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Monday, March 11, 2013

Depression....Where do you reach for comfort? Guest Post by Adventures of a Corn Fed Farm Princess



Many of us have struggled with depression at some point in time.
There is always something we reach toward for comfort.
Where do you reach for comfort?

Today, I am honored to share the journey of the ever amazing Betsy, from
Adventures of a Corn Fed Farm Princess.  

Thank you, Betsy for so graciously sharing your story / your self here on this page.
You are amazing and beautiful, and I am thankful for you.

And now... I give you, Betsy:

Thank you, Jenn for giving me this space on your blog to share my struggle with depression, and my journey towards good mental health!  I'm honored that you asked me.

My battle with depression and self-loathing/low self-esteem really began when I was five years old.  It's hard to imagine a child being depressed, or knowing enough to dislike themselves, but I truly can trace it back that far.  My dad (and I use that term loosely - he is in name only) left our family that year and never looked back.  For some reason, I took this as a personal insult, and in the ensuing years would come to believe that I was not good enough, had nothing to offer that was of enough interest, to make anyone love me.  It wasn't a conscious thought process, I just knew.

I dealt with more loss and abandonment by family members, and began packing on weight to insulate myself from people getting too close to me.  I'm not even sure how I knew this was an option, but it became my safe haven.  The summer before I turned 13, I decided that I'd had enough.  I was going to lose weight, and I did - 80 pounds.  I was raped the following spring, and went right back into my old habits, packing on the weight and keeping people out, choices that brought me to where I am today:  an isolated, lonely woman who weighs over 400 pounds.  I know that underneath all that, I am a good person with a lot to offer - but depression and low self-esteem, that feeling that I'm not worth saving, make it nearly impossible to get healthy.  I wish that weight loss were as simple as stepping away from the ice cream and going for a run - but there is some serious emotional damage that allows you to get to be (and stay at) this size, and I know I have to work through that before I can work on the physical.

Depression is a cruel mistress.  One day -one minute- you feel fine, and something triggers you into a nosedive.  It whispers to you that you are no good to anyone, that you need to be alone, stay alone, and that there is no hope left, nothing good to look forward to.  It stops you from enjoying the things you once loved. It makes it impossible to see that you desperately need help - and keeps you from going to get that help.  It's a terribly deep hole and it makes you believe that there is no way -and no reason- to climb out.   I have been in the lowest part of that hole, and I know there is a way out.

Three years ago this June, I found myself parked by the river on a beautiful summer evening.  But I wasn't there to listen to the gentle waves, or enjoy the scenery.  I was looking at the bridge, wondering if the fall would kill me or simply injure me.  Wondering if they would find my body, or if my mom would have to wonder forever what became of me.  Wondering what it would feel like to just slip under the water and not have to fight anymore.  I was 33 years old, unemployed, massively overweight, struggling with (non-weight-related) health issues that make it hard for me to get a job, so very single, childless, and truly felt hopeless.  (Depression is awful, but hopelessness is worse.)

I brought my phone with me that night.  I don't know why I bothered - except that deep inside I knew this wasn't what I wanted to do.  I was getting out of the car when the phone rang, and it was my mom.  My very best friend, the one person who has had my back my entire life - and I knew I couldn't do this to her.  She asked me where I was, and I lied and said the first thing that came to mind - the Dairy Queen that's near where I was.  I've never told her the truth about that night - and I still can't eat their ice cream.

A couple of things happened after that night.  I found a therapist, and saw her weekly.  I wish that I could still afford to see her, but without insurance, I can't.  The lack of mental health care in this country for low-income/uninsured people is appalling.  Instead of Kim Kardashian's baby, or Lindsay's latest arrest, we should be talking about THAT in the news every day.  [putting my soapbox away]

The other thing that happened was something I never expected.  I found an amazing online community, strangers I have never met, on Facebook.  At first, this little group consisted of a few friends.  Then it grew to include a few of their friends.  Eventually, it would expand to include people I met through my own FB page, and the pages of other wonderful people.  Those first few friends and friends-of-friends are fully credited with saving my sanity.  When depression makes me isolate myself, these friends will hunt me down and drag me back into the light.  When I'm struggling, when I want to just disappear, I know that I can reach out to any of them and they will listen and love me with zero judgments.

And that's really what I want the take-away message of this to be.  Depression is a tough bitch, for sure.  You can feel like you're drowning in it.  But there is HOPE, and that is crucial.  If you know someone who is struggling with a mental health issue like depression, be their friend.  The most important tool in my fight is the knowledge that I'm not alone, that there are reasons to go on living, and that I am loved.  Encourage them as much as possible to seek treatment.  It is not an easy conversation to have, but it's necessary.  When you are buried in depression, it's so hard to have perspective, and to see that you need help.

If you are struggling with depression yourself, please PLEASE get help.  There is absolutely no shame in admitting that you can't do this yourself.  Talk therapy, medication, an exercise program, a pet, volunteering...there are a lot of options that work to alleviate depression, and it's imperative to find the one (or combination of things) that works for you.  You don't have to live this way.  And that's not to say that there is a magic cure, that I don't have days (or periods of time) when I still struggle.  But having those tools and the knowledge that there is light at the end of the tunnel are what keep me going.  I used to scoff when people would say "happiness is a choice", because I was taking them too literally, thinking they meant it in a "cheer up buttercup" way, like you can just decide to not be depressed.  But what it really means is just what it says...happiness is an option that's available to us if we put in the work to get there!

Wow!  Thank you so much, Betsy for sharing your story.  I am so grateful for you.


Happiness IS a choice available to you.
Someone DOES love you and someone WILL miss you.

Please be sure to go visit Betsy at Adventures of a Corn Fed Farm Princess.

As always, thank you for reading my blog!!

~Jenn



4 comments:

  1. What a wonderful post.....Thank you for sharing.....

    ReplyDelete
  2. Seriously, I'm not one to just go all willy nilly and cry, but this post...I could have written a lot of it. I, too, deal with abandonment issues, even now. Although I am married and have kids, I've often feared they'd leave one day and just not look back, because I wasn't enough, because I wasn't GOOD enough.
    Betsy, this post was an amazing display of strength. I wish you lived in Kentucky, because I'd TOTALLY be your friend in person. And I hope to become your friend online.

    ReplyDelete
  3. nichole alfieri-andersonApril 1, 2014 at 8:00 AM

    Thank you for sharing your story. I too, suffer from depression, and understand the deep, dark pit. I'm glad you found light at the end of the tunnel. I'd love to be friends as well. Wishing you much love and happiness. Be well.

    ReplyDelete

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