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KatieB

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I get really annoyed at the thought of anti-depressive drugs prescribed freely in our society when what we should be learning are life-coping skills and for some people (like some of my siblings!) - humanity and social skills...

I write this not to offend anyone...i think these types of drugs are great for those who really need them after having been correctly diagnosed and after having tried other natural remedies for depression, anxiety, stress.

But since when did sadness become "depression"?

Why is it when you are grieving a loved one (outside of the "safety zone" (=funeral + 6 weeks) that some people call it "depression"?

How can it be considered depression?

Take me for example. I'm not "depressed" about a thing. My life is wonderful. I am blessed with two kids and husband and home and much more. There's nothing "wrong" in my life.

Except that my parents, whom I had an extraordinary relationship with, are dead. And that makes me really sad. (lost dad 4 yrs. ago, lost mom 8 months ago)

Sometimes now, I can be sad for a whole week. Sometimes just a day here or there or when I am reminded of something or the day marks an anniversary or birthday. Those things still make me sad. Some things make me so sad that I literally feel like my heart is breaking- my heart hurts inside of my chest and I just ache to see them again.

Someone said recently to me that "this" sounded like depression.

No offense, but I think that's crap.

Remember in pre-school when we had color- sheets with the faces of emotions on them? - an exercise used to teach kids to identify their feelings...this one is "happy", this one is "angry", and this one is "sad"....

When did angry and sad stop becoming normal emotions?

When did sadness and grief become "depression"?

When did it become standard practice to medicate every emotion except pure happiness...and since pure happiness is achieved by no one- isn't this line of thinking just a vicious cycle?

When does it stop being "hormonal", or "grieving" or "sadness" and actually become "depression?"

And if people are medicating and self-medicating every anxiety and stress and sadness- how do you really know????

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Boy Katie do I understand where you are coming from. I know I was depressed after Johnny died. In less than a year I was divorced, moved from my family and found Johnny and lost him to LC. I think I had good reason to feel depressed,sad, angry and just pi***d at the world. I could have fallen into the medication trap but I was saved from that by two things. One I had no insurance to pay for a doctor or medication and two I had watched what those drugs did to Johnny. I was terrified of them.

I think that is one of the biggest problems with society today. Everyone thinks that every problem in life can be solved by taking a pill. It just doesn't work that way. Like you I am sure there are many people out there who need those medications. Certainly I have nothing against helping someone with anciety or true depression. I just think that people and doctors are too quick to prescribe a pill. I think too that people need to look within themselves and find some help and above all turn to good friends and God.

It is a blessing to have family but sometimes we just need someone else to turn to. Someone who we know will understand more than even family does. That is why I am so grateful to you and Rick for this very special place. I'll take it over a pill any day. God Bless and don't worry about all of those nay sayers. You have the right to grieve and to do it in anyway that helps you. So tell them to back off and let you cope the best way for you.

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Katie,

I do understand exactly what you are saying. I believe in order to get "better" we do need to feel these emotions to some degree. I was in the darkest black hole that I have ever been in last winter, and several friends and family members thought that I needed some type of medication. I would not give in, and I choose to dig my way back out. Granted it is not "easy" but a lot of things are not.

You are so right about the things that we do have to be thankful for, which is what kept me going.

I believe that a lot of Dr's make it way to easy to get the medications that you are describing. I am not saying that there are not people that truely need them, but I do know if I had went in, that is what she would have offered me. I too lost both of my parents and the only sibling that I have has been on the "run" since a day before Mom's celebration of life. I finally realized this is what he choose and I am trying to move on.

Prayers and Hugs

Connie

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Katie, I do totally understand where you're coming from and for the most part I think you're right, but as someone who has used medication in the past, I wanted to give you my perspective and why I did change my mind on the issue.

After I had my first child (who is now 18), it was a time that should've been the happiest in my life. I had a healthy, happy, beautiful son, had (and still have) a great, supportive husband, nice house, great parents, plenty of relative babysitters, and was in a situation where if I wanted to go back to work full time as I had for the previous 10 years, I could do that or had the financial ability to be a stay at home mom (which is what I chose to do). But for months I knew something just wasn't "right" with me. I joined mom's groups, made sure my husband and I had date nights, took exercise classes, an art class, the whole nine yards. I felt like I was going through the motions. I was certainly fully functioning, but I honestly felt like doing very little. I agonized for months trying to figure out what was wrong with me, trying to put it into words for my husband. Finally, I saw a doctor ... they suggested a thyroid test which came back that my thyrdoid was all out of whack and I needed medication for that (ahhhh, I thought, a physical reason, a blood-measured test result out of the "normal" range). I'll take some synthroid, and my world will be as it should. The doctor after hearing my symptoms suggested that very often with what I was presenting, women could also benefit from anti-depressants. Nahhhh, that was for the weak, the unable to cope; or at least for people who just didn't have the advantages I had or (and I'm ashamed to say this out loud now, the intellect to comprehend as I did). Took the synthroid for a few months ... no change in the way I felt at all, except that now they deemed my thyroid just fine.

My doctor had said if I wanted to try the anti-depressants, just to let him know. Finally one day it came to me ... my son was almost a year old at that point ... that maybe it's selfish of me NOT to try them. By having this child, I owe it to him (if not to myself and others that love and care about me) to be the best mother I could be. Now it wasn't that I laid in bed with the covers pulled up while he played around me, I did all the right things. But if feeling the way I did kept me from fully appreciating his infancy in every way, then I was cheating him.

The other thing about having a post-partum related type of depression is that I call it the most "guilt inducing" form. You have a parent, spouse, dear friend who dies, you're "allowed" to be depressed. Society understand that, at least for a certain period of time. When you were in the position I was, it's almost like you don't have the "right" to feel like you do, I felt that about myself ... what right did I have not to be happy and content?

After almost a year, I finally tried a very low dose of Prozac. I wanted the lowest dosage, and I thought the minute I "feel" medicated that's it, I'm done with it. After about two weeks, I don't know how else to describe it, but it was as though the sun came out after a year of being overcast and gloomy. What seemed out of focus was now clear and crisp.

Could I have achieved that feeling without medicine? Probably eventually, maybe through talk therapy, natural remedies and even just the passage of time. But I had a baby whose first year I already had felt as though I somehow "missed" part of or wasn't my best through. I needed to be the best I could be, as soon as possible, for him. Once I started the Prozac, it became clear to me that with it, I was a better mother to him.

I think the whole thing is the medical profession ... they need to really listen to people's situations and symptoms (both physical and emotional). I'm sure they do slap far too many people on anti-depressants that don't need them. Or are in situations where they should try other means first.

I went off of them when my son was about three. Had a second baby; they gave me the option of starting them right after she was born, because statistics show it can with worse with each successive child. EVEN THOUGH I HAD BEEN THROUGH WHAT I JUST DESCRIBED, I said nah, that's not going to happen again. If it does, I'll talk myself out of it, deal with it through other means, I'll know what I'm dealing with now.

First couple of weeks, I was great. Then, it ended up that I had to suddenly stop breastfeeding; I guess whatever hormones are involved there did their work and within a 24-hour period, I went from fine to laying in a fetal position, feeling it was too painful to even move a limb of my body and sure that both my children would be better off if I were to die and my husband could marry a "normal" person to be their stepmother.

Needless to say, I RAN back to the medicine and was great again in a couple weeks.

This way too lengthy tirade leads me to this point in my life ... mother who is likely terminal from lung cancer, an aging father, an aging body of my own :-) and going through menopause.

Guess what? I have a doctor appointment next week to consider going on something again. I'm not saying that is what would be right for you or anyone else. I'm still to this day a person avoids being a pill-popper. But I also feel that I still owe it to my husband, my kids, and my parents to feel as good and be as fully-functioning as I can.

I DO understand where you're coming from ... our society has become far dependent on "feel good" drugs of ALL kinds. I think the key is finding a good reliable medical professional to guide you, listen to you and not just pull out a prescription pad so they can get to the next patient.

Sorry this is go long ... move it out of here or delete it if you think appropriate.

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My 2 cents.

I've had two times in my life where I battled anxiety and depression. Once was after 9/11 (keri worked in WFC) and once was a work related stress thing years ago. Today I am sad, but not depressed. The difference, simple. Functional vs. not functional.

I am still SO sad, but can carry on my job, my chores and still enjoy parts of life.

Back then during those other two times, couldn't do it, I was frozen. Could stare at the computer screen for hours and not type. I took medication for a brief time learned to function under the circcumstances and then went off when the situation and my mind adapted.

I had a doc tell me, "well if another 'situation' comes up, maybe you should just stay on." I disagree. I could identify what happened and knew I just needed assistance to adapt. This is not to say if you feel better go off meds.

With Mom, interestingly, I didn't have either of these issues. Maybe it was those medication assisted times which trained me what to do. I don't know...but for the worst thing that ever happened to me...I have not needed medication. But I knew the times that I did.

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I think Nick's reply was right on the money.

One other analogy (and then I promise to stop typing).

My dad is 82, seven years older than my mom who has LC. He's basically pretty healthy, takes a heart medication maybe one for cholesterol too. His problems are orthopedic in nature (needs a new hip replacement but they've deemed it not a good idea for a variety of reasons). I was thinking the other day, I hadn't asked HIM how he was doing in a while, mom kinda gets the spotlight.

He said he felt pretty good, just his legs and shoulders are achy, but "I'm 82, it's 'normal' for me to feel this way". When it gets bad, he adds an OTC Tylenol or something to help.

So I suggested that instead of waiting for it to get bad, why don't you add an OTC drug to your daily routine, say every morning. What is that going to hurt? It's certainly not going to cure anything, make some drastic, drug-induced difference, but if it takes the edge off the discomfort, helps you walk a little more every day, maybe makes you feel like doing a little more, going a place you might have not felt like going, even helping mom out more, why not try it. So I picked up an OTC thing (I think Tylenol Arthritis) for him to try. He's been taking it a few days, and he does notice a slight improvement ... he was doing o.k. without it, but it just takes the edge off. I think that is what a well-prescribed anti-depressant it meant to do.

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Today I am sad, but not depressed. The difference, simple. Functional vs. not functional.

Perfect answer, Nick.

That's how we know.

Not everything can be fixed with a pill or a chat- a pill isn't going to bring my parents back or make me any less "sad" about the situation. Only time helps.

I guess what set me off today is that I may not be "happy enough" for some people...(I usually try to appear like I've got it together) or on an "off" day i may be sullen or quiet or even...oh no here it is...really sad and missing my parents..... The suggestion that I seek medication or counseling because of that insults me greatly.

It's not something that makes me non functional....it's something that makes THEM uncomfortable.

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There is a difference for sure. I just think there is also a misconception that taking anything anti-depressant wise turns people into non-feeling zombies who are numb and not feeling normal emotions as they should. If it does that to you, then you're over medicated.

Why, then, if you have a headache do you take an aspirin? The headache will likely go away on its own in time, you're just suffering for no real reason in the meantime.

Besides the short period of time after my daughter, I was very functional. Went through all the motions and then some, I was super mom from all outward appearances. But I know I was much better mom/wife/daughter/friend when the depression lifted and medication definitely helped that process. It did nothing drastic, but yet it helped.

But, Katie, there are few people I respect and admire as much as you after being introduced to this board. If you feel that strongly, then that is definitely what you go with and don't give another thought to what others think.

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What a great and thought-provoking post, Katie. Bill and I used to talk about this topic a lot, and I've found myself thinking about it lately. My opinion on the way these meds are dispensed is very much like yours.

I think society in general wants to see happy faces. When people ask how you are, they want to hear, "great, how are you?" They don't want to hear that you're sad today. As far as grief goes, it seems like people put these weird timeframes on your feelings -- as if we're all going to go through it the same way. If you're still sad after x amount of months, something must be wrong with you. And if you're not openly sad, then you're "doing great."

I think Nick hit it right on about functioning vs. non-functioning. I also think perhaps "depression" is when you are constantly sad without a specific reason.

Whereas the sorrow and sadness over a loss have a very specific reason. Your parents are gone. You love them dearly, need them as much as ever, and miss them terribly. Of course you're going to be sad.

Hugs,

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thanks everyone,

Let me just add for tiredmom959 that I totally agree with you that anti-anxiety and anti-depressants work for many people and it is something that can "take the edge off" or "stop anxiety" or help someone function better- not just make you a zombie. I totally agree. People who take these meds should not be ashamed in the least. They can really help.

After mom died so suddenly, I had a month of anxiety attacks that felt like heart attacks and landed me in hospital twice thinking I was dying....I was just having an anxiety attack and didn't know it because I'd never had one before, and meds helped me for two weeks. I'd take them again if those ever came back.

That's not what I'm referring to here. I'm not against that at all.

I'm just against the wide assumption that some make that grief=depression=medication. and I'm against "some" that don't allow us to express ourselves- because being sad isn't something they like to see and it makes them feel better when we are "back to ourselves again". When in reality, we will never be the same people again, ever. And it's ok to be sad when you've lost a huge part of your life.

thanks for all the input here everyone.. I love discussions like these!

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I've really appreciated reading through all of these posts. I have often wondered the same thing---what is just a normal 'sad' reaction to such a tragic event as the death of a loved one--when does it cross the line?

As I've mentioned before, my daughter went through a very difficult few weeks with true panic attacks. She thought she would stop breathing---she was deathly afraid she would quit breathing in her sleep, we wouldn't know it and she would die. She slept very little over several days. She was afraid she would pass out at school, and be mortally embarrassed. She is a very wise girl, and one one hand she knew this wasn't rational, but she couldn't fight it during her 'attacks'.

You wouldn't believe the number of (well-meaning) people who immediately wanted me to put my 13-year old daughter on meds. I was so worried and afraid for her, if it had come to that I sure would have. Luckily our dr. took the time to explain to her the physical affects of a panic attack, asssure her through medical reasoning that she would not die, and talk to her about talking to people she trusts.

She still has some problems now and then, but she is doing MUCH better. She has learned to recognize when she is starting to slide into an attack, and has been able to come up with ways to deal with them before they get too bad. Doesn't mean they won't come back. Could meds have helped her? Maybe-though some research on anti-depression meds in kids scares me.

I am so glad that meds are out there for people who need them. Mom certainly benefitted from meds when she had her panic attacks, and I am grateful for the peace they brought her. Interesting discussion here.

Kelly

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I've often wondered the same thing...when does someone need medication. But I saw what it did to my Dad too, and I don't ever want to be out of control. I agree it's functional vs. non-functional. Definately.

And I also agree that people want to see smiling faces. I got "in trouble" at work after Mom was diagnosed. I was venting to my co-workers and thinking that they really cared about all that has happened in my life. BTW--I am quite honest if someone asks me something--so I told probably way too much. But they were supossed to be my friends and "family"! Well that didn't go over too well for too long. I was told I could either take some time off, take a leave (both required me using personal time) or go to our employee assistance progrom. My feelings were so hurt. I tried the EAP and she was a nice person but didn't really help. (I am just glad that I didn't pay for it) What I DID learn was that I had to fake it. And I started doing just that. People will ask me how my Mom is doing (she worked at the same place before she retired and they all know her)and I will say "fine thanks for asking". If they really care they will ask more questions...about her appetite, her treatment, etc. This has worked for me for now. And when I went back to my supervisor, she said she could tell that I was doing better...and that I looked happier. Whatever! I am sooooooo faking it.

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Good to read about it.

Many times pills were offered to me

since Mike died, always refused and

did not need them, just went in my

lair and came out two afternoons a

week for volunteer work.

Co-workers knew I was down but my work

did not suffer.

Will happen again and I will do the same,

it works for me as I have nobody to please.

Like Nick said I'm functional, but at those

times I need more room to live my way and

not the way people wants me to.....

Jackie

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