People are still in the post-holiday doldrums, that time of year where they're too broke to do anything cool, it's too fricken cold out to do anything fun (that you would tell people about, yes I know about the mattress mambo, thank you very much), and they're tired of vacuuming up pine needles (how the hell did they get under the couch cushions?). No one has anything to say, unless they're financially blessed with a lot of disposable income and able to afford a Christmas vacay (in other words, kidless), so all they do is harass their friends and coworkers with the obligatory (because you know half the time they don't give a crap what you did, they're just asking to be polite or kill time), "How was your Christmas?" Since the truth isn't pretty, I told most people, simply, "It was great, thanks! Santa was good to us. My mom came down and cooked a lot of food. It was nice to see everyone. How 'bout you?" Blah blah, canned response.
The canned response wasn't a lie, but it wasn't the complete truth. For a good part of the holidays, I was out of commission with gross stomach flu and allergy symptoms. I developed a rash two days before Christmas, felt icky and exhausted the next day, and by Christmas dinner, I was so ill, I wasn't able to enjoy the feast I'd prepared (beef tenderloin, roasted fennel parmesan, sweet potato casserole, and yorkshire puddings). The next two days were spent in bed or on the shitter. If my mom hadn't been visiting, the family would have starved. Ok, maybe not since there was a crapload (hmm.. poor word choice?) of pretty awesome leftovers in the fridge, but thanks to my mom, everyone didn't have to eat the same food three times a day, three days in a row. In addition to the stomach troubles, the benign-seeming rash erupted into huge, horrendously itchy hives that were so big they left bruises all over my limbs.
What had at first seemed like a bad virus turned out to be an allergic reaction to a new medication I'd started for depression. But which one? A week before Christmas, I had commenced acupuncture, Chinese herbs, and antidepressants at the same time. I was on a mission to get my head out of my ass, find a happy place, and make up for lost time by experimenting with various modalities. Eager to feel better in the new year, I stopped the herbs and prescription meds for a week and tried the Zoloft again. Unfortunately the second time trying that drug was worse. I was clearly allergic to Zoloft and not the Chinese herbs! Within two hours I was vomiting (three times in an hour), feeling dizzy and faint, and having muscle spasms. I should have sought medical attention, but didn't know it at the time. Did I tell anyone about that lovely experience? Hell, no! Don't you know it's inappropriate to talk about mental health issues and drugs?
Do people care about the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth if you aren't on trial? It's a lot easier to say, "I'm fine." when someone asks how you're doing rather than get into a big, long story but if you are battling depression, you need to talk to someone you trust and come up with a plan to change your life. You need to make changes to leave the sad place and be open to suggestions (once I thought the Gratitude Journal was the stupidest thing ever, but it kickstarted positive thinking that was the first step to feeling better). This said, there is also a time to seek professional help. See you doctor, talk about options, and make a plan for each day so you can feel you accomplished something.
If you know someone with depression, it may be hard to hear what she is going through, but just being there helps more than you know. If she is too draining to listen to, invite her out to activities so she knows you care. One of my dear friends went to yoga with me once a week when I was down and the time with her and on the mat were both positive.
Finally, but importantly, if you feel you are a danger to yourself or others, please seek medical help immediately. You are loved and deserve to feel better.
Love and light,
P.S. This post was written in January 2012. I was job hunting and decided not to publish at the time. Happily, going back to work clicked some sort of reboot button and got me out of a dark place (I think the routine helped). I worked for a little over a year and then decided to try being a stay at home mom again. It's been good. : )