I am an introspective and often self -absorbed individual who has battled depression most of his life. Throw in the fact that I am a type one diabetic with blood sugar levels that impact mood swings and come from a family where all the children are on some type of anti-depressant, you might say depression is an expected way of life for me. But add to that the death of a son and depression at times can be overwhelming. Therefore, though I’ve had to deal with depression much of my life, it’s one of those things that I really don’t know much about.
Depression, like grief, covers everything you do. It’s “a mood disorder in which feelings of sadness, loss, anger or frustration interfere with every day life”. That definition would be a pretty good definition for grief also. It’s hard to know where depression ends and grief begins.
For me, while grieving, I experience something I had never experienced before with my depression, anxiety attacks. And they seemed to rear their ugly heads most often at work. I would become overwhelmed with something at work and I’d think I’ve got to quit this job or go crazy.
I came to understand, however, that work was merely the place the anxiety attacks occurred and not the cause. The cause was grief, not stress from work. At least that’s what my doctor said because I really never understood why they only happened at work. Perhaps it was because I spent so many of my waking hours there and really didn’t want to be there. My doctor prescribed Lorazepam (little white pills) which controlled the anxiety attacks very well and now that I’m past that stage in my grieving, I no longer need them.
I don’t understand any of this but I guess I don’t have to since my doctor did and prescribed exactly what I needed to control them.
Both he and my wife were worried that I might quit my job during one of these episodes so he made me promise to call him BEFORE quitting. Fortunately I never had to make that call though I was on the verge of quitting one day and called my wife who told me to go home, which I did. She called Amy our dear friend and family counselor who immediately got me in to see my doctor and thanks to her, him and the little white pills, I’ve never thought about quitting again.
There’s a side of me that’s a tad bewildered that a little white pill can control my behavior like that but I’m thankful it was available.
I’ve tried to wean myself off my anti-depressants a couple times in times past but each time I’ve done so, I or perhaps my wife, saw that I needed to get back on them.
Exercise is suppose to help with depression and perhaps that’s why I didn’t need medication when I was younger and playing lots of basketball.
I say all this to make the point that grief accentuates and sharpens depression. It takes it from a dull ache to a sharp stick in the eye. For me, a short walk and/or time and talks with friends was what got me through it. I’m introverted and require lots of alone time. But, it was the time friends stopped by to talk and drink coffee that got me through the worst of these battles. Let me encourage you, if you have introverted friends who are going through “stuff”, they are going to want to be left alone and you need to give them their space. But also do what you can to keep them connected and talking. Satan is like a hungry lion who hunts by separating the weakest from the pack and then devouring them. Introverts like their alone time but often while grieving fail to recognize the dangers of too much alone time.
Thank God for friends and family. I could not have made it, in more ways than just depression, without them! Man is not an island and the truth and impact of that saying is never more true than when you are grieving. So, don’t let your friends become satan’s next meal.
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