In the midst of most wars there is at least one defining battle or turning point that determines the outcome. Such was the case with my inner war with depression. Accepting my depression and need to take medication to treat it has not been easy. I do not like to take medication of any kind. Even during seasons of deep depression, I often would not take my medication as prescribed. But a routine trip to the grocery store in August 2007 caused me to rethink how I managed my depression.
Late one afternoon in August 2007, my children and I went to the grocery store to purchase the food I needed to make dinner. At the time, our financial circumstances were so dire that I was working three jobs to put food on the table. During this time period, I went to the grocery store daily because I never knew how much money I would have from one day to the next.
As I approached the grocery store on that day in August 2007, I knew exactly what I needed to buy to make dinner. But somewhere between the parking lot and the inside of the grocery store my mind went blank and I could not remember the three items that I needed to purchase. Up until that point, I had never forgotten anything. I was that hamster running on her wheel with all of my to do lists tucked neatly away in my head. In an attempt to jog my memory, I began walking up and down the aisles of the grocery store with my children following close behind. I thought that if I just kept walking eventually my mini grocery list would magically reappear in my head. My children, who thought that I had finally lost it, kept asking me what I was doing.
Unfortunately, walking the aisles did not help. It only made me more panicked and frightened. I finally left my children in an aisle and went to the bathroom to call a friend. As I explained the situation to her, I broke down. She told me to leave the store, buy dinner at a fast-food drive through, and go home. I walked out of the bathroom and told my children that we were leaving.
Looking back I realize that in the months leading up to my episode at the grocery store, my depression was not fully under control. Even though I faithfully took 20 milligrams of Lexapro daily as prescribed, I still only had about seven good days a month. My brain seemed to misfire, as if a critical piece was missing. At times my mind raced. I was overwhelmed and filled with anxiety. Essentially, I had run straight off my hamster wheel into a wall.
The grocery store incident prompted me to see my then physician to discuss the symptoms I had ignored over the previous several months. My physician concluded that I needed to take another medication with Lexapro. Although it was financial suicide, I stopped working my three jobs so that I could rest and monitor how my new medication regime affected my depression.
In the solitude of the days that followed, I reflected on the grocery store episode. This episode was a turning point because it pushed me to explore and become mindfully aware of my inner self. My depression has been well controlled for several years. I wholeheartedly embrace my depression. As such, I will not carry the shame birthed by a fearful ignorance that continues to stifle any healthy discussion about this serious but manageable and treatable medical condition.
To those of you in the throes of your own depression I offer this: You may be cracked and chipped on every side but your depression has not crushed or conquered you. Do not despair, you will not be defeated. You are at a turning point and victory is close at hand. As always be encouraged, empowered, and emboldened to courageously communicate your truth!
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Need help? In the U.S., call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.