Sunday, December 03, 2006

What a night!

Well I have to say that was one of the hardest nights I have ever had with one of my kids! I didn't get to finally close my eyes until 5:30 this morning. Benjamin has been having a toothache and he cried and thrashed in his sleep. We had him full of Tylenol, but he didn't even quit crying until after 3 am. Then he just continued to jerk around and toss and turn. I tried putting him on the couch so I could sleep better, but he kept coming back to my bed. In the middle of the night we did have a nice time watching a show I had recorded called The First Noel about the very first Christmas. He laughed and giggled and was just fine, but as soon as we went back to bed it started all over again. The hardest part for me is being in a situation where there is nothing else I can do but hold him. I prayed and prayed for God to ease his discomfort. I guess it eventually happened. But I was really wanting it to happen a few hours earlier! LOL!

But the point of my telling you about my night is to share some more comments about my recovery from depression. I had a long talk with some new friends at a chili supper after our town's annual Christmas parade, and it eventually worked its way around to my history with depression. One of the last questions one of them asked me was...."How did you manage to get better so fast?" (relatively speaking....fewer than 10 years....) So as I was holding Ben's thrashing and sobbing body all night I had plenty of time to ponder that question and to review my journey out of desperation. It made for a very interesting night, let me tell you! LOL! My journey has been a very emotional one that has taken me over 10 years, so the particular order in which things happened has become a bit hazy for me. I think I was at my most depressed state in 1999, so it hasn't really been that long ago. I hope these thoughts are helpful.

These are the things I decided I wanted to say.....
1. I became very active on the internet in areas related to my many art/craft interests. This allowed me to keep my mind active, find instructions and new ideas while on a limited income, and to talk to people "on my own terms." That last part was important for me because I had become so isolated, anxious and self-conscious that any "real" friendships were pretty much out of the question. I was so incredibly lonely and withdrawn. But I couldn't have people over because my house was in a constant state of chaos. It had just become so difficult to make real connections with others. But I could relate to the ones that I knew shared my interests and could talk to them while sitting in the midst of the huge mess my life had become. It sounds kind of like I was being deceitful, but that really wasn't the case. Almost all of the ones I talked with on a regular basis were in very similar situations. We had a bond that can only be forged by others who are suffering from the same type illness. It became very clear to me during this time that there is a dire need for a ministry to reach depressed women using the internet. I have tried to use this blog for that purpose, but I realize that there is still so much more that needs to be done.

2. I think the next most important concept for me was learning how to break tasks down into smaller "bite-size" pieces. If I find myself overwhelmed with things now, it is almost always because I haven't stopped to divide the task into manageable pieces. It sounds simple enough, but for some reason it was a hard one for me to learn. I am a perfectionist, and if I couldn't do things EARLY and PERFECT then I didn't do it at all. Hmmm. Wonder how the house got the way it did? LOL! Just a few weeks ago I realized that PERFECT just isn't for me anymore. I really like VERY GOOD though and in most cases I can handle that just fine now. But I had to start with just getting myself to move in ANY DIRECTION for just a few minutes each day.

3. I did take a very high dose of an SSRI for about 5 years. It was the life preserver that I clung to as I sifted through my personality to see which of my behaviors were the depression and which were really ME. I think that process will continue for the rest of my life. I still battle lots of negative thoughts and am learning how to envision myself in a more positive, successful way. People around me are noticing huge changes, but sometimes I still see myself through my eyes of depression. I have been off all the medication for several years now and managed to survive some incredibly big changes this year with only "normal" stress reactions. When I went off my medication, I didn't tell anyone I was reducing it. I wanted to see if my family would notice any difference. I didn't want them to interpret every typical mood change as evidence that I needed it. Mark was very surprised when I told him because he had not been able to tell the difference. So that was a good sign for me that it was time to learn some new behaviors that could prevent my depression from setting in again. I have always known that a cluttered house was my biggest trigger, so I got busy simplifying and decluttering. I think it took me more than 5 years! And I need to do some more. But most of what I have now is manageable. And when I have tasks that I put off because they seem so insurmountable, when I finally get around to completing them I have to just laugh at myself for making a mountain out of a molehill that only looked like a mountain. Messes are very baffling in that all the stuff seems to expand and take up so much more room when it isn't organized. But usually there is really not as much there as you think there is!

4. I think the last thing I will share today is that I have always tried to be very honest about my situation. I have shared it openly even though at times it is and was excruciatingly painful to do so. I have always figured there were lots of others dealing with the same type things, and I just had to let God use all my pain and desperation to at least bring the topic to the surface. I might not actually be able to help others any more than letting them know that they are not the only one! And I know that is exactly the message I needed to hear when I was at my worst. I just needed somebody to name the huge stinky "elephant" that was standing in the middle of my house! Once it had a name (dystemia....long term depression) then I could begin to deal with it. And it was incredibly freeing to find out that all of the problems were not because I was weak, lazy, stupid, or lacking. It was a chemical in my brain. If I had been diabetic, they would have treated me and put me on insulin and there never would have been a question of the diabetes being caused by me. If I had gotten cancer they would have given me chemo and we would have done our best to move on in life in spite of an invasive illness. So I decided that I would be vocal about the fact that I was ill, too, and at that time required medicine.

I know of several women who have told me later that my sharing my situation with them has in reality saved their lives. I have never shared this fact publicly before because I have not wanted others to think I was being boastful. But this really has very little to do with me and a LOT to do with God. I am merely a messenger. The calling on my life is to "authentically share my story." Sometimes I can't find the words. There is so much more I could say. But (wink, wink) this is not about writing it all PERFECTLY, is it? I know that God is using my life because I get messages from women who are sitting in front of their computers weeping. They can't believe that they are reading what seems to be Their Story on my blog. Well, big hugs for you sisters! You can make it through this. Just remember to take it very slowly and know that it is ok to be YOU! You are beautiful, and God is holding you in the palm of His hand.

Much love! Kelley


  1. Anonymous2:49 PM


    Thank you so much for sharing this on your blog.

    I too had a long depression, complicated by anxiety and panic attacks. I call it my '5 year pit'. Sometimes I wonder if I am quite over it or indeed will ever be fully better, but it's good to know that there are other christian women who are recovering from depression and are prepared to be vocal about it.

    Blessings to you
    Dorothy (SHS)

  2. I am so blessed to read your thoughts and your victory with depression. It's a tough road sometimes. It's easy to feel so isolated and alone but it's good to read what God has done in your life!