A Personal Account of Depression
This is a personal account of someone’s battle with severe depression as given to me by a friend. The person who wrote this is very public and outspoken in her advocacy of mental health issues. She was one of the fortunate ones who was able to find her way back into the light. This is a fascinating, eye opening account that people who don’t suffer depression must read so you can get some semblance of understanding what people go through with severe depression. This is her story and it is true.
I don’t know what Kaitlyn went through, but I know that she suffered greatly by the note she left us. Somehow she remained productive til the day she died and suffered all this in silence. She fought a hard fight, all alone for many years and finally it just wore her down and she could take no more of it. I don’t know how she didn’t wind up on the floor like this lady did, perhaps she did and I didn’t know it, but if she was not literally on the floor, her mind was. I also don’t think she wanted to have the possibility of being treated like this lady was treated and that is so very sad. There is so much that needs to be changed in our society.
I hope you take the time to read this true experience by someone who is a professional counselor:
In my most severe depressive episode, I lost 30 lbs in 3 weeks. I wasn’t at the point in my life yet where I really knew how to reach out to people to help me, so I was all alone in my one room apt. I literally laid on the living room floor for weeks, I think actually, two months. From time to time, I would crawl/stagger/walk-holding-the-wall to the bathroom and then either just go to sleep on the bathroom floor or on the floor between the living room and the bathroom because it was too much energy to get into my bed. And I think part of me also just thought I belonged on the floor, you know. Sometimes I would realize that I needed to drink some water or eat something, although I had absolutely zero interest in either, so I would make my way the few steps over to the kitchen and find something old in the cabinet like crackers and drink some tap water in a cup. I didn’t want to die, I just didn’t know how to live anymore. I was doing all I knew how to do, which was hang on. I felt very sad and I hoped that maybe I would just accidentally die and go to sleep there on the floor and not wake up so it wouldn’t be a suicide. I would lay as still as possible to try to quiet things that were happening in my head, memories, bad things. I felt like I was disappearing day by day. It was an emotional pain that I am unable to describe. Vast, profound, nearly beyond my human ability to withstand, so I would just lay very still day after day. I wish I could tell you I did something brilliant, but I just laid on the floor.
One day I felt kind of sick like I was going to throw up, so I went to the bathroom and was on my knees in front of the toilet. I felt like I was going to faint and the next thing I remember was waking up on the floor of the bathroom and my head hurting. I slowly stood up and saw in the mirror that the whole left side of my face was swollen to where my eye was completely shut. From where I had been laying, I figured I had fainted and hit my head on the side of the tub and knocked myself out. It was actually a moment of change, because after weeks and weeks and weeks of total pain and nothingness, I thought, “If you don’t do something that makes you get out of this apt, you are going to die in here. Either you are going to hit your head like this and just die, or you will die from just not eating and not wake up.” And I didn’t really want to die. I just didn’t want to hurt so bad all the time and I didn’t know what to do. I called my brother who lived nearby who knew nothing, I just told him I was sick because I was ashamed to tell him I was depressed. He said I could come stay at his and his wife’s house that night and that they would take me to the emergency room. I felt relieved a little, but still embarrassed. I was glad to finally have human contact. We went to ER. They did a whole workup. At the end of it, my brother said this to me; “The dr tells me there is nothing wrong w/you and you need to stop acting like this; you can’t stay w/us anymore and you need to just get yourself together and do whatever you normally do to just get on w/your life.”
I felt so incredibly ashamed and I knew I should not have reached out for help because I didn’t even know how to do that. That night I spent at my brother’s and as I lay in bed a verse of Scripture I hadn’t thought of in years came floating into my head as I felt like I was drifting out into space, lost, alone. “Peace I give you, My peace I give you, let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” The words had the effect of what I imagined it would feel like for someone to hold me in their arms and rock me softly to sleep.
The next day I went back to my lonely apt. I felt deep despair that I am inadequate to describe. I gathered all the change I had in my car and in my apt and drove to the local grocery store where I knew exactly where the medicine aisle was. I only had very limited energy, so my plan was to go there, go directly to that aisle, buy as much medicine as my money allowed, and take it all, hoping it would end my pain. I walked in, went to the aisle, and there to my surprise, both sides of the entire aisle all the way down were completely empty. I stood there wondering, is this real, is God shielding my eyes or are they redoing the store or what in the world? The next thing I remember was a remarkably strong and warm sense of God’s sure presence, like a hug from someone who knows you, then I actually smiled. It was like God had smiled at me and said, “Dorian, really? C’mon now!”
Next in the sequence I remember becoming aware of how my clothes were just literally hanging on me and how I was incredibly hungry. So I took the little money I had and went over to the bakery section, bought two chocolate donuts, ate them before I made it back to my car, drove back to my apt and went to sleep. Still the best donuts I’ve ever eaten in my entire life. The next morning, I remembered what I had thought before, that if I didn’t have something to do to leave my apt, I would likely just die there and someone would eventually just find my body. So as awful as I looked, I gathered myself, one of the hardest things I have ever done, and I have done some very hard things, and I drove a block to Taco Bell to apply for a job. There, I had a divine appt which I wrote about in another piece of writing.
It was a turning point. Yet still a very long journey. What I can say now that I have nine years of being totally free of depression is this. When someone you know who has a track record of success is suddenly incapacitated, they need help! Remarkably, that ER dr was, in my opinion now as a well person, an idiot! It should have been very clear to him that SOMETHING was VERY wrong! I did not even LOOK right. My clothes were hanging off of me. Half my face was swollen. If I had been a person who had been lazy all my life, a slacker, had always laid around, never accomplished anything and just expected other people to take care of me, then I could see my brother saying those things to me. But you know what? I already had a college degree, magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa. I had won awards as a journalist. I had worked four jobs at a time. I had been working since I was 14. I had never asked anyone for anything. I had accomplished every single goal I had ever set out to do. Something is wrong when you tell someone like that, well, you need to just get yourself together and quit acting like this! Really?
Now that I’m well, it makes me mad because I know it is still happening to someone today who is alone like I was. People – depression is not a character flaw; it is not a personal weakness. When people do things that create illnesses by lifestyle choices, we don’t even criticize them! Yet people who have depression, which is basically a broken brain, we attach a stigma, we act like they need to just straighten up and act better. You know what? I will never be ashamed of it again! Done w/it! I will forever speak out about it. Because I don’t want anyone else to ever feel like I did when I went to that ER for help. It’s unacceptable. When someone has a broken bone, we don’t say oh, you need to be tougher. Yet when they have a broken brain from depression or trauma or both, we act like they don’t deserve our love and kindness. We live in 2013, people, not 1900. It’s time to catch up! There are amazing treatments to save people’s lives, but people won’t even seek them out if there continues to be a stigma attached to just saying hey, I really hurt so bad and I need someone to help me. Just some thoughts from someone who’s definitely been there and who can tell you that we are not designed to live like that. We are not meant to live w/o hope. The Bible says, “without hope, the heart is sick.” There is hope and as human beings we should be about the business of helping others who are suffering FIND IT!