It's taken me almost a month to be ready to share this with you. Since then, I've been doing a lot better. So, please understand that I'm not in crisis now and have appreciated the love and support I've received during this time—even from those who just thought I was having a bad day, you've been amazing! Writing this has been a big part of my healing process. Here's what I wrote the beginning of this month:
Please know that I'm not writing this as a cry for help or to get attention. It actually hurts to admit that this happened (it's really embarrassing to admit how weak I've felt), but because I know there are others out there who need to hear it and know they're not alone. I need to share what happened a last night. I'm also dreading the inevitable phone call I will get from my mom, who will be very worried when she reads this (I love her and know how she worries about me. I love you, Mom! Know that I'm going to be alright, I promise I'm getting help.) If you don't want to read this and just want the info on 5 Things To Help in a Depressive Crisis, just skip to that section below. If not, keep reading.
I haven't been well since we moved in August. There have been times that things have been better than others, but, overall, my health and mental health have been terrible. Between anemia, low thyroid, and stress, I've barely been able to take care of myself, let alone my family.
Thankfully, the Lord has blessed us. We've had so many people offer help and support, especially this Christmas, we were overwhelmed by their generosity! Erik also has been able to pick up the slack, when it comes to the kids, house, meals, etc. Otherwise, I don't know what we would have done (other than not eaten, our house would be even more trashed, and the kids wouldn't have done so well adjusting as they have).
But, of course, not being very functional and leaving everything to my husband has left me with a huge load of guilt and stress. I see how hard it is for him. How he struggles with his own need to go back to work and school but also the need to care for his family (which has been multiplied since moving to California to care for his father, who has lymphoma. Read more about our quest to save our Dad here.)
I'm not sure what all the factors were that combined last night to cause my breakdown, other than the health issues, stress, and sleep deprivation, but I was in a bad place.
It started as a feeling of uselessness. I didn't even get a shower that day (and I don't want admit how long it had been since I had), even though I'd spend most of the day at appointments for the kids, I still felt like I hadn't accomplished enough. The house is a mess. We haven't really moved in all the way. There are literally still boxes stacked in every room.
I felt tired but didn't know if I'd be able to sleep (yet again), and that stressed me out. I felt just blah. Numb. Nothing felt right. Nothing felt good. I wasn't interested in any of my usual interests, nothing could excite me or make me feel happy. So I read my scriptures, like I try to do every night. But even though the subject matter was very sacred and special to me (I was reading Matthew Chapter 27, where Jesus is crucified). It usually evokes lots of feelings (sadness, gratitude, humility...knowing that He died for me and loves me), but I didn't feel anything. That brought even more guilt.
Somethings was very wrong with me. I was broken. I started to get ready for bed, but even the smallest task seemed impossible. The thought came to tell my husband that I needed help. At first, it was just help with something small. I knew I couldn't do this on my own, so I literally called my husband on my phone (from the bedroom to the living room) to ask him to help me. Which he did. He was exhausted from a long day of running errands, etc. (which was painfully obvious) but he quickly helped with the task I asked for help with.
Seeing him try to do something even though he obviously wanted to be doing other things (don't get me wrong, he really wasn't being selfish. From what he could see, I was just tired like I have been every single day of the last few months. He's been trying to get me to push myself, to help me pull myself out of this pit of depression, and he didn't want to enable me if I could do this myself. Physical activity is a huge factor in helping me get better.) And the guilt flowed. Everything was wrong. Everything I couldn't do, everything that had been left unfinished or neglected, nothing in the world was good anymore. It just wasn't.
Now, if you've never experienced this level of depression, you're probably thinking that I'm crazy, and you wouldn't necessarily be wrong. At that point, I could not be rational. My mind wouldn't work right. I was depressed about being depressed.
As a friend said, being a depressive crisis is like being trapped in a burning building. The smoke and heat (depression, guilt, anxiety) makes it so you can't breathe and is taking all your energy so it's hard to move or function at all. One beam after another (inadequacies, things that made me feel more depressed) are falling, which compromises the building supports (rational thinking, logic, self-worth, etc.) Then, hopelessness blocks the exit and panic raises to a whole new level. Visibility is completely gone, the heat is rising. You are completely trapped and can't see how you could possibly escape with your life
Or, for our Lord of the Rings fans, you are Frodo on the slopes of Mount Doom. All of your efforts, everything you've tried doesn't matter any more because your body has given out. The ring is too heavy to carry and there's no way you can go any further.
My mind briefly started to wonder what was the least painful way someone could die. That should have shocked me more than it did. That was a huge beam in our burning building falling down. Yes, it was a wake up call. They always tell you that any suicidal type thoughts, even wishing that you could just give up or any thought related to the subject of your own death, is a crisis point where you need to seek immediate help.
I started crying (sobbing really), but was out of tissues. Even getting up to go get more tissues was beyond my ability. I just couldn't do anything. I was useless. Completely useless.
And that was my breaking point. Not even able to bring myself to call Erik again, I sent a one-word text, which I've circled below:
I thought about how he's done so much lately and I've been very demanding. And I cried harder. I didn't want to scare him (in fact, until he reads this, I won't have admitted in so many words to another person exactly how bad things were).
Seeing me sitting on the side of the bed, shaking and tears running like a faucet, he hurried to my side and started asking me what was wrong.
I don't remember most of what was said other than I needed help and my depression was really bad. He asked me what he could do to help (probably expecting to be given some big heroic quest that would yank me out of it). I said something like, "I'm out of tissues. Could you bring some? I can't even do that." And, for some reason, we laughed. It was just so ridiculous, sobbing over a lack of tissues. I don't remember what else I told him, but, at some point, I also asked him for the most important thing: a priesthood blessing.
For those unfamiliar with my faith, I'm a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, and a priesthood blessing is one of the most amazing and small, but miraculous things I've witnessed. I don't know when I've ever felt so much love, support, and comfort, as when I've heard someone else praying to my Heavenly Father, using His own power and authority to pronounce a blessing that I might have the comfort and strength that I so desperately needed. (You can learn more about priesthood blessings here. You don't have to be a member of my church to receive one. Learn more about my beliefs here.)
The guilt and stress didn't go away after the blessing. It was all still there, but afterwards, I felt comforted. Erik sat with me and held me.
We talked a bit more and life didn't seem so bad. That's the best way I can thing to describe it. The fog thinned a bit and I felt well enough to try to sleep. Erik didn't take my depression away, but he helped carry me through the worst of it.
This morning, I am a million times better. A good night's rest helped so much! I'm still stressed, still feel the guilt, but it's manageable. There weren't any clean towels this morning and I was out of clean clothes, but instead of feeling like there's just another thing to stop me and I can't do anything about it, I was able to start a load of laundry.
I'm going to be alright, and I am so thankful that my Heavenly Father had helped me and given me so much!
Now, here's what I've learned from all this:
5 Things To Help in a Depressive Crisis
1. Seek help immediately! From family, friends, your church, neighbors, a crisis hotline, ANYONE who you can talk to!! Do NOT be alone!
Depression and stress do weird things to the mind. They warp our sense of reality and show us the world through a skewed perspective. Being alone makes this worse. Find someone, anyone, to be near. Even if you just go to the grocery store or Walmart and say hi to the door greeter/security person. Human contact is VITAL! Go be with other people.
2. Talk to someone
It seems ridiculously simple, but talking, getting those feelings and thought out into the open, just expressing how you feel helps! Keeping it bottled up inside, not wanting to burden or bother anyone else... I've been there and believe me: anyone who cares even the smallest bit for you, even a stranger, would rather listen to you talk for a few minutes than risk your life. Call this number (1-800-273-8255) or go to this website for free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention, and crisis resources.
3. Ask God for help with depression
Whatever your religion or beliefs, ask God to help you in whatever way you can. God loves you and wants the best for you. He will help you find comfort and carry you through the darkest of times.
Have faith that your Father in Heaven will help you but recognize that His help may come in the form of therapy, medication, friends, or family.
4. Don't be too afraid or ashamed to get help!
Thankfully, society is finally leaving behind the old stigma of mental illness being taboo. People are finally starting to talk about it and admit they need help. Nearly 1 of every 5 Americans suffer from some type of mental illness each year. You are not alone! Asking for help is not weakness, it takes strength and courage. Be strong, you can do it!
5. Get medical/mental health help for depression
Despite advances in science and medicine, we don't always know what causes depression. According to the NIMH, "depression is caused by a combination of genetic, biological, environmental, and psychological factors." But try to find out where it's coming from and get help. Mine is clinical/chronic depression but made worse by health issues like thyroid disease, anemia, etc. (Read more about My Battle for Better Health here.) Try to see if there's a physical cause to your depression. If there's the possibility of getting better, isn't it worth looking into?
Talk to a counselor or mental health specialist. You may or may not need medication. It's perfectly fine if you do. I strongly believe that God has helped scientists develop medicines specifically to help with mental illness because he loves us. Medication is not the treatment for everyone, and I also firmly believe that everyone, whether being treated with medicine or not, should get help from a licensed therapist. From my own experience, I can tell you, they're amazing!
This talk by Jeffrey R. Holland, called Like a Broken Vessel, gives me a lot of comfort. Go read, watch, or listen to it. You are not alone!
If you or someone you love suffers from depression, please let them know that you love them and want them to be alright. Here are 5 very simple Things You Can Do To Help Someone With Depression. Again, if you're in crisis, call this number (1-800-273-8255) or go to this website for free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention, and crisis resources.
Read more about My Battle for Better Health here.
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I'm a single mom with 3 special needs children, living in Utah, overcoming mental illness and crazy health problems to pull my family out of poverty and live my dreams as an author.
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Medical information is based on my own beliefs and experience. Nothing on this site should be used instead of professional medical advice.