So I’ve been feeling pretty crappy lately, and it seems to be getting worse. I started reading some self-help type books, mostly for Ben, but I also picked up one for me. It’s called Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy, and supposedly the #1 recommended book (by psychologists) on depression.
So I take the evaluation at the beginning of the book, being quite conservative in my answers, and discover that I’m moderately to severely depressed. I didn’t realize it, because it came on so gradually, but it makes sense. I am tired all the time, but I can’t sleep. I have little interest in doing… anything. Daily tasks and goals seem impossible. I have no appetite. Fortunately, I have no self-harming tendencies or desires, just a basic overwhelming lethargy.
I thought, okay, I’m depressed. But why? This doesn’t run in my family. And then I thought, yeah, it does. My grandfather’s alcoholism killed him in his 40s. And my mom always describes him as a “sad drunk.” Perhaps alcoholism was a symptom of depression. His father before him was an alcoholic. My mom thankfully broke that cycle, but she had other symptoms of depression, perhaps her spending habit, as she suggested this morning. The genetic component is there.
I could have some lingering post-partum depression, or more likely seasonal depression. I suspect it’s less the weather and more being cooped up in the house. You may say, then why not leave? I try, I really do. I go for walks around the neighborhood, I run errands, I schedule play dates. A group of women does Zumba or yoga in the church gym three times a week. The kids run around, play with cars, kick balls. So I take Logan and Ben. Logan, after 15 minutes, whines to be held. Ben says he has to go to the bathroom, and I’m in the middle of yoga so he says he can go himself. When I go to check on him, he has peed all over the bathroom floor and is trying to wipe it up with paper towels. Poor kid. While I’m trying to clean up the mess, Logan gets his finger smashed in the bathroom door. While I’m comforting him, Ben heads up to the pulpit and starts singing and praying into the microphone. Buck naked from the waist down. And I skip Zumba for the next two weeks.
So joining a gym with a nursery is on the list of solutions. Second, I made a doctor’s appointment, to make sure something physical isn’t wrong with me. Anemia or some other treatable condition. If it’s just depression, I can get a prescription for an anti-depressant, as a backup. I bought a Happy Light from Costco. I’ll go use it as soon as I finish this blog post. I made an appointment with a chiropractor’s office, to start getting adjusted and massaged again.
Some would suggest prayer and scripture study as part of my recovery. While I agree that spirituality begets happiness, here’s where well-meaning Mormons would, I believe, be misguided. Our church teaches that “wickedness never was happiness” and even calls our path towards salvation the “plan of happiness”. Mormons (and other people of faith) who suffer from depression can often wonder what they are doing wrong if they are not happy. In my case, I feel that my relationship with God suffers because I am depressed, not the other way around. So prayer and other forms of worship are helpful for me, but not as a solitary solution. Service is helpful, especially when it involves doing something physical or has a social aspect.
I also wonder if Ben’s behavioral problems are more a symptom of my depression, rather than a cause. If I can change my behavior, perhaps it will change his. But I won’t blame myself. I won’t compare myself. And I’ll stay off Pinterest.
In conclusion, I really liked this video. The best three words were “Retrain My Brain”. That’s what I’ll do.