Maybe you can relate to the experiences shared below. I asked for personal stories on the internet and many people sent me their heartfelt words. Here are their unfiltered and not edited words. You are not alone.
Other People Share Their Stories
Everyone in my family (no exaggeration here), suffers from depression, individually and as a family. We deal with it how we can, either by burying ourselves in work (My sister and me.), or focus on creative outlets (like my brother), or less productive means (my Dad, who is a recovering alcoholic.) If one of us is depressed, it changes the mood for everyone very quickly. I have dealt with depression off and on for over twenty years. In the past four years or so it has faded quite a bit–sometimes I still get what I call “funks”, but they only last a couple of days. My depression was most recently at its worst was 2003. I had just broken off a destructive relationship. I was taking care of my mother, and trying to support my daughter as a single parent and struggling with overdue bills. I was also in a job that was very stressful as well. I know that if it hadn’t been for my 8 year old daughter to care for, I would not have had the strength to drag myself out of bed in the morning. Some evenings I’d be so depressed, I’d go in my closet and curl up and cry, hoping my daughter couldn’t hear me. I couldn’t clean the house, I could barely make us dinner, but I would because I had to. I eventually went on Zoloft, my first time on an anti-depressants, and after an adjustment period, it certainly took the edge off. At the same time, I had about six months of therapy.
Now I’m happily married, have been off anti-depressants a long time–my husband is wonderful about recognizing when I’m in a “funk” and need extra help or some time alone. If I just have a case of the blues or cabin fever, he makes me get out and take a walk or go out to a friend’s house. My daughter (now 13) is good about giving me some space as well. I haven’t felt as helpless as I did in ’03 in a long time…and all I can say is to continue to allow your family to support you and know in your heart that you have people who depend on you and love you. Certainly depression touches the whole family, but telling your partner and older children what you need to get through it is important. (Do you do better when you’re surrounded by people? Do you need some time alone? As long as you’re getting to work and functioning, should they leave you alone to work it out?) Knowing this helps them to not feel so helpless.
My husband of thirty years died suddenly and unexpectedly of a devastating heart attack while at work on Dec. 5, 2006. Our grief as a family (my son, his wife, two teenage sons, and myself) evolved into pockets of individual depression as we dealt with many new situations and disappointments. The first couple of months it was my daughter-in-law who came to my house every morning, made me get up, shower, eat breakfast, care for my dogs and my house. When she started to cave under the pressure of taking care of me and my son and their kids, I bought her a puppy and that puppy gave her unconditional love and laughter. “Bob” also made the kids get out and play and gave the whole family something else to talk about.
Days stretched into two years and I also started drinking a large glass of water every night. I’m a fifty five year old woman, and my bladder would wake me up and once up, I would try to stay up and do things.
Can you relate to this story?
We didn’t deal ‘perfectly’ with the depression and grief, and I have recently started on Celexa because I just got tired of feeling so uncontrollably bad at times, and I found I needed some stability. But every morning, I have to get up because I have dogs to walk.
There’s a long history of depression in my family. When my grandmother would get depressed, she would “take to her bed.” Literally, she would spend days in the bed and wouldn’t get up. It definitely had an impact on our family because someone had to care for her when she got that way.
My father’s depression made holidays really interesting. He would get particularly down on Christmas because he would think about all the people in the world who were doing without, so he was unable to have fun at our own holiday celebration. We learned to ignore his morose comments and have fun anyway.
In my own struggles with depression, I, like my grandmother and father, refused to acknowledge that I had a problem for a long time. When I finally got on a mild dose of an antidepressant, my life changed for the better. My relationships are better, I don’t struggle with continual suicidal thoughts, I can function better in society, and my family finds it much easier to be around me.
You are not alone. Maybe this story will help you:
I have suffered from depression most of my life. I have been in and out of counseling and treated with antidepressants on several occasions. I found that the antidepressants worked up until I started my emotional overeating of sugar and carbs, then their effectiveness diminished or disappeared all together. I have finally found what works is to use emotional skills I learned, and am still learning. It is the first and only thing I have ever found to turn off my food cravings, thus the emotional overeating, thus the depression. I still get the blues, and am more susceptible to it than most folks, but I get it less often and can pull myself up out of it much more easily.
As breath gives me life, so love gives me meaning.
Give thanks. List the things that you are grateful for. Make gratitude part of your life.
When an adult son has depression: A father’s story
I have an adult son who suffers from depression; although, “suffering” isn’t the word, because he doesn’t admit to being depressed, at least not clinically. Despite this, he has seen psychiatrists and psychologists, been medicated and not. For him, medication was the worst. He continued drinking excessively and, once, while drunk and high on medication, he had an accident (no one, including him, was injured, thankfully) and walked away from it without reporting it. Found by the police, he was jailed and held on a minimum amount of bail.
At the time, he lived out of state from me, but I had a friend–retired minister, police chaplain, and former therapist–who lived nearby. I asked the friend to visit my son in jail. He did and passed on to me his agreement that many of my son’s problems were due to depression.
What should I do, I asked.
Don’t bail him out, my friend said, and I didn’t, because I had preliminarily decided on that. I believed my son’s being in jail might help him face up to his problems. I doubt whether it did.
A couple of weeks later his mother (we’re long divorced) bailed him out against my wishes; his brother had said, “I don’t want my brother in jail.” Neither did I, but I thought then and think now that it might help, might send him to get treatment.
As part of his sentence (he claimed he was innocent, because he “didn’t remember” hitting anybody) he attended an adult vocational school, then worked at a court-agreed to job. In the past, he’d always had jobs from which he could be, and often was, fired; it was always his boss’s fault“, however, not his. “They were out to get him.” I hoped the vocational school, and a real “trade” would help. He lasted a year before being fired. This time he’d argued with his boss over whether another employee was being “pushed ahead” of him.
I’ve spoken to various agencies, to his psychiatrist (with his permission), to ministers and priests. Other than my friend who had visited him in jail, no one helped–either my son or me.
Today, he’s living in another state with a friend and the friend’s family. He has yet another “go nowhere, do nothing” minimum wage job that has nothing to do with his vocational training.
I have accepted that he inherited his depression jointly from his mother and myself, a double dose. I, too, am occasionally depressed; I was in treatment for about two years. I don’t know if it helped, because my depression occasionally returns.
I have no idea what to do, or where to turn. He once caught himself about to, as they say, “eat his gun.” At the time, he was working as an armed guard–how he got through screening I don’t know–and had stuck one of his guns (he had two) in his mouth. Perhaps as part of a planned attempt to gain attention, he stopped himself in time to call his psychiatrist who called the police. They jailed him over the week end for observation, said he needed outside help, and took away his weapons–regretfully, after the prescribed time, his mother went with him, as required by law, to help him get his pistols back.
Family help? Far from it. Help from physicians? No. From outside agencies? He won’t seek help; he’s an adult and refuses more treatment. I realize that at any moment I can receive a phone call telling me he has committed suicide.