who gets depressed when their birthday is coming up?
who gets depressed when their birthday is coming up?
I’m trying to understand why. Logically it doesn’t make sense. My brain is not panicking. But my body is. The sensation of not being able to breath, that’s the inflammation in my lungs. The nausea from the antibiotic that grips my throat is chemical. The stomach cramping (tmi diarrhea) also just a side effect. The exhaustion, that’s my body fighting this thing.
So why the panic. Why does my mind so easily wander over to old thought patterns – get me out of here, I don’t want to exist, make it stop. It’s just a combination of symptoms. All with their own flavor of discomfort. But a week of discomfort. A week of this misery. And I’m losing it. It’s wearing me down. It’s frightening my husband.
I can’t get comfortable. When I am beside myself with anxiety that is always my primary complaint. I’m so uncomfortable. Uncomfortable existing. I didn’t want to be anymore, it was all too much. I don’t want to be here now.
But this is temporary. This is an illness. This isn’t going to last forever. And yet, my body is responding as if it was. Panic. Feel like I’m barely holding on.
Got to hold it together. Got to act as if it’s all okay. Don’t want to frighten people.
Help me get through this. Make the time pass faster. Please.
All around you, all the time, is language that is absorbed into your brain. Advertisements telling you “you’re lacking, buy this” or “you’re unhappy, buy that.” The voices of your parents, alive or as ghosts. Those are particularly hard to ignore. They adhere to your insides, leach into your bloodstream. Contaminate. The voices in your mind. The echos in the very back. The broken records that blend in with background noise. That we don’t even realize are there, are guiding our boat, are triggering the storms. So many intrusive messages you didn’t choose, you never had a say in.
But what about the ones you do get to choose. The facebook group posts. Are they angry? Are they distraught? All of their voices march into your head. Onslaught. Their cries of pain, their desperation, your brain soaks that in. What messages are you letting in? The company you keep. The friends and the ‘friends.’ Do they complain constantly? Are they victims of life? Or do they have hope? Do they believe in humanity? Do they seek out ways to improve, to help others, to evolve? Look around you. Make conscious choices. You might not have had any control over the world around you as a child. But you are no longer that child. You get to decide your habitat. You pick the decorations, the furniture, the art on the walls of your mind.
The anchors you cling to from familiarity, only you get to decide when to let go. The knives you’re squeezing in your hands. Only you get to pick when you’re ready to set them down.
What are you going to choose?
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Many people I know would be surprised to find out I’ve struggled with depression throughout my life. I chose early on to hide it, when I saw how uncomfortable people around me were when I shared what I was going through. I learned and created techniques to manage and hide it from even those closest to me. I don’t always win the battles and as a mom, whenever I felt it building up beyond my ability to hide it, I intentionally watched sad movies, so my crying wouldn’t worry or confuse my son as he grew up. With all my efforts to shield him, I was unable to prevent him from also experiencing the despair, anxiety and debilitation depression can infuse people with. His depression and anxiety worsened when he experienced a long-term illness, surgery and failed care by medical professionals. During his darkest days I was constantly fearful his despair would win and he would leave this world.
Through the darkness, however there can often be gifts. Directly after his surgery in 2014 we were advised by his doctor of the importance of managing his pain through medication. He was prescribed three narcotic pain killers, which we unfortunately discovered he was unable to feel. Doubling the dosage, per the advice of his doctor, he still felt nothing stating it was as if he was taking nothing at all. Frustratingly our doctor thought we were lying. Prior to abandoning him, his doctor did say one thing that stood out, she told me she had heard there were genetic mutations that could affect a person’s ability to metabolize pain medication.
It took all of 2014 for my son to recover from both the surgery and residual fatigue. As he healed, I researched gene mutations affecting narcotic metabolism and in the spring of 2015 decided to have him genetically tested. What we discovered was shocking, revealing and incredibly empowering.
We discovered he has a genetic mutation that prevents him from making the enzyme necessary for metabolizing a majority of narcotic pain medications. 3% of the population has this mutation. We also learned there are two medications he can take since they don’t require that particular enzyme to be metabolized. Mystery solved!!
The biggest gift, however, came from the discovery of two other mutations on a gene called MTHFR which methylates folate (Vitamin B9). Methylation of folate makes it possible for our bodies to utilize it. Folate has many important functions, one of which is to facilitate the production of serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine our feel good hormones/neurotransmitters. The power of happiness really can be in your genes!!
After researching and factoring in several additional gene mutations, we began supplementing with methylated folate (aka: L-5-MTHF, L-Methylfolate, Folicinic Acid) and noticed a difference within just a few days. With strategic supplementation based on his genetic mutations, a decade of despair and months of intense anxiety attacks were finally lifting!!
MTHFR gene mutations aren’t limited to contributing to depression. Here are several other diseases and symptoms resulting from unsupported MTHFR genetic mutations:
With the gift of seeing my son begin to smile and laugh again and watching his quality of life improve dramatically after just a few weeks, I decided to have my genetics tested as well. I learned I also have MTHFR gene mutations. To give you a better picture of what I’m talking about, here is how my particular MTHFR gene mutations look on my report:
The red Result +/+, indicates I have two mutations of MTHFR C677T which means I am methylating folate at only 10% of functionality. In this scenario I learned supplementation support is incredibly important. If only one copy had been mutated the Result would have been marked as +/- and shaded yellow, indicating support would be helpful. Green (-/-) indicates there are no mutations on the MTHFR A1298C gene.
Interestingly, 40% of the population has MTHFR genetic mutations and 38% of people with depression have a folate deficiency. Not a big difference between those two numbers. If you or someone you know suffers from depression and anxiety (or any of the diseases/symptoms above), genetic testing might be worth looking into and hopefully offer a personalized pathway to feeling healthy and HAPPY.
With genetic testing and reporting available, we have better access than ever to a road map to improved health and well-being personalized from our DNA. The reports make it possible to have a conversation with your doctor and/or health care provider, where together you can identify areas in need of support and decide how best to fill those areas in.
Below I’ve listed the company I used to order our genetic testing kits, pricing and websites with reporting platforms I found very helpful and informative.
1) Request a DNA Kit from www.23andme.com
Genetic Data Reporting Platforms:
There are several websites, books and YouTube presentations on the topic of MTHFR and other gene mutations, which you may discover down the road. The first step, however is to find out whether you need support or not and then begin the journey of mapping out your personalized path to feeling your best.
The information related to Epigenetics and Nutrigenomics is vast, but incredibly fascinating. Please share your stories and let me know if there are areas you would like to know more about. This topic is near and dear to my heart and if I can find ways, through my blog, to help clarify and provide you with resources to healing, it would be my great pleasure to do so!
There you are again. The unwelcome, familiar passenger. Sitting on my chest. Heavy. Unshakable. I can’t breath. Gulping air in but cannot fill my lungs. When I carry you around, you get in the way of everything. I no longer directly touch anything I come in contact with. Everything is a few feet away farther. Just out of reach. Distorted by your interference. When I hug my child. When I hug my husband. When I watch tv. When I eat a meal. When I talk to someone. You make it hard to hear. You make it hard to pay attention, to stay focused. I start to talk and you get in the way, what was I saying, what were the words I was looking for. You’re blocking them. A wall in between me and everything else. If I move fast, can I get around – no, you’re already there. And so I’m not quite myself, not quite inside my body. Because my body is such an uncomfortable place to be. When I’m touched, I don’t feel anything. When I’m spoken to, it’s from miles away. I’m in limbo, not quite anywhere. I’m a balloon, floating further and further away.
My anxiety and depression used to be textbook perfect.
My panic attacks always came on like a tornado. The sucking building pressure and then the mind crushing explosion as the storm hit. Shaking and crying and a surety that the end was upon me. It would blow through me, devastating me, then leave me in a scattered pile of jagged pieces on its way out.
My depression was the bottom of a dark hole, miles away from the light at the top. Feeling completely worthless, a burden, disgusting, a waste of space, deserving of only misery. All willpower crushed out of me. All self-advocacy erased. I had no say, because nothing I could say would ever have any value.
But lately I think I’m dealing with a completely new beast. There are things that scare me, that demand action in my life. I can see them clearly. But it’s like they’re down at the end of a long tunnel. I can’t reach them. They’re so far away. And I’m so very, very tired. I try to push forward. But it’s not so much mud or sludge, as it is hardened concrete around my legs. I know I should be screaming and waving my arms to get attention. But instead I just try to keep the oxygen going in and out of my lungs. And I aim some darts in its general direction. So something kind of gets done. Why can’t I be aggressive? I used to be so good at that. Get in your face and demand. And instead I’m mostly paralyzed. Dragging forward, some.
But I’m not sad. I’m not value-less. I’m not filled with self-loathing. I’m not terrified. I’m not covered in knives of fear and worry. I’m not crying nonstop for no specific reasons. I don’t wish I could just disappear. Every day, for at least one moment, I feel the flame of joy in my heart. (I remember going months without any light or warmth inside me.) I am grateful to be on solid ground, instead of beneath it.
I wonder if it’s the “new” me, or a transitioning “current me.” That’s what we’re told to expect. You won’t ever be the person you were before. So figure out how to appreciate the person you now see in the mirror. I’m trying, I’m really trying.
A new mom asked this in a forum:
“Is there really an end to this.. Like 100% healed? I feel like what I have is too disturbing and terrible to ever go away.”
I went through an outpatient program at a hospital and they talked about accepting a “new normal”. Now, I refuse to accept that this means my new normal is misery. But I don’t think we can ever go back to the person we were before we had our birth/postpartum experience.
Like any trauma, it has left a mark on our psyche. And so we have a choice about what to do with that. I’ve tried wallowing, and that worked for a while, but it got in the way of joy. I’ve tried hiding from the world, but I missed out on living.
So I’m at a place in the middle between where I used to be and the pit I had dropped into. Sometimes I need to wallow, and I give myself space to do so. But I don’t move back in there. Sometimes I need to hide from the world, and I accept that, that I don’t have the stamina of the extrovert I used to be. But I also challenge myself, just a little, and over time I see progress towards a new me. Wiser, stronger, but also weaker in some ways, and accepting of that part of me too.
And my story, and yours too, becomes something we can share with others who are somewhere along that tough journey of losing yourself and trying to figure who you are now. We bring each other strength because we have compassion and empathy and help heal each other. Because we understand the pain. And we’re not alone anymore.
Tired. So completely, utterly tired. Limbs heavy. Body sinking. Mind struggling to focus. Heavy like laying at the bottom of the ocean crushed by the weight. Heavy like 100 suffocating blankets. Heavy like pinned down by Sisyphus’ boulder.
The heaviness is centered in my chest. That’s where the virus settled down. 5 days of body wrenching coughs. 5 days of not being able to sleep because I wake up unable to breath. Today is the first day I’m not coughing all the time. But I can still feel the pressure, the obstruction in my lungs. An itch I can’t scratch. An uneven surface, abrasive breathing. This illness has really dragged my mood down. The racing heart, the pressure in my chest and around my throat, mimicked my panic attacks…and so resulted in panic attacks. The weakness in my body, the loss of appetite, the nausea, mimicked my depression. I had no energy to do anything but sit there. And sitting there, alone, in a darkened room with the curtains drawn, is a ticket to the bottom.
I forced myself to sit outside, in the light. Even if I still couldn’t do anything but sit there, at least I have fresh air. I forced myself to focus on specific tasks. Take myself out of the helpless stuckness. One moment at a time, get through this, get through to the other side of this shaky bridge.
I finally got my appetite back yesterday. What a relief. To be able to enjoy the taste of food again. To enjoy the process of eating, what a treat. You don’t realize how miserable eating can be until you’re forcing yourself. This will definitely help with my energy. Now if I could just sleep through the night. Piece by piece. I’m putting myself back together. It’s surprising how much mental pain can be brought on by physical discomfort. But I’ve made it through the worst of it. And though it’s a slow, tedious climb, I will get back to solid ground.
It takes a crew of about 100 people to help keep my mood up. Just kidding. But I’m lucky enough to have many different people in my life that help support my mental well being.
My husband. Even though he doesn’t fully understand my experience, he hangs around. He takes care of the things in our family that need to be taken care of so that I don’t have to. He’s not big on supportive words (I can’t remember the last time he specifically said something supportive), but instead shows his support by doing. It takes a little bit of effort for me to translate his method of love, but it’s valuable nonetheless. Knowing he’s there taking care of things allows me the space to fall apart if I need to. I don’t have to share how far I’ve fallen, but I can dive, and then I can climb back up, knowing he’ll still be there.
My friends. I have the best friends anyone could have. Not all of them know about my struggles. And only a few know how dark my night can get. But all of them love me no matter what, just as I am. I know that I can call on them (or, rather, text them), and they would do just about anything for me. I don’t reach out that often (rarely, really), but knowing they’re there and available if I wanted to reach out, can be such a lifeline when I’m sinking fast. It means that even though I feel like I’m utterly alone, I know I’m not. I hold onto the tether, the rope, because at the end of it is love, the anchor. I know they love me, no matter what. Even if I feel like I don’t deserve it, I know it’s there anyway.
After-care group. This group has literally been a lifesaver. I have lost count of how many times I have broken down, crumbled, split open. I have “lost it” in a place where so many others know exactly what that feels like. I have come apart at the seams, looked up and seen others holding up their threads too. I have never felt judged here, only complete support. Here is where I am reflected back to myself as someone strong, even when I’m feeling like wet cardboard. Here I’m told how far I’ve come and how much better I’ve become. Here is where I can measure my health, because these people, these walls, have seen my dark, crumbled core. Here is where I’m able to help others. Where I get to be a lifeline. Even when I’m empty for myself, I’m able to find hope for others. And even just offering up a tiny spark to someone else, helps refill my own tank. We’re in this together. We’ve got each others’ backs. We’re an army of strength and hope and love. We will survive, we will thrive.
When I am struggling, when I am dragging, when every movement requires monumental effort, it is easy to sink into despair. What I try to remember is a most important truth: this is temporary.
During the first big devastation I did not realize that. It felt permanent. Ongoing and never-ending. No escape. But after I crawled out of that hole, I realized there was an “outside” of it. And during the next crashes I knew I only had to hold on long enough for it to pass. It wasn’t going to last forever. Just hang on tight, relief is coming soon.
The same rules go for happiness. When I feel joy I often mistrust it. What does this mean? What’s going to go wrong to sabotage it? When’s it going to end? I know it will end. I am sad when I am happy, because I know it won’t last. Sometimes I am angry when I’m happy. Why give me a taste of ease just so you can take it away. Why remind me of how feeling good is like, just so I can miss it and long for it when it’s gone.
But thinking this way is a sure fire way to end the happiness before it can even really begin. So I have given myself a goal. Like a piece of delicious chocolate, I want to fully savor the good moments. Close my eyes and taste it on my tongue. Memorize its nuances and embrace it completely. Hold it in my heart, in a place of timelessness, so that when it is gone I can come back there and remember it’s possible, and work to bring it back again.