Depression and Loss
It took months to get me out. My girlfriends had all but given up on asking me to join them. I started my journey out when a girlfriend said to me in frustration, “He died of cancer. But even with cancer, he still tried to live his life each and every day. You? You’re dying a slower death and for no reason.”
She was talking about my brother who had lost his life to cancer. I had two brothers and both passed within three months of one another. My other brother died of a stroke.
She was right. I was existing day to day. I definitely was not living. And as a consequence, every aspect of my life suffered, personal and business. But how do you talk to someone, anyone, about the darkness? The loneliness? The emptiness? How can anyone related to what you’re going through?
I started turning into a victim. Poor me. I can’t pull my business out of the toilet because I don’t know how. My husband is to blame for many of our problems because he won’t talk about anything with me. My weight – I’ll start working on tomorrow, I’m just too tired right now. But the reality of my life was, I gave up. I no longer cared. I decided to let life happen to me, not for me.
My story is not so unusual to read. In fact, current statistics show 1 out of 20 people aged 12 and over suffer with depression. And, 1 out of every 10 people are taking an anti-depressant for greater than 10 years. The stigma surrounding depression leaves most people not willing nor able to talk about their sorrow to another thus leading them into even greater isolation and loneliness. Those that do come forward and try to talk to others about it tend to do so shyly. Almost as an embarrassment.
When my girlfriend confronted me about my indifference I was extremely embarrassed. And I apologized…to her. Looking back now on the scenario, I actually should have been apologizing to myself. But we don’t do that, do we? No, we don’t. We find more faults to convince ourselves of our imperfections, and tend to hate ourselves even more, leading us farther down into the rabbit hole.
I call this rabbit hole a prison. It’s a prison that we create for ourselves in which for many, there is no way out…and no party. The chains that holds us prisoner are not visible to anyone but us, yet its rippling effects are felt in all aspects of our lives.
Depression Hits Everyone – Even Physicians
For those of you that may not know this about me, I’m a functional medicine practitioner. My specialty is working with women with hormone imbalances and autoimmune diseases. So, you would think that someone like me would never get depressed, never gain weight, drink, have poor sleep, or the host of other complaints that come along with depression. But I did.
When I was battling my depression, I didn’t wake up one morning by myself and say, “Hey, I’m depressed.” Not at all. I would wake up every day and keep to my routine – or so I thought.
I recognized I was sad (after all, I lost both my brothers, a woman I considered to be a second mother to me, I was involved in an armed robbery, stressed to the max from business, and the holidays were upon me) but I truthfully didn’t fully understand just HOW depressed I was. Nor how much it affected everyone else. I would have what I call ‘mini-meltdowns’ about once a week.
Yet, I didn’t see it. I couldn’t see it. I was too busy trying to tell myself that everything was okay and it was just stress. Now again, as a functional medicine doctor you would think this realization alone would be enough for me to act, because stress destroys us from the inside out. And I’m big on eliminating the damaging effects of stress on our bodies…but not my own. I frankly, didn’t care.
I’m telling you this to make you think. Are you repeating some of my actions? Are you just going through the motions of your life? Do you feel frozen in one spot or no longer care about what happens to you or those around you? Are you indifferent? Angry? Lonely?
Do you like who you are and where you’re at? Are you satisfied or fulfilled with your life?
Digging Out From Depression
So how do you start to live a life worth living? The old adage, “One day at a time” has never been truer. You take one day, every day, and tell yourself you can. I admit, when I started to break the cycle, and it is a cycle, it was extremely hard. In the beginning, it was a chore. I didn’t believe it. And yes, I had set-backs.
But I started. I wanted my life back. I wanted to live joyfully and openly. I kept telling myself, ‘healer, heal thyself’. And so I did.
I started giving my body what it needed but more importantly, I eliminated what it didn’t.
I started writing again. Throughout my life, I’ve kept journals. I would put in my journals my fears, my frustrations, my dreams, my goals…some days it was a stretch to write anything good. And on those days I gave myself permission to just vent. To be angry.
In the beginning, I vented a lot. And I gave myself permission to have my pity parties and feel like the victim. I gave myself permission to feel sad. But better still – I gave myself permission to feel happy. And after about a week or so, I started changing other things. I stopped drinking to numb my pain and amazingly enough my sleep improved. With the improvement in my sleep, I had some energy. So, I started walking again. And when I started walking again, I started saying my affirmation again. With my affirmation came the desire to keep going and improving my life.
Feed the Body So the Brain Can Heal
I incorporated supplements to feed my body and brain and help bring my brain’s chemistry back in line with what it needed. A big player in your health and brain chemistry is sugar handling. So I eliminated sugar, grains, and dairy and increased my intake of healthy fats.
And with time, I won. I no longer fight with the chains or the rabbit hole. And my hope is you don’t either. You’re worth the fight. Start with one day and make it your day. Just know, simply taking an anti-depressant as a means to cope is not the answer. It is my belief that if the anti-depressant was working, you wouldn’t need to take it long-term. Depression is not a life-long sentence. You can get help and relief working with the right practitioner. You can find your peace of mind. Understanding the body’s physiology and inter-connectedness is key to restore your body’s balance.