Monday, January 9, 2012

Depression -- The Hidden Disease

The beginning of each new year always seems to be a time of reflection, contemplation, and renewal.

In the past year I've been more personal on this blog than I have since I started writing in 2007. I've talked about food addition & my struggles with jealousy, dealing with alcoholism in my family, my struggles with accepting my body & being overweight, admitting that I often eat through my feelingsadmitted how it took me over two years to give up gluten completely...

But one thing I haven't shared quite as much about is that I struggle with depression and anxiety on a daily basis.  I've dealt with severe anxiety as long as I can remember. I remember dreading tests in school as young as 5 years old.... as an adult I struggle with things like weekly meetings at work. I dread them. I know nothing will happen to me... but I struggle with the thoughts that I may not know something I should, that I will be called out, that I will get reprimanded for something I'm not doing correctly. Often these negative thoughts swirl around me throughout the day. When that happens depression can set in.

I've always been introverted. I become overwhelmed easily. I am the one to stand against the wall and watch the party taking place instead of joining in. It takes nearly all of my energy just to be in the room and process everything that's going on. It's not that I'm rude, excruciatingly shy, or a snob... I just don't function well in that type of setting. I express myself best through writing and re-writing. It takes me a long time to discover why certain feelings arise (anger, frustration, sadness, even joy, etc...) and then why I feel them.

 And this year, as with all years has been a challenge. I've delved into those thoughts and feelings, shared them openly. Worked with a life coach to learn how to make goals, to learn how to prepare myself for stressful situations, and to accept myself exactly where I am.

My co-worker and dear friend Jennifer wrote a post this morning sharing about her own journey through depression and anxiety and she shared a few paragraphs of a recent post by Jenny of The Bloggess.
” When cancer sufferers fight, recover, and go into remission we laud their bravery.  We call them survivors.  Because they are.
When depression sufferers fight, recover and go into remission we seldom even know, simply because so many suffer in the dark…ashamed to admit something they see as a personal weakness…afraid that people will worry, and more afraid that they won’t.  We find ourselves unable to do anything but cling to the couch and force ourselves to breathe.
When you come out of the grips of a depression there is an incredible relief, but not one you feel allowed to celebrate.  Instead, the feeling of victory is replaced with anxiety that it will happen again, and with shame and vulnerability when you see how your illness affected your family, your work, everything left untouched while you struggled to survive.  We come back to life thinner, paler, weaker…but as survivors.  Survivors who don’t get pats on the back from coworkers who congratulate them on making it.  Survivors who wake to more work than before because their friends and family are exhausted from helping them fight a battle they may not even understand.”  Read More.
Jenny's post spoke volumes to me. I applaud her for her honestly. Depression, anxiety... they are silent diseases. They affect more people than you know. I hope you'll read her post.

I'm thankful I had a doctor several years ago who was able to convince me that admitting and taking medication for my depression and anxiety would not make me a bad person. It would help me to function in life instead of constantly being afraid. Even though the stigma of mental diseases and disorders is not as prevalent as it once was... it's still there. We still judge. We assume that people who are "depressed" are simply too weak to deal with their problems. And these thoughts are just not true. These disorders are real, they are serious, and they are treatable. 

To learn more about depression and anxiety please visit: The Anxiety Disorders Association of America and the Anxiety and Panic Disorders Help Center at WebMD.

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  1. Ph sweet friend, we continue to have so much in common. I too am pretty much in a flux of chronic depression and anxiety (weird mix).

    Prayers, spoons, socks and love.

  2. Oh, girl. So many people live this way. Society makes it so hard to be a woman, wife, mother, etc. I'll be praying for you! Here's to a good year and good things and good thoughts!

  3. I am right there with you. I suffer from depression and anxiety. My husband was diagnosed with Bipolar II back in 2009.

  4. I know how hard it is to admit that you have depression and anxiety. I hope that people realize, that if anything, we are stronger than most people because we fight every minute of every day to just get by. We fight twice as hard for happiness which makes it twice as sweet once we find it.

  5. I know how hard it is to admit that you have depression and anxiety. I hope that people realize, that if anything, we are stronger than most people because we fight every minute of every day to just get by. We fight twice as hard for happiness which makes it twice as sweet once we find it.

  6. I relate so deeply to this post. Thank you for sharing. I'm not sure how to share right now.

  7. I suffered depression for most my life.
    I am 50 this month.

    I found gluten to be causing IBS, so gave it up
    three years ago. That was the end of my chronic

  8. Ginger -- I always knew we were kindred spirits my dear friend!! (((hugs!!))) and i love that tag line... love, spoons, and socks!

    Abby -- (((hugs))) isn't that the truth! Society really does expect so much from us... and there's only so far I can stretch! lol Blessings and happy new year to you sweet girl!

    3littlemonkeys -- I think that's such a huge part of this journey is realizing we are not alone! SO glad you commented!! It's amazing how many things we *think* we have to conquer alone.

    Jenn (Cupcake Girl) -- loved your post so much and your honesty in sharing. That's what I love about, despite your own struggles, you have true joy that shines through. Love you tons girl!

    Anonymous1 -- simply acknowledging and accepting your struggles is a huge step. You don't have to have an audience to heal, just knowing who you really are and asking for help when you need it is a monumental milestone. You're not alone!! Thank you for reading and commenting! (((hugs!!)))

    Anoymous2 -- What an amazing story! So glad your were able to find a cure for your chronic depression. That gives hope to all of us! Thanks so much for commenting and happy 50th!!

  9. Carrie-

    I too, suffered from depression and anxiety for many years in my 20s. Our damaged guts from celiac and gluten lead to issues with serotonin along side malabsorption of key vitamins/minerals/amino acids.

    Please, please order "The Mood Cure" by Julia Ross. She looks at the underlying biomedical causes of depression and anxiety. Through temporary amino acid supplementation, these mood issues are rectified.

    Problem being, you can't be on SSRIs. I take 5-HTP now when I need it in lieu of pharmaceuticals.

  10. Nicolette -- Thank you for your insight. If I ever feel the need to change my drug regimen, I'll talk to my doctor about the book & information you've shared!

  11. In the words of my family physician "life is damned hard. If you need help, it's no different than a diabetic who needs insulin."

    It took draging in my husband to hear the Dr speak because he couldn't wrap his head around my depression and anxiety. Just because you don't wear a cast doesn't mean something isn't "broken." Thank God for modern medicine!

  12. In the words of my family physician "life is damned hard. If you need help, it's no different than a diabetic who needs insulin."

    It took physically draging my husband in to hear the Dr speak because he couldn't wrap his head around my depression and anxiety. Just because you don't wear a cast doesn't mean something isn't "broken." Thank God for modern medicine!

  13. Liz -- I LOVE that!! And your doctor sounds like a wonderful person!! :-) Love your comment!

  14. Thanks so much for such a beautiful, wonderful, honest and authentic post, Carrie.

  15. I noticed that one other person mentioned that after they went gluten free their depression ended.

    All of my life I suffered from severe debilitating depression and anxiety. I had been labled bipolar among other things and as it turned out it was Celiac disease. After I went gluten free and stopped taking benzodiazepines I was better than ever! No longer did I feel suicidal and severely anxious. I only wish doctors would have gotten to the root of my problems rather than covering it all up with psych drugs. Being gluten free has literally saved my life.

    I get a new beginning and today I am well. An incredible Victory!

  16. Excellent post Carrie, I could relate to this fully! Thank you for having the courage to post this.

  17. I think we are sisters from another mother girl! I can identify with most everything you post!! I appreciate your honesty so much. I wish we lived closer so I could get to know you in person. I am blessed to know you through the cyber world :) You are AWESOME!

    Karla Diaz

  18. What a lovely, thoughtful post, Carrie. It seems amazing sometimes that so many of us have so much in common. I guess it shouldn't, though, since we are drawn to the same ideas and activities.

    I can relate, as have others, on so many levels. Yay! for introverts. No cheers for depression, however. It's a bear.


  19. Thank you so much for your heartfelt post Carrie. It's so brave of you to share these things. Let me just say that I'm right there with you sister. I've battled anxiety & depression for most of my life.

    One day several years ago, my mom was standing in her front yard trying to understand my struggles. She looked at me and said, "Stephanie, I think you must feel the world more." Her comment resonated so deeply. It wasn't meant to be hurtful, it was just a simple observation - but so true. So true mom, so true...

    Big Hugs to you. You're definitely not alone.

  20. Stigma is lifting slowly - but we have a long way to go. Mental health issues scare people and we live in a very isolating society. I am no stranger to anxiety - it can be crippling. Your honest post is most refreshing - thank you.

  21. You are amazing simply by just posting this on your blog, and you are well on your way to healing whatever it is you need to heal. This is my year of 'healing' and I hope it goes well. I read that every adult will experience depression at least once in their lives. Its debilitating and epidemic. It's also a cultural problem, our system of lacking communities, long work hours and lack of support is just at the surface of our problems. We all have struggles, you are not alone.
    You are strong and I am proud of you for sharing.
    Hope you'll have an amazing 2012.

  22. I feel like I've just found a new friend. It's ironic, because being so much alike, if we were to actually meet in person as two introverts, we'd be far less likely to discover we had anything in common, but writing's a completely different ball game. Thank you for your honesty. Not that a single word of encouragement makes everything better, but if it lifts your spirits if only for a moment, I need to add that I think your website is amazing. As I've adapted to baking and eating gluten free over the last couple years, it has been such an encouragement and incredible resource. Thank you for all that you pour into it.
    P.S. I LOVE the graphic you used on this post. I need it on my wall!

  23. Awesome that you shared this which must have been humbling. I too have experienced depression and can recommend Bob Proctor's Born Rich program. It has helped lift my vibration to a positive level and keep it there. I would also recommend exercise (walking, anything), vitamin B-complex, and Bach remedies. These all changed my life drastically. Hope this helps in your walk to uplift your vibrations.

  24. This post really touched me, as I too have suffered (and continue to) from anxiety and depression most of my life. Now that I have been gluten-free for over a year, I had hoped that my old friends would leave me. But thought patterns become so ingrained that even if the depression was aided by my coeliac disease, they won't necessarily go away as easily as the other symptoms.

    It's always good to know you aren't alone.