Depression: Surrendering to Hope

Surrendering begins with verbalizing the truth.  In a question such as, “How do you feel?” words are difficult to explain, and yet, the attempt is easier through a description. One may say, “I feel like I am walking through molasses as high as my knees; and with every step, my energy levels plummet.”  Another description is, “My emotions arrive quickly like a tidal wave, overpowering me, and taking me down.”  Others may describe a feeling of darkness that surrounds the individual, and the only solace is to surrender to the pull of the body’s heaviness and return to bed.

Depression is a serious medical illness affecting an estimated 15 million American adults. The body will indicate signs of stress in the form of symptoms. It may begin with a change of appetite, and the pain may persist in the form of backaches, headaches, cramps, or digestive issues. Some may find solace in alcohol consumption, even though alcohol is a depressant, and the waves of depression may become more intense and frequent.  Exhaustion often ties into a feeling of forgetfulness.  Prolonged depression can weaken the brain in the region associated with memory and learning.  Without receiving help, it will affect the ability to focus, remembering key details, and making decisions.  It can impact careers, relationships, and hobbies.  Only two out of three individuals have chosen to surrender to antidepressant medication in hopes of feeling better.

The words from one wife and mother may be similar to your story or to a person you know.  Stephanie Thomas writes, “I spent 41 years of my life upbeat, relatively happy, and medication free, except for vitamin supplements.  I never thought I would one day be told by my doctor that I was experiencing ‘textbook’ symptoms of depression by my doctor.  I felt constantly exhausted, and experienced waves of emotions that were triggered by a simple thought, conversation, or just walking down the street. Panic attacks would come frequently and leave me immobilized for hours.  I became withdrawn from people and wanted nothing more than to sleep.  I feared medication.  I didn’t want it to change me; so, I tried other avenues such as vitamin D, fish oil, and St. John’s Wort supplements.  When my daughter would say, ‘Is Mom ever going to get out of bed?’ I knew I needed help.  It took a year for me to come to this decision.  In openly talking about my emotions, I discovered many of my friends were prescribed an antidepressant medication during periods of life that were low, but it wasn’t long term.  They were gentle in their guidance and suggested I try it, even for one year. My doctor was just as kind.  He asked me to journal my feelings from the day I started medication until I started writing, ‘I feel so much better.’  He was right. The medication took time to enter my system, but after several weeks, it took the edge off.  Six months later, I began to feel a substantial drop in my energy levels.  Apparently, many women have elevated serotonin levels, which require a change of dosage.  The change, despite needing a few weeks, made a big difference.   Am I okay?  No.  I have surrendered to the point of my life where anti-depressant medication will be part of my daily routine. I am still challenged with energy levels; yet, I am in control of my emotions, and I feel much stronger.”

It is not always tragedy, stress, or a significant life change which can cause depression in adults.  While genetics has a link to depression, a chemical imbalance can affect anyone.  Verbalizing that you are struggling and need help is a step of validation and therapy. So is understanding that you are not okay, and realizing that the overwhelming emotions linked to depression are not who you are.  Sometimes, it takes a good friend, who knows you well to guide you to make a call. Surrendering to a hopeful outcome may be an emotional experience. In openly talking about it, we all discover one extraordinary fact:  no one has to struggle with depression alone.



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