I really appreciate you for reading this series of posts about the depressed state of mind. I feel like so many people need to read about it, but so little do, because it IS indeed, an uncomfortable subject to talk about.
So many people walk around with clinical depression without even knowing its severity, and their loved ones only realize how sick they are when it’s already too late. I really, really hope that you can share this post, or any other post about depression for that matter, with others, so that at least we can do our part, trying to raise awareness and bring peace to the hearts of people who have undergone this terrible mental illness.
Like said in my first post, for every 4 people we see per day, 1 of them suffers from mental illness. This means 25% of people in our population… and that means 81.425 million people… in the United States alone. It’s really something to consider.
And now that you have read my previous posts: “Suicide Kills”, “How We Reach (Suicide) Bottom”, and “How Family Members May Be Able To Help”, I am writing this post to tell you how my state of mind has been since my depression has been under control.
GOING BACK TO THE UNITED STATES
After I was able to start thinking clearly again, I went back to the United States. My ex-husband convinced me that he had changed. My family was afraid for me, but this time I promised them that I would leave him if he was ever to put his hands on me again. I really thought that he had changed; I thought that he had taken the time that I had been away, to look for help too. I thought: “If I was able to get better than maybe he had too, and maybe we would still have a chance to make our marriage work.”
Well, for the obvious reason, I ended up leaving him and still, that was one of the hardest things I had to do. On one hand, I felt like he needed my help because alcohol had made him so sick, and on the other hand I knew I needed to save myself.
I almost could see that dark tunnel trying to pull me back in again; I definitely could feel it. Even though my mental health was under control, that dark place was still too familiar to me, too comfortable, even though this happened one year after going back to the States. The only difference this time was that I was able to make a decision based on my health and well-being, not on my pain and misery.
I had to choose between:
1- suffering by leaving behind a dream that never happened (to start a family),
2- suffering by leaving behind someone that I had loved so much, enough to make me move to another country,
3- suffering by staying with that same person and being disrespected over and over again, in different ways.
I chose the 2nd option. I told his family that he needed help, one more time, and I left him for good: with my cat under one arm and my purse under the other. It hurt, so much. But I knew that I had to do that so that I wouldn’t start going down the spiral again like I had, 6 years prior.
That was the first time in my life that I felt in control of my life. I felt so empowered even though I was sad beyond explanation.
After living in a hotel room for 2 weeks, I was able to find an apartment that was cheap enough for me to afford rent (my business was only 1 year old back then). I will never forget the feeling I had when I stepped into “my” empty 500 sq ft apartment. I sat on the living room floor with my cat on my lap and cried. I cried for hours. The tears were a mixture of feelings: sadness, loneliness, relief, and empowerment.
CONTROL YOUR DEPRESSION; DON’T LET IT CONTROL YOU
I’m only telling this story so that anyone going through depression can see that it doesn’t become easy, all of the sudden, just because we get treated. Life is still tough. The difference, on this side of the tunnel, is that we have the ability to think clearly, unlike we had before. We are no longer paralyzed.
I am sure that, if I hadn’t gotten the treatment that I did besides continuing to take anti-depressants and seeing therapists, I KNOW that I wouldn’t have had the ability to think with my brain: I would have thought only with my urges.
This is why it is SO important to seek treatment and continue to, even after we get better. It has been almost 8 years since all of that, and I know my depression would have been able to control me if I didn’t take action. Like I explained in my second post, there is something that my brain lacks, and that depression feeds… but that something can take over me and eventually kill me.
OVERCOMING THE URGE
Everyone who knows me knows that I am very holistic. I practice holistic medicine and am very anti-drug.
I have tried to come off my anti-depression medication… many times. I have tried it slowly and gradually, as well as “cold-turkey”. And every time I tried the same thing happened: sooner or later I was having to overcome that urge of becoming depressed. I would put myself in situations that would put me down, for no reason at all. For example, I would sit in front of the computer watching horrible youtube videos of people dying from accidents, and I would suffer so much… enough to make myself literally sick to my stomach!
I know it sounds crazy, but it is NOT CRAZY… it is REAL. This is how the brain of someone who is depressed works! And after making myself so sad that I would get sick to my stomach and couldn’t even sleep at night, I would think: “What the heck am I doing??”. I could feel that dark tunnel pulling me and I had to fight the urge until I would overcome it. That was so exhausting because, after overcoming it, I would find myself doing the same thing, again, in the next couple of days or so.
So I opted to do what I had to do if it made me feel better, even if that meant I had to take anti-depressants.
ANTI-DEPRESSANTS AND PSYCHOTHERAPY
I was very against anti-depressants, especially since there are not even enough studies that explain how they work. But the fact of the matter is: they work.
I have taken many different ones, from SSRI’s (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors) to SNRI’s (Serotonin-Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors), SMS’s (Serotonin Modulators and Stimulators), and finally started on NDRI’s (Norepinephrine-Dopamine Reuptake Inhibitors). – take a look of the whole list of anti-depressants here.
Before taking NDRI’s I am not going to lie, I felt horrible. I mean, headaches wouldn’t go away, and I would feel like I was living in a fog. It was really terrible. Only after going from one doctor to another and from pill to pill, that my current doctor (whom I adore) figured out the source and reason of my depression.
Finding the right type of anti-depressant for me took many therapy sessions, but I finally found a doctor that I felt comfortable enough to share my whole story with, and someone who had the knowledge to recommend the right antidepressant for me. Interesting how everything makes sense, doesn’t it? If you read my second post, I explain how I think my brain developed with the lack of dopamine, and why.
I have asked my psychologist if I could share his information with all of you on this post, and he gave me the ok to do so. I am not doing this to advertise him or anything like that, I just want people to know that there are many therapists out there who actually do what they do because they like to help others. If you are in the Hampton Roads, VA area, look for Dr. Norm Stein. He has helped me so much with depression over the years, and nowadays he continues to help me with my PTSD. I am truly grateful to have had his guidance over these past years.
EMOTIONAL GUIDANCE SCALE
This is something that is SO INCREDIBLY IMPORTANT for everyone to know. Everyone should have the emotional guidance scale in their wallets. – hence the reason why I have it behind my business card.
When we understand the emotional guidance scale, we are able to understand our state of mind better. Here it is:
- Joy / Appreciation / Love / Freedom
- Belief / Positive Expectation
- Impatience / Frustration / Irritation
- Rage / Hatred
- Insecurity / Unworthiness
- Fear / Despair / Depression
Do you see how if someone who is clinically depressed becomes angry, that that is actually a good thing? If that same person becomes discouraged, that is also a great thing! That means they are going from 21 to 17 to 16… They are moving up!
The same goes with people who are becoming depressed: if you notice that you or your loved one have suddenly gone from boredom to overwhelmed, to worry and then discouragement, you know that that person’s emotional well-being is going downhill. Stay aware of it so that you can seek help before everything gets out of hand.
Always remember that you can get to a better place, mentally and emotionally, if you focus on the things that you are grateful for. You can’t jump from unhappy to happy, but you can jump from unhappy to grateful. There is always something, anything, that we can find to be grateful for. Focus on that, and your mood will start transforming for the better.
I hope that I was able to help someone with my series of posts. Again, if you have any questions, I will be glad to answer them based on the experience that I learned from my journey.
Always remember to only spend your energy with people who love you. And always make decisions out of LOVE. No matter what that decision may be about!
Much love and gratitude to all of you,
Gabi Brandao, Conscious Health Writer
Disease Prevention Advocate, Blogger, Author, Speaker, Certified Holistic Health and Wellness Coach by the Institute of Integrative Nutrition, Board Certified by the American Association of Drugless Practitioners, and Licensed Medical Massage Practitioner by the Virginia Board of Nursing