Friday, April 27, 2012

This isn't a new post, just one I've used before and is important to me. It's my own little HEA, and I'm a romance author--there's nothing I like better. It's also my mom's birthday. She died when I was 32, and I still miss her. Happy Birthday, Mom, and thanks for everything.

       I hope you visit all the stops on the blog hop and win one of the great prizes, too. Have a good trip!

       Depression wasn’t something I gave a whole lot of thought to.  It was something that happened to other people.  Young mothers who’d just had babies and were overwhelmed by the endless and huge responsibility of it all; middle-aged men who’d lost their jobs and didn’t know where to find new ones; people who’d suffered emotional losses of such magnitude I couldn’t begin to imagine how they felt.  Being on the self-righteous side, I also thought you only really suffered from depression if you gave into it, if you didn’t outrun it with a healthy sense of humor, or if you just wanted people to feel sorry for you.  Average people, people like me, didn’t get depressed.

          A little over four years ago, I stopped smoking.  Aside from being self-righteous, I’m also an unmitigated coward, so I did it with medication.  I didn’t care; it worked, and the side-effects of the medication were minimal.  I’d always said that if I didn’t smoke, I’d weigh 200 pounds--not a good thing if you’re short and small-boned, which I am--and I’d suck down antidepressants like they were candy.  I was joking, okay?  Just kidding.  Really.


          I don’t weigh 200 pounds, but I did gain 35 in the year after I stopped smoking, and it’s still there--I’ve discovered that chocolate chip cookies are a great replacement for nicotine.  But the other thing that happened in that year was that I found out depression really does strike average people.  To borrow a term I’ve heard often in the past three years, I hit the wall.

          Since I’m one of those people who always have the symptoms described in articles about diseases (it’s amazing I’ve lived this long!), it was no surprise that I had several of the indicators of clinical depression.  You know what they are.  You’ve read them in the doctor’s office while you’re waiting or at Wal-Mart or Kroger’s while you’re taking your blood pressure.  You’ve read them and thought, “Hmm...” because you had a couple of them.  Sometimes.  But then they went away, so you were okay.

          But what happens when they don’t go away?  What do you do when you were sad on Sunday afternoon and you’re still sad at bedtime on Thursday?  When you’re so tired you can barely get through the day but you’re sleeping way too much?  Or you can’t get through it because you’re hardly sleeping at all?  When nothing’s fun anymore?  When you can’t see an end to feeling hopeless?  When, even though you’d never consider suicide yourself--oh, of course, you wouldn’t--you understand people who do?

          When I hit that wall, I was one of the lucky ones in that I never for one moment thought suicide was an answer.  I was seldom sleepless, never slept too much, still had fun.  Sometimes.  But working an eight-hour day wore me out to the point that I never really wanted to get off the couch after I got home.  I looked around at my husband and kids and grandkids--even them--and was bewildered because, Good Lord have mercy, how could I possibly be unhappy?

          But I was.  Oh, I was.

          I didn’t really want to start smoking again, but I knew I’d be happier if I did.  What was worse--to die of lung cancer or of depression?  “I don’t know what to do,” I told my doctor.  “Maybe I need to smoke again.  Just some, you know, not a lot.”

          “No,” he said.  “No.  I know what to do.”

          So he gave me a prescription and talked to me a long time about clinical depression.  “You’ll be fine,” he promised.  “Maybe six months, maybe longer.  But you’ll be fine.”

          I hated taking Zoloft.  Zoloft was for weak people, people who gave in to being sorry for themselves, people who wanted others to feel sorry for them.  I’d try it for a little while, but it wasn’t going to work, not on me, Mrs. Average.  I hated it.  

          But it wasn’t really so bad.  Maybe six months.  That should get me over the hump, and maybe I wouldn’t start smoking again.  I could always blame the 35 pounds on it.  You know, I couldn’t lose weight because I was “on medication.”  No one had to know I was a spineless wuss who was taking antidepressants. 

          Six months became two years.  Not that it took me that long to feel better--that’s how long it was before I got the courage up to stop taking the Zoloft.  I was so afraid to stop.  What if I feel that way again? I thought.  I would surely die from it.  But stopping was painless, and the depression is only a memory.  But it’s a memory that can make me miserable in a heartbeat, make me question myself if, just once, I happen to be sad on Sunday afternoon.

          But I am all right, I remind myself, because by Thursday night at bedtime, I have forgotten the sadness.  I feel good.  No, better than good; I feel wonderful.  I haven’t smoked for four years and one month.  And I will never, ever take any of it for granted again.  It is a gift.

          Till next time.

Comments: What a great post. There's such wonderful emotion in this post.
I have suffered from depression, too, and taken meds for it. We need to stop thinking of it as a weakness but an illness that needs to addressed.
And I, too, lost my mom. I miss her, too.
Barbara Phinney
# posted by Blogger Barbara Phinney : April 27, 2012 at 4:27 AM   Hi, Barbara. Thanks for stopping! I forgot to say (waving a forgetful arm here) that I'm offering a print copy of ONE MORE SUMMER as a prize.
# posted by Blogger Liz Flaherty : April 27, 2012 at 4:41 AM   Thanks for sharing, Liz! You're so right - depression isn't weakness. Not at all.
# posted by Blogger Kristina Knight : April 27, 2012 at 6:40 AM   Liz, that's a wonderful post! I'm so glad the Zoloft helped and you didn't have to start smoking again! Here's to bright and sunny days. :)

You have a beautiful site, btw. Thanks for hopping with me!
# posted by Blogger Allison Merritt : April 27, 2012 at 8:25 AM   Liz~
Depression is my enemy. I fight it constantly. Been suffering a seige of it lately. In what should be the one of the bestt times of my life have been awful. All because of this dark shadow that stalks me.

Hugs on your mom's birthday. Lotsa love, my friend.
# posted by Blogger D'Ann : April 27, 2012 at 8:32 AM   Heavy smoker here. I've quit several times (for stints of months to years) and I always go back. I have another quit date. Mothers Day. A gift my mom asked for. Maybe this time it will be for good.
# posted by Blogger Shawn : April 27, 2012 at 9:14 AM   Do you know how awesome and helpful your post is to me? And timely? Well, I just quit smoking--been close to 3 months now. This is my second attempt. I made it to the 3 month mark last time and the depression was what sent me running back to smoking. Well, depression has reared its ugly head again and I don't want to go back to smoking but I can't stand the way I feel. And like you, I was never a dressed person. Sure I would get depressed for a day or two over things, but I could always talk myself out of it, but now...
Thank you sooooooo much for this post. It really helped me.
# posted by Blogger Brenda : April 27, 2012 at 3:38 PM   WOW! What an emotion filled story. Depression is a hard disease to deal with. I have several family members, one is my son, who struggles daily. I can only hope that I am supportive and helpful in his struggles.
bournmelissa at hotmail dot com
# posted by Blogger Mel B : April 27, 2012 at 6:54 PM   I too suffer from depression. I took Zoloft for a couple of years before my doctor switched me to Lexapro because it was supposed to help with anxiety too (it did not with me). I ended up only needing to take anything for about a week a month, LOL. But since I had an accident a few years back, and injured my hip and back causing me to become unable to work, the depression came back. Add to that my hormones are going crazy with postmenopausal symptoms, and I am back to my friend, Zoloft.

I was actually very glad that I finally got up the courage to talk to my doctor about it before. During my grandfather's last years, he became depressed because of illnesses and the inability to do all the things that he had always done. I was able to talk to him and get him to try Zoloft too. It worked great until the end, when he was just too sick for anything to keep him from getting depressed from time to time.

I don't think it is a weakness to need some sort of medication to treat depression. I think it takes strength to admit that you need help and to get it.

manning_j2004 at yahoo dot com
# posted by Blogger June M. : April 29, 2012 at 1:51 PM   Post a Comment

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