Thursday, March 16, 2006

somber

You know, I truly do not intend to be the bearer of bad tidings that I often come across to be. And here, in Bloggyland, I sometimes worry that my site has too many downers. But it just occurred to me how theraputic this writing is to me, and it helps, so if it's bringing you down, you're welcomed to not read...just a warning, an invitation, what-have-you.

I've been crying today. RS President called me with some sad news. Someone has died. Someone who used to live in this ward but moved to Springville last year. Mother of 4, wife to Greatest Gospel Doctrine Teacher Ever, owner of the best giggle ever (when she'd let it out), and painfully shy - as in, you could actually see her cringe when you'd try to strike up a conversation with her.

I won't disclose details (the kids in that family, and the kids in our neighborhood, don't even know all the details, as of yet). Suffice it to say she was found in her home - no children home, husband 3 hours away for work. There will be no funeral here, and the family is going to Idaho to be with extended family - as far as I know, they could be there by now. I don't know if they'll come back - and I don't blame them if they don't.

I will say this - depression needs to be talked about, Friends. It's real. My friend told me today that in her psychology class, they had studied depression, and one question was brought up: why would someone have depression? Answers: to mask pain, to get attention, etc. Okay, I know people who have feigned illeness to get attention, and certainly depression is an illness. But the fact that some people don't see it as an actual chemical imbalance really ticks me off. It is not a lack of faith. It is simply that someone's body doesn't work. Just as some people don't produce enough insulin for their body to function properly, others don't produce enough serotonin. That's just how it is. I wish I knew more about medical terms, etc., to back up what I know about this, especially because I worry that people view depression as something much less than it actually is. I worry that people think of it as being along the same lines as the ADD/ritalin phenomenon - all of a sudden, EVERYONE is on Prozac, and it makes people wonder, is it real, or is it just a fad and some people are taking it as an upper instead of really needing it? I'll tell you that more people should seek help for it, and that it's nothing to be ashamed of and that it is REAL.

Whether to get help through counseling or medication, that's a personal decision. But we need to be there for one another. If you're reading this, I want you to stick this in your memory right now: No matter how thick the darkness gets, please remember that you are loved. Call someone. Get help. Call your doctor. Call 911. Call me. You are never alone.

Please believe me.

Can I tell you how important my oldest daughter is to me? Of course, there are no words to completely accurately capture this, but I will say that she saved my life. After my son died, I felt hopeless and even thought about joining my son, because when you have a loss like that, what's the point? I'll tell you the point: an 18-month-old little girl that needed her mommy. She saved my life.

I can't imagine a mother feeling any other way.

Thank you for reading this. Go kiss your family now, and reach out to someone who might need you.

14 comments:

MOM said...

I love you Jenny, you are brave.

compulsive writer said...

Thank you. I am so sorry for your friend and her family. And I agree. I call depression "The Black Hole." Living with depression is like living in a black hole. You are just empty. Living with someone living with depression is like living in a black hole. Sometimes it sucks everything out of you and you are empty too. And it is made even more difficult because we cannot talk about it. The silence breeds feelings of Isolation. Loneliness. Fear. Panic. Powerlessness. Despair.

I won't elaborate further in order to protect someone else's privacy. But I have really needed to say at least that and I thank you for giving me the chance. I agree with your Mom, you are a brave soul.

jennifer said...

I've been thinking about this a lot since I got the details on it last night. Depression is such a tragic disease -- and that is exactly what it is, a disease. How else can you explain that someone cannot see how much they will be missed? I cannot even fathom leaving my children without a mother, my husband without a shoulder to lean on and support in raising the children. Thank goodness the Lord knows all things and will be able to work things out in the next life!

Her husband really is the best Sunday School teacher in the world! I pray that he and the children will find some comfort and peace through this terrible time.

Thanks, Jenny, for your thoughts on this. Eloquent as always.

Rachel said...

that is so sad. how does it get to that point? i mean, i know it can get to that point really easily, but i just wish that there could have been some sort of intervention before that happened. and i'm sorry to hear that you lost a son. that would be about the hardest thing in the world for me to deal with. in fact, i don't think i could deal with it. but you did! and your children are blessed by you now.

cabesh said...

Yes, we need to talk about depression. I am trying to being the friend, the neighbor, the visiting teacher who is there. I just really feel that we need to help other women, let them know that we love them, that there's nothing wrong with them.

My prayers are of course with the best Sunday School teacher in the world and his family. They are also with you leaders of the old ward--you'll be needing them as you work through this with the YW.

wendysue said...

J--thank you for writing this. Not only is writing therapeutic, but reading is too.

I totally agree with you on the chemical imbalance issue. Everyone will have moments of depression in their lives but for some it does not stop. I had a rough time a few years ago and decided to try some medication and it did nothing for me, so I stopped. I decided to just hang on and wait it out and things got better.


Depression runs rampant on my Dad's side of the family and some of my siblings, it took us all a while to figure it all out but once we did, we've made sure that we are always available to one another, for anything. There is no shame in admitting that you are not happy, and believe me people can be very good at hiding it (perfectly Molly Mormon on the outside and completely empty on the inside). I think in our "mommy communities" we need to make sure people feel free to talk about how they really feel. I have a great group of girls and we try to get together at least once a month for our "therapy". Many times we're up until 1am or later letting everyone have it out.

There is also no shame in needing medication or going to a counselor and seeking help. Sometimes all you need is to have your feelings/concerns/depression validated, to know that it's ok.

Queen Scarlett said...

It is so frustrating to me how there is still that stigma if you don't have it together the way the "little pefect picture" is. I know it's in the greater society as a whole - but none more so than in the LDS culture of creating a picture of perfection... I think people get lost in it.

We need to let each other know that ... "hey - I wig out every now and then and guess what? It's ok. I don't have to garden, food storage, have my kids play instruments, do gymnastics and make gourmet homemade meals... oh and serve at the Bishop's storehouse...I'm ok being just me - that's enough."

I wish people would feel less condescending about people who need help, and less ashamed if someone needs medication to help them with depression. It's not a bad thing - to me it's a friggin' miracle. I mean - we have the technology that produces drugs to help those who need it, live. We have more knowledge to understand how it works to help people feel normal. Miracles.

Good wake up call discussion - and prayers to the family.

AzĂșcar said...

I'll be attending a funeral for a sweet man of 38, who died of Cancer, on Monday. He's survived by his wife and four kids (oldest is 13.) Makes you think about the amazing people we know in this life and makes me thankful that we'll see them in the next. That isn't to negate their contributions in this life, or how aggregously they'll be missed, but it is some comfort, for me at least.

Beans said...

great post, jenny. my heart goes out to that family. i totally agree with you. i've talked to you about this situation and throughout this whole thing, i kept thinking about sean jones. i wish more people realized how loved they are and how much they are needed in others' lives. i just want to give you a hug. i miss my sister and i love her. don't ever forget that. carina, i'm sorry about your friend who passed this week. i know this is a rather lame comment post, but as the title of the blog states.... somber.

LuckyRedHen said...

Friggin' sad it is. I like that you relate taking psychological meds with taking insulin for diabetes. We wouldn't shun a diabetic for taking insulin, would we? Everyone that knows me is aware of my chipperness but when I'm on my period I am a CRANK and that's not fair to my children. When I went to my Dr. to ask for help he first asked if I was depressed. Um, no. I don't think so but I guess if you ask me then maybe I am and now I'm thinking that I guess I could be but not even know it? Then he said that I probably have a chemical imbalance that makes it harder for my nerves to communicate with one another during menstration. So he prescribed a light version of Prozac and I take that when I'm on my period so I don't turn into godzilla and ruin 1/2 of my children's childhood. Yes, me, Shannon on Prozac.

Last week I helped at the funeral of a 21 year old who hanged himself. I wonder about his struggle and why it ended the way it did. My prayers are with all families who've lost loved ones recently.

Let us all be more open about our lives to help lift others.

I cannot imagine what it'd be like to lose Jack and feel you are so brave to mention the loss of your son. Thank you for your honesty because it makes us all think about our own.

Sue said...

jen,
What a sad week this has been. My heart aches for so many right now. I am so glad to read the comments here that agree that depression IS a disease and it can be treated. How many girls, women, men... do we know who look like they have a great life and deep down they are struggling privately with no one they feel they can talk to. I hope this serves as a wake up call to our ward to address this issue and let everyone that THEY ARE NOT ALONE. It has hit close to home for many many people.
We are here for you, whoever you are.

Lorien said...

ugh. ouch. that's no good. so sorry to hear about that.

We've got a group of girls who get together once a month, too. I think some people don't recognize how important it is for women to feel connected. A husband of one in our group makes it really hard for his wife to come to girl's night out (I gather that's why she doesn't come anymore, anyway), and she is one who struggles with depression and self image. Why doesn't he see that she needs us? I think he thinks it's just a big gossip session or something. Boy, has he missed the boat. We talk about everything from childbirth to relationships to kids to spirituality. We vent and try to help each other understand our situations. We validate each other's feelings. And sometimes we disagree about things and that's okay, too. And because of this monthly get-together, I have some very close friends. Friends that I have called and do call up for help. Frinds I tell when I feel down (Compulsive can tell by looking at you!), and friends I talked to when I felt as close to depression as I have ever felt (boy, was that scary to realize I hadn't smiled for 3 days!).

Anyway, good blog. Issues we need to be willing to help each other with, rather than judge each other about.

Julie said...

I'm a little late commenting on this one, but I had to say something. Depression is so misunderstood in our Mormon culture that I wonder that more people don't try to take their own lives. Depression IS a black hole. You feel NOTHING except pain. It can get so bad that you feel that if only you could get a knife deep enough inside you, you could cut the pain away. That's how you get to the point where your friend got. You can't feel the Spirit, you can't feel joy, you don't laugh, you don't smile--because you feel nothing. You can fake it well enough that no one ever guesses, sure, but it's still there. I know because I've been there myself, and it was (is) hell.

My brother describes depression as being in a room full of people who are all happy and having a good time, but you are behind a big glass wall that prevents you from participating. No one knows the wall is there except for you. It isolates you against your will.

One of my pet peeves with the Mormon culture (not with the church) is the ignorant people who think that "if you were only more righteous, you wouldn't be depressed." Are you kidding? Would you tell someone who needed glasses or insulin that if only they went to the temple more often they would see perfectly or no longer have diabetes? It makes me so angry sometimes.

My other gripe is that NO ONE talks about this issue in our meetings! That does not help at all. It makes someone suffering from depression feel even more isolated. I wish we could discuss it more openly without having to worry about offending the ignorantes who subscribe to the "depression is sin caused, not body caused" philosophy.

Anyway, those are my thoughts. I'm so sorry about your friend and her family. I'm sorry about your son as well. Depression is a hell that I wouldn't wish on anyone. You ARE brave to be sharing these things so openly. Thanks for being the one to do it.

~j. said...

Thanks, Julie. I appreciate your comment. I agree with your frustration about "If you only had more faith...". It really does need to be talked about, and by people that have experience with it. Maybe one reason why it's not discussed is because it's not pretty - it's vile and ugly and terrifying. But it's real. Isn't it interesting that so many people don't discuss it because they think they're the only one? That couldn't be further from the truth. Like you said, it's easy to fake it so that no one knows. Your brother's description is right on.

Thanks, Julie.