This week’s topic is one I am leary to write about. Depression can be a hot topic. It can range from those who think depression can be remedied with the snap of a finger to those who are left in utter despair and feel it is better to end their lives. Both of these ways are harmful. It is a stage of grief after a life altering trauma and so we must discuss it.
There are different types of depression. There is post-partum depression where a females hormones are out of whack after having a baby. She can have depression until things balance out again. There is seasonal depression where the days are shorter and the sunshine less and some can have trouble during these times with some depression. There is a major depression disorder where you feel depressed and completely disinterested in life for 2 weeks or more. When this stretches into a very long time – 2 years or more – it is chronic and called Dysthymia. The last type of depression is called adjustment disorder with depressed mood. We will talk more of this particular one.
When something life changing occurs in your life, the “depression” stage of grief can have 2 kinds of depression. Almost everyone of us will deal with the adjustment disorder, and some go on to chronic depression. It is my personal belief, that having to learn to adjust is a process, but allowing yourself to fall into a pit of chronic depression is completely avoidable. I pray for gentleness and compassion to discuss this.
Let me clarify that depression can occur in people who have not gone through any life-altering changes at all. Life could be great and for some reason, they are just depressed. This may have to do with hidden problems, guilt, childhood baggage, chemical imbalances or a slew of unknowns. I am not really discussing about this. I am specifically dealing with depression as a stage of grief because of a great loss.
I cannot speak for everyone. I can only speak for myself and what I have gone through.
After you have gone through the denial part (I am going to get better….this is going to go away….they cannot really be dead…), after we get angry (how could I have…why didn’t the doctor…how could they have been so stupid…why didn’t I...), after we bargain and plead (God, if you will…..then I will….), after all these things we are left looking at reality. You see, no matter how much I deny, no matter how angry I get or bargain and plead and blackmail, the reality is that the reality has not changed. I am still paralyzed. For you, it may mean that your spouse is still sick. It may mean that you cannot bring that child back to life. It may mean that you are going to die and you know it. None of our realities have changed. We can cry and kick and scream and act out all we want, but the reality is the reality. As you are faced with that, you better believe that you will go through an “adjustment period with a depressed disorder.” I mean really? Are we suppose to jump up and say, “I am SO happy that my life just turned upside down!”
As we stare squarely in the face of reality, and realize what our future is, we are at a crossroads. There is a MAJOR choice that must be made. Right here. Right now. We are either going to move on to the last stage in our cycle of grief, or we are going to bog down completely and go into chronic depression. Let me remind you that this does not only happen to the individual. It also can happen to the closely involved family member – spouses, children, etc.
It is completely natural to wonder how you will go on. It is completely natural to need time to process your feelings and emotions. It is completely natural to feel like your world has stopped while everyone else’s is moving on. It is completely normal to need time for our hearts to catch back up with the reality of our life. It is NOT normal to not move forward in the process. It is harmful.
There is a major decision that has to be made. Am I going to continue with the despair I feel about my reality? Or am I going to move on and come to terms with my new way of life? A friend of mine who was paralyzed from falling out of a tree stand said it like this, “I realized very quickly that there was nowhere else to go but up.” There is a lot of truth in that. You can either start climbing back up, or you can stay down.
For me, I don’t like being down. As I stared into my future it was…and still is at times…very overwhelming. But when I looked around me at my precious family, I did not want to stay down. They needed more than that from me. It felt very selfish for me to think more about my feelings about my future than about their feelings about our future. My family needs me to be the best I can for them. Someone once said that depression is the deepest form of self-pity. There may be exceptions to that statement, but I believe there is much truth in it. Whether it is self-pity over my true circumstances, or self-pity that I have to be the one to go through them, it is still self-pity and selfishness. Selfishness runs away those who love you. If you think being in your circumstance is hard, just try going through it all alone.
My challenge for you, my readers, is that if you are going through this stage of grief to not allow yourself to bog down here. If you know someone going through this, give them some time. All of us need time to adjust. Just help encourage and remind them that they are loved and are not on this journey alone.
*If you are struggling with depression and need a friend, please write me and let me know! I would love to encourage you!