Nine months after being shot in the jaw, I have now begun to experience episodes of spontaneous crying as well as emotional outbursts during quotidian routines. At first I accepted it, I recognized that at some point I should have shown some sort of heartache. However, the day I broke down in the lobby of a crowded public office, when I was asked a simple question, is the day I knew I had to seek assistance. Generally I am a together person, meaning that I manage myself well in terms of stress and stressful situations. This time the intensity of the event and the length of the episode was startling.
That catalytic episode occurred on a Friday morning. I visited my doctor at the Hospital on the following Monday morning. The purpose of the visit was simply to get some official documents signed by the doctor. He was so pleased to see me and to see how much progress I had made. We discussed this for a while then I mentioned to him about the crying. He suggested that I should pay a visit to a psychiatrist and expressed regret that it was something he had not done before, given the nature of my accident. I agreed to do so based on his recommendation.
Wednesday morning I was at the psychiatric clinic. It was a strangely uplifting experience. The work ethic of the nurses and receptionists was admirable. They knew their patients by first name and appeared to genuinely have their patients’ interest at heart. My wait was short and pretty soon I was seen by a doctor. I was diagnosed with depression and post traumatic stress disorder(ptsd), I was referred to a social worker and given a prescription for the antidepressant drug, fluxetine. The social worker turned out to be a past student who really impressed me with her maturity and gentleness. I felt comfortable with her.
I started taking the drug as prescribed. Sleep came but it was full of dreams. Dreams of my past as a little girl, as a teenager, restless unremembered dreams, all types of dreams had come in those first three nights. On the third morning, I forced myself to get off the bed. I had my oats as usual, then headed straight back to bed. I did not want to do anything but sleep. I did not want to go out – but I had to go to the hospital- I did not want to see anyone. So I slept until I had just enough time to shower and get dressed to go. All the way to the hospital I felt like screaming out loud. I repressed the feeling. Once I got started though, once I was out and doing business, I was alright. I still remained drowsy but I was able to function fairly well.
Depression evokes such a powerful image in my brain, that I have found it difficult to accept. It just crept up on me, slowly and silently it ambushed me. Fighting it off is extremely difficult but it has to be fought. Strength comes from various sources. The presence of my family, and their constant needs and talking and just being around, helps tremendously. How can I let these caring individuals undergo more worrying because of me? How can I not be part of their activities, even though I sometimes wish I could be alone and listen to myself as I analyze everything repeatedly ? Positivity must prevail.
Another source of strength comes from friends. Few friends have remained since the shooting but the few are more than enough. If they care enough to be around me then I have to care enough to fight off this threatening cloud of darkness. If they care enough to listen then I have to care enough to share. If they have their own problems then I have be a sounding board for them. It is a daily, no, a minutely struggle to keep my head above the swirling vortex of conflicting emotions. As rough waters claim a drowning man who grows weaker as he fights against the tide, so too do the insidious tentacles of depression tighten as its depleted prey wrestles. How long can it last?
The struggle gets easier, the tentacles loosen by the grace of the other source of strength – the main source, God Almighty. Without Him the battle cannot be won. Every day reading the Daily Word and the relevant Bible passages not just helps but helps greatly. The stories speak directly to me. His word brings reassurance and lends a great measure of stability which enables me to face the days with a brighter outlook. The knowledge of His love, of His power and greatness renders comfort as a blanket. The social worker talked about resilience. Yes one’s resilience level helps to determine how well one can cope in difficult times. But resilience level, without the Almighty, will be very low. Our ability to recover from formidable challenges lies not in and of ourselves but it is a gift granted by His grace.
So as this chapter unfolds the lessons revealed include:
- Ø Be vigilant for depression comes like a snake in the grass.
- Ø Embrace the love and fellowship of family and friends.
- Ø Hold firm in faith, give praise and thanks and pray every day.
- Ø The race is not given to the swift nor the strong but to those who endure to the end.