Let's talk about Depression
Depression touches all of us as some point in our life. It can happen to you or me and any member of our family, it can strike at any time and often the holidays will exaggerate it. Times when families appear to be happy and enjoying themselves can often trigger depressive thoughts and the suicide rate increases. If it happened to me then it can happen to you!
Depression touches most people's lives at some point; like all illnesses it has no consideration for age, race, gender or status in life.
Depression can creep up slowly or hit you straight in the face when you least expect it.
For many people, especially those who have always considered themselves strong and able to manage without support or help, it is a shock often taking a long time before they identify themselves as being depressed. It is comparable to the grieving process and there are several stages, before you accept and come to terms with the diagnoses.
After all is it not the weak, uneducated, lower classes of our society who have mental health issues, isn't it?
When the Doctor first informs you that you are depressed, sometimes it is a relief that the way you have been feeling actually has a name, then you may feel embarrassed because there is a appears to be a stigma attached to the diagnoses of depression. Years ago people who were diagnosed with a mental health problem, were often shunned and shut away from society. Up until the 1960's/1970's you could have been institutionalized if you had been diagnosed with depression, some patients were locked away for all their lives because of this diagnosis.
Often depression was mismanaged, doctors would feel it was a waste of time dealing with patients who were unable to help themselves, after all they had much more serious illnesses to deal with. Often they would send patients away with mind numbing drugs and no follow up.
Surprisingly in the year 2012 scientist still don't completely understand the brain, and they will openly admit that whilst they are able to send a man home without a heart and an artificial one on his back, the brain remains a mystery. I don't think we will ever see the day when the brain is removed and an artificial one replaces it. Although I know somebody somewhere is inventing an artificial brain and a scientist will be attempting brain transplants sometime soon.
Depression is like a poison slowly polluting your mind and life, you know you shouldn't feel so negative about all aspects of your life but you can't stop the overall feeling of dread and misery. You are told by well-meaning friends and family how lucky you are to have such a wonderful life, which makes you fear worse because you know you do but you cannot see it clearly.
Life becomes a drag, you get easily annoyed with situations and people, you no longer care about your appearance, you feel life is miserable and you have no control over situations. It is embarrassing for a lot of people and often they won't admit to anybody that they are or have been diagnosed with depression. Many people with depression do not discuss it with their own family and friends, they will hide it from co-workers and bosses fearing the negative way it may be received as people often have strong opinions regarding depression.
Marriages are strained; friendships are ruined because you no longer want to interact with people. You don't want sex, you find fault with your partner, you may even want arguments as this can reinforce and support your feeling of misery. You can however hide that you are depressed and carry on a 'normal' life. You can get up and go into work but you may be very short tempered and quick to anger when things appear to be going wrong. Often you look on a situation negatively and can see the solution as quick as you used to, often you cannot see the end result and get stuck in the middle.
Relationships at work can suffer badly, especially if you are always 'the naysay' of your team. The important relationship with your boss can become strained, you may say things you regret and they may come back to haunt you. I often say I pick my battles but when you are depressed you do not pick your battles wisely.
Although the media is now more understanding the way it portraits depression, a lot of people remember back in the day when somebody was diagnosed with depression they were started on medications that made them zombified. Then shock and horror these patients then became addicted to the medication which had terrible side effects.
Today modern medicine has improved; different kinds of medication are available to treat the many kinds of reasons which cause depression.
Counseling is offered alongside the medication and although not everybody will benefit from counseling it is something which should be encouraged.
Why do we become depressed?
For some people it is because they have had a serious illness, others some sort of accident, death and illness of a loved one, work stress, loss of job, money problems and for some it just happens. It can be a small trigger or it can be a large one, for some it has always been around but they were just able to control it better than others.
I became depressed after we moved countries and 8 weeks in had a serious car accident which caused me to become desperately homesick, we didn't know anybody we had no support mechanisms in place yet and we didn't understand the system or culture of the US. I often laughed at people who said they were homesick not giving it the correct respect it deserves.
Homesickness is real I know, you feel miserable almost like when your first boyfriend finishes with you and you see him with somebody else. You don't actually know what you are missing but you miss it. It wasn't perfect but you are now placing it on a pedestal. You feel like somebody has died music reminds you of time and situations, you left behind.
I was homesick for 4 years, can you imagine wasting your time being homesick for 4 years! Then we moved states and I found myself settling down in a new place which was a more suitable family environment for us. My homesickness became a thing of the past, and only reared it's ugly head at certain times of the year.
For a couple of years things went ok, there were issues with my job but it was doable. Depression was still around but I had placed it on the back burner. Then I got a manager from hell and my whole world tipped upside down again. This manager made my life a misery; I became extremely depressed although now I was blaming my feelings on 'change of life'. I was quick to temper and actually mismanaged my work life and although this manager was awful, it became about me! I went to the doctors actually to be signed off work with a mystery illness, when he diagnosed me with depression. I wasn't surprised that he thought I was depressed I was happy that he was going to give me medication which would help me feel better as I was tired of feeling so bad.
I started on medication which turned my life around, I lost weight which was intensifying my depression and I took back control of my life! Around the same time I had seen a chiropractor who actually helped me to become pain free for the first time in 7 years, pain that was caused by the car accident back in 2005.
I would like to tell you this happened quickly it didn't it took a year, yep one whole year and I am still working on repairing the damage to my reputation. I have a new manager who is very supportive, the old manager is still around but more and more each day it has become obvious that she is incompetent. I don't need to be involved anymore and I actually smile at her when I attend meetings she is at, and I am sorry because of my depression that I didn't manage my manager better and more appropriately.Last edit by Joe V on Dec 16, '12
About madwife2002, BSN, RN
Joined: Jan '05; Posts: 10,272; Likes: 6,113
Director of Nursing Services; from US
26 year(s) of experience in RN, BSN, CHDNDec 16, '12Thank you for writing this and mostly for sharing it. You have no idea the ripple effect your honesty and insight will have.Dec 16, '12Thank you for sharing your story. It's also good that you're so accepting of the need for medication, which is so often a bone of contention for people with mental health diagnoses. For a long time, I resented having to take pills in order to function as "normal" people do; now I'm just thankful that I have them and that they work. I'm not even tempted to go off meds again....don't want to go back to the way things were before.Dec 16, '12Thanks for your article. I've suffered from depression on and off for all of my life.
Last winter I was a mess, I was barely functioning and had issues at work. I tried meds but they made me feel worse, I had to stop the meds and take time off work.
So this winter as the days got shorter I started down that downward spiral again. But I recognized my symptoms and remembered what the psychiatrist said...try the SAD lights. Lucky for me my sister has a SAD light I could borrow because I sure didn't want to spend $300 on something that might not work.
So like a lizzard in the sun I've been basking under 10,000 lux of light every morning for 30 minutes. I noticed a lift in my mood and cognition within 2 days. I'm feeling close to my normal self, I'm not having negative thoughts about Christmas for the first time in years. I wish I'd tried these SAD lights years ago.
I'll be under the lights until April....of course a mid-winter tropical vacation sure would help too.Dec 16, '12Thank you. I just posted a situation that has me shaken to my core. I have been distancing myself from family and I have quit doing things I used to love. I know I need to talk to someone.
Thank you again.Dec 17, '12This is one area we have come a long way, and I am so grateful for the medications as well with the lessened stigma, present- but much more manageable side effects, and with the great range of SSRIs the physician can tweak until life is much more manageable. Victims of Depression get there from a spectrum of reasons, and the way back to the light can be a daunting process. I remember when Paxil started to get to it's therapeutic levels(though diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety as well which helped both 85%!), I was terrified I would wake up with that "feeling" again, and this progress would go away. I am scared of the withdrawal effects some feel when they stop Paroxotine(Paxil), but I have no plan to quit, especially before deathDec 17, '12Plus, thank-you for acknowledging "homesickness." I think there's so many displaced Nurses in the current economy(everywhere), and that's an isolated, desperate, and anxious feeling of just wanting to go "home." My prayers out to any nurses who can't make it home the holidays for ANY reason. I know I'm not alone in having to celebrate Christmas over a phone, because I will be flying through ED cases from Thanksgiving to New Year- the sometime in January(if I am very lucky or blessed, a quick two or three day trip home on a 17hr one way trip- after all the decorations are long put up).
I won't forget I'm still blessed to make the pilgrimage, but looking at scheduling the last week, I really doubt "home" is in my near future.Dec 17, '12To ALL of you who have posted on this topic - THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart. I don't have much else to say except that it hits home...Dec 18, '12Nurses are often the last ones to ask for help. Our article under Psych Nursing has many resources listed: Stress, Depression, Suicide and Mental Health ResourcesDec 19, '12Thank you for your article. I saw myself in a lot of what you wrote. I was finally diagnosed with depression about 5 years ago when a whole series of problems came down on me at once and I became suicidal. When I look back, I suppose I've always had some sort of depression. (I had a difficult early life) Today my depression clouds everything I do, see and say. It has cost me 3 jobs and a whole lot of happiness. I am blessed to have a husband that is beyond understanding and supportive but I know he hasn't had an easy time of it either.
I'm on medication now which helps a lot but my depression is always there, under control and often buried, but there none the less. I often compare it to one of those ominous, dark storm clouds you see off in the horizon...dark, foreboding and dangerous. Some days it's too close for comfort other days I hardly notice it. Lately, I have to admit it's been close...very close and I'm struggling.
Like you, I have also learned a lot about depression and it helps me to cope at times. I've resigned myself to the fact that I will be depressed all my life and will likely be on medication for that long as well. It bugged me at first...kind of like knowing that I would need to be on thyroid medication all my life, but I have since learned to live with it. It is what it is.
A few years ago I read another article on depression and there was a quote in there that stuck with me.
"Depression is a liar"
LauraDec 19, '12Thank you for sharing that.
It puts me in mind of a phrase that helps me at times like this, when my mood chart looks like a map of L.A. and I feel like I'm losing what few marbles I have left: "Nothing is as bad as my brain thinks it is." IOW, my brain is lying to me when it tells me that everything is awful and that a handful of Ativan or a bottle of Jack Daniels will solve my problems. Yeah, I'm really, really stressed and there's nowhere for all this emotion to go, and I want to run so far away that it can't find me. But again, life is not as bad as I think it is, and I know better than to believe everything I think.Jan 10, '13I have a hx of major depression as well. The past few years have been nothing but major upheaval into family's life. I bece a nurse (a lifelong dream), could only find work in a prison (scary stuff!), my husband retired from the navy ( a lifestyle I had known since I was 19) and we moved from GA to WI. We had to live with my MIL for a year and finally bought our home here. We can't sell our house in GA and DH is a FT college student working part time in a low paying internship.When we moved here, I found a job at an LTACH. The working environment is toxic beyond belief. There's not enough space here to go into detail about that... Cliques, inexperienced and unsupportive mgmt, NO policies or protocols, a new CNO q 1.5 yrs., very very sick pts, backstabbing coworkers... I could go on for hrs.I finally left that job after 7 mos and worked NOCs on an onco floor. NOCs killed me and the entire staff of rns were so passive aggressive that I could only do that for three mos. the new CNO (who just resigned yesterday) called and asked me to go back to the LTACH that I was at before. He promised that things were improving, that the cliques and bullies were being dealt with and that policies and procedures were coming online. I foolishly believed him and went back. Now, things are worse than ever and the environment is so toxic that even on my days off I worry about that place and what it will do to me. I love the types of pts there and I have a very good friend there that I can rely on (she's the only one I can count in there)...Anyway, I feel so depressed and stressed at the thought of going back there for my next shift that I'm completely useless to my husband and kids all the time. All I want is to quit nursing and go back to being a stay at home mom and wife. I'm really good at taking care if them and love doing it when I'm not stressed all the time. I'm to the point that I hate being a nurse.I've rarely seen nurses really support each other unless they are also friends. Nurses who aren't friends tear each other up all the time. I know my depression is situational and probably even seasonal combined but I have got to have a major change. I need an environment that is safe to be in but quitting nursing is not an option since I am the main breadwinner now.I'm exhausted all the time and there are always tears waiting to fall and a lump in my throat. I don't know what to do anymore. There are people who said nurses should know how to handle depression but it is different when it's you. I know how to handle a cancer pt but that doesn't mean that I could handle well if it were me.Sorry so long but this has been building inside me for months.
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