Depressed? There is hope and recovery

The term “depression” is much more prevalent in society than yesteryear. In the wake of recent suicides by such celebrities as Kate Spade (fashion designer) and Anthony Bourdain (celebrity chef and television host). Depression and other forms of mental illness doesn’t care if you are rich, poor, your race nor age.

So what is depression and its characteristics? “Merriam Webster Dictionary” defines depression as “a mood disorder marked by sadness, inactivity, difficulty in thinking and concentration, a significant increase or decrease in appetite, feelings of dejection and hopelessness and sometimes suicidal tendencies.

Depression is crippling and debilitating to those affected including family and friends. I know this first hand and the best personal description is: I felt utter hopelessness and despair. I felt pain; both emotional and physical. I would lie listless in bed with tears that were dried on my cheeks. I don’t think I could cry anymore anyway. I didn’t feel like doing anything. I felt numb or even physically and mentally paralyzed. Sometimes I wouldn’t take care of myself — I wouldn’t get dressed or shower or pay my bills. These depressions could last for days to weeks and even months.

Guess what? I wrote another poem. You probably didn’t think I would include one. Lucky you. My poem “Sad and Alone: She wept that day, despite the sun’s rays. She was stuck in this particular place, caught in a horrific daze. It was very dismal in this room, surrounded by doom and gloom. Although, She may never know why, she would cry and cry. Loneliness marks its arrival, she tried to get up but falls. Sadness rears its ugly head, still she hangs on by a small thread. Alone, she sits on the floor praying that help comes through the door.”

Back to our program in progress … Sometimes these bouts of depression could be environmental or biological. Biological is that the chemicals in your brain could have too much or too little of chemicals like serotonin and dopamine (for instance). Environmental depression examples could be maybe a family or friends’ death, financial changes, or bad news. I also have an extensive mental health family history. My grandfather committed suicide; my great uncle had bipolar and my great aunt had Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

Decades ago, mental illness was “swept under the rug,” not discussed and was very misunderstood. Stigma became a term that resonated and it seemed mental illness and its subset (depression) was taboo. So, in that case, why do some people treat having a mental illness different than someone having Alzheimer’s, Diabetes or Parkinson’s? Even if “depression” was mentioned it was a panacea to pull up your bootstraps — get a grip– move on. Definitely a difficult task and not as easy as it sounds.

There is HOPE AND RECOVERY. Each person has goals that are unique and different. What may work for me may not be for another person. There are many locations for help and treatment (Hopewell — Belpre) and (Life and Purpose — Marietta) for instance. There are many other ways to reach out including mental health conferences. They have speakers and workshop activities (and even better — DOOR PRIZES). Other organizations such as the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill has a nice website: nami.org and The National Institutes of Mental Health’s phone is 1-866-615-6464 or nimhinfor@nih.gov.

As for me? I use a lot of humor (go figure), prayer, writing, and service work to keep me on track to continue to do well. I also have what I call the “treatment team” or the “cavalry.” Usually consisting of a doctor (nurse practitioner), therapist and case manager. I may have a mental illness but it does not define me. I hope I can empower people.

I feel I can have a more sympathetic and empathetic tone since diagnosis. I feel hopeful, worthwhile and happy — feelings I’ve been able to firmly grasp with my two feet on the ground.

It may not always be that rosy but that is okay. I know what my “tools” are to persevere. Until next time …

Casi Stewart can be reached at cathcasi71@gmail.com. A Weighty Issue appears occasionally on the Life page.