Hmmmm…Good Question!

Its been a little over a week since I started St. John's Wort. I wasn't expecting to feel anything quite yet. Studies show you won't feel any different for four to six weeks. Ironically, I have felt something I haven't in a long time. Something has clicked in my brain or emotions, or whatever it is, to have the motivation to eat differently. I have been exercising again since April but that motivation has not been for myself but to meet a friend. I can do almost anything for a friend but for myself…that takes effort.

A year and a half ago I made a conscience decision to let my concern about what I am eating go. It was occupying so much of my brain and it felt unhealthy. Well, I let go a little too much and began to gain weight. This is not helpful in feeling better about myself and my energy began to diminish. I've tried to get back on track but just lacked the motivation to even try. Instead, I would just beat myself up every day about how I couldn't get through a day doing what I know is better for me. I used to be good at this! It was very discouraging. To feel even feel a little bit better in this area gives me hope.

After my last blog post I received some comments on Facebook and personal messages that I'd love to address here in case anyone else has these same questions. These answers are from my own personal experience so they may not be what someone else feels or understands depression to be but I hope it can give insight.

How does it feel to be depressed?

This is a hard one to answer. I know for some they can't even get out of bed or get out of the house. I would consider my depression mild because my routines have not changed and I haven't stopped seeing friends or being involved in activities. For me, depression has felt flat. Like a numbness. I can still experience joy or laugh but even in those good moments I know something is off. 

What are its triggers?

Again, this is different for everyone. In my case I believe hormones could be a factor. I have polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCSO) which makes it harder to process sugar and effects my hormones. Many people with PCOS can get depressed and have a hard time losing weight. I am now 40 so there is this thought that maybe I am starting the menopausal process which can effect things. 

I've struggled with the effects of PCOS for a long time but when my youngest was born with Down syndrome turned a year and a half things got harder. She was my second chid with a special needs and her needs started to feel like they were taking a toll on our family. This is hard to admit because we love her so much and she brings much joy but physically we are weary as she is our third child. I think a Mom, in general, could feel these things. Your time is no longer your own and its all about someone else. 

There might even be more triggers but I believe these are mine.

Does it happen in episodes?

Most definitely. I also believe that I will eventually get back on track and it may never come back again. However, I have been depressed before but never for this long. I believe its been about 18 months that I have been depressed but I didn't fully realize it until seven or eight months ago.

Does it feel like a migraine when happening?

For me, no. I just feel numb. I may cry a lot over nothing and everything. I have times I feel misunderstood and alone. I know anyone can feel these things at time but most of the time this thinking is a little irrational. 

Does the "feeling better" part come randomly instead of predictably?

In a lot of ways the feeling better part feels like it comes randomly. Every time I have been depressed it has taken me time to even realize I am in that state. Its such a gradual process I don't even realize its happening. Once I received help through counseling, I am now able to see it coming on and begin to add things into my life to help bring me back to feeling better. That's why what I am experiencing right now is mild. I began to exercise. I saw my doctor. I told my friends. These things help me begin to feel better.

Do you see a doctor for medication or do you just start it?

I believe you should see a doctor first. I had blood tests taken this summer to make sure there wasn't anything off in my body. Blood sugar levels, low Vitamin D, an off hormone level can make you feel depressed. Those are just three that I know of. All these things checked out well for me. I had moved forward with putting other things in place like talking with friends and exercising so I decided I wanted to start the most natural anti-depressant. 

I researched St. John's Wort and found it was for mild depression and was something you take temporarily. I decided to start there and see if it changes things. I have no problem with going on a medication prescribed by the doctor. I just prefer to start naturally if possible.

Why did you feel people may judge you for taking an anti-depressant?

This question actually surprised me. I think there is a stigma of possible weakness for not having your crap together. I mean, why would I be depressed? Why couldn't I just talk to a counselor and figure it all out? I believe counseling is totally amazing but I also believe there is definitely a time and place for it. It wouldn't be a horrible idea for me to see a counselor more regularly and when my time and money frees up a little more I just may. I believe it is worth the sacrifice of both time and money to do so but haven't felt that is what I need to do just yet. 

I have been in counseling and I have been depressed in enough seasons of life to know when I need to work through issues and when it feels chemical. This time it feels chemical. My feeling judged felt more about the fact that people believe that medication and counseling should not be separated from each other. And, to an extent I totally believe that. For me, right now, I can only take one step at a time. I found that I was healthy so decided to take this step right now. I am fortunate to have good friends to help with the counseling portion at this point but as time goes on I may see I also need that outside help.

I hope some of these answers can help give those who have not experienced depression a little bit better of an understanding of what it is like. I also pray for those who are depressed that they will not feel alone. If you do believe in God and are reading this, it would be great if you could take this moment to say a prayer for someone who may experiencing depression. I totally believe in the Hope of Jesus Christ. I believe He can give us the wisdom in how to live a better and full life. I believe in miracles and I also believe that some miracles are processes rather than instantaneous. Your prayers and mine on their behalf are needed.


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