Tuesday, November 29, 2011
Many of these symptoms are things we see in friends and family every day, but the difference is when they are more pronounced during a particular season or time of the year. Sometimes it comes from grief without even knowing that is what is causing it. Losing a loved one around a holiday leaves a reminder of that grief and some never recognize it until it is mentioned by another or something reminds them of the person lost.
Diagnosed in my twenties with clinical depression, has made my journey a long one. I have had bouts of severe depression ranging from blue days to an anxiety disorder manifesting as Agoraphobia. (fear of open spaces) There are periods of time when I am very teary for what I think is no reason, then suddenly remember it is the anniversary of the loss of a loved one, and it is grief I am experiencing.
I still, after 28 years, always remember my 6 month old daughter lost to me on a Mother's Day weekend. Her birthday is the day before Halloween and this year I was in Florida on vacation with no reminder of that loss. I was enjoying myself more than I had in years.Upon returning, it took about a week for it to hit me. I was sitting in my Bible Class and some mention was made about how, as parents, we regret when our children have not been saved. It immediately ran through my mind that I had my baby girl (Gillian Marie) baptized twice just to be sure that if anything happened to her while she was in the hospital, I would have done the right thing. According to what was being said, I heard, "none of us know who the elect will be, only God knows." I immediately began to tear up. I was feeling inadequate as a parent. I thought for that moment, that I had any control over whether or not my child would be in the New World when it comes, and realized I don't. As it was explained further, I questioned my life, and realized I had conceived this child in sin, but was instantly reassured that children are not responsible for the sins of the parents. It wasn't enough for me at that moment. I left the class and when I got to my car I could barely see where I was driving I was crying so hard. I went immediately to the cemetery where my child was buried, and searched for her grave. For more than a minute I couldn't even find it. I was so lost and wondered why it wasn't where I remembered it to be. I sat in my car and prayed that I could remember, and in the next moment I looked up and realized that it was right where it always was, I was just looking for the wrong color of the stone. I instantly got out of the car and went over to where her ground marker lay, and realized that no one had cleared the grass away for quite awhile. I began, through these thundering tears, to rip the grass away all around the stone. I sat there and asked for her forgiveness. What that could do for me, I don't know, but it was something. I knew I had to do something to stop the tears and remember the beauty about her. Then I was relieved to "feel the presence of the Holy Spirit "(inside) assuring me she was at the right hand of God. I thanked God that she did not have to carry my burden to the grave. A few moments later the wonderful memories of her gentle sweetness filled me, and I began to stop crying and feel a sense of the world around me again. I realized for that day, and at that moment, that I had forgotten to feel the grief I normally do around that time, and that a gentle reminder of her beauty and grace was all I needed to be lifted up again.
That is just a small reminder of the type of emotion that can take over the life of one that suffers from clinical depression or SAD. It made me question my faith and my own goodness, but somehow got a gentle reminder that I was thinking irrationally, and God was righted my thinking.
There is no total recovery from clinical depression but it is a manageable disease like any other. A broken arm, leg or other body limb heals, a broken heart heals, but depression is a silent disease that can spring about at any time. A regimen of anti-depressions are usually prescribed, and in my case, a lifetime commitment. I can get through each day without the heavy burden of sadness that sometimes overwhelmed me in the past, but holidays, and reminders of loss will usually surface, but not quite as prominent as this last one.
If you know a friend or relative who suffers from SAD who may not know that they suffer from it, it is wise to make a "gentle" reference to it; but let them figure it out on their own. Telling someone, who "you think" may suffer from depression and has not been diagnosed, what your thought about it are, will not necessarily move them in the right direction. So be careful not to judge or make assumptions about their state of mind. We are all different and we cannot possibly know what is in the mind or the heart of another unless we are being told by him or her. It is a difficult place to be if you have never, yourself, suffered from this debilitating disease, to stand by and watch a loved one go through it; but recovery is a choice that only they can make, and nagging or self righteousness will not get them to recovery any faster than they can themselves. Pray for them that God will open their heart and they will be directed in the right place to receive the treatment they need, and remember to applaud their choice when they choose recovery, because it is a difficult choice to make, especially if it has gone on too long. So be wise, and leave only a gentle message for them, as a push or a shove may just make them tumble.
I hope this helps just one person this year recognize, get diagnosed, and treated for any form of depression. The list is long and they come in all colors and sizes.
Have Wondrous and Happy Holidays All