I’m talking about common treatments for depression. Medications and therapy, that’s I’m familiar with anyway. When I first started seeing Nancy for my depression I was dead set against medication. No way, no how, I’ve thought about it…NO. I was terrified as I’ve written in previous posts. If I started medication I thought I was weak or *really* so sick I that couldn’t wrap it around my brain; I was that messed up and that I needed that much help.
I’ve written about how I did decided to see Dr. L and I did agree to try a mild anti-anxiety med first and then realized that it wasn’t enough. I agreed to anti depressant medication and thus began the trial and error “rollercoaster” that isn’t fun but sometimes necessary to get the correct me or correct combo of meds.
Not until recently did I really appreciate the severity of what happened to me almost 2 years ago when I “went to bed”. I had a severe clinical depressive episode. Nothing like that had ever happened to me before, even when I had the miscarriages. After months of Thomas’ behavior not to mention years of pushing things aside or just trudging through it all, I couldn’t do it anymore. I used to get annoyed at people who say, “I don’t know how you do it” referring to my son and my girls when Thomas was not doing well. You “JUST DO IT” as the Nike commercial says. You seriously just do. You put your head down and go forward.
When Thomas became aggressive to me after years of him being so stable that he wouldn’t even think of hitting me, I broke down. I remember thinking I couldn’t go through this again. I guess once around is my limit. That trauma was so intense I still struggle to describe it and talk about it.
But getting back to taking medication. This past year when talking I found I still lowered my voice if I decided to tell someone, “I take antidepressants” Why do we still do this? Lately I consciously keep my voice even, I mean I don’t need to yell it or shout out loud but I don’t want to lower my voice as if I’m ashamed or I’m afraid other people will hear. I’ll tell anyone I’m in therapy. In fact I think everyone should have the opportunity to go into therapy. What happened to me changed the chemistry in my brain. That is not my fault and nor is it the fault of anyone else suffering from depression. Like the miscarriages I felt betrayed by my body. Why couldn’t I just carry on and trudge on through like I did in the past? Why did I now have to deal with “this”?? I felt broken. And then feel embarrassed that I was taking medications? Today I’m not embarrassed that I take meds, it’s necessary at this point in my life much like insulin is necessary to a diabetic or blood pressure medication to a person with hypertension. I know everyone always says that so much it seems like lip service but it’s so true why not say it again.
Lets not whisper it anymore I promise I won’t stare if you won’t.
While talking with Nancy my therapist we somehow got on the topic of pity. I brought it up when I was talking about how tough the early years were with Thomas. It was a time when Thomas was in and out if the psych hospital, then residential school, then I had a miscarriage.
For whatever reason I decided to reconnect with a friend I had been close with in high school. We hadn’t talked in years and we were “catching up”. Tommy and I had attended her wedding and now she had a young child. I mistakenly thought that because we were so close years ago that I could tell her what my life had been like the past year. I think I got to the point of admitting Thomas to residential school when I heard it. Pity. There it was and I couldn’t believe it. I felt punched in the stomach to hear it in this person’s voice.
Nancy asked me how that felt and I replied, “Less than. That my life was that far from normal, we were less than.” At that time I was so taken aback by the pity I quickly made small talk to get off the phone, but of course not without my own jab about a new friend she had made. I wasn’t nice.
Nancy discussed pity with me that people who pity others build themselves up and look down on others. That was kind of the feeling I had. I mean in retrospect I didn’t have to dump my life on her like that but I really considered her a “friend” and friends don’t pity other friends. Right after I hung up with the pity friend I called my best friend. I was crying and telling her about the other phone call. Then I said, “My life isn’t that bad is it Jenn?” She answers, “well actually it is but I’ve been walking along side you so it’s not so bad to me”. My best friend was honest with me. Honest. I can handle honesty.
In the middle of miscarriages and trying to create a typical household for our girls, we still had visits with Thomas. Us visiting him at Andrus and Thomas coming home every other weekend. Life was busy. There were also meetings with various professionals and therapists.
We were fortunate that the psychiatrist Thomas was assigned to was a woman who was wonderful. Dr. “Ellen” never talked down to me, never was patronizing and never made me feel blamed or responsible for Thomas’ behavior. In writing this I recognize The Father’s hand at work. It is no coincidence Thomas was assigned to Dr. Ellen.
Dr. Ellen was very kind when we first spoke. She appreciated my knowledge of all the medications Thomas had trialled without success. Once we agreed to try Thomas on an ADHD med he hadn’t tried yet. Thomas described to his teacher that pictures were “laughing at him”. I became alarmed and asked to stop the med and Dr. Ellen agreed. I was and still am grateful for her in our lives.
Thomas spent 3 years at Andrus. It was not always smooth sailing. There were more than a few incidents. One that comes to mind quickly was me getting a phone call that Thomas had been punched by another resident/student. The person on the other end of the phone didn’t know me and sounded fearful that I would be hysterical. I calmly asked what my son did to warrant getting punched? Lets face it, no child is perfect. It turns out Thomas kept stepping on the shoe of the boy walking in front of him. The boy told Thomas to stop repeatedly, Thomas did not stop so the boy punched Thomas and gave him one heck of a black eye.
Another incident was when Thomas threw a book at his teacher and hit her in the face. This teacher was wonderful and sweet! Oh my gosh, Tommy and I could not apologize enough. We were mortified! The teacher was incredibly gracious and and kept telling Tommy and I she was okay. After that Thomas received a lecture to end all lectures. We dug in, he was not raised that way, he could have really hurt her, we want him home but he has to work harder at controlling himself. Good gravy I can’t think of what we didn’t say to him. Incredibly after that, John the social worker did see a change for the better in Thomas.
What was somewhat amusing is we noticed even with Thomas’ speech impairment, if he cursed you understood him crystal clear. Go figure. I told this to John and he laughed. I returned the laugh, haha. Sure enough a week or so later Thomas was in a mood and when John greeted him Thomas replied, “asshole!” When John called to tell me I do believe I said I told you!
This is just some of what we encountered when Thomas was a resident at Andrus. There is more that I will address in future posts. I want to make it clear that The Lord was with us during this time. He hand picked the professionals who worked with Thomas and in turn worked with Tommy and I. I praise His Holy name.