The post where I talk about depression

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.

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9 thoughts on “The post where I talk about depression

  1. Lauren, you are not alone in this. I deal with it too. I really liked what you wrote about the spirituality part of it, and I totally agree. I think even now with all the research that’s been done on depression, it is still widely misunderstood and judged. I hope you find something that helps you!

  2. Depression runs rampant in my family — mostly my mother’s side. Pretty much all my extended relatives are all taking meds. I agree with you that you’re not going to solve the problem solely by praying and reading the scriptures. They’ll help you receive inspiration on the treatment plan that’s right for you. I fight anxiety, which is treated relatively the same as depression. I stress out easily. When I quit working and was suddenly home with 3 kids, I was an anxious mess. I tried for a year to do all i could to avoid getting angry and stressed using a variety of methods, with no real results. Then I took celexa for a year and it was a life saver. It kept me from stressing out and made me a more pleasant person to be around. It reprogrammed whatever chemical imbalance was going on. I still have my stress moments, but it’s more of a normal level and I can handle it. Going back to work helped some, but it’s just a different stress mixed with guilt. I hope you find what works for you. I think the gym daycare will help. I think Ben and Logan will be easier to handle in another year. It will get better. Until then, there’s no shame in medication. Do what you need to in order to feel positive, happy, and be the mom you want to be. I think you are amazing and awesome and I really love you tons!!!

  3. My extended family is also planning on making our next all women’s reunion shirt say “Medicated Perfection”. I love it! 😉

  4. ok, so no part of me is trying to make light of this in any way, because I do believe depression is the REAL DEAL and must be taken VERY seriously. BUT now that that disclaimer is out of the way, I just wish you could move in next to me. I swear, we would have the best time, and even if you were depressed and all laid out on my sofa, at least we could be hanging out and letting our kids act like donkeys together. There is strength in numbers, you know.
    Seriously, sending LOTS of love and prayers for a fast solution. Remember when I went CRAZY after Boss was born and had all of those weird neurological issues? Well, that didn’t happen until Boss was several months old so this could most definitely be related to your hormone levels post baby. LOVE YOU!

  5. I have struggled with this too – my doc put me on some anti-depression meds about a year an a half ago and I was on them for about 6 months. They helped a ton…. I know I had a lot going on after losing Gunnar and then another pregnancy right away, a hard baby who wouldn’t sleep, busy traveling husband with big calling, and a couple other difficult trials – so it was situational, hormonal, genetic, everything. But then all of the sudden I could handle the every day mishaps – someone having an accident in their pants, being woken up all night long, etc and it wasn’t the end of the world. It helped pass time – time to heal, time to work things out – time for my hard baby to get a little older, etc. Sometimes I still wonder if I would be happier back on the meds, but I think I’m doing ok. But there’s no shame, no blame, no fault…. it’s life. LDS or not. 🙂 We need to be the best moms we can and if you need a little help, then get it! It would be worse if you needed it and didn’t – then everyone suffers. Good luck – I hope whatever solution you decide on works for you!

  6. Hope you get something figured out. It’s in my family too. After I had Sam I had a long talk with my OB (also my Stake President, and pretty much my bishop since David’s my real bishop). It’s such an individual thing, but whatever you do, I hope you can start feeling better. If it’s sun you need, I know I’ve told you before there’s a lot for sale next door. Or you can come for a visit ANYTIME!

  7. I am so sorry that you have to go through this. But at least you see that something is wrong and that you need to get help. And i don’t buy that with prayer and scripture study these things go away. It is a chemical imbalance! Prayer doesn’t make diabetes go away. I also think that taking care of the kids and dealing with all of that can get so redundant and tiring. I hope you can figure something out soon! Don’t be afraid of medication.

  8. I’m going to read that book! I’ve been unhappy for quite a while (since having kids) and I’m getting tired of not being happy. I mean, I’m happy, but it doesn’t come naturally anymore. Anyway, I had no idea you had a new blog and I love it! Thanks for sharing!! And your pictures are fabulous like always. You could always get into the photography business once the kids are older!

  9. Very powerfully written! Thank you for sharing, and I appreciate your support and feedback on my post about my postpartum depression. As a fellow Mormon, I can relate to your entire post. My favorite part was how your relationship with God suffers because of your depression, not you are depressed because you don’t have a relationship with God. Amen!! Hopefully this spring coming will help all of us who suffer.

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