The following is a post from contributing writer Amanda Pelser.
It’s finally spring time. It’s getting warmer outside. The sun shines longer. The flowers are starting to bloom. But you still feel like it’s the middle of winter. You’d rather hide under the covers. Everything still seems gray and gloomy.
Have you ever considered that you can’t shake those winter blahs because you’re really dealing with depression?
What is depression?
“Depression may be described as feeling sad, blue, unhappy, miserable, or down in the dumps. Most of us feel this way at one time or another for short periods.
Clinical depression is a mood disorder in which feelings of sadness, loss, anger, or frustration interfere with everyday life for a longer period of time.”
(from the U.S. National Library of Medicine)
Depression has a number of different faces including: minor depression, major depression, atypical depression, dysthymia, postpartum depression, bipolar disorder, and more. Each type of depression is slightly different. Each one varies in the severity and the best options for treatment.
Symptoms of depression can include:
- Low mood or irritability
- A loss of pleasure in usual activities
- Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
- Major change in appetite or weight
- No energy
- Feeling worthlessness, self-hate, and guilt
- Trouble concentrating
- Hopeless or helplessness
- Repeated thoughts of death or suicide
This is what depression looked like for me:
- Always feeling a little “lower” than those around me. Even when I’m excited, I don’t look like people think an excited person should look. I’m not necessarily unhappy, I just don’t have the same highs as others do and when I have a “low” period, it is lower than the average person.
- Hiding in sleep. I require a decent amount of sleep – at least 8 hours a night to function well – but this goes beyond that. This teams up with exhaustion and makes me want to sleep all the time. I also have PCOD and part of that is a hormone imbalance that further complicates this symptom. When I don’t know what to do and feel overwhelmed, I sleep.
- Difficulty focusing. I think this one has become worse over the years, even when my dysthymia is well managed. Maybe that’s living in a house with a bunch of off-the-wall boys? When my dysthymia is not in check, I’m all over the place and can’t complete anything.
- Feeling like I can’t do anything right and feelings of hopelessness and helplessness. I give up and stop even trying to complete anything or focus on anything.
- Easily becoming mad at myself and feeling easily frustrated and uncontrollably irritable.
- Feeling anxiety, irrational fears, and worry.
These things were keeping me from connecting with my kids, my husband, and anyone else around me. My diagnosis was dysthymia and it came about three years ago. I’d been running in denial for many years. I’d probably been paralyzed by depression since I was a teenager. The stigma in the Church of taking medication for depression terrified me. The fear of others finding out that I, a staff member and leader in the church, was depressed kept me in hiding.
Medication turned out to be the best option for treating my depression and I had to come to terms with that. If I’d take medication for uncontrollable high blood pressure or diabetes, why would I not take medication to aid my depression. In addition, I do a lot of other things to manage my depression like prayer, Bible reading, watching my diet, keeping organized, vitamins and more. When my depression is under control, my symptoms don’t magically disappear, but I can handle them. They no longer throw me into a tailspin.
If you’re struggling this spring to shake the winter blahs or you’ve been battling depression for a long time, know that you’re not alone. You don’t need to be ashamed. Please seek help from your doctor, a counselor, or pastor. There is help.
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”
2 Corinthians 1:3-4 ESV
God doesn’t always take afflictions away from us immediately; more often He seems to choose to walk through it with us. Paul tells us in that passage that God comforts us so we can comfort others. If you’ve faced your depression, comfort others by sharing your story and creating a safe place to deal with depression.
Together we can create an environment where it’s safe to discuss depression. Together we can face depression and be the best moms we can be for our kids each day.
Amanda has recently released an ebook in PDF, Kindle, and Nook titled Finding Joy in Depression to encourage women to stop hiding from depression, give tips for those trying to manage depression, and support those with a loved one suffering from depression. She blogs about life, motherhood, homeschooling, technology, books, faith, and more at ThePelsers.com.