Dealing with Depression
It has been an uphill battle ever since my accident on October 19th, 2014. PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) is as real as it gets. Just when you think things are getting better, something happens to trigger it and you’re back down.
Yesterday I read they are trialing a drug named ropivacaine (Naropin) to help treat PTSD. They inject it in to the stellate ganglion. It helps intercept the signals that are part of the sympathetic nervous system.
While depression isn’t PTSD, it is a major symptom, or should I say by product of PTSD.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is the usual treatment for PTSD. It sounds like this drug doesn’t replace that, but might be beneficial. I’m keeping my eye on what happens with this Naropin trial.
I think there are a lot of misunderstandings about triggers. You can’t simply avoid triggers. Yeah, I guess of being around certain people gets you down, avoiding them might help, but this isn’t like that. I will give you an example.
During my accident my auditory system shut down. All I could hear was the sound of my own voice yelling, “Stop! Stop!”
Since then I have come to realize while my conscious mind didn’t hear anything, obviously my subconscious mind did. My realization of this came when I discovered my startle reflex is more acute than it was before the accident. It’s not all sudden noises, just certain types — usually noises of clanging metal.
Given the size of the dent my friend left in the hood of the car, there had to be a loud crumpling metal sound. While my conscious mind didn’t hear it, my subconscious mind must have. And, the same is true about the car striking me. It’s these sounds that are registered deep inside my memory that when I hear sounds that remind me of them, PTSD takes over.
I cannot shield myself from these sounds as they are all over, wherever you go. As a result, I need to learn to live with it and work on re-training my brain. Thus, it is a gross misunderstanding that people with PTSD or triggers to depression can simply avoid those triggers.
The day started with a self-pity party. (I didn’t invite anyone. This was a party for one.) What triggered this, I can’t say because I don’t know. The inclination was to simply withdraw and hide (the flight side of fight or flight).
Forcing myself, I went through my morning routine – shave, brush my teeth, shower, read scriptures, prayer. I wanted to stop there, but it took more effort to eat breakfast.
Grabbing my camera bag, I went to the Sacred Grove. There’s no way to predict what might happen, I just need to force myself to do something.
Arriving at the parking lot, I grabbed one camera and headed into the grove. While walking down the trail, I asked, “Why?” My asking included some people who and situations that add to my frustrations.
The Sacred Grove
The answer surprised me. In my mind I heard a kind answer, “Do you remember when you asked your mission president, ‘Why did you put me with so many difficult missionaries?’ And, do you remember when he answered, ‘I guess the Lord figured you could handle it.'”
I can handle this. If my Maker thinks I can handle it, I need to trust that I can.
Someone with Depression
If you know someone with depression or PTSD, the best thing you can do is let them know they are important to you and you’re praying for them. It’s not something external change can fix. For example, asking if you can cook their favorite meal might be a kind gesture, but it can’t resolve that is happening inside the sufferer’s brain.
Things they don’t want to hear are (with my comments in parenthesis)…
- Get over it (if it were that easy, we already would have gotten over it)
- This too shall pass (it might not in this lifetime, so don’t give us false hope)
- Have you tried _____________ (fill-in-the-blank with some remedy like herbal oils, some drug, mineral salt baths, etc.)
- Maybe you need to ____________ (fill-in-the-blank with some activity like losing weight, taking a walk, watching a funny movie, etc.)
Most of the time, we may not know what we need at the time, so it may not help to ask if there’s anything you can do. Yeah, it’s tough, and the best thing you can probably do is simply be there when we reach out for support.