Years ago, after my initial meeting with my new-found Christian psychiatrist, he gave me a diagnosis of Clinical Depression and OCD. I had never heard of OCD and he explained it to me. The unsolicited thoughts I was having was an obsession I couldn't control. There was a chemical imbalance in my brain. There is a chemical imbalance in anyone's brain who has a mental disorder. I was eager to learn all about my new diagnoses. But that couldn't fully happen until I was discharged. One of the most important doctor visits I had with Dr. G (not his real last name initial) was to have absolute assurance from this Christian man---who he was first; doctor was a second--that I was going to get better. I asked him that and if I was going to be a functioning mother again. I then asked him if he could write it on one of his prescription pad sheets so I could take it with me. Feeling like he knew the plan and was a child of the Man (God) that I was in good hands--it rhymes sorta :-) I looked at that prescription A LOT. I taped it to the inside of a notebook and still have that piece of paper! Relief flowed through me like a wave of emotion when I was told what I had--what the unsolicited thoughts meant and I wasn't going crazy. I was in tears. I was just relieved there was a name for it. You see, this was not talked about at all then as it is now. People know now what OCD entails for the most part. The clinical depression is a chronic ongoing depression that needs medical supervision and counseling, usually with medication.
Hope followed relief. I felt God giving me hope to hang on. It was going to be a long road, painful at times, but He was going to be with me every step of the way. "For he will stand for He is able to make him stand." (Romans 14:4).
I was not a patient person. I am better today, but I don't have it mastered by any means. So when I was discharged after about 2 weeks--had a relapse a week after that and had to re-enter the hospital--I felt defeated, weak, sadness, less hope, etc. Having hope and believing it can come and go. Since this scene was all completely foreign to me, I struggled. I didn't know that relapses were common, even to be expected. My 'recipe' of medications to help my chemical imbalance was not working in my favor yet. Dr. G. needed to adjust them.
The next phase for me was grieving and mourning. I started grieving the way I was and what I was going to have to live with the rest of my life, more than likely. "Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn." (Romans 12:15). This is a very real emotion when you know things are going to be different now. I was going to have to make lifestyle changes. Being overwhelmed was my downfall emotionally. I learned I couldn't watch certain things on TV or they would trigger my depression or OCD. I eventually found I couldn't work at all. I went from full time to 75% to 50%. None of it worked. We needed the money to pay bills and live. Another stressor and one I couldn't handle. Thank the Lord my father stepped in and offered to help financially. I had to completely quit working. All my focus was on trying to get better and be healthy mentally. I tried not to stay home by myself as much as possible. My daughter was in daycare during 'school hours'. I would go eat lunch by myself, have appointments with the doctor or my counselor, go to the movie. A totally different life I was leading. I was mourning my old self and my new self and new way of life. But that's normal and a necessary process. You can't stuff that kind of thing and not expect it to come bite you again. It will bubble up and re-surface.
So give yourself grace. Take the time to do what is healthy for you. Whether you are new to clinical or long-term chronic depression--the best thing you can do for yourself is to focus on you. As I discussed in another post--figure out your triggers and boundaries and follow them. Ask for prayer on a continual basis, seek the help of friends and family for support, if this is an option. Don't allow yourself to be alone too much. Sometimes you can instinctually seclude yourself and close yourself off without noticing in the midst of it all. But your friends and family will notice. Let them help you. Agree to get out for some fresh air--get around people or animals. Pets are great stress-relievers. I know cause we have 3 cats and 1 big yellow lab. I love them so much! They are life savers, as well. Hang in there and stay involved in the world.