When Depression Returns

For quite some time, I did really well.  I took my Cymbalta regularly and lost weight, I didn’t need the anxiety medications, and things were going great.  Then for some reason, I forgot the Cymbalta.  I felt awful, dizzy, foggy-headed.  I couldn’t figure out why.  I kept forgetting to take the medicine.  I suffered terrible withdrawal symptoms before I finally figured out what was going on.  It really didn’t take that long… maybe a week or two, but it felt like a lifetime.  

I started the Cymbalta again, at the dose I was taking a couple of weeks prior.  It proved to be too much.  The symptoms were similar to the withdrawal symptoms.   I couldn’t take that high of a dose, so I made an appointment with my doctor.  He was a new doctor for me, not the original prescriber.  When I asked him to re-start my prescription with a gradually increasing dose, he would not do it.  He wanted me to start taking St. John’s Wort, and would not budge on the issue.  

St. John’s Wort… may be a wonderful option for some people, however it never did work for me.  I had tried it in the past, and it didn’t work then.  I was hesitant about trying it again.  But I did after he assured me that there were options available for the St. John’s Wort that would not require me to take a dose multiple times a day.  I have yet to find these options.  Most available OTC forms of this herbal supplement recommend taking the supplement three times a day.  I quickly gave up on this, and decided that I was feeling okay.  I could never remember to take capsules three times daily.  I was always missing a dose, or two doses.  If I was feeling okay then maybe I didn’t even need it. 

All went well for almost two years. Well, looking back, maybe almost a year, and then the symptoms started creeping back up on me.  Slowly, I was sinking back into the place that I had worked so hard to get out of.  It’s back… full fledged attack on my happiness and my functioning.  Little hope surrounding me, seeing all the negatives and not the good, drained of energy, snapping at my dear little family…. I am, yet again, nearly at the bottom and clawing my way up the sides of this dark pit.  

I am trying different things this time around. Hopefully I can get out of this place without the medications.   I am not opposed to them, but I think there has to be a better way than being dependent on a chemical alter my body’s function.  

The plan?  

  • Exercise – this is probably the hardest one for me, so I will be starting out slowly and working my way up
  • Counseling – I found a wonderful person who I am comfortable with (have never had this in a counselor before)
  • Alternative therapies, such as acupuncture, massage, etc.
  • Searching for myself, finding things that make me happy
  • Looking for a positive (at least one, but hopefully many) each day
  • Meditation 
  • Journaling (frequently, but maybe not daily) and Blogging! (When I can, which seems to be less often these days)

Of course, this isn’t set in concrete or even discussed with a professional, but with my bi-weekly counseling I feel safe in this decision.  

Still looking for other things to help me through… but want to find something that can become a good positive habit that will last a lifetime, and that I don’t have to worry about missing a dose, withdrawing from, or paying for every month.  

So far, the meditation is free, the exercise is free, finding positives in my day is free… I will keep going to the counseling sessions as long as I can afford to.  This has been a tremendous help already. I’m not sure how often the alternative therapies will be a viable option for me, but maybe it will even be a treat occasionally.  

What are your experiences with overcoming depression? Have you found any alternatives to prescription medications? Homeopathic remedies, alternative therapies, meditations, etc.?  

A Letter to Mom

Mom, 

As I spend my days with my children, who you do not know and probably never will, I remember the good days with you.  My girls are so sweet, loving, smart, enthusiastic, full of life.  The are trusting and naive, they are curious and adventurous.  These are things I used to be, before you let me down. 

I remember when I could be care free and trusting in the world.  I also remember that somehow that changed… you changed.  I don’t understand what happened to you. Sometimes I think I might want to ask you, let you explain everything from your point of view. Other times, I know in my heart that you will just be the victim again, see how you were hurt and how you still hurt, but discount the things that I went through. 

I remember when I believed in fairy tales, the way my youngest daughter still does.  I thought that parents stayed together, that love was ever-lasting, and that your family kept you safe.  I wish I could still believe in that, and I am working hard to make sure that my girls never have to experience the way it feels to know that the one person you rely on the most has abandoned you. 

That’s how I felt, mom…abandoned. I was abandoned by you when you quit keeping me safe.  Abandoned when you quit taking care of me. Abandoned when you no longer cared that the man you brought into our home came into my room at night and touched me, mollested me, raped me.  Abandoned when you told me straight out that you didn’t want to hear about it. 

Most girls that I know look up to their mothers, want to learn things from them and be like them.  But, dearest Mom – I want nothing more than to be your opposite.  I want to take care of my children for the rest of my life.  Make sure they are safe, prevent pedophiles from being around them, give them a safe person to talk to when they need it, and let them know that if there is ever a problem, they can count on me to be on their side. 

Not a holiday goes by that doesn’t remind me of you.  The hardest ones are Mother’s Day and Christmas.  I want so badly to be able to say I spent holidays with my mom. But I cannot say that, because I don’t trust myself to be around you.  I would probably say things that would hurt you, or things that would hurt me.  But mostly, I cannot say that because I don’t trust you to be around my family.  You are incapable of making good decisions.  You only care about yourself, and cannot see that the welfare of others is something that you are responsible for when you are caring for children. There were five of us that you let down.

I do love you, I love the memories of you before you changed. I love that you brought me into this world, and now I can make sure that my children are the happiest, healthiest, safest children possible. 

I am still hurt, and I don’t know when I will get past that.  I should have been able to count on you.  I should have been able to tell you the ugliest of truths and know that you would take care of me.  

What I found out is that I have to take care of my self. And that is what I did.  I got past the abuse in many ways.  I graduated high school.  I earned an associates degree.  I had two beautiful children.  I earned a bachelors degree.  I became a leader in the field of nursing.  I earned my Masters Degree.  I have worked very hard to be successful in life and not let my demons hold me back. It was hard. So damn hard.  I almost fell captive to those demons several times, and I am afraid that I am not completely free.   

Do I owe my success to you? NO.  I take most of the credit.  And I give a lot of the credit to my sisters, too.  Without them as role models as people who can overcome abuse, I may not have ever seen the way out.  My life may have been much different. After all, in your care I got to experience not only abuse, but drug use, alcohol use, etc. 

May you find your way out, and maybe find that it is totally worth looking after some one other than yourself.  It is so rewarding to be the one that your children want to be like.  

I hope that in the years that have passed since we last spoke, you have found happiness and peace.  

I hope that one day I can forgive you, and tell you that in person. 

Until then, I hope to be the best person I can be, the best mother I can be, and that you may finally love yourself. 

Sincerely, 

Your daughter. 

Repressed Memories

I have started watching the documentary series The Keepers on Netflix.  This show so far follows a woman, who later in her life, remembers horrible acts she endured as a teen.  The memories disrupt her life, and she tries to do what she believes is the right thing.  She struggles with the knowledge that she didn’t do anything about the abuse at the time, and is trying to rectify her suppression of the abuse.  

I can recall so many things about my own abuse.  But I know that there are so many other things that I do not remember.  I have trouble recalling events in relation to a time line.  The fear of my family being hurt for me saying anything, the fear of the death of family members who I loved very much.  The fear of my own life being taken.  These are all things that I dealt with as a thirteen/fourteen year old girl.  These are things that a typical young teenager does not deal with.  For that matter, these are things that anyone living an abuse-free life, no matter what age, does not have to deal with.  

Threats were made to me in a manner which I believed them, and they scared me into being the submissive young girl that did not fight back.  A girl that laid there in bed at night escaping in my mind to a place where nothing was happening. A girl that didn’t care about herself any more, everything was done now to protect other people from the hurt that would be my fault for speaking up. 

I vaguely recal a bullet, shiny brass with black magic marker writing scrawled on it, being shown to me.  The implication was clear, and not much had to be said by him.  The name written on the bullet was the name of my brother-in-law, who was working for a local sheriff department and in training to be a police officer.  I loved my sister, her husband, their baby.  I loved them very much and it terrified me to think that if I said anything, harm would come to them.   So, I didn’t say anything for a long time.  

I don’t know what it is like to not remember the abuse.  I do remember, and it is painful, but I have been able to work through it. I do know what it is like to not remember details.  I don’t remember… I just don’t remember it all.  There are times when I try to remember and I just find myself more confused.  Do I really want to remember?  Not really.  I want to forget that it ever happened.  But then I would be forgetting a large part of my life that shaped who I have become.  

The ‘Jane Doe” on the Netflix series, who tried so hard to make it right after twenty-something years, had shaped her life by suppressing the abuse. When it did come out so many years later, she lost who she was.  She suffered more after trying to help herself and possibly help others.  This is just not right.  It seems that there is a stigma about people who have memories resurface after so many years pass by.  What do people understand about this who have never suffered anything so traumatic that they at least want to shut it out?  

 So I encourage anyone who feels that they are remembering any kind of traumatic event in their past to find someone to talk to.  Remembering events like this can feel shameful, embarrassing, painful, hurtful.  Remembering such events can bring on emotions that you do not expect.  Remembering is difficult.  
There are always people who want to have faith in everyone they know, who do not want to believe that someone they knew and looked up to could be guilty of such terrible things.  There are those who will just not believe you, who will think that for some reason you must be making it up. 

That doesn’t matter.  For every person who doesn’t believe your story, there are others out there who will.  Others who can give support, lend an ear, point you in the right direction.  There are support groups available. There are legal resources, and safe houses, counseling, and hotlines.  If you are remembering abuse, feel trapped or alone by these memories, find some way to help yourself. 

Sleeping in the Past

I sit up, screaming, panic rising to the top of my throat and threatening to turn into sour bile as my stomach churns.  My heart is pounding in my head, the sound of each beat echoes in my ears.  I want to run, but it is dark and I know he is there.  Where can I run to? My breathing is so fast, my face is tingling.  My legs are instinctually kicking the blankets off of my body and aching to get away. I’m already on the opposite side of the bed…the bed – the bed is different, look around, where am I? 

And then I hear a soft voice “Hey, Honey…It’s me.  It’s okay. Lay back down.”I know this voice, and it brings me back to the present.  I am at my home, in my bed that I share with my husband.  I am safe.  I am safe.

Covered in a fine layer of sweat and heart racing, but no longer thumping against the inside of my skull, I scoot back over to my side of the bed and straiten the blankets.  Trying to make sense of what just happened, I lay there calming my self down.  My husband looks at me unsure if its okay yet to touch me.  I cringe a little as his hand comes towards my face.  I’m not ready yet.  Not yet. I’m at home.  I am safe.  He is not here.  I am safe.  Damn flashbacks. 

I cant seem to make it better for him or myself, time does not heal all wounds.  

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