve. There was too much to do. Too many things to take care of.
Little did I know, my own body and mind were “shutting down.”
At the end of January 2011, my mom returned home. In the beginning, there were a lot of things I had to do for her because she had to get herself used to being back home after being gone for so long. But once I got her home and got her settled, the adrenaline that had built up for the past month, that had most likely been saving my life began to wear off. I was walking around like a zombie. Finally, one morning, I woke up and literally felt nothing. I felt numb. I felt as if nothing in the world would make me happy. I thought about the things I usually enjoyed, reading a book, laughter, petting my Samson kitty, watching the fish in the fish tank, and none of it sounded appealing. I couldn’t even feel God with me. Tears fell from my eyes as I literally felt like I was null and void.
Little did I know that I was being transformed. I was being forced to face my pain. And I knew something needed to change that would allow me to do it.
I had to get my brain back on the right track, so that I could face my demons. My counselor suggested I talk to my primary care physician. My primary care prescribed an antidepressant medication that wasn’t working and suggested I see a psychiatrist. I couldn’t afford to see a psychiatrist. But I had an idea. Maybe there was a depression research study somewhere that I could be a part of. I would look into that later. First I had to do something for mom. The day of my “numb, null and void” moment, I went to pick up a prescription for my mom, and when I returned home there was a commercial playing on television about a depression research study.
I was taking care of my mom. God was taking care of me.
It had an easy number to remember. I immediately called and made an appointment. The problem with research studies when they are testing medications is that they are usually double blind studies, so I could be a person that gets a placebo. I didn’t care. It was worth the risk.
Several days later I went to the research center. I had to answer a bunch of intake questions and then I met with the doctor who was leading the study. He was very nice. But it turns out that I didn’t qualify for the study because I was still seeing a counselor. Participants in this particular study could not be going through psychotherapy. I was devastated. I was done. I was never going to feel better. They gave me $20 for my time and I walked out of the office feeling hopeless and feeling that I would never get better.
As I walked toward the parking garage of the facility, my phone rang. I usually have my phone on silent, but for some reason it was on vibrate, so I knew it was ringing. It was the intake lady from the research center. She said,
“Michele, are you still here? If so, the doctor would like to see you.”
I’m thinking did I forget to sign something? I turned around, went back to the office and sat down with the doctor. He told me there was something about me that he just wanted to help. He told me,
“You are too smart of a person to think there is no hope for depression.”
The doctor prescribed me with a new medicine in a completely different class that I’ve never taken before. He told me that he would treat me for free for 3 months and then continue to treat me based on whatever I could pay.
“But your level of treatment will not change based on what you can or cannot pay.”
In this I knew that I was truly blessed and that God is real.
I was completely shocked at this doctor’s kindness. I began taking the new meds and I eventually began to notice a difference. This is how I came to the acceptance that depression is an illness. Before taking the medication, I wanted to kill myself. After taking the medication, I wanted to live. This is not something that can show up on an X-ray or lab test. It’s just something that is.
I want to point out something very important. In my case, medication is only a part of the process. But it was the medication that was able to help me get myself to a better place in order to be able to receive the other types of healing, such as my psychotherapy and 12-step recovery work, inner child work, spiritual work, etc. In my experience, the brain has to be capable of receiving affirmations, positive thinking, and all that other good stuff. If your brain is sick, no amount of self improvement, self-help stuff will work. In my case, the medication gave my brain the stability it needed that allowed me to believe and hope again.
This is not a post about the benefits of antidepressants. It is a post for hope. Your way may be through yoga and meditation, natural healing, talk therapy, or something else. Your way may not involve meds. The key is to find a treatment that works for you and your beliefs, your body and your mind. But I want to let everyone know that there is hope through depression. I don’t have it all figured out and it’s still a daily battle for me. But I am more equipped now than ever before to face that battle with courage, clarity, and hope. I hope that you can do the same.
Blessings in your journey…
Disclaimer: I am not a health professional. These posts are stories of my own experiences and battle with clinical depression. If you feel that you may be suffering from clinical depression, please contact your physician. Click here for resources that can help you. If you have thoughts of harming yourself or others, please call 911 immediately.