Eventually I found a glimmer of hope. ...
In our church we had a couple who sold Choice Books on racks of inexpensive, inspirational books that were accessible to us. One day as I was choosing a whole pile of books (we had to support our friends), I kind of threw onto the pile a book entitled, "How to Win over Depression," by Tim LaHaye - hoping no one would notice.
I took it home and devoured that book -- ravenously and secretly!
My first question that I needed to answer was whether the word "depression" even applied to me. This sadness was all so new to me. From the book, I learned that the emotional symptoms of depression were: loss of affection, sadness, weeping, hostility, irritability, anxiety, and that empty hopelessness. According to the book the physical symptoms included erratic sleeping, lethargy, over-eating, and just feeling sick all the time.
I couldn't deny it --I was depressed. In fact, I if I diagnosed myself correctly - I was severely depressed..
I still couldn't believe it. How could I - who had everything be depressed? All my life I had been a happy-go-lucky, a fun-loving, fee-spirited - a romantic idealist moving easily from one situation to the next. There was no abuse in my life. My parents had never fought, I had never been raped, assaulted, violated - in any way.
I could understand that those who were abused, the poor, the homeless were depressed. Those who came from desperate situations had a right to be depressed, I didn't.
Actually almost everyone suffers some form of depression at some point in their lives. There is no disgrace in it. But I was frantic at the time. I immediately wanted to know the causes.
I continued reading.
The first cause of depression can be a "disappointment." Was I disappointed with my beautiful life. Then I remembered the promise of Vancouver - in that beautiful honeymoon suite- the promise that our marriage would be fair. I would support Cliff in getting his theology degree and then he would support me in my education in journalism. He would work and look after all the details of our lives while I threw myself into my delicious piles and piles of books. Now sitting on the sofa in my green-rugged bungalow - I knew it wasn't going to happen - not with two little babies and him enjoying his work so much. He didn't much notice us anymore. He now had to support his family - there was nothing left for me. I had been hoodwinked.
The second cause was listed as "low self-esteem." That was kind of funny. I didn't just have a low self-esteem, I didn't have any self-esteem at all. Self- esteem was the luxury reserved for the bright, the beautiful, the first borns, the boys and anything that started with a B. Nothing that started with a W had self-esteem. I had been born at the wrong time, wrong position and wrong gender.
The third cause of depression was to be subjected to "unfair comparisons." I had comparisons! But they weren't unfair. They were real. I had five gorgeous cousin, two tall slim beautiful older sisters and scores of popular friends, -- while I was relegated to the status of a mousy tomboy. Even now - Cliff was the adored as pastor while I was the one who couldn't fill the shoes of the former pastor's wife who had been perfect.
The fourth cause is ambivalence - defined as "feelings of being trapped." I was so trapped. Before marriage, whenever I had ever felt in the least bit uncomfortable, I could always find a way out. I could always find someone who would distract me, someone to enable me - someone to help me. Now - as a pastor's wife - a narrowly defined role, I was the one to help others. I was also married - and even though I had a devoted to my husband and beautiful children, they weren't there for me, I was there for them. I was royally stuck in responsibility.
The fifth and sixth cause of depression is to be plagued with "sickness or have a biological malfunctioning body." I couldn't relate to these two - I was healthy.
The seventh cause was "postpartum depression" - mostly caused by emotional exhaustion. I was worn out. We were too poor for babysitters so to make a bit of extra money I even babysat other children. I was a 24/7 nanny, mother, caregiver, nurturer with no relief. Even mama dogs are known to lose their minds if they aren't able to get away from their pups once in a while.
And the eighth cause was probably the one that identified with the most. It was called "hyper-mental activity." Except I wouldn't have called it hyper-mental activity. I would have called it hyper creative activity referring to the part of me that wanted to be a writer. My mind was rattling the bars all day and night wanting to find expression.
The ninth cause of depression was "rejection." This was a no-brainer. I had a list of rejection a mile long beginning with my mother, then my father, and then a whole denomination that rejected all the women by saying "no" to them the minute they walked through the church door. We weren't good enough to be behind the pulpit - not that I wanted to be. In fact, I didn't. But that subtle message was there. The less than subtle message of "brethren" in the name - also excluded women. My life was all just one big huge rejection.
The last cause of depression was "inadequate goals." Again I was guilty. I had old goals that didn't fit me anymore. They were out of reach, impossible, and inappropriate. One does not become a 'romance writer' when one is a pastor's wife - at least not the literary, gritty romances I secretly wanted to write.
According to this book, I had eight good reasons to be depressed out of ten possibilities. That's pretty significant. And even though I wanted to deny it, my heart told me that every word of it was true.
I then laid all the incriminating evidence at the feet of the alter of self-pity!
And I indulged in self-pity like no other time in my life, which thrust me even further into that hungry Abyss that was inhabiting my soul. .
“That's the thing about depression: A human being can survive almost anything, as long as she sees the end in sight. But depression is so insidious, and it compounds daily, that it's impossible to ever see the end.” ― Elizabeth Wurtzel, Prozac Nation