Saturday, January 8, 2011

Depression Defined

Misty is Rich's wife, so I met her through him. However, we have become friends on our own, and I'm so thankful to know her. She is an awesome mom to her boys, an avid MOPS advocate, a great wife to her husband and a good friend. I'm honored that she would share her story with you here today. If you would like to share your story, send me an email.


  1. a mental state characterized by a pessimistic sense of inadequacy and a despondent lack of activity
  2. sad feelings of gloom and inadequacy
  3. depressive disorder: a state of depression and anhedonia (an inability to experience pleasure) so severe as to require clinical intervention
  4. pushing down; "depression of the space bar on the typewriter"
Okay, so #4 isn’t a “classic” definition of this kind of depression, but I seriously think it works here.  There are times that I feel like I have the weight of the world on my shoulders…that’s enough to depress anyone! Some days, everything feels like it weighs 20 pounds heavier.  My arms, eyes, the milk, my feet, the air…everything is so much harder to do.  It would be easier to just stay in bed.  Overwhelming exhaustion occurs, but sometimes with the inability to sleep.  Outrageous thoughts swirl in my head. Everything feels like it’s my fault.  We are out of toothpaste, my fault.  It rained, that’s my fault too.  My outlook is undeniably pessimistic.  Nothing will go right again.  Ever.  Typing this stuff out…I can see the absurdity of it, but it’s what is seriously in my head.  How do I get someone who has never had thoughts like this to understand me? 
Photo by ericmcgregor

Depression makes me seem like 2 different people.  I started this post with my depression under control.  Unfortunately, I opened the door a little.  It is sneaky stuff; it slips out when you aren’t looking.  So, going back to edit what I had written is really hard.  What I wrote before seems a little too upbeat at this point.  Crazy, huh?

My name is Misty and I am clinically and chronically depressed to the point that I am not sure that I will ever be off my SSRIs.  But, I am ok with that…most of the time. :)

This will not be an easy post for me.  There is so much to my story that contributes to my depression; I probably have 5 different post topics here!  I don’t talk about most of this with just anyone, but at my husband’s urging, I am going to share.  He says that this may help someone else, I am all for that! 

Depression seems to run in my family.  My mom had 9 siblings, while 2 died before I was born, 3 of her brothers committed suicide.  Three of my grandparents were alcoholics as well. 

Wow, this is not starting out well, huh?

Let me give you a little more background.  I was not raised in a Christian home, but I had a good home life.  I had a great mom and really never wanted for anything.  My father wasn’t really sure how to be a hands-on dad though and I can remember the first time he said “I love you.”  I was 16 years old at the time and I cried like a baby, which wasn’t unusual then.  My depression started when I was a teenager.  I think most teenagers go through a rough time, but mine seemed to be especially rough.  My 9th grade year in high school was fraught with feelings of inadequacy (remember #2?) and I really questioned what my life was all about. 

Ok, deep breath.

When I was around 4 or 5 (I can’t remember exactly), I was sexually molested by my grandfather.  I didn’t tell anyone until I was 15 years old.  I had blocked the memories until they were triggered during a school camp.  That was rather traumatic, (understatement, anyone?).  I started having a lot of anxiety and panic attacks.  It got so bad that it was affecting my daily life.  I dropped out of college and went through several jobs.  It was during all this that I sought treatment.  We started with Prozac. I was 18 at the time and there was a huge stigma surrounding it, so we tried several different kinds of medication before I found one I was ok with.  I met my fabulous husband, Rich, during all this and I still can’t imagine why he stuck by me, but he did.  Thank you, God.

I found that I was really struggling with the memories, so I decided to try some counseling.  Now, at this point I also started going to church and I credit this for my sanity.  The counseling helped me face my memories so I could put them behind me, but Christ gave me peace.  I was able to come off the medication for a while too.  For once, I felt that I had things figured out and was doing ok.  I was even able to forgive my grandfather and had a chance to tell him so before he died.

After a while, I noticed a pattern.  I was able to come off my medication during the summer, but starting it again around October till about March or April.  Rich says that I am solar powered!  :)

Then a whirlwind came along.  My husband and I got married…we moved 7 hours away…I had our first child and he died 5 days later.  I was put on medication pretty quickly this time.  Only by God’s grace did we survive this time in our lives.  I went on to have another baby, Nicholas, about 18 months later and thought that my life was complete.  But he was born in the winter months and I was struck with postpartum depression.

Since then, we struggled with secondary infertility before being blessed with our son, Wesley.  Then Wesley was diagnosed with autism at the age of two.

I have been on and off medication since 1994, but more on than off…and it’s usually not a good idea when I go off it.  I am still trying to accept the fact that, just like a diabetic, I have a chronic condition that needs to be treated with medication.  It’s a daily struggle to push myself… I am learning to seek things that make me step out and pretend sometimes…this pretending will usually lead to learning the behavior and eventually enjoying what I am doing.  With my husband’s support and God’s love, I am able to push back and hold that weight off my shoulders for a little longer. 

Misty Chaffins is a married, stay-at-home mom to two boys.  Living life in small town WV, she shares some of it with readers on her blog, The Family Chaffins.  You can usually find her being a chauffeur for the children. Her hobbies include reading, making soap and generally pretending to be creative. You can connect with her on Twitter or on Facebook.

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