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Depression has been an issue for me since the age of 14. I lost my mother to cancer. She was my best friend, someone who would love me unconditionally, someone who would go to bat for me, and she was my mother. At 14, I did not understand why I lost her. Why God decided to take her instead of someone else's mom. Why I had to go through losing a parent—through grieving.
After the funeral, life became a mixture of depression, sadness, bitterness, and I had to grow up fast. I had to try to help raise my sister, who was 11 at the time, and I had to try to be a kid myself. My dad was so consumed in his grieving that he didn't know how to help us. He didn't know how to tell his daughters it was going to be ok. He turned to alcohol even more than he did before. Please don't judge my dad, he did the best he could do with the situation he was handed.
Rewind to before all this happened: my dad adopted my younger sister and I before the cancer came. He took us on as his own. Not only did we get a dad, we got another sister and a brother. We were a happy family and yes, we did have our own family issues, as most families do, but we always stuck together. He raised my sister and I as if we were his own.
Back to where I was before: the days turned into weeks, turned into months, turned into years of my mother being gone. My sister and I jumped from one family members home to another. We didn't know how to open up and tell people how we really felt. I rebelled as did my sister. We questioned our faith in God. We questioned his decision to take my mom. We had so many family members there to help us but we didn't accept the help. We thought "we can get through this on our own," and "we don't need a counselor to tell us how to feel." Boy was I wrong.
As I got older, started dating, and before I know it—I get pregnant with my first child. Getting pregnant is suppose to be one of the happiest moments of your life. Not for me. I was depressed that my mother wouldn't be here to meet another grandchild. During my entire pregnancy I felt guilt that she was gone. I blamed myself. I blamed everyone else. When I had my daughter, I had many moments of depressive thoughts creep into my head. I tried to be the upbeat new mom that I could be. Slowly, every so slowly, I started to let go of that guilt feeling. I tried to tell myself not to be so sad, my mom wouldn't want that. My daughter turned six months old and my, now husband, proposed. I was so exuberant that I didn't have time to think about who wasn't going to be there.
The day of my wedding, I bawled like a baby. It was a beautiful, small wedding. My dad walked me down the aisle. He was there, my family and friends were there, and my daughter was there. I was so happy. That night, I cried some more as I realized, though the night was splendid, my mother was not apart of it. It took me a while to get over that slap in the face.
Fast forward to two more kids, a house, and a happy marriage to 2015 when depression reared its ugly head: My dad was diagnosed with cancer. Hearing that ugly word again, I wasn't sure if the doctors got the diagnosis wrong or if God was playing some cruel, sick joke. But once again, reality of the situation hit me like a ton of bricks. I didn't have a choice but to face the fact that my dad had a death sentence. He was diagnosed and passed less than two years later. During his trial and tribulations, he got sober of alcohol, spent more time with the family, and he showed us how truly strong he was. I watched my dad slowly die for almost two years. That final week of his life was horrendous. He was kept alive for a week! He struggled so much. Watching the strongest man I knew struggle to let go, to go be with my mom, was probably the icing on the cake. My depression hit me so hard that I broke down and did what I said I would never do: go to the doctor to get help.
After my dad passed, I had several panic attacks. It also didn't help that I was also going through nursing school. I didn't get out of bed, I did not want to talk to anyone, and I didn't want to even be around my kids. I slept all the time. I tried to study but just didn't have the heart to do it anymore. I had to push myself to keep going with nursing school because I knew my dad would be disappointed if I quit now. So I made the journey to my doctor's office and got put on antidepressants.
I have been taking these antidepressants for three years now. I can tell a big difference when I am not on them. If I skip a day (which is not recommended but you also cannot mix alcohol with them) my depressive thoughts come back with a vengeance. I cry, I get upset, and I get either really quiet or really mad.
This is not a story to push medication nor a story to make people feel sorry for me. By sharing my life, I am hoping to reach those who have struggled as I have, and to tell them that there is light. Do not give up. Even when you feel you should, when you don't want to get out of bed, or you don't want to be around anyone: just know that you can make it through your day. Depression is not something to take lightly, and there is help out there. Talk to someone, don't keep it all bottled up because it is not healthy. Know that there are others out there, just like you, who struggle with depression. There are others who know what you feel, and they are hoping they're not alone in this world.