Saturday, December 31, 2011

This is ANXIETY!

I am reminded I have a mental illness as I become terrified on the next street over. Walking Jireh, the people, noises, stimulation… all too much. I literally stop in my tracks to catch my breath, slow my heartbeat, and wipe the sweat profusely pouring from my skin. Anxiety attack. I know it, recognize the too familiar symptoms, still the world is spinning as if I am on a rapid carousel. I need help but am unable to speak. A car goes by and the passenger blows a party favor at me. This is it. This is where I go crazy and end up back in the hospital. I become dizzy, light headed. Jireh pulls me out of my trance. “Put one foot in front of the other… focus on one step at a time.”

Home. Thank God I made it safely home. There will be fireworks tonight, which will cause Jireh to bark, which will scare me more. The day is over for me. I will spend the next 16 hours in bed, head covered.

Life is hard. This new year, I am going to take better care of myself. I’m going to be productive when I am feeling good instead of forcing myself to socialize. My friends will just have to understand. Finding a job is my top priority. How will I work with anxiety and depression? By putting one foot in front of the other.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Becoming Me

Bought a 2012 calendar, thinking next year will be the year I become more of myself and less of a conformist. There are many passions I neglect for the sake of going with the crowd. Since I’ve intentionally sought out new friends (and found some definite keepers!), I realize how much I have settled. I’m not settling anymore. There is a whole world out there. I’m thinking of plastering photos of my passions around my loft so I keep the image in my mind daily… the image of how I want my life to be.

Strangely, Stacy emailed, asking if I’d like to get together and plan/pray over each other’s New Year’s Resolutions… I LOVE that idea! I would rather do things like that (meet at a coffee shop while each of us work on our own project, go to a poetry reading, READ at a poetry reading, listen to local music at a coffee house *I love coffee*, go to an art exhibit, boating, anything by the sea…) then see a movie, go shopping, etc.

I challenge you to be more of yourself in 2012. My dilemma, however, is how do I not offend friends when I turn down offers repeatedly? I’m all into compromising, yet I know not many people find pleasure in what I do… I know there are some out there, and I am determined to find more friends who share my interests… yet how do I find balance in my writing (determined to view writing as a job – 40 hours per week – to get back on my feet), others interests, and my own interests?

 You want a world full of love? Well then, treat one's life like one's day and before you set out, be sure to dump everything others have told you about who you should be and how you should feel, flush it all away. Deception does not begin with others, it begins with ourselves. Give up the pride that holds it in and let it go. You'll feel much, much better.- from Existentialist Wall on Facebook 

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Jireh! Almost 15 Months Old

Catching Up

My laptop is actually working, which is great since my iPad started crashing. Started thinking maybe God doesn’t want me writing when He reminded me both things stop working when I was NOT using them to write. Correlation? I’d say so. My fingers are zipping across the keyboard again and I love it! Addy and Jireh are sleeping, I’ve coffee at my side, along with notes to catch up the past couple weeks of blogs… let the writing begin!


Why people with CP should not cut bangs.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Jesus' Birthday!

I'll catch up on the past week, but wanted to blog about Christmas;

It went amazingly well! New traditions started :). 
Jen's husband is with his mom so I spent the night. Christmas morning, at 6:15, Jireh and I woke her and her two goldens by jumping on her bed, saying, "it's Jesus' birthday!!! Merry Christmas!", laughing... Jen was covering her head because the dogs were attacking her (playing), and she finally says, "Someone is on my bladder! I gotta pee!". It was great. I will never forget it... Christmas Eve was tough, didn't go to a party I had RSVP'd to... I just can't understand how my relatives won't even take my calls... But I prayed through it and Christmas morning I felt such peace knowing this was the first Christmas I didn't have to deal with my "bad" brother. The most peaceful Christmas ever. I loved it. My friends have been wonderful!  Teresa gave me a box full of coffee/kitchen stuff, Jen & Ron gave me tons of stuff, my church gave me a massive amount of food - ham, 2 pies, fudge, vegetables, potatoes, cookies, etc. and Stacy (who I met for church, then lunch with her and her family) gave me candy, a golden retriever bookmark, and gift cards! Oh, food too... She and her mom gave me lots of food. I told her parents about myself, including my testimony. I told them if there isn't a God, I won't miss out on anything. But if there IS a God (which I know there is), I know I'm going to heaven. I also told them Ive been lonely and scared many times, yet I always feel like "it's going to be okay", and I know that is Jesus. 

Next year is going to rock!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011


I have lots to blog about but haven't been in the mood.

Reality stings. At least I tried to call and wish my parents Merry Christmas. Neither their cell nor home phone will accept my calls. Guess God is protecting me.


Perhaps God wants us to feel strongly dissatisfied with the imperfections of our current state and long for what is to come. - Mosaic Bible.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Why I Am Still Here

Writer's block... December 17th is hard to put into words. I met the cutest kid with cerebral palsy... My heart saw so much potential sitting in her pink wheelchair.

I went with Jennifer and family to her nephew’s basketball game. Before I even sat down, I saw the cutest girl with long blonde hair and a bright smile sitting in a pink wheelchair. She must’ve been 7 or 8. I introduced myself, and told her how pretty she was. Beside her was a not-so-warm lady, who I naturally assumed was her mother. She abruptly informed me the little girl didn’t talk… and she couldn’t hear either.  I was thinking how sad – not sad about the little girl, rather sad at how pessimistic the lady was! If she thought she was going to deter me from talking to the girl, she was mistaken. I asked if she had Cerebral Palsy, and the mother simply said ‘yes’. I had the feeling I was annoying her but I didn’t care. Yes, I WAS keeping her from watching the game, but I felt the need to tell her how much potential the girl had, how the doctors had said I would be a vegetable needing institutional living my entire life, how doctors’ make mistakes… She listened to part of my spiel and interrupted with, “She has a LOT of problems!”. Okay… I asked if she was in a regular classroom and the lady appeared to become frustrated. “I don’t send her to school with her immune system… she may catch something.” I finally took her unspoken cues, said goodbye to the girl, and sat down.

I hope the girl will be given the chance to shine…given the chance to branch out and become the unique individual God created her to be.

Later, I thought, I should’ve told the lady, “Hey, I have a lot of problems too! Crohn’s, Major Clinical Depression, Asthma, Attention Deficit, Endometriosis, etc.” but it wasn’t about me, it was about that precious little girl.

Jennifer later told me the part that IS about me:
“Before I met you, I would’ve looked at that girl with pity and sadness that she had CP. Since I got to know you, I just see her as a cute girl who happens to be in a wheelchair. Other than the chair, I see her having a normal life like everyone else!”

That is my part. That is why God won’t take me home yet… Amen.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Pity Party Crasher

My friend, Stacy, came over tonight. I really was in no mood to censor my conversations since I was feeling so low, but I really like Stacy and wanted to see her. She brought a book for me to borrow, The Search For Significance by McGee, and hinted how sometimes our thoughts are from the enemy and we need to refer to Scripture to remind us who God says we are. I hadn’t considered that fact. I guess I am so confident of the Holy Spirit living within me, I rarely question the source of my thoughts. I made a mental note to research spiritual warfare. I continued my uncensored discussion by sharing my pity party beliefs, which went something like this:

Me: I know God allowed me to have cerebral palsy so I could glorify Him by living successfully in spite of it, but how am I glorifying Him when I am struggling financially?
Stacy (thinking very carefully about her words… I could tell): How do you think you glorify God?
Me: By living independently, by being self-sufficient.
Stacy: Is that the only way (to glorify God)?
Me: Is this a trick question?
I knew it wasn’t, so I asked her what she thought.
Stacy: What about glorifying God by trusting Him regardless of your circumstances?

She was right. I had forgotten about the patience of Job. Somewhere along the way, I had decided my time of suffering had ended and enough was enough. Where was my faith? Where was my perseverance? Stacy’s words were exactly what I needed to shut down my pride and rediscover my faith. I felt the Holy Spirit speak through her words. By the time she left, I had a whole new attitude. I had hope again.

Stacy and Me at Church

Pity Party

This is such a treat! My laptop is actually working! So much easier to write on my laptop as opposed to my iPad. And it so happens that Jireh is at a puppy play date so I’m praying this is productive day writing. I need it. Yesterday I started cycling into a situational depression, meaning I know the source of the depression, I’m ashamed of what I did and fear the consequences.

My gas tank was empty, kitchen had no food, and I was/am apprehensive about Christmas. I am also about out of medication, which is close to $80 month, I have no working TV and the one thing keeping me sane is Internet. God bless Jen & Ron, they brought me groceries, put gas in my car, have invited me to multiple events to keep my mind off Christmas, and said not to worry about my medication, they won’t let me go without it… they amaze me with their kindness and leave me speechless!

Others have been helping me too, including Susie and Stacie. I only receive approximately $1150 per month and my rent is $600. I’m still catching up on moving expenses from August.  I hate living this way and I daily ask God, “How am I glorifying you if I’m the community charity case?”  I don’t sit at the throne long enough to wait for his answer because I don’t think I’ll like his response.

So out of frustration, when my wifi was cut off, I called in a payment, and now (after bank fees) my checking account is negative $160. What a way to start the New Year! I felt awful after I did it and still do. All of these people are helping me and I was a bad steward. I want to be mad at God, but He reminds me where I was LAST year and how He has blessed me, so I end up praising Him.

My life has so drastically changed – not having the newest MAC product (haven’t had an iPhone in a year), not having a consistently functioning Macbook  (I’m a writer!!), and, as silly as it sounds, not having Starbucks several times per week. I don’t even have living room furniture to sit on.

And this shows me how selfish and ungrateful I am. And I hate who I am. And I don’t deserve any more help. I told Jen what I had done and she was disappointed yet assured me she still loved me. Still, the shame remains.

The only way I can redeem myself is to send query letters to publisher in hopes of earning money through my writing. I sent one yesterday and within five minutes, received a response “we are not accepting unsolicited queries at this time.” My plan is to send a minimum of five per day. I HAVE GOT to get back on my feet. I don’t believe I deserve anyone else’s help.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Please Pray

Okay, people... I'm going d-o-w-n (into another depression). Please pray I feel God's strength, love and hope.

More Students With Disabilities Heading to College

More Students With Disabilities Heading to College
Reprinted from 2007:
I disappointed God. Feeling much shame:

Feel sorrow within
Disappointed again
How could I hurt You?
So readily desert You?
The grace that You give
The ways You forgive
With your people I'll share
.., this cross I must bear.
           •SW  8/7/7

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Still Get Discouraged

I still have moments where I am bitter and angry. This is in response to an email asking why I was upset. I realize I sound like a brat in this, so please don't judge me. I am very happy my friend is getting an iPad - jealous too.

Too much to write in an email as to why I am mad at God. Basically, tired of not being able to work and having to go without. I'd do anything to have an iPhone, never mind a Macbook - if only to borrow to send stuff to publishers until I can get my own Macbook (mine is soooo difficult to use now). My friend is getting an iPad for Christmas and I'm happy for her but it'd be like me getting a guitar you wanted for Christmas- it wouldn't be fair because I wouldn't appreciate it like you would.

I want to work! Plus, there's an existentialist conference in March where my favorite author (the guy who turned me on to existentialism is now 80 and rarely speaks at conferences) is the keynote speaker. Registration is $560 plus travel (it's in San Francisco) so highly unlikely I'll get to go.

I'm sick of being under the mercy of my depression. I feel guilty for not being satisfied with the numerous gifts God has given me. 

Other than that, I'm fine. 

Saturday, December 10, 2011


Jen & Me 

A little over two weeks until Christmas…allowing myself to really process this sends me into a dark place, so this morning, I told Jen I didn’t want to be alone. Her poor husband must tire of my depression episodes. This morning, I went to Jen’s at 8 and spent all day with them. Seriously, her husband is very good at handling my depression. In March, I was SO hopeless and depressed, I attempted suicide by taking more than 60 prescription pills. I’ll never forget the number because I had to tell the intake specialist, 2 doctors, a nurse, and an EMT what I had done and every single one of them thought I said 16. When I clarified SIXTY, they were all in disbelief. I don’t remember much about that night, but I remember my frustration at being asked why I attempted suicide… AS IF I COULD TELL THEM IN ONE OR TWO SENTENCES! The pills didn’t really hurt me, except I have little memory of that night and from Jen’s description, I was pretty comical. Seems I kept asking for Dr. Drew (from TV) at the hospital. Oh, and I kept asking for a Smirnoff Ice on the way to the hospital. But I digress.

Back to Jen’s husband…the three of us have these intellectual discussions (all FSU grads!) and we were discussing a girl in the news who was suspected to have been drugged. News came out that she had attempted suicide before so perhaps she attempted again. I was angry at that and said, “So if anyone wants to kill me, just drug my drink and the police will assume it was suicide… you’ll never be investigated!” Jen’s husband replied, “Yeah, but it’d take over 200 pills to have any effect on you!” I cracked up laughing! That was one of the funniest comments I have ever heard! So Ron is definitely becoming a pro with my depression.

Since I actually had fun when Jen took me to the hospital (but I don’t want to go through that again), I’ll pretty much do anything with her now. Her nephew was in a symphony orchestra concert so I went. They played Christmas music (so proud of myself for going!), including “Hark, the Herald Angels Sing”.

God and sinners reconciled. God and sinners reconciled.  I kept repeating that line. God and sinners reconciled. A light went off in my head. THE Light went off in my head. Jesus was born so that we could be reconciled with God. Wow. There is nothing worth more celebration than that! Embracing Christmas is no longer challenging for me… I will likely be alone on Christmas Day. I won’t get any presents (my parents overindulged me on Christmas and paid for my gifts for months after… I’ll miss that.), and my Christmas dinner will likely be buttered bread. Yet, it’ll be fine. I’m a sinner, yet I’ve been reconciled with God because Jesus was born! Hark, the herald angels sing!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Christmas Season

My friend, Susie, and her
pink Christmas tree

Spent the morning making Christmas cards (almost done!). I’ve been thinking a lot about Christmas, how selfish it is for me to try denying the season is here. That would be like telling a friend, “I don’t want to acknowledge your birthday because I have horrible experiences with my own birthdays, thus I don’t want to hear about or celebrate yours.” I would never say something so selfish to a friend, yet I am basically saying that to Jesus Christ. Ouch!

What hurts most about this Christmas are things that do not exemplify the true meaning of Christmas – truthfully, I miss all the gifts – my parents always went all out for  Christmas, and I need so much this year (new Macbook for writing, Day Planner, new iPhone and camera to replace my broken ones, clothes *since I lost so many when I moved, shoes, furniture – only have a bed to sit on, so can’t really have company over, and cash to catch up on my bills). It saddens me I won’t be receiving anything.

However, I am MUCH better off than last year. I have heat, a nice home, food, 2 healthy pets, new friends… I have a better grip on my depression, even less than 3 weeks before Christmas, and am excited about writing again. 2012 is going to be the year I use my God-given talent of writing to become a success again and get myself out of this mess! All these things are possible because of JESUS! EVERYTHING IS ABOUT JESUS! How could I deny the season of His birth? It’s a time to celebrate and be filled with joy!!

Happy Birthday, Jesus! Joy to the World!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Learning During the Storm

I’m ready to be a writer again. My Macbook is on its last leg, so I need it to hang in there until I can get a new Mac. Before I had to quit working, I was always on my iPhone and Macbook concurrently. My favorite past-time was sitting with 4 other Mac lovers while we each did our own thing on our laptops. I think that is why I stopped writing, no longer having an adequately functioning laptop (screen goes out) and dropping my iPhone in water. I miss those two things increasingly more in correlation with the lessening of my depression. Those things led to my productivity. I need to get a writing gig to replace them (among other things).

The new year starts in 4 weeks THANK GOODNESS! What a PERFECT reward for surviving the holidays… a brand new start!

This past weekend was rough… I started my self-injurious behavior as another unhealthy way of escaping. Details not needed, I just realized it would take a lot of counseling for me to start dating again! My professors use to say mental illness was like an onion in that you keep peeling back layers only to find new issues to be worked through. To say it frustrates me would be an understatement. There is so much crap that has built up, it’s hard to know where to start!

But I know I am moving in the right direction, thanks to God putting Rob and Jen in my life. I know I talk about them frequently, but it’s because they both handle my depression so well. They know not to push me or try to ‘fix’ me… it’s the perfect balance and I honestly believe it is due to trust and communication. I promised them I would call them before I did anything to hurt myself and therefore, they allow me to be the introverted, loner I am. I love that about them. Yet when they DO make suggestions, which is very rare, I usually follow their direction.

For instance, I stayed at Jen’s last night and was upset (surprise, surprise) by someone wanting me to reconnect with a bad part of my past. Jen took me to dinner, then rented one of my favorite movies and told me to put my iPad away! (Facebook upsets me, as does news about Jerry Sandusky). Mutual respect, honesty, and humility are paramount when dealing with depression. As the one who is depressed here, it is nice having someone who has my best interest at heart to keep me balanced.

I can tell this is making me stronger. As I experience the depression and pain, I’m learning some valuable life lessons.

Addy, My Girl

Friday, December 2, 2011

Happy Birthday, Addy!

Today is Addy’s birthday! My kitty is four years old, and we’re celebrating by sending Jireh to Jennifer’s for a puppy sleepover while Addy eats her favorite meal and we play with her favorite toys. Addy has been an incredible companion for me.

Well, I wish I could stop whining but I am determined to be honest with this holiday depression… I stayed in bed all day yesterday. With no TV, I stared into space, unable to do anything meaningful. My sweet friend, Karen, tried to get me out last night… was sooo understanding, willing to just come over or do whatever… I just couldn’t. I wanted to at LEAST take Jireh to a dog park but I ached all over and my Crohns disease is acting up.

People don’t realize that depression has physical symptoms as well, so I found a great article on the effects and posted it below (yesterday’s blog).

So no profound theological revelation again. I am just trying to make it to January 2nd, one day at a time. I have to mail my handmade cards out today, take Jireh to the vet, do laundry, and am suppose to go for soup with ladies from church tonight. All of this seems literally impossible when most people could accomplish this in a couple of hours. Thank goodness, Jennifer will be over to help me… not just physically, but she will make me laugh. She always makes me laugh. She’s become almost like a caretaker and I hate being such a burden to her…she always says Jesus gives her the ability to help me. There’s no doubt about that because I don’t know how she does it. I’ll try to blog right after we get together today as I will likely be in a good mood.

Until then, I will also try to get out of my self-pity mode.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Very Educational Article on Depression and Suicide

Read this article on the truth about depression and suicide.

Suicide and Depression

Q&A Why do people kill themselves?

Unfortunately, there is no simple answer to this question. People die by suicide for a number of reasons. However, the majority of the people who take their lives (estimated at 90%) were suffering with an underlying mental illness and substance abuse problem at the time of their death. They weren't sick, but their brains were. Too often we think that a person is their brain, that’s where their personality or character resides. This is not true. The brain is an organ just like the liver, the kidneys, the gall bladder, etc. When it gets sick too often the appearance of the problem is in the form of a mental illness, as in the case of depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders, or schizophrenia. If the brain is sick too long, it can lead a person to taking their lives. This isn't always the case, as millions of people live with depression and never attempt or die by suicide, but with awareness, education, and treatment, people can be helped so that suicide does not become an option.

Do people attempt suicide to prove something or to get sympathy?

No. A suicide attempt is a cry for help that should never be ignored. It is a warning that something is terribly wrong. Chronic depression can lead to feelings of despair and hopelessness, and a suicide attempt is one way some people choose to express these feelings. Most people who attempt or commit suicide don't really want to die - they just want their pain and suffering to end. A suicide attempt is also not done to gain someone's sympathy, as those that attempt to take their life do it for internal reasons-they simply can't stand the pain they feel emotionally and/or physically. It isn’t to try and get someone to feel bad for them, that's the last thing they would want.

A suicide attempt must always be taken seriously. Without intervention and proper treatment, a person who has attempted suicide is at greater risk of another attempt and possible suicide.

What is depression and what are depressive illnesses?

Depression and depressive illnesses are classified as mood disorders in the medical field, including everything from Major Depression to Dysthymia. They have a number of symptoms that affect people socially, occupationally, educationally, interpersonally, etc. How does one become depressed? Basically, here's how it works: the nerves in our brain don't touch each other, but rather pass messages from one to the next through chemicals called neurotransmitters. We need just the right amount of this chemical between the nerves to pass the exact same message to the next nerve. If there isn’t enough of that chemical, the message doesn't get passed along correctly and in this case, depression or a depressive illness can result. When it comes to depressive disorders the chemicals most frequently out of balance are serotonin and norepinephrine.

A person living with depression does not always have the same thoughts as a healthy person. This chemical imbalance can lead to the person not understanding the options available to help them relieve their suffering. Many people who suffer from depression report feeling as though they've lost the ability to imagine a happy future, or remember a happy past. Often they don't realize they're suffering from a treatable illness, and seeking help may not even enter their mind. Emotions and even physical pain can become unbearable. They don't want to die, but it's the only way they feel their pain will end. It is a truly irrational choice. Suffering from depression is involuntary, just like cancer or diabetes, but it is a treatable illness that can be managed.

How do alcohol and drugs affect depression?

Alcohol is a depressant, so it can and often does make depression worse. Drug use alone or in combination with alcohol use for someone suffering with depression can be lethal. Too often people attempt to alleviate the symptoms of depression by drinking or using drugs which can increase the risk of suicide by impairing judgment and increasing impulsivity.

Can a suicidal person mask their depression?

Sure, they can and sometimes do. But we can all be more aware of the signs and symptoms of depression to help those we care about get the necessary treatment to relieve them of their pain. Plus, because many people who are depressed can not see their symptoms, we have to be their eyes and ears for them to help SAVE their life. Many people suffering from depression and even contemplating suicide hide their feelings and appear to be happy just prior to their suicide attempt. This often confuses the people around them since for so long they had been suffering and appearing depressed, then all of a sudden seem better. However, most of the time a person who is suicidal will give clues as to how desperate they feel. It is critical that you familiarize yourself with the symptoms of depression and the warning signs of suicide, and not be afraid to ask direct questions about feelings of the person you're concerned about-it could be what save's their life!

Is a person at increased risk to attempt suicide if they’ve been exposed to it in their family or has had a close friend who died by suicide?

Yes, suicide does tend to run in families, but this is generally attributed to the genetic component of depression and related depressive illnesses. A healthy person talking about a suicide or being aware of a suicide among family or friends does not put them at greater risk for attempting suicide. And mere exposure to suicide does not alone put someone at greater risk for suicide. However, when combined with a number of other risk factors, it could increase someone’s likelihood of an attempt. Failing to treat or mistreating depressive illness puts a person at increased risk of suicide. It is very important to remember that the vast majority of people living with depression do not have suicidal thoughts or die by suicide.

Why don't people talk about mental illnesses like depression, bipolar disorder and suicide?

Stigma and lack of understanding are the main reasons depression remains a topic we avoid. People suffering from depression fear others will think they’re crazy or weak, or somehow a lesser person. Cultural norms are slowly changing, and people are becoming more aware of the nature of depressive illnesses and their impact on a person’s well being. Education will help reduce stigma and save lives.

Alcoholism, drug addiction, HIV and AIDS are examples of medical conditions previously attributed to a weakness or character problems. Today, they are widely recognized as medical diseases and people feel comfortable openly discussing the impact of the disease and seeking help through a variety of treatments. The dangers of alcohol and substance abuse have been the subject of major national public health campaigns in the United States, leading to a general public more aware of the value of prevention. Breast cancer is another medical illness that for many years went unspoken, but today receives millions of dollars in research funding, supportive programming and awareness. Issues of medical illnesses in the brain which we call mental illnesses still face huge obstacles to funding, support and awareness, but progress is being made.

Will "talking things out" help treat depression?

Talking does help treat depression. However, research continues to show that a combination of psychotherapy (talk therapy) and antidepressant medication is the most effective way to treat depression. In some cases, well-supported psychotherapies, such as cognitive behavioral therapy or interpersonal therapy can considerably alleviate the symptoms of depression. However, a medical doctor should supervise any course of treatment.

Why do people attempt suicide when they appear to feel better?

Sometimes a severely depressed person contemplating suicide doesn't have enough energy to attempt it. As the disease lifts they may regain some energy but feelings of hopelessness remain, and the increased energy levels contribute to acting on suicidal feelings. Another theory proposes that a person may "give in" to the disease because they can't fight it anymore. This relieves some anxiety, which makes them appear calmer in the period preceding a suicide attempt.

If a person's mind is made up can they still be stopped?

Absolutely! Never give up on someone contemplating suicide. For a person determined to attempt suicide the desire to live is overshadowed by the seeming hopelessness of the disease. The decision to attempt suicide is really a desire to stop suffering. Never give up on someone just because they say they’ve made up their mind. Depression is a crisis and intervening to help the person regain perspective and aggressively fight the disease can help reverse the downward trend toward suicidal thoughts or attempts.

Is depression the same as the blues?

No. Depression is a medical illness in the brain that can be clinically diagnosed and treated. While it's normal and even expected to feel badly about losing someone you love or experiencing a disappointing or traumatic event, to consistently experience the symptoms of depression for longer than two weeks under normal circumstances may indicate the presence of a diagnosable illness.

Why do depressive illnesses sometimes lead to suicidal thoughts?

As depression deepens and takes over the body and mind, the pain of depression often becomes overwhelming. The chemical imbalance and deep despair can lead the brain to try and find ways to end the pain. This is when suicidal thinking begins. Depressive illnesses can distort thinking such that a person can’t think clearly or rationally. The illness can cause thoughts of hopelessness and helplessness, which may lead to suicidal thoughts. Education about the symptoms of depression and the warning signs of suicide help people understand that depression and related depressive illnesses are both preventable and treatable.

What causes a depressive illness?

Depressive illnesses are biological illnesses related to imbalance or disrupted brain chemistry. The brain is an organ of the body and can get sick just like the heart, liver, or kidneys.

A combination of genetic, psychological and environmental factors play a role in how and when a depressive illness manifests, and the same is true for suicide. Because these are illnesses, stress doesn't necessarily have to be present, but can trigger or exacerbate a depression. Although rare, depression can appear out of nowhere when there would be no reason for a person to feel depressed. More commonly depression comes on over a period of time with many factors going on at once in a person’s life.

People of all ages, including children, youth and adolescents, can suffer from depressive illnesses. Since they may be genetically pre-disposed to depression, a person may be at higher risk than someone whose family doesn't have a history of depression. This doesn't however necessarily mean everyone will inherit a depressive illness. They just might have a predisposition or tendancy toward it.

What are the different types of depressive illnesses?

Types of depression include:

Seasonal Affective Disorder
Major Depression
Atypical Depression
Premenstrual Syndrome
Can depressive illnesses be treated?

Yes. There are various ways to treat depressive illnesses depending on the type of illness, the severity, and the age of the person being treated. A person suffering with depression should not try to manage the illness on their own. Knowing and recognizing the signs of depressive illness helps avoid needless suffering available through treatment. Depression is a condition like diabetes or high blood pressure that can be effectively managed with the help of mental health professionals including medical doctors, registered nurses, psychologists and therapists, social workers, clergy, family members, and community support.

Research shows a combination of antidepressant medication and psychotherapy to be the quickest, most effective treatment. Often, antidepressant medication is needed to help a person to think more clearly in psychotherapy. There are several types of psychotherapy, but two have proven beneficial in treating depressive illnesses:

Cognitive therapy focuses on trying to change a person's negative thinking and the inaccurate perceptions they have of themselves and their environment. People are taught to think logically, and to avoid negative self-talk.
Interpersonal therapy teaches a person how to successfully interact with others. Depressive illnesses interfere with how a person treats their family, friends, and co-workers, which affects how they treat them in return. Interpersonal therapy focuses on social skills.
What is an anxiety disorder?

Anxiety is a normal feeling we experience everyday. However, anxiety disorders are characterized by feeling excessive fear, nervousness or worry that something bad might happen even though there is no logical or specific reason to be afraid. Many times depressive illnesses and anxiety go hand in hand.

Advice From My Best Friend

Jennifer wrote the following:

This Christmas Season for Shelly is the first time in her life she is without her family because they have given her no choice to be with them.  Although, she feels like this is what is best for her right now, it still hurts deeply.  I think the uncertainty of what Christmas Day will actually feel like without them is frightening.  She does not know what will make her feel better.  Hanging out with friends?  Isolating? Spending time with only God ?  Plenty of food?  Gifts?  Cards?  Avoiding all things Christmas?  What has worked for me is to offer what I can from food  to outings together.  Some obviously are Christmas related but I try to include things that are not.  I also try to not take offense to things she says or writes(she reacts very quickly) as her wounds are fresh and easily reopened by even the most innocent of statements.  I have tried to put myself in her shoes.  It’s truly impossible.  So I rely on my prayers and grace, knowing  she will run the spectrum of emotions.  We will laugh and have fun and she will also be sad and angry at times.   I know in my heart she will build those special bonds with some close friends that will eventually feel like family and the Holidays will take on new life for her.  I got a glimpse of that when she spent Thanksgiving dinner with my family.    If someone out there has had their family abandon them, then you know what she is going through.  For those of us who wish sometimes we didn’t have to spend as much time with our families, at least we have the choice.   

Don't Tell Me How To Handle Holidays

I can tell Christmas is nearing... I'm getting increasingly bitter and impatient. If I could focus on spending the next month on Jesus, I will be fine. I have no working TV, my dog ate my phone charger... I have a social commitment Friday and Saturday, but after that, I could meditate on God's Word for a month. I would love that! My psychiatrist told Jen not to let me isolate and Jen doesn't push me to do anything holiday related, for which I am grateful. 

I'm hypersensitive at others' comments though, and I'm afraid of what I may do, including writing people off - and I don't want to do that. Two different people really hurt me deeply and a big part of me regrets being so transparent. It'd be easy to keep my feelings to myself and go on like I am filled with holiday spirit. But I feel called to bring awareness to depression. People suffer silently all over the world. I suffered silently for most of my life. This past year has been the worst year of my life... If you want me to "just move on" or think of others this holiday instead of myself, or better yet- QUESTION my faith in God... Please move on. Save your breath. When your family disowns you after trying to institutionalize you, when you lose all your possessions running from a guy trying to have sex with your cat, when you believe you have 50 good church friends yet sleep in your car with your cat because your house has no heat, when your Chirstmas will consist of spending the day alone...THEN you can talk to me about Christmas!

I think I will go thank my dog for eating my phone charger.