Source: Remembrance and Recovery Project by Mental Health America (Mental Health Minnesota)
I want you, the reader to know that anyone can find themselves depressed. One cannot blame it on any one thing. My name is Liz and I am 41. I was diagnosed with depression on November 11, 1993.
I grew up in a middle-class family, went to private schools, received awards for volunteering in the community, graduated from college, got married to a man I truly love, bought a house, and know lots of people. I know people love me. My depression came from within, not from things around me. My body was injured and it was the only way to tell my brain it was in need.
It has been 11 years of really starting over. There are many variables that caused me to want to end my life. January 1989 a car accident, 1990 diabetes, 1993 depression, then in 1994 gluten intolerance. I feel all these injuries to my body are connected and the medical profession is just finally acknowledging that all the systems in the body need to work together for optimal health. That means all the systems feed off each other.
I can’t tell you there was one exact reason to end my life on earth. The thing I can tell you though is I felt I was on a treadmill. If I were to step off, I would never be able to get back on it and pick up where I left off, so I would not want to take a vacation from work or take time to talk and really unwind from my expectations of myself. It’s the little things that get me frustrated and they build until I have had enough. Getting rid of the old tapes that told me I would never be perfect was a big hurdle to overcome. In my mind, I have accepted the fact that I will never be perfect. I still have bad days, but the good ones outweigh the bad ones.
I worked with the doctors and therapists and took the medication as directed, but there was something missing. After 1-2 years of struggling with exhaustion and diarrhea, I tried chiropractic care. My body responded well to it. I was able to lessen the medication and eventually stop taking it altogether. I am an advocate for medical professionals to work as team players. Everyone’s job works to benefit my overall health, no one doctor or I can take all the credit.
I found that eating fewer processed foods helped my body-mind connection. I eat meals prepared from scratch at home. Eating raw fruits and vegetables and natural meats (i.e., deer, pheasant, beef from a small rancher), helps keep the body functioning better. When at a restaurant I choose the foods that are not highly processed. I don’t even enjoy the flavor of fast foods anymore. I also drink 6-8 glasses of water a day and have eliminated drinks with high fructose.
In the last eleven years, I have truly committed my life to Christ. Going to a Catholic school didn’t automatically make me a Christian. I have changed careers to become a massage therapist so I can focus on the deep pain in people. We all hurt rich or poor. Some of the richest people hurt the most because of the demands put upon them. I have found that having a few close friends is much more important than having lots of meaningless friendships. It is true … it’s the quality, not the quantity.
Every day is a challenge for me but I get up out of bed and am a productive part of society because there are others out there who need God’s help and He is using me to change their lives. I don’t know what tomorrow will bring but at least I have given my all today.
For you the caregiver:
Don’t judge; you may be diagnosed with it tomorrow. Depression is a disease like diabetes and cancer. Research is progressing, but the body of knowledge continues to have huge gaps within it. Sometimes medication helps, sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes I think God allows us to have ailments so we are more compassionate to those around us. We all need to be team players.
In my childhood, I learned that we should help our fellow man and give them courage, not use their weakness to boost our self-esteem. With this thought process, it became difficult to understand why people would be so hurtful. I would always try to work with others as a team player only to find that when I would be open and honest, people would take advantage of me. People are so mean. So, when one of us is down we all need to find out how we can help, not criticize. It is not about the almighty dollar and who has the most stuff when one dies. It is about the inner core of our being. It is about doing for others never expecting to get money or acknowledgment. So, go the extra mile every day to encourage and build up the ones around you. Even build up those you don’t like. They need it the most. They may see your kindness and open up, soften their outer shell, and become a closer friend.
My brother asked me the most important question when I was in the emergency room, “What would make you happy?” I never knew I could choose the course of my life. This opened up new doors for me. I had to have the courage to venture out from my old habits to create a life I enjoy. It is hard to change old habits but it is worth it. I keep that close to my heart for this world is what I make it and it can be anything you want it to be also.
I need to thank my family for not leaving me. I am the youngest of 13 children. We have grown closer because of this disease. My siblings were so helpful they truly lived the words of our parents instilled in us; we need to help our fellow man and give them courage, not sure their weakness to boost our self-esteem.
I am never afraid of telling people about depression and how it has affected me. I feel it is my responsibility to educate one person at a time. Depression is not a bad thing and it is not in your head, it is an imbalance in the body.