Before I get to my usual health related confessional, I wanted to take a moment to talk about a topic still not very prevalent in our society, mental health, since it's mental health awareness week.
I admittedly have a limited mental health awareness. I have had more interactions with some than others, such as bi-polar, anxiety and depression. I did quite a bit of research on the former two, because they have both affected my life directly, anxiety has been a problem of mine and bi-polar was an issue of my ex. But the latter, depression, I hadn't felt it was my concern to understand why some people felt more sad and hopeless than others, I just felt I needed to be understanding of their struggle without needing to understand it.
It's actually been a curiosity unfolding though for 15 months now. After my miscarriage in January of last year I fell into an overwhelming sadness, I felt desperate, anxious, numb, had a lack of concentration, fatigue/low energy, couldn't sleep well, felt irritable and on edge. I happened to have a close friend who deals with depression and I got up the courage to ask her, is this what depression feels like? Turns out I had described many of her exact symptoms. Because my limited understanding of depression was that it was beyond circumstances and control, I didn't want to equate my short-term feelings to the pain she's gone through a big portion of her life, but I also had this desire to label what I was going through. At the time I just ended up calling it grief.
But since then I've realized I've had these episodes before, and I wondered if it was possible to have situational depression? Could it be a real thing? I never really dived into it though. I, at the most, have only had 2 episodes in a year, usually only one. I could always trace my episodes back to either the hopelessness I've felt in my infertility, or relational stress from repressed feelings. Did it mean I am more prone to them through certain stresses? Possibly, but they were typically gone in a week, two after the miscarriage. I ended up just letting my concerns fade away.
Then I just went through a few more shorter periods between October and January, and even wrote about it here, how my hope was under attack. And I don't doubt that was in part spiritual. Maybe it all is, but just the awareness of the spiritual element only helped things temporarily. Because they are back again.
Last week, for reasons I'm not entirely sure of, the hopelessness started to increase and with it, most of the other symptoms started creeping back in as well. I invited prayer and God into the situation and it alleviated it for a few days, but Sunday it began to grow stronger again, and today at work I'm sitting here wondering how I'm even able to type out coherent thoughts because my mind is so numb, filled with fog. For the last two days I've just wanted to hibernate. I actually did yesterday, called in sick. It was my last chance at being pregnant before Mother's Day. I felt a little ridiculous calling in for just a normal period. But it wasn't just that. I was going to jokingly call it a 'mental health' day, which has been slang for many years for 'I'm just tired of working and I need a break from my job' day. Then it occurred to me though, the feeling of being under depression was truly a mental health issue, I was taking a legitimate mental health day.
Now back at work, a friend and co-worker brought up the mental health awareness week, and asked if we could tie in a talk about it in to our National H&S week activities. She will be giving a talk about it Friday and I decided to help do a little research. And guess what I found, there is such a thing as situational (or reactive) depression. With all of the symptoms I have (plus a few more) included.
What does this mean for me, having all but been actually diagnosed? I'm not sure. Talking about it in therapy-like sessions seems the normal recommendation. I do find when I am talking about it to the people who are understanding and let me verbal process, it really does alleviate a lot of the weight I feel on me. I do need to find additional solutions though. I have been so numb the last week I have been trying to feel through taste. I have cheated on my luxury abstinence in just about every category in the last 4 days. 4 desserts on Monday alone. So that tells you right there how my physical health has been the last week.
The reason I wanted to write about this though wasn't so I could validate that I have a type of depression, but so that other people might be aware that real feelings of depression do exist outside of clinical depression, they are valid, it isn't just you, and it isn't 'all in your head.' And there are options to treat it, you don't have to suffer with it. I intend to start looking for help, because frankly this sucks.