By Jeannette Davidson-Meyer
R4 Alliance Board Member
Dole Fellow & Military Caregiver
It is that time of year…
The time of year where we are supposed to express our “30 Days of Thankfulness,”
The time of year where we are supposed to Deck the Halls,
The time of year we are supposed to celebrate a New Year with new beginnings,
The time of year where we are supposed to celebrate our blessings of friends and family through Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Eve,
Then it’s over. Everyone goes home and then what…
We are to return to what? To some kind of defined normal life? Yikes, this makes my head spin, how about you?
Reality is, this is not reality for many of us. Holiday Blues, Cabin Fever, Seasonal Depression or whatever term you want to place on it, just know: DEPRESSION is REAL. Ten percent to 20 percent is the national average of reported people suffering from seasonal depression. This percentage doesn’t take into account those who have existing depression challenges. Statistics show that 350 million people worldwide suffer from some form of depression.
Now, I know you are not reading this article for statistics, but it is important to see clinical facts that we are not alone when it comes to living and breathing with depression.
Yes, I did in fact say, “WE.”
I couldn’t tell you when I noticed my depression started or when I even knew I had depression. I can tell you that as a young person in college I did have a couple times where I thought about how easy it would be to end my life.
The first time I am truly thankful to a dear friend’s father who noticed the signs. Her family was my second family. I called her parent’s my Mom & Dad. Dad took me home that night. He didn’t give me choice. He didn’t make a big deal out of it. We never spoke of what was happening, but Mom & Dad showed me unconditional love, fed me a wonderful dinner and cared for more than I think they will ever understand.
Another time I was driving and thought how easy it would be drive off the road. Yet my darn overthinking brain took over. What if I didn’t die? What if I was a living vegetable, or some other heavy burden on my family? So, I decided not to drive off the road.
The second time was while in nursing school. An instructor took me aside with a kind recommendation of counselor’s name. I was like, “Oh great, not again.” Didn’t want to go. Had already done this counseling crap once. My instructor could see my fear and disbelieve. She assured me it takes time to find “your counselor person.”
My instructor was spot on. Let me tell you about Rose. She was an amazing counselor! She started me on my path of learning that I could be someone. She began building confidence and finding purpose with meaning. She taught me life skills to cope with anxiety. How life with an abusive past doesn’t define me. It helps mold me into being a better me through acceptance and learning to live. Rose showed me how to use the abuse to gain strength in who I am and who I wanted to become.
Life kept moving forward. I moved on without Rose. Lost touch with her. Then one day my life began spiraling out of control once more. My thoughts of driving off the road began once more. Yikes, this time it hit hard. I started to cry, uncontrollably. This time there was another life that came to mind. My baby girl. How could I leave her behind?
Was I really ready to walk away from life? Were things really this bad to end my life? I didn’t have the answers, but I did know I couldn’t leave my child.
So.. I did what I thought was best.. I found counseling once more. Relearned coping skills. Relearned self-value and purpose. It was starting my counseling process, life rebuilding process all over again.
Most recently I was sitting my doctor’s office crying. Life had become more than I could mentally handle. Yet this time, I knew I was going to keep moving forward, just didn’t know how. Thankful my doctor saw the signs that I wasn’t mentally keeping it together any longer.
He knows I am my husband’s full-time caregiver and challenges at home were mounting. My doctor asked the challenging question, “Have we had the anti-depression conversation?” He was candid, caring, respectful, along with making sure to educate me on why an antidepressant could benefit me at this time. Then he left the decision up to me.
I chose the anti-depressant. Why you may ask? Because, I was tired of crying, I was tired of being tired, I was tired of the frustrations within my own head. I was tired of not being able to think while accomplishing so little. Since my starting this happy little pill I still do have some down days but find I function more often than not. The brain fog has lifted. Smiling happens as easily as breathing. When faced with a challenge — breathing before reacting occurs – most of the time.
Now remember, I am human, still get frustrated, hurt, and angry. When this happens now, I can think through the process better.
Does this mean everyone with depression needs to be on a magic little happy pill. No, because I am not medical professional. I do know there is a combination needed to achieve mental health wellness for us all. It will require a different combination for each person.
For me, the combination is the magic happy pill, counseling, physical activity and writing.
As we go into this Holiday Season followed by the winter months. Remember – YOU ARE NOT ALONE when it comes to suffering with depression or thoughts of suicide.
It is not easy to think clearly when depression or suicide thoughts creep into our minds. The darkness takes over. Search for the one speck of light to reach out for a helping hand. That unconditional love, that warm meal, that “your counselor person,” that one thing/person of value to encourage yourself to keep living. It will seem impossible and that’s ok.
Know you have support to walk you through the darkness into path you need to out there.
We are Ready for you.
We are a Military Family who is American Made!
We Reach Higher, Dream Brighter, and Hold on Tighter.
If you or someone you know needs help, here are two resources to share:
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1.800.273.8255
- Veterans Crisis Line 1.800.273.8255 Press 1