Recognizing Depression in Myself

“Are you okay?” My friend asked. “It feels like even when I see you, I don’t see you. I’m wondering if maybe you’re depressed.”

She used a lot more words than that and they were phrased carefully, but that was the core of what my friend said to me. Yes I’m depressed. I’ve been depressed off and on since the beginning of 2013. I figured it was situational. 2013 was a year of transition for our family. All four of my kids were struggling in various ways. I pulled in and held tight, figuring that when things settled out, my state would also settle out. And I wasn’t depressed all the time. There have been months where I was content or even happy. Sometimes more than one month in a row. I said all of that to my friend and asked her when she last felt like she had seen me. I thought maybe she was noticing the latest downturn. The one that started building about the same time that school started.

“I’m not sure, a couple of years maybe?”

There was something about the way she said it which triggered a connection in my head. Two years ago this month, November 2012, I was having troubles with anxiety. I discussed it with my doctor and we decided to reduce my thyroid medicine to see if that would help. It did help. It brought the anxiety down enough that I was able to find the anxiety triggers and deactivate them. Howard and I have worked together on that. He started his anti-depressants. We’ve restructured how we see and manage anxiety so that it simply is not the problem that it used to be.

But then I thought about what my friend said. She hasn’t felt like I’ve been me in about two years.

How long has it been since I did my hair fancy and dressed extra nice for church just because I felt like it? About two years.

How long since I did crafts just because and idea came to me and I wanted to see how it worked? About two years.

How long since I took on a sewing project because it interested me? About two years.

How long have I been slowly gaining weight that refuses to come off with diet and exercise adjustments? About two years.

How long have I felt just a little overwhelmed with my life? About two years.

I put in a call to my doctor. We agreed to increase my dosage of thyroid medicine. Maybe it will pull me out of this, maybe it won’t, but it is a logical first step. I started the new dosage about a week ago. So far the only difference I’ve noticed is that my resting state is no longer “I feel like crying.” If that is the only improvement I get, I’ll take it. The other thing I need to do is talk to some mental health professionals about my kids needs and about mine. That appointment is scheduled for next week. Hopefully by then I will have shipped the vast majority of the book release packages. That will help me clear my head. I need emotional space to figure out how much (if any) of this depression is chemical and how much is the natural result in all of the family shifts we’ve had in the past two years.

3 thoughts on “Recognizing Depression in Myself”

  1. When you approach a doctor about medication, do you usually go to a gp or to a psychiatrist? We’ve been trying to navigate these waters and I feel like I really don’t know what steps to take; is going straight to a specialist too aggressive?

    1. One of the challenges with mental health care in Utah is the long wait to get to see a psychiatrist. When we decided Howard needed help, (and Howard didn’t feel comfortable taking anti-depressants without talking to a psychiatrist first) we were on a waiting list for three months before we could even make an appointment. You can usually start seeing a therapist in only a week or two, but they can’t prescribe medications.

      So the approach I’ve taken this fall was to see my general practitioner right away to discuss and get prescriptions. For two cases in my house that was all that was required. For the kid who is struggling most I took him to the GP to shift meds and we’re doing therapy while waiting for an appointment to consult with a psychiatrist. I expect to come out of the psychiatrist appointment with different meds and maybe a different diagnosis.

      I figure the stuff I do with the GP and the therapist are helping gather experimental data which the psychiatrist can help evaluate. There is a lot of experimentation and it is long and slow.

      Wasatch Mental Health is a good resource for information.
      Or you can contact the BYU Comprehensive clinic. They can help with diagnosis and therapy, but not medications.

      Hope that helps.

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