Hello World! How are you?
It’s been a while. No apologies, I’ve had good reason.
It’s been a long, crazy year so far. My boyfriend proposed December 27, 2017 and I almost overnight came down with the flu. Eventually got over that, but was still sick. In the words of other people “sit down before you pass out!” I was diagnosed with chronic anemia, or low iron levels. Anemia is awful, makes you feel like you have no energy and if you even think about working out your muscles scream at you for days. So, no exercising for me for a while. Got on medication for that and it’s doing alright. Now that I’m aware of what I need to do to keep my iron levels up it’s going better. I’m even working out again! Which is kind of a necessity, as you will soon see.
Moving on, that was pretty much all of January and most of February. March was wedding planning, hooray! It was so stressful. I was not happy. I was trying to make everyone else happy and some members of my family were very not supportive of us, which upped the difficulty level. Finally I was like “I’m planning what is supposed to be happiest day of my life and I’m miserable!” My fiance was incredibly gracious and supportive and said “why don’t we postpone the wedding.” So we did, which was a huge (temporary) relief. We were having some issues anyway. We thought we worked through those and were good, but then in April we broke it off. It seemed like no matter what he or I did, I was not happy. We did not communicate for 6 days and then we got back together and it was fairly wonderful…for another two months. June was horrible. I had eye surgery, my brother got married, and another close friend of ours got married. I was comparing myself to all the brides, struggling to see, and seemingly mad at my boyfriend for anything and everything. There were a few good moments. But finally, after an extremely bad outburst, he justifiably dumped me. (A side note: he had some issues too, the breakup wasn’t entirely my fault, but this article is about me, not him, so we’re just going to ignore what he was dealing with, m’kay?)
Oh friends, the pain. I had planned to spend the rest of my life with this man, move 14 hours away from my family, had planned to go into ministry with him, be creative with him, raise a family with him. In an instant, all of that was gone. I hit bottom pretty quickly. He broke up with me on a Tuesday, and on that Saturday I called the National Suicide Prevention hotline. I never imagined I would ever do that. I had dealt with severe depression and suicidal tendencies in college, over ten years ago. Ten years ago I took suicide off the table as an option for me, but that Saturday I just didn’t want to go on. I wanted the pain to end. I do not blame my ex-boyfriend for it at all. I am convinced he did not cause my problem, he just exposed it. The wonderful people at the hotline told me I needed to see a mental health professional, and I agreed with them. My depression was obviously out of control.
At my very first session with my therapist she listened to me for an hour and then said “you have dysthymic depression.” I’d never heard of it. So I’ve been doing research.
Dysthymic depression (also known as dysthymia or persistent depressive disorder) is a condition where a person feels depressed for at least part of a day every day for at least two years. I told my family about my diagnosis and my sister asked “so how long have you had it?” I told her probably about 22 years. She said “you mean you’ve had it since you were 9?” My mom piped up and said “yeah, she probably has.” I’ve never been as happy as I saw those around me being, at least not constantly. I have my good moments, but they are sometimes few and far between. Professionals are not quite sure what causes dysthymia. Mayo Clinic says:
The exact cause of persistent depressive disorder isn’t known. As with major depression, it may involve more than one cause, such as:
- Biological differences. People with persistent depressive disorder may have physical changes in their brains. The significance of these changes is still uncertain, but they may eventually help pinpoint causes.
- Brain chemistry. Neurotransmitters are naturally occurring brain chemicals that likely play a role in depression. Recent research indicates that changes in the function and effect of these neurotransmitters and how they interact with neurocircuits involved in maintaining mood stability may play a significant role in depression and its treatment.
- Inherited traits. Persistent depressive disorder appears to be more common in people whose blood relatives also have the condition. Researchers are trying to find genes that may be involved in causing depression.
- Life events. As with major depression, traumatic events such as the loss of a loved one, financial problems or a high level of stress can trigger persistent depressive disorder in some people
It’s not curable. But it is manageable, just like my anemia. I’m not on medication for my dysthymia (although that is a great option, and I may or may not need it in the future). As I was talking with my therapist I told her how I used to keep a gratitude journal and how I felt so much happier after one month of being consistently grateful that I decided to keep it up, and did, for three years. I told her how last summer was amazing, when my boyfriend and I were encouraging each other to exercise regularly and eat healthy. And I told her how bad this year has been, when I’ve felt awful physically and how I thought my dreams coming true and being engaged meant that I would be happy enough to not have to be grateful everyday. Guys, I was wrong. I was so wrong. She suggested some supplements to get my brain healthy again and that I restart those good habits. There have been bad days and good days. Yesterday was our original wedding date. We didn’t get married yesterday. Yesterday was kind of rough. Today I’m home alone for the first time since he broke up with me. I feel like I’m off suicide watch!!! (A very good feeling.) I’m learning to take care of myself better, like actually making meals for myself when I’m the only one eating and making sure I get enough to eat. I go on bike rides every day or every other day, just short ones, so I don’t overdo my iron levels. I made myself a playlist of my favorite Christian songs that plays pretty much constantly in my room. I’m using essential oils that promote mental health and happiness daily. I’m getting better.
I am so thankful I was dumped. I was miserable and making him miserable too and I don’t think I would have figured out the cause of our misery without something of this magnitude happening. I deeply regret some of the things I said and did especially that last month. I now know that it was my depression talking, lying (lies I believe were from Satan and my chemically deficient brain was unable to stand up to), and destroying us, which is an explanation, but not an excuse. I want to manage my depression, not have my depression manage me like it was. I don’t know what’s going to happen next. All my dreams for the past year and a half involved him and the life changes I was eager to make. So I still don’t quite know what to do. I’m ok with that. I’ve got time to figure it out. I’m taking life one day at a time, figuring out how to manage my conditions better and be healthy.
Thanks for joining me for this update! How about you? Any of you struggle with depression or other health challenges? How do you deal with it? I’m always open to suggestions on ways to help myself happier and healthier!