Depression



It was about 12 years ago, on a day so stormy you could barely see a meter ahead of yourself through the thick and driving snow, that I carried my son (then almost 2) across town to a doctor's appointment. I didn't drive, and was used to traveling this way. It was always a challenge though- I could only carry so much, and for every trip I'd have to gauge the distance and figure out how much of it my son could walk, how much I'd have to carry him, and how much else I'd be able to carry with everything when it was all added up. Pretty interesting math. The equation was all the more interesting after our stroller was stolen when he was still just an infant.
On this particular day I'd decided I wouldn't be able to carry anything additional at all.

I had bundled my son in layers and his snowsuit. I remember so vividly how poorly that snowsuit fit- his little legs peeked out beneath the bottom before his boots came up to meet it. I'd alternate clasping his exposed leg with the hand on the arm I wasn't carrying him with, until we'd been walking long enough that he was so heavy I had to use both arms to support him. His poor little legs.

By the time we got to the doctor's office we were both freezing, and exhausted. I felt (and I'm sure looked) like I'd been through the ringer. I peeled off the snowsuit and my son sat on my lap, warming up and waiting for the doctor. We weren't waiting long when I felt a warm wetness seeping into my lap, and realized that my son's diaper was soaked and pooling there. I just sat, not really knowing what to do. I had no diapers, nothing with me. I knew there was a pharmacy in the building that would have diapers, but I had no money, I couldn't buy anything. I wondered if they would have a diaper at the office that I could borrow, but sat growing ashamed of myself thinking about having to explain why my son was in a soaking wet diaper, why I didn't have a diaper bag with me, and why I didn't have any money to buy any diapers for him. When we were called in I asked- meekly, and full of shame- if the nurse might be able to find me a diaper for my son. I don't remember what that exchange was like, but I remember clearly the rest of that appointment. When the doctor came and started to ask questions about how my son was doing, I broke down into tears. I couldn't really talk much. I just cried. I couldn't stop.

I left my son's appointment with a prescription for Zoloft.

And I tried it too. I tried it for a while and wondered why it didn't seem to make anything any different at all. The holes in our apartment walls weren't gone. There wasn't any more money. I wasn't a better mother. My son's father didn't stop calling me stupid, or crazy, or whore. In fact, taking the medication had the effect of giving him some smug satisfaction of having it confirmed by a medical professional: I was crazy.

There was a chunk of my life that I spent in circumstances that made me want to cry... a lot. I felt miserable, like I had no real value, and alone. Each negative thing seemed to compound and amplify other negative things, so that I couldn't get a good handle on positive and healthy things after a while.

Although I've moved well beyond that space in my life, I can't profess to have figured out the answers. I know what my experience was like, and I know how I've made it better:

For me, applying to university nearly a decade ago was the beginning of a movement towards positive things (which also compound and amplify by the way). It was saying in a huge way: I want to have something better for myself, and for my family. I'm going get it through education.

Severing toxic connections and building up boundaries that protect my worth (and my families worth) have been an essential part of that movement too. This is extremely difficult if people close to you and that you love are making choices that continually impact you in a negative way, or that hold you to a bad place.

Taking a chance and talking to people was excruciatingly difficult at first, but I started with one person I knew in my heart I could trust, and went from there. Acknowledging, out loud, the things that I was ashamed of helped me to see them in their proper size. It also helped me to accept everything that comprises who I am, and helped me to form stronger, deeper connections to people I love dearly, and who dearly love me.

Medication was not an effective part of my process, in part because I don't suffer from clinical depression. I have suffered from depressing circumstances, but that's something no drug could address. I wonder sometimes how many people out there are living with being medicated for their circumstances...

If you've dealt with depression (clinical or otherwise), know someone who has, or just plain have an opinion I'd welcome you post your comments here, or on the Fresh Endeavours facebook page. Let me know:

Is medication an effective way to deal with depression? 
What can we do other than medicate?