Sunday, November 1, 2009

This Wednesday is November Fourth. It marks my twenty-first birthday, one year since Barack Obama was elected, and one year since the family doctor said, "Have you ever thought that it might be Depression?"

That was a moment in which I felt more gratitude than anything else, because I had been thinking it was Major Depressive Disorder as early as the January before. In hindsight, everything is much clearer, of course, but I remember recognizing the signs that I had learned about in my AP Psychology class.

"But it can't be Depression," I told myself. "I don't feel sad. Just..." And I would trail off, because I was lacking the motivation to even examine the way I was feeling. I kept pushing thoughts like that out of my mind, keeping myself from thinking about the downward spiral I was in. I didn't go to class, didn't go to church, didn't really do anything. I woke up sometime between noon and one in the afternoon, showered, dressed, went out the back door of the doors and came in the front so I could tell my dorm-mates I'd just gotten back from class, then tell them I was tired and go hide in my room until whenever in the morning when I would finally be able to sleep.

Even now, thinking of the fact that I spent over half a quarter like this makes me cry. That's not who I am, and missing that much time to doing nothing irks me. By the time that episode was over, it was too late in the quarter for me to drop my classes so I wouldn't fail them, and I still wasn't willing to think about what I was doing. Therefore, I continued to pretend nothing was wrong, going out with friends and taking walks in the sunshine as much as I could.

Over the summer, I kept up my happy face, worked hard, even though I could still feel that dragging feeling, the feeling that it wouldn't take much to send me into another episode like the one of February and March. I hoped that going back to Cedar City I would be fine, especially if I focused on finding a job and working for a quarter, and leaving school until spring. As I'm sure you all know or guessed, that backfired spectacularly.

By the end of October, I was at my lowest point. I'd managed to get a telemarketing job, but hadn't even finished training before, as my friends put it, I crumbled like a cookie in a glass of milk. My wonderful parents drove all the way down to Cedar City and fished me out of there and took me home, so that at my doctor's appointment on my twentieth birthday I could be diagnosed with something other than a cold, or allergies, or whatever. I think I need to send a letter to the nice ladies at the little campus clinic at SUU. I'm sure they meant well, but if they are asking all the students they see to fill out a psychological form to check for Depression, they shouldn't dismiss a form with a lot of checks pointing to Depression with, "Oh, I'm sure it's just because you're sick and stressed." I felt strangely hurt by that, since by that time I was pretty sure I was depressed, and I felt like I must have just been imagining things, that I was just being lazy.

That was what I thought it was. For all those months, I was afraid to talk about what was wrong because I thought I had just suddenly become lazy. Nevermind that I was raised to be nearly the opposite; in fact, that almost made it worse. I felt so ashamed that I suddenly didn't want to do anything. My parents expected more of me! Laziness happened to other people! Depression was something that happened to people who weren't raised like I was. Slothfulness was for people who were weak. So...that meant I was weak.

Every day I thank my Heavenly Father for my parents who love me no matter what, and I thank him for the people who invented the medicine that fixes my brain. I also thank him for my friends, who, as soon as they heard I was back in North Ogden, would not let me just hide in the house and do nothing. I have beautiful, smart sisters who are my best friends, and I hope they'll learn from all my examples, the good and the bad, what to do and what to avoid.

Thanks, Heavenly Father, for this last year of healing, recovery, and remembering what kind of person I really am.


Desertbound said...

Happy 21st Birthday, Dear One. I am so proud of you. You are a shining light to me and all those around you with your example of strength, faith and sheer gutsiness to be willing to accept this part of mortality. Never in a million years could I have imagined my little punkin' going through this refiner's fire, yet here you are, all bright and shiny!
I love you. And...
You help me hope....yes, that's it.

Little T said...

Happy B-day and thanks for sharing. We love you and are VERY proud of you. I too think you have some wonderful parents. You are truly blessed to have such great friends and family.

WildBound said...

You go girl. We are so proud of you!

Little T said...

You are a brilliant writer! Your entry expressed so much growth, strength, and true healing. You do have "goodly parents" and so many who love you. Life is a journey ... and you're headed in the right direction. I can hardly wait to see what great, new things are hiding just around the corner for you. Keep moving forward. I know you can do it! HAPPY 21st!
~ Little T.

Pulcheria said...

Poignantly written, even if painfully lived. Love you!

Ahenobarbus Textor said...

Happy birthday, my dear. Thank you for being brave enough to share. I remember when I heard my best friend was diagnosed with depression - you know him well. You are both some of my heroes, and finer people I will never meet. Love.

CowboyBob said...

Happy, happy birthday. Hope your trip was very joyful. I admire you greatly. The joy and spark you share with all of us, even when you were ill, makes life for us much better. Love you very much.