View Full Version : My Story

07-28-2007, 11:32 AM
This is a story I wrote about myself shortly after I had a "break down" of sorts. This story is about 15 years old, but for some may be very applicable even today. I have never shown the words I wrote down on paper about my depression and recovery to anyone and now I am about to show them to the blogosphere. Why? I don't have a clue.


“She says she’s depressed. What she needs is to get a life.”
She only comes to the hospital for drugs. Take a look at all the psych drugs she’s on.”
Hey, take a look at this list of medications, she must really be crazy.”
“Depressed? What does she have to be depressed about? She has a great husband and two kids that are never in trouble. She must just want some sort of attention.”
All of us, at one time or another, have said these things about our patients; if not out loud, then to ourselves. Each and every one of us has a preconceived idea about depression and the people who say they are depressed. I’m sorry to say, but most health care professions hold a somewhat negative view when it comes to mental health issues.
I have been more aware of these kinds of stereotypical comments about people who are being treated for depression than ever before. The comments that people make hurt me down deep into my soul. It helps perpetuate the myth that being physically ill is acceptable, but being mentally ill is not. Insurance companies will cover the cost of lab work ordered for a physical illness at 100%; whereas lab work ordered for a mental illness is covered only at 80%, if at all. What kind of message does that give the general population? I’ll tell you, it continues to keep depression in the dark ages. I think one of the reasons I have become more aware of how health care workers and the general population treat people who are depressed is because I am one of those “drug-seeking, crazy people who needs a life and wants attention.” What is worse is that I am a health care professional. Yes, that is right, I have been treated for Major Depression and lived to tell about it. Surprisingly to most people, depression is just a chemical imbalance that can be treated, in some ways just like an electrolyte imbalance. What is the major difference? An electrolyte imbalance is acceptable, a chemical imbalance is not. The real scary part is that people like me – and you – can get it!
Let me start by telling you my story. Last year, I was hospitalized in the “Psych Ward.” Apparently I had been depressed for some time and didn’t know it. I, like so many others, held the view that a person would know if they were depressed. They did not have to be told. You see, I was always so confident and self-assured, always smiling and laughing, not the picture of a depressed person. A person who was depressed was a weak individual with no self-confidence or self esteem; I had both, so I could not be depressed.
A few months prior to my psychiatric hospitalization, I started to have some “serious health problems.” I call them serious because I couldn’t get a definite diagnosis about what was wrong with me. Every time I ate, I got terrible abdominal pains, nausea, and at times I would vomit. My gastrointestinal disorders were so bad, I was sure I was dying of some exotic disease that only occurred in one out of 100 million people. I had all the “tests” that accompany a GI problem. That’s right. I had an endoscopy, colonoscopy, upper GI, and a lower GI. The only thing that I can remember from those tests is that the doctor was surprised at the amount of Versed and Demerol he had to give me to calm me down and even then I was carrying on a somewhat intelligent conversation. In fact he told me, “You must really be anxious to require all the meds I gave you.” A light should have gone on then, but it didn’t. I was sent home with medications to help my “Irritable Bowel Syndrome.”
Well, the GI problems continued despite my compliance with the medication. In the meantime, my family and close friends started to notice a change in my personality. I had become more quiet and withdrawn. Apparently, I was no longer able to convince myself or others that I was happy and I retreated into myself. I talked only when absolutely necessary and my mind was often preoccupied and I would just stare out into space. My family kept asking me what was wrong, but I kept telling them “nothing” and “I’m fine.” You see, I didn’t know what was happening. I didn’t realize how quiet and withdrawn I had become. I thought everyone else had gone crazy because I was the same as I had always been – or so I thought.
In many ways, I am more fortunate than most because if it were not for my family and friends who know me so well; I would not be here today to tell you this story. Slowly, without realizing it, I had become suicidal. I had thoughts of driving my car off of a cliff, into a tree, or into the path of a rapidly moving 18 wheel semi truck. The only problem I had with those ideas was that I was afraid that I wouldn’t die, but become a quadriplegic and then I would be unable to finish the job. Were these rational thoughts? No! But to me, they were real options, very real. A good portion of my waking hours were spent thinking about ways to kill myself; and I did have a good portion of “waking hours” because I could no longer sleep. I felt my whole life was falling apart and the only rational thing to do would be to end it all.
Why was my life falling apart? I don’t know. My children were not on drugs, they had not been sexually molested by any of their relatives and they were not terribly misbehaved. My husband was kind, attentive, supportive, and helpful. He was not having an affair with one of my close friends or relatives like the people on Jerry Springer, so what could be wrong? I didn’t know.
After several office visits to my family doctor for my stomach ailments, he told me he thought I was depressed. Of course I told him he was crazy because I did not have anything to be depressed about. You see, even then, I would not accept the idea that I had a chemical imbalance and was depressed. There had to be some reason, some precipitating event, some physical problem that brought on depression and I had none of those. I couldn’t be just plain depressed. I wasn’t “weak.”
As the days progressed, I became more and more despondent. I had essentially quit talking to everyone except while I was at work, and then, only when necessary. I could not make simple decisions, like what clothes I should wear, without going through a major crisis in my mind. My mind was overloaded. My head was spinning. Help me! By now, I knew something was wrong. I knew I was having some severe emotional problems. Yes, I had a brain tumor, what else could it be? I couldn’t go on like this. I was scared. My family was scared. My friends were scared.
I allowed myself to be locked up in the “crazy ward.” I was led blindly down death row accompanied by my husband and doctor. I was being locked up. I had gone mad never to return to sanity again. I would be the “mad housewife” for all eternity. I was hospitalized for about 10 days. I can’t remember much about my stay except that I cried a lot, was hugged a lot, and was made to feel absolutely safe – and sane. I was comforted not only by my family and friends, but the staff as well. During the night when I could not sleep, the staff was there to help me. During the day when I couldn’t make simple decisions, the staff was there. When I needed to cry, there they were. Easy job? I don’t think so.
It has been well over a year since my bout with Major Depression. I no longer require medications to help keep me “sane;” but right now I do live with a little fear that the depression that sucked the life out of me will return. By far, my experience with depression is the most devastating thing that I have been through to date. It’s not only the depression that was devastating, but what I knew people’s perception of depression to be.
A year ago, I would not have told my story. I have come a long way and still have a long way to go. I tell you this story in hopes that the hidden comments and giggles will stop when you see a diagnosis of “depression” or have a patient who is on “Pamelor or Mellaril.” You allow me to hear your comments because you do not know I am one of them. If you only knew . . . . . . . .

Fifteen years after this event, I still live with the fear that my depression may rear it's ugly head again. Eventhough I was never the "drug seeking, psych med yeilding maniac, I was no better or worse they they. I was a health care professional who thought less of a person for having a mental health issue. Physical issues were the only thing acceptable. God have saved me from being judgemental when it comes to mental health. Please, when you treat these types of patients, remember, some of them are mothers, brothers, sisters, and your fellow workers.