In my past I have suffered from seasonal depression. It took me quite some time to even figure it out because it was very suttle at first and also there always seemed to be situations in my life that explained it.
The first time I really realized it though was the first year I was married. Happy in love, my life seemed so stress free. I remember telling my Grandmother that life had never seemed so easy before. Aaron and I lived in a shoddy apartment complex that was built some time in the 60's. Our downstairs neighbors were migrant workers who practiced their mariachi music at night. We were working hard to get out of debt but life was delicious! I had never been so free. I made my own decisions and (after a 6 year long distance relationship) I was finally with the love of my life everyday. It was the best!
That Spring, however, I was overwhelmed with sadness. I remember driving down a Bradbury Pear lined road in North Dallas near our home. Covered in white or pink blossoms, it looked like the streets were lined with bouquets. I wondered how I could be so sad when the whole world was coming to life. Why was I sad when my life was so good?
This "phenomenon" occurred again (or at least was noted again) one Spring when we lived in MO. I had this urge to run away. I loved my family and did not want to leave in a permanent way but I just wanted to escape for awhile. I suddenly remembered feeling the urge to "run" when I was in college. I think it was my sophomore year. My parents had just divorced so of course I was sad. I would drive down a long, empty country road on my way to school and I remember often having the urge to keep the car going down that long road to no where.
I visited my family and friends in Texas that Spring. My kids and I went to the children's museum with some friends. While we had lunch my friend Tara asked me if everything was OK.
"No," I told her but I could not tell her what was wrong because I did not know myself. I don't think I had figured it out yet. I think I was blaming it on just hormones having just gotten back on birth control after about a two year hiatus. (9 months pregnant, one year nursing)
The following Spring we were moving back to Texas. I was so happy to be moving back but it was in the throws of my seasonal depression. This was the year I figured it out. We moved before our home in MO had sold and we were house hunting in Houston. We lived with my mom in the interim. It was very stressful so I figured my short temper and emotional lows were due to moving (one of the three most stressful things in life.) And living with my mother was not it. Mom was great and the kids were loving greeting her when she came home from work. I would make us all dinner and then mom and I would sit on her back patio together and have a glass of wine. It was the best part of my day!
My days were totorturous though. I could not stand for my kids to touch me, my temper and patience were short, my friends were far, and my family was displaced. Since Aaron had just started a new position, he was working very late. So, I was chalking my depression up to all of these factors.
One day I had started my morning off by chewing out my toddlers for asking for breakfast. Low point. I was horrified by my behavior. I knew it was irrational. I went to my room to pray. I recalled a Psalm: Why so downcast oh my soul? Why so disturbed with in me? Put your hope in God for I will praise Him my Saviour. (That might not be exactly it but you get the gist.) I wept and sang a song with the same words of the Psalm. The song continues with "Bless the Lord, He's the lifter of my countenance." But I did not feel hope and my countenance was not lifted.
At some point during this transition, a light bulb came on and I realized that this has happened before and that it happened in the Spring. I recalled trying to change my major nearly every Spring semester, desperate for change. One Spring I broke up with Aaron. I started to put together the times where I felt the need to take off and run away from life. From a good life! What? And I realized I was depressed. Not just sad but I had the capital D Depression.
To say I was upset is an understatement. My family has a history of Depression so it was not surprising but I knew what this could mean. I tearfully prayed and begged God to take it away. I had read that seasonal Depression can lead to something more permanent. I was so afraid that it would stick.
I also did not have the most sensitive of husbands in regards to this disease. I still don't know that he would even admit to calling it a disease.
"There is no reason any one living in America should be able to say they are depressed," he has argued.
"Baby, that's exactly how you KNOW you have depression. When your heart perpetually aches while you are living the "good life" you know you have Depression."
The thing that was different for me then for the others in my family who had battled this disease is that mine seemed to be seasonal. I got on-line to see if there was such a thing. Sure enough there was. In the winter. Lot's of people will struggle with a seasonal depression in the winter. Makes sense. Everything is dead. In some places, the weather keeps one cooped up in doors. But I was not depressed in the winter. I Googled some more.
I finally came upon information that most Depression is a B12 deficiency and that some is ALLERGY RELATED! Ding, ding, ding, ding! That made sense. I had always suffered from terrible allergies during the Spring. And what is B12? More investigating ensued and I began to medicate myself with B12 vitamins and allergy meds. I also tossed my birth control because those suckers can be the culprit too sometimes. (The only thing was in college I was not taking BC so I lean more towards the allergies. As one ages though and having had babies all the hormones and other chemistry was all tossed about so....I think all of these things played into it.)
For the past 3 years I have not had any problems with Depression. The last few weeks however....
It's been slowly coming on and at first I was blaming it on things in the house that were not working, my husband, my children... Yesterday was Valentine's Day. I woke up to a bouquet of flowers and a beautifully wrapped jewelry box. It was accompanied by a love letter from my husband. Inside the box was a gorgeous piece of jewelry. I stood there in my beautiful mountain home staring at this token of love from my husband who adores me while my healthy happy sons slept and I felt nothing. Not loved, not peace, and certainly not joy. In fact I felt the urge to run.