This is a sponsored post by me on behalf of Lifescript.com.
This is actually a cathartic moment for me. I’ve never really discussed how I suffered a deep depression about eight years ago. I had been involved in a contentious (that’s putting it mildly) custody battle that involved two states for several years and my four children were living with me, and were in elementary school and middle school at the time. I was working two jobs and attending college. (Good times, folks.) So, prior to what really set off the full-fledged depression, I had probably gone through certain episodes of feeling depressed, based on the legal battle and its ramifications on our lives.
Anywho, I went off to classes one day (it was my extra-long day, of course) without my cell phone, because I couldn’t find it in my rush out the door. I puttered around campus all day until I went to work, and got an odd email from my then-husband, which merely read, “call home.”
That’s when I got the news. I can’t tell you how I heard. I can’t tell you anything about the ensuing moments. It’s a blur. All I know is that I learned that my kids were gone. That they never came home from school. That they had been picked up by their father and were on their way to his home, some 400+ miles away. That morning, that rushed, hectic, typical morning of losing patience, getting annoyed, and rushing kids out the door…those would be our last moments together as a family for who-knows-how-long. I stayed at work, sitting at the copy desk with fellow copy editors, silently working, wiping tears from my eyes, as I edited newspaper articles.
I’ll never forget the note (I still have it) that my friend and fellow copy editor slid under my face. “I wish I could copy-edit your sadness.”
My co-workers encouraged me to go home, but I shrugged them off. I was putting off the inevitable as long as possible. If I didn’t go home, it wasn’t real yet. I wouldn’t know how silent the house was. I wouldn’t yet feel the emptiness and the void that the loss of my children would create within me. Maybe I could put off feeling depressed over my new reality.
I don’t know when I got home but I just sat on the hood of my car, numb. This was the start of feeling depressed. But it didn’t end there. For days on end, I walked through my house like a zombie. I usually couldn’t enter my children’s rooms, and would let no one disturb their belongings. But sometimes I would go in there, and touch their things, hold their favorite book or the shirt they wore most often…and I would lie in their bed in cry and cry and cry. I didn’t know how my life would ever go on. I didn’t think my life could improve, in any way, at any point. What did I have to look forward to? Nothing. Not my sons’ basketball games or my daughters’ girl scout activities or school functions or…anything, ever.
I felt like my life had no meaning. And I pretty much felt like everything and everyone around me should adjust to this new reality. But they didn’t. I was alone in feeling this way, and I was alone in my depression. I had no family nearby (I was living 400 miles from home) and I only had one real friend…I mean, I was in my 30s and had four kids and worked two jobs and went to school. It’s hard to have “friends” with that lifestyle. Now I was alone. And depressed, or feeling depressed, anyway. And resentful that life didn’t accommodate my sadness.
Then, out of the blue, I got a phone call. It had been 20 days since the day my kids didn’t come home.
I couldn’t understand my brother, who was barely uttering syllables into the phone. I thought for sure it was a bad connection. “What? Huh? I can’t…what?” And then my mother got on the phone. “Lil’ Mar died.”
My 27-year-old cousin (who had been referred to as Lil’ Mar since he was born, since he was named after his father), who I had grown up with, who I loved like a brother, had died suddenly, of an accidental overdose. My legs gave out from under me. Again, my then-husband was there, and caught me before I fell to the floor and sat me in a chair. I just remember screaming and wailing, “No, no, no!” I don’t know much else about that conversation.
The rest of that day — and sleepless night — was spent crying and yelling and crying more and just spiraling into what would become the darkest and most horrible time of my life. I probably was already clinically depressed, but I didn’t fully realize it at that point. I might have tossed around the word “depressed,” but I don’t know if I really understood what it meant or whether I believed it truly applied to me. The next morning, when I managed to pull myself out of bed, my eyes were literally (and, yes, I’m using that correctly) so swollen, I could barely see through the slits that remained. I went to visit all my teachers and my boss and (I’m sure my physical appearance vouched for my story more than my words did) told them I needed to take time off. I had to go home.
I spent a week with my family and it was not, in any way, healing or helpful or soothing. It was the worst week of my life. My cousin’s death hung heavy upon all of us. There was no closure and it seemed like the notion of “moving on” wasn’t going to be happening anytime soon. I’d arrived home already feeling depressed…and I left feeling much worse.
Over the next few weeks, though (and to top it off, it was the holiday season — as in Thanksgiving and Christmas), I was at the depths of my despair. My then-husband had pretty much pulled away from me, and was barely present in our house (that didn’t help my depression, but it’s a whole other issue) although his son was. I resented the very sight of his child (to his misery, I regret), who was the same age as my oldest son. Why should I have to care for this child or even have to face him, when my own children were ripped away from me? That couldn’t possibly fall on the side of “fair,” in the whole scheme of things. I knew life wasn’t fair but it couldn’t be this cruel. It just couldn’t. And yet, it was. I knew I was in need of help.
I didn’t have a support system. I didn’t know what else to do, so I finally sought depression therapies. It was not easy. But I had to do it, so that I could get back to my life, to my work, to my schooling, and make myself better. So I started depression medication (thank goodness!) and started talking about it. And luckily, it helped. I stopped feeling depressed. I got better. Not overnight, but it happened. And I became me again, and I was made whole again.
I didn’t know about Lifescript, a website that provides useful information on depression (feeling depressed, depression causes, depression therapies — and much more) and other prevalent medical conditions related to women’s health. But I do now!
There are a number of depression causes or risk factors, such as:
- Family history of mental illness
- Chronic physical or mental disorders — individuals suffering from diseases such as (not limited to) cancer, HIV/AIDS, and Parkinson’s are at risk for suffering depression. Those with chronic pain also can suffer from depression.
- Major life changes and stress — a serious loss, trauma, stressful relationship, and financial troubles are just a few of the triggers for a depresssive episode.
- Little or no social support — people who are isolated and have limited (or no) supportive relationships are at higher risk of depression.
- Age, race, socioeconomic status, and medication use also can be factors in one’s risk for depression.
You don’t have to deal with this alone, or sit by while a loved one suffers with feeling depressed. For more depression articles, don’t miss these:
Lifescript’s Depression Health Center features tips, quizzes, recipes and articles – all by professional health writers, experts and physicians – covering postpartum depression, seasonal affective disorder, bipolar disorder, how to boost your mood with exercise and more. Please visit the Lifescript Health Center on depression for more information.
This is a sponsored post by me on behalf of Lifescript.com.