Depression, stress and medication
I am always fascinated by the number of pills available of various ailments. Every ache and pain and emotional upset must have a chemical fix. It seems that we are entitled to absolute freedom from every bit of pain or distress. And if life doesn’t give it to us then we are entitled to have the medical community provide a pill to provide that freedom.
The pill I saw this morning was for depression. There have been two times in my life when I was subject to depression. The one time I had no idea that there would ever be a pill to solve my problem. I knew something was wrong, but I had to find my way through it with prayer and determination and work.
When Rachael was born I had a rather difficult pregnancy. Only a few weeks after I thought I might be pregnant, we had a sudden snow storm. When Louie left in the morning it was clear and bright. By ten o’clock, the temperature had dropped drastically and it was beginning to spit hard little bits of snow. I put the last of the wood in the stove and had to go to chop some more. There was no alternative. I couldn’t spend the day in the little house with Notah, only about 18 months old, without any heat.
So I went out to the wood pile. Now I knew how to chop fire wood, but I was certainly no expert. It was several minutes of ‘vigorous’ activity until I had a pile of wood that looked as though it would get me through the next few hours until Louie or one of the boys got home to chop some more. I carried several armloads of wood in to the wood box. A few minutes later there was a gush of blood and I was sure that if I had been pregnant the baby was gone.
It wasn’t until a month later that I discovered the baby was still there and growing! That didn’t mean that the pregnancy progressed smoothly. Every time I visited the obstetrician she would say, “Everything seems to be okay, but I don’t see how that baby is going to stay in there for another six, five, four, etc months…” But Rachael stayed.
She stayed until we moved back to Ohio and began caring for my mother while Dad was working and then retired. I was alone with my mother every day while Dad and Louie were working.. And that was only the beginning. Taking care of Mom was like fitting another two year old in between Notah (two years and five months) and Rachael (two months.) The stress was unbelievable. It is terribly difficult to care for a parent when they are acting like a two year old but you still have the lingering compulsion to treat them like an adult. The adult is doing things that a child would do, but with the dexterity of a grown up. They make the same messes but bigger ones. They have the same control of bodily functions, but mom refused to keep a diaper in place… The have the same attitudes toward food—either they refuse everything or eat anything, even inappropriate things… (My prayer plant which sat on the kitchen table between meals developed little cut worm scallops around the edges. I treated it with garden insecticide and dug gently in the soil around it and treated that… the worm kept eating little scoops out around the leaves. One day I walked in the kitchen from the bedroom and there was Mom, nipping little nail scallops around another leaf and EATING the tiny pieces. )
I was worn out. I began crying at the drop of a hat, or a pin, or a diaper, or a bottle, or a towel. I had difficulty concentrating. My hands trembled and I didn’t sleep at night. I only wanted to sleep during the day time, but of course THAT couldn’t happen-not with an infant and a two year-old and Mom just waiting for me to look the other way. I had problems making decisions, even decisions that I should have been msking and in almost all situations I left that up to Louie.
I remember, one time, my brother and his family were visiting and I struggled to take care of the kids, my mom and get breakfast for everyone. I was trembling and on the verge of tears as I tried to make scrambled eggs and toast. Louie was helping with Mom and getting Notah and Rachael dressed too. I finally got everyone sat down with food in front of them. I collapsed in a chair and Louie set my plate if front of me from the counter where it had been waiting for me. At this point in time there were six kids, all dressed and eating; even with a variety of complaints everyone was being good. I could take a minute to collect myself. And who should wander out but my brother’s wife—all tousled and sleepy eyed in her robe. “Oh, everyone’s up!” Surprise! We’d been up for almost two hours! ” What’s for breakfast?” And she scruched down on a chair beside one of the little girls.
I couldn’t believe it! I had been up and gotten MOM bathed and dressed, gotten her little girls dressed, gotten MY kids dressed, (with help from Louie, but I had to direct.) gotten scrambled eggs cooked for every one, gotten toast for everyone and milk or juice for whoever wanted it and SHE had been lounging in BED! She hadn’t even gotten DRESSSED! And she expected ME to get breakfast for her! I was speechless.
Bless my husband! He looked at her and said, “The eggs are in the fridge. There’s the toaster.” He put his hand on my back and said, “You eat something, hon.” She decided that “coffee would be fine” but Louie didn’t offer to get it for her and he wouldn’t let me get up to get it.
I did try to eat, but it stuck in my throat after a few bites. I was on the verge of tears and couldn’t even drink my coffee. After a couple minutes, Louie got me up and took me in the bedroom. No, he didn’t gather me up like an invalid, but he did contrive some diplomatic way to get me out of the chaos and in the bedroom to lie down. He went back and got me a cup of hot coffee (Navajos believed that coffee would fix anything, kinda like the English and tea.) He straightened up the room around me as I lay there on the bed gathering myself. His puttering was calming and the door closed out the rest of the house for those few minutes.
When he went out to clean up the kitchen, he sent me to the bathroom to get ready for church—Oh, didn’t I say that it was a Sunday morning?! Or that I also had a junior church lesson to teach? I’d tweaked up the preparation for that in the middle of the night when I couldn’t sleep. I hadn’t finished it the day before because I had dinner to fix for 12 people.
Some weeks after that chaos, I have a crystal clear image of myself standing in Kroger’s shopping for green beans. I had a baby in a babyseat on the grocery cart, a two-going-on-three-year-old wiggling beside me holding the handle and a mother that I’d had to leave at home with Dad. I was standing in the canned food aisle with a can of green beans in each hand crying because I had to decide which one to buy. I didn’t have a big food budget and it was necessary to shop frugally, but my mind had shut down with no advance notice. I couldn’t tell which can was less expensive. I couldn’t even read the prices. I stood there crying, not loud sobs, but tears pouring down my cheeks because the decision was just more than I could do. I remember simply dropping both cans in the cart and walking on. I’m not even really sure if I finished my shopping. There is a blank after I put the cans in the cart.
Stress? Depression? Yep, been there, done that. And I worked through it without medication. Don’t let any one tell you there are things that prayer doesn’t work for. Don’t let anyone tell you that you have to get ‘professional help’ for emotional and psychological problems. God is just as able in that area as he is in calming the seas. I KNOW that.