Friday, May 27, 2011

To Write Love...a Blog about Depression (CC Winners)

Anyone who sees me on a normal day will recognize this bracelet dangling from my wrist. Other days, you'll probably see me sporting a "To Write Love On Her Arms" tee-shirt. I'm a huge fan of the organization and all they do for people who suffer from depression and families/friends of suicide victims and survivors (including families and friends) of suicide attempts. I can't tell you what they mean to me. And I also can't tell you how I suffer. The words don't always come out the way I want them to, and I fear talking about the dark days--as if even mentioning what I go through might send me back into the pitch. So who better than J.S. Wayne to stand with me and bring about awareness with his experience and gift with words. If you've never met him, never read a word he's is my most sincere honor to introduce you to J.S. Wayne.

I would like to believe that I am unique. In many ways, I am. I can take a great deal of pride in knowing that I have done things and been places that most people have never done, been, or seen. I’ve had a rich and full life so far, and I hope that it continues to be so.

But in one way, I am not unique at all.

I am one of nearly forty-two million Americans, or 16.5% of the total population, who suffers from depression.

We’ve all seen the commercials featuring the (mostly women) sitting on her couch looking sad while the world passes her by. “Depression hurts,” is the tagline for these commercials. And there’s a very good reason for that.

But before we get into the whys and wherefores, we first have to set a working definition of depression. So:

The DSM-IV, the gold standard in diagnosing mental illness among the psychological/psychiatric community for decades, defines depression as a complex of symptoms stemming from a biochemical imbalance in the brain that is severe enough to interfere with a person’s inability to function normally in a job, relationship, or other social or private matters and lasts more than two weeks. The symptoms include insomnia or needing excessive amounts of sleep, depressed mood during most of the day, loss of interest in activities that normally the person enjoys, significant weight loss or gain (equal to or more than 5% of the person’s normal body weight in a one-month period), apparent inability to move or think quickly as observed by others, fatigue or loss of energy nearly every day, feelings of worthlessness or excessive or irrational guilt (“I’m sorry I was ever born, look at all the trouble I’ve caused”), diminished ability to think or concentrate, and recurrent or obsessive thoughts of death, suicide, or a specific plan or attempt to commit suicide.

To be considered depressed, one must exhibit at least five out of the nine traits listed above; and this is only for ONE type of depression (major depressive episode); the DSM-IV lists out NINE specific kinds of depression or depressive disorder. At least one of the five traits exhibited must be either depressed mood or loss of interest or pleasure.

At one point or another, I have exhibited Every. Last. One.

Frightening, isn’t it?

Depression is not just in a person’s mind; according to the National Institute for Mental Health, suicide is the third-leading cause of death among people ages 15-24. Women are twice as likely as men to experience depression; but men are THREE TIMES more likely to attempt or commit suicide as women.

People experiencing depression will often know they are acting irrationally or “out of character,” but can’t seem to figure out why. They may be lethargic or capable of running for days on end on an amount of sleep that a healthy person would find wholly inadequate. Depression is often linked to physical complaints such as joint or back pain that are untraceable and undetectable upon physical examination. So, yes, when the commercials say that depression hurts, they mean to be taken very literally, in a wide variety of senses.

Depression hurts the sufferer; it also hurts the people who care about and rely on the sufferer. Billions of dollars are lost in worker productivity and medical expenses each year as a direct result of depression. It tears families and lives apart. People lose their jobs, their houses, and even, tragically, their lives because of depression every year, in mind-boggling numbers.

If you just read the symptom list I gave above and said, “Hey, that sounds like me,” and you’re still reading this, you need to be on the phone or the web, getting in touch with your family. A friend. Your doctor. Your priest (or equivalent religious figure or aid). Anyone you love or trust enough to be honest about what you’re feeling, and why. And then you need to get help.

Some people find that medication works well. Some people alter their habits and lifestyle in a healthy way with remarkable results. Active meditation is the best way for some, while others find classical treatment from a qualified therapist works. Whatever YOUR best way is, find it. Don’t keep it to yourself. Don’t suffer in silence. Don’t let yourself become another tragic statistic.

It takes a lot of courage to ask for help. It may be the hardest thing you’ll ever do.

But it may save your job, your marriage, or even your life.

Weighed against that, isn’t it worth it? It won’t be comfortable; it won’t be easy. I’m not going to tell you it is.

But I swear on everything I hold sacred that it is worth it. And it’s not your fault. It’s not a failing or a weakness. It’s not something you see coming, or that you can say will never happen to you. But there is help. There is hope. And there are a hell of a lot of people out there who’ve been there and understand.

You’re talking to one of them now.

If you or someone you know is experiencing any or all of the symptoms I listed above, do your homework. Ask questions. Listen to the answers. And call or visit any of these resources. Don’t wait. Don’t hesitate.

You may save a life.

Still need more convincing? Stop over to J.S. Wayne's Blog and read Melissa's Secret. Everyone should read this story! It can really open your eyes.

1-800-273-8255 is the number for the Suicide Prevention Hotline in the US. Check your directory for the appropriate number for your locale. Make this your first call, especially if you have ANY reason to believe that you or the person you’re concerned about may be thinking about suicide.

Online Resources:

American Foundation for Suicide PreventionDepression and Suicide Resources and Information

To Write Love On Her Arms (clickable picture link)Resources and Assistance for Sufferers of Drug Abuse, Depression, Suicide Attempts, and Their Families

Allure Van Sanz T-shirt
Allure Van Sanz Ebook (Your choice of any Noble book)
Erotic author J.S. Wayne's copy of Angels Would Fall
Erotic author J.S. Wayne's copy of Angel of the Morning

Colon Cancer Awareness Giveaway Winners:
AVS Book - Mona Risk
Patti Shenberger Print Book - Wendy S. Marcus
Avril Ashton's Ebook - Neecy


jswayne said...

Hi, Allure!
I love the pictures you put in; they really add a lot of impact, and it looks wonderful.
I'll be checking back throughout the day!


Brita Addams said...

Hi J.S. and Allure,

WOW! I am in awe of your courage and the beautiful way you speak about this insidious condition. My father(deceased), sister, two brothers, my husband (at one time) and two of my three children all suffer from depression and no, it isn't pretty.

From the other side, one who hasn't suffered from it, but has been the one who was there to help pick up the pieces of what my loved ones consider their shattered lives, it is devastating on all counts.

It's invasive, confounding and it robs a person of their very ability to get out of life all that's beautiful. The highs are frightening, because you know the crash is coming, and that more frightening.

My arms around you both and thank you for your eloquently stated honesty. Everyone should read this.


R. Renee Vickers said...

Beautiful blog post. I suffer from depression from time to time and the hardest thing for me to do is to admit it to my family. I know they see it, but I know if I said the words they would worry about me. I think it would be more unbearable to have that happen. Thankfully the symptoms don't last too long and I'm able to get past it.

Thanks for writing! :)

J.S. Wayne said...

@Brita: Thank you so much for coming by today. A lot of people don't realize that their loved ones are hurting and suffering right along with them; it's even worse when the person with depression doesn't understand why they feel or act the way they do. My hope is that more people will do the wise thing and ask questions, rather than the easy and comfortable thing, which is simply to ignore it and hope it will go away on its own. I hope that all in your family are well, or at least healing, and I appreciate you coming by!
@ Renee: Asking for help or admitting you have a problem takes a lot of courage. Suffering in silence is all too often the route that depression sufferers choose, with frequently tragic results.
It's not easy to admit, "I have a problem." But think how much harder it is on your loved ones to not be able to understand what's wrong. Besides: what happens on the day when one thing too many happens and it DOESN'T just go away? As a friend, I'd hate to see that happen. Don't let it, okay?
If you need help, ask.
Thanks for being here!

Helen said...

Wow that was very touching.. I had no idea that some people had such a rough time with depression... Thanks for the touching info

jswayne said...

@ Helen:
Thank you for being here today!
Depression isn't easy; not for the person who has it or the people around them. The good news, and one of the saddest things about depression, is that it doesn't HAVE to be as devastating as so many people allow it to become. Education and breaking the silence really are the biggest keys. If this helps only one person or saves one life, I'll call that a good day and time well spent!

Leanne109 said...

Depression runs in my family. Congrats on being courageous enough to share your story! I hope they one day find better med to help control this awful disease.

Margie Church said...

Js, thank you for sharing your story. It takes courage to live boldly and that, my friend, you are doing.

My father committed suicide. He wasn't in the prime of his life, but he wasn't beyond his years. He wasn't healthy. In fact, he had only weeks to live but he had lived - rather, existed, for years, my entire life, in the cloud of depression, brought on by degrading physical ailments. They robbed him of everything. The man my mother married was a man I never knew. It's complicated to explain to someone who hasn't lived with a person who merely goes through the motions of life, hoping to die, craving it, and then one day accomplishes their mission. I've come to believe that people who warn of suicidal feelings really want help and by God, should be helped through every effort possible. And those who really want to die, make it happen with no second chances. When my father died, my first reaction was utter devastation that he'd died alone. I can't condemn his actions and in my heart of hearts, I know Jesus was there crying with him when he died. I didn't get to say goodbye in any typical fashion. It was ugly to have the police involved and the horrible rumors and be surrounded by the gossip of those who knew me. People came right out and asked whether he was buried in the church, because at the time some Catholic churches would have refused. The impact of my father's action has been profoundly different for all his surviving 7 children and his wife. For a year after my father's death, I did numerous things that by all rights, should have killed me too. A few years ago in church, I spoke about the women's prayer group I belonged to at the time. They prayed me through the ordeal. My heart aches for everyone who loses a family member or friend to suicide. Nobody wants to bring up the person's name because of how they died. There's a horrible stigma attached to suicide. And sometimes I long to hear my father's name. For somebody to say they knew him. Hear the music of his name on my ears and somebody, just somebody saying they knew Jacky when he was such a nice, happy guy. I pray those who need help, get it because somebody has recognized their need before it's too late. thanks for letting me share.

jswayne said...

@ Leanne: I appreciate you being here!
Medication can help, but for some people, like me, it's not the answer. I personally dislike and distrust medication simply because I don't like the side effects or the "numb" feelings that seem to accompany them. I have my ways of coping, but sometimes it takes someone who knows and loves me saying "What the HELL is WRONG with you?" to make me notice that I'm off. When that happens, I don't take any chances; whereas a lot of people might take refuge in a bottle, for example, that's the only time I won't have alcohol in my house. Depression runs in my family too, but I never thought it could happen to me until it did. For those for whom medication IS the answer, I hope they find better ones that don't carry the warning label "May cause suicide." o_O Makes you wonder, doesn't it?
Thanks again for coming by!

jswayne said...

@ Margie:
Thanks for coming by and telling your story. I ached reading it. If more people shared their stories instead of hiding them, I think more lives could be saved. Part of the problem is that it's hard to confront someone you love, even when you know they're just not right. As I said to Brita, sometimes you have to do the hard thing to do the right thing. I'm grateful every day for my own faith, which sustains me when everything else sometimes just isn't enough; I'm even more glad that you came through such a horrible ordeal with your sense of humor and zest for life intact. There are a lot of people out there who might never have come back from that, and my hat's off to you for being stronger than such a tragedy!

AllureVanSanz said...

Margie, you totally made me cry. Stories like this get me all choked up. I'm so sorry you had to go through all the pain and suffering that comes with this. You and J.S's bravery made me want to share a haunting story of my own. It can be a little hard to read. (Or maybe it's just me and it has to be in two parts or more.)

I used to run a blog to help people with Fibromyalgia. I say used to, because one day, something happened that froze me like a lake in MI midwinter.

Because of the constant pain that comes with Fibro, sufferers are in a state of depression more often than not. I've tried very hard to live my life upbeat, and positive by trying to remind myself of what other people have to go through. (See St. Jude's post)

It works to keep my mind busy, but Depression still comes.

Determined to make a difference instead of succumb to my condition and the depression it brings, I wrote a blog where my constant research into alternative medicines was well received. I spoke out against one drug in particular that many doctors claimed had "no suicidal tendencies" but that I knew for a fact did. I handcuffed myself to my bed and called my husband telling him he needed to come home. I had an impulse to commit suicide and no ability to control it. It was the drugs...I knew it. Sure, I'd felt the nag of depression before, but this was a compulsion. As natural as my brain telling me I needed to take a step forward--it was now telling me "the gun is in the closet".

Infuriated by my doctor's insisting my urge was only my depression and not the drugs, I decided to speak out against the med anyway.

A lot of people swear by the medication, but drugs hit people differently. You can't say "most people are just fine, it must be you" and sweep the problem under the rug.

So I didn't. I made a post about the drug and warned people that despite claims to the CAN give you a suicidal impulse (you see it all the time with other drugs meant for Fibro, too).

Within a month I received a letter that broke my heart.

AllureVanSanz said...

I hadn't checked my mail in a while and was furious with myself when I got a letter from a guy whose wife had committed suicide and I wasn't there for him right away. Two weeks later I was reading his story.

The two of them had fought the night before she died over something silly, and sometime in the night, she went up to the attic, and hung herself directly over the rooms of her two little girls.

The man was absolutely tore up, claiming he'd been depressed himself and couldn't understand why such a small fight would affect her so much. She loved her children beyond all else and yet left them and him! He didn't understand at all...and then he found my blog post about the drug I'd been on and what I almost did and for the first time he felt reassured. He thanked me.

He said, without my post he would've never known why his wife did what she did...and he asked me "do you think it's possible, maybe, that she didn't want to do it, she didn't mean to leave her girls"?

Even now, typing it out again, I'm crying like a baby. I knew what he needed me to say, but in truth how could I really know what went on?

And then I just did. I felt strongly that what happened to me, happened to this other woman, too. I wrote him a long letter. His wife, I said, probably experienced the same compulsion I had. I explained that all of my research into drugs and depression helped me recognize the signs of danger and take action. I knew what I was going to do and that I wasn't going to stop until it was done, so I handcuffed myself and made it impossible. (I had handcuffs near the bed, of course.)

His wife had no idea what was going on. She took drugs for epilepsy, not depression. How could she know what to expect when the warning wasn't part of the label (it has since been added and the company has even been to court now regarding suicides)?

Knowing all of that I told him... "Your wife didn't mean to leave you, and she definitely didn't want to leave those girls. I firmly believe, with all of my heart...her death was an accident of medication."

As a logical person, I know there is a chance I'm wrong. As a mother, though, I truly feel as though I'm not.

The worst part for me was him saying..."If I'd only researched and read your blog a few weeks ago, maybe I could have saved her."

I've been torn up ever since, and I barely touch the blog unless I have big information. At first I thought receiving this letter gave me a great opportunity to give this man some closure. And I still do believe that, but the impact--the anger at this drug company, the horror I felt for this guy and his little girls...I still sweat whenever I open a new piece of mail.

Thank you all for coming today, and I hope you find the information here helpful and in plenty of time.

jswayne said...

@ Allure:
It's rare that I don't know what to say; this is one of those times. I can't even begin to imagine what you must feel like even now. All I can say is, I'm so very grateful you made it through.
"One man's meat is another man's poison" applies just as much to meds as anything else; things that you have to take to keep you functional would probably kill me, and vice versa. I know people who've gone through several iterations of medication trying to find something that worked. Most of them, I'm pleased and relieved to report, have found things that worked for them and are doing quite well. Some haven't found their "correct" answer yet. But I pray every day that they will.
The burden you carry is a hard one; between your own illnesses and the people whose causes you champion, that takes strength and courage that no one can EVER deny. And I salute you for it.
Since I didn't say it earlier (another epic fail from yours truly :P), thank you to Allure, our talented, lovely, and gracious host, for having me here today in the service of such worthy and deserving causes. I'm truly honored that you asked me to be a part of it, and I hope that maybe because of today, there may be a little more light in the world tonight for someone. Let me know when the next one comes; I'll be right there!

Margie Church said...

Allure and Js, I always wonder what brings people together. Especially when there's no real reason for them to be drawn together. I found myself wondering that about you two and Kb. I recently discovered what it is about Kb that gives me a similar connection. And now I know yours.

Allure, I'm glad you could offer this man some comfort. I can imagine my mom's similar pain. She went to the nursing home with my 15-year-old sister to get the laundry she did for a few residents. If she hadn't gone or paid more attention maybe she could have stopped him? That's one of the horrible parts of suicide. My remember sitting at my mom's that night and she was beside herself thinking his soul was damned to hell for what he'd done. I flew out of the chair and the words, "Jesus was with him when he died," lept from mouth. She was so startled and so was I. A friend's daughter killed herself with a had my father. I was so upset for days and days. About a year later, I spoke to the father and took that chance that he would like to hear the music of his daughter's name, Michaela. He was glad to hear from me and so, Allure and anyone else, if you can offer solace do it. The pain is deep and raw for a long time.

vin said...

Hi Allure,

When someone has depression, sometimes it is the Anxiety that precedes that. Anxiety is the nervousness, on edge feeling, cannot relax, worrying about the future, fear of being judged, fear of failure, fear of not being good enough etc. It may manifest as perfectionism eg when you cannot do something properly, you rather not do it at all. Sometimes knowing this will help especially when you try to address it with counselling/CBT/ACT.


Eternity Rose said...

Dear Allure and Everyone who has had the courage to post and share about this,

A friend showed me this post and several others for awareness month, and this first thing that came to my mind was simple.

Thank you.

A show I used to watch was talking about prejudice, and even though its a unrelated topic here the quote still stick in my head. "When something like this happens its never ok when just one person jumps up, Every one needs to jump up with them."

The people who have responded here makes me belive that, Thankfull it can be the case.

Ive dealt with depression off and on for many years now. Sometimes I know why its hitting me and sometimes the hardest part is trying to figure out why.

When i was younger I almost commited suicide. I was depressed, lonely and most of all angry. For things i could control in my life and things that even to this day I still struggle with, but have found a way to understand.

Knowing that Im not alone, then or now, Helps more than I could every explain to you guys. Thank you for your courage and your strength.

Suicide is never the answer, but neither is silence.

Thank you.

And to Allure, You are the kind of person that is to few and far between in this world, for doing this. You are that diamond in the rough and A rose in the desert, and I have no doubt that some one has read this post, and was able to finally make that phone call to their doctor, their school counselor or just a friend and saved them, mentally and/or physically saved them.

Thank you again everyone,

Eternity Rose

Eternity Rose said...

And to JS,

Not many men with talk about feelings in general, Let alone ones of this magnitude. Thank you for your openness on this. You are a Wonderful person.

Eternity Rose

J.S. Wayne said...

@ Vin: You're absolutely right. That is one symptom that is all too frequently overlooked. I'm embarrassed that I missed it myself, as it's one of the character traits that drives my loved ones...well, er, crazy! Thank you for pointing out my oversight, and for sharing your thoughts!

@ Rose: Thanks so much for being here. I agree entirely: sufferers and those who suffer with them need to speak with one voice. I'm so proud and honored that Allure trusted me with this delicate and painful issue, and hopeful that this will help someone who might otherwise not have been. Baring your soul and bleeding all over a page for all to see is never easy; but it IS worth it!

armouris said...

more info on depression here - Depression After Stressful Event

Nancy said...

This is such a great post. TO Write Love On Her Arms is such a great organization and I love supporting them as well. I have suffered from depression for many years and struggled with it alone until I reached out and got help. If people want to learn more about treating their depression symptoms, I recommend checking out