Dealing With Depression
In my younger years I didn't understand depression. I never talked about it to anyone. There have been periods when I've been upbeat and happy, and there have been periods in my life when I've barely been able to function. I'm sure you know the symptoms of social anxiety, sleeping too much, crying all the time, feeling tired, wishing the emotional pain would go away - the list goes on and on.
I didn't seek out medications until my late forties/early fifties. My verbally abusive marriage had taken its toll upon my life. After going through abuse, divorce, being unemployed, moving five times in an 18-month period, I had already gathered every stress-related event out there that throws the normal individual into the dumps. In counseling, and after searching the Internet on the different medications, I begged a doctor for help - through emotional tears, of course. Then came the pills.
After being on medication for a year and thinking I had it beat, I weaned myself off the drug and went on with my life. Then all hell broke loose again, stress returned, and so did my depression. I would be lying if I didn't tell you I struggled with the shame of depression, as well. You always think you're mentally ill, or in the Christian circles, out of touch with the source of joy. Yes, even the church condemns you for a medically-inflicted disease.
When my doctor finally sat me down and told me that all I had been through had depleted my brain of the necessary chemicals it needed to function properly, the guilt lifted. I had never told him of the abuse, though. The pills helped to restore that imbalance. Once again, I felt great, went off the drug, and last November found myself in a fetal position upon my bed. I could barely look at anyone in the eyes. I could barely concentrate at work. I stayed in my pajamas all day on the weekend, didn't shower, and didn't leave my condo. Tears were plenty, and during that time I wrote Conflicting Hearts at my lowest point. There were times I literally wept on the keyboard writing certain scenes, especially the ending because I've never met my Ian. Finally, I called the doctor and told him, "I need the pills." It took nearly three months for them to kick in, and only this past February have I started to come out of it. Though when days are stressful, I find a continuing battle and pull to go in the other direction.
Recently, I started searching the correlation between depression in adults who were sexually abused as children. Here are some of the comments I've discovered on medical websites:
- "Numerous studies have reported that child sexual abuse is related to adult mental health problems including depression." (The Healthy Place, "The Relation Between Depression and Sexual Abuse, Violence, PTSD"
- The National Institute of Health, did a case study of depression in adults who were abused as children. "Objective of the study: To examine the association between sexual abuse in childhood and adult depression in women. Here are the results. Conclusion: A positive association between child sexual abuse and depression was confirmed, but this was confined to more severe abuse (penetration or attempted penetration)."
I could list more, but it's enough to say there is a reason, and it's not our fault.
While writing this article I want to express that I'm not constantly dragging myself around with a glum look on my face (though some at work may argue that point). There have been times in my life of great joy, laughter, and peace. Situations regarding position or possessions in life have never affected me. It's the stress of life that pulls me down. I think if my brain was normal, it probably would handle those situations better. For some reason, stress quickly depletes my brain of the needed chemicals to cope.
The book "Stolen Tomorrows - Understanding and Treating Women's Childhood Sexual Abuse" by Steven Levenkron, confirms the fact that there are chemical and physical effects of trauma on the brain. He states, "So it is with the molested child: as she grows to adulthood, she is continually affected by her earlier victimization, not even aware of her her perspective has been altered. - Life experiences can change the way the brain functions."
So, I've said all this to say to you, that if you have been abused as a child and wrestled with depression as an adult, you are not alone. Once again, the effects of one selfish act upon an innocent child are widespread. I've always believed that understanding ourselves, why we act the way we do, or struggle with the residual effect, is an important part of overcoming.
In conclusion, if you have been sexually abused as a child, I encourage you to leave the victim mentality behind, rise above, and be the strong survivor who overcomes the past - even if it takes a little while pill to do it.