Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Is This Depression?

I have to wonder what is going on here. I have had Seasonal Affective Disorder before. I have felt tired, sluggish, and had cravings. But I swear I am feeling worse by the day. I am starting to wonder if I am depressed. I don't *think* I am, but not sure I'd know.

When I asked my doctor (granted, not this year) if what I was experiencing was depression, he said he didn't think so and sent me to a counselor. After a couple months of that, the counselor told me, "You are not clinically depressed. You have situational depression, which is not the same thing. You have an appropriate level of sadness because of your circumstances. They are things they would make anyone sad. And the way out of this is NOT medication, and not even therapy. The way out of this is to change your circumstances and thus your outlook." I took his advice, starting *doing* things differently and cutting out the stuff that was upsetting me. I changed my circumstances, started concentrating on the positive, and the "depression" was gone.

So I have assumed that's what's going on once again: a combination of S.A.D. and circumstances that would make anyone feel sad. If you have a critically sick child you WILL feel sad about that, right? It's normal. But the last few days it is getting harder and harder *just to function.* I do it... I take care of the kids, I try to be perky and positive and interactive. But it is *so much effort* to get off the couch and put in a load of laundry. I kid you not, it is so hard. I think "I should do some laundry." I put down the laptop. And I sit here trying to gather the energy and motivation just to GET UP. I have never felt like this before, and I do not like it. AT ALL.

Granted, I slacked off my vitamin D3 and fish oil and stuff, and I have not been using my light box at all. Maybe that's all it would take? But it seems like this monumental effort to do anything. I force myself, but it's exhausting.

I started taking my supplements again the other day and I will break out the Light Box and my Sunrise Clock today, I promise, and I will use them tomorrow. If after a week of using them I still feel this bad, I will ask my doctor what he thinks.


Lori said...

I think that is a good plan. Use the lightbox and take your supplements. If you aren't better in a week, definitely call the therapist.

Keep us posted on your progress. A lot of people care.

Lynna said...

Do you have anybody with whom you can deeply share your feelings regarding your critically ill child?

I once heard the definition of depression as frozen rage turned inward.

Seems like you have a very different set of circumstances in your life than a year ago.

Sending positive prayers and loving energy.

Lanie Painie said...

try re-reading some of your favorite books and go back to the beginnings of your blogging and see what you wrote before when you were inspired. That along with the light and supplements should help immensely. You've inspired so many of us, now you can go back and inspire yourself. Definitely talk to your regular doctor if you don't feel improvement, or at least lack of worsening. Levelling off would be good.

froggy said...

I agree.
And have been in the critically ill child routine for 8 months. And then a round of hospital stays with another with six surgeries. MUST, must, must stay as healthy as possible to survive it. So do everything you know to do and get *mad* and focused. Do the Mama Grizzly Bear thing (regardless of politics).

Anonymous said...

1. use your light box tonight. Not for very long (at least for me it will make me wide awake) but just enough to lift your mood (5-10 minutes for me).

2. IMO, your therapist was an idiot. Situational depression CAN be treated with medication. The point is, that the situation can trigger an inability to cope, which can snowball. btdt.

3. Which is not to say that you need medication YET, but don't rule it out. I don't know what's wrong with your son and his illness, and I'm not sure to what extent you are either overwhelmed by the work involved (researching medical advances or options) or helpless because it's out of your hands. The 5 stages of grief - denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance - comes to mind. You can only do what you can do, and then you have to let fate handle the rest.

Lauren said...

I know EXACTLY how you are feeling. I have been there too. Getting the most simple of tasks done is seemingly impossible. What you are describing sounds like depression. I think it is worth considering going on a low does antidepressant. Here is the thing- if it works then great! You are not bound to take them forever, more often than not once a serotonin deficit is addressed and resolved that is it, off the meds.
I love you blog and see you as such an inspiration and role model. You have done something really, really incredible in losing the amount of weight that you have.
But I to say that from my, albeit, stilted perspective out here in the internets, YOU are so hard on yourself. Sometimes what you write just breaks my heart and I wish I could just reach out and hug you and remind you what an amazing young woman you are.
I have been there as a single mother, no money, no support system, barely scraping by. I know all to well the heartbreak of being a mother whose children are not doing as well as we want for them, I know the pain, the struggle, and the isolation of being obese.
I want to send you some love from someone who is a little further down the path than you are right now. You ARE a wonderful woman who deserves all the good things that life has to offer. You are more than a mere survivor- you are a warrior.
So, please forgive yourself and love yourself enough to go talk to your doctor about the possibility of getting in antidepressants. If they work you are going to wonder why you let yourself suffer at all. I have been on and off antidepressants over many years. I take them when I need them and stop when I better (under my Doctor's guidance). Would you deny yourself and antihistamine if you had allergies? I know I would not. Same thing really, but alas there is still a stigma attached to taking antidepressants. Nonsense really.
Anyway, know that there are many of us out here loving and admiring you and wanting nothing more than to continue to follow you on your fantastic journey.

Snowflake said...


I've been following your blog for a few months - I identify with you quite a bit.

I do have a couple of observations - take them with a grain of salt - they're just one girl's opinions.

This is a difficult time of year for those of us who mourn the "family" we didn't have growing up. The media bombards us with images of happy families gathering for meals and events projecting closeness and happiness we can't fathom.

This is what helps me. Mourn for that little girl you were who deserved to have the kind of family we've all seen and envied. Acknowledge that she didn't get what so many take for granted. Picture wrapping your arms around her and hold her close.

Now go to a mirror and look at what she grew up to be. Put your shoulders back and stand tall. You'll see a strong woman who does for her children what was not done for her. Yes, we've made mistakes but look where we've come.

Understand that we want to make up for the times we know we could have done better but remember that we're not perfect. Even if we feel so much internal pressure to do and be the best always. Sometimes good enough is exactly that.


Mind Over Fatter said...

Wow, this sounds terrible. I agree that after the steps your talking if your not feeling better see your doctor (or someone else). Hope your feeling better in a few days...

foodmasochist said...

please don't take any antidepressants. they are just so awful. i know this is hard. And you may have to. But please, please think about it. They really mess things up.
just my opinion, but of course.

Joy said...


FIrst off, wanted to say a big THANK YOU for stopping by my blog and adding me to Bethany's blogroll. I am not even going to lie, I had a bit of a celebrity moment when I saw your comment, like, "Holy CRAP" Lyn stopped by! I followed you for so long (anonymously) before starting my own blog so your blog is very special to me. I have SOOO much respect for you, it really can't even be put into words.

Secondly, I wanted to echo what others have said to say that I am sorry that you are going through a rough time right now. I really don't want to give unsolicited advice except to say that I think it was not wise on the therapist's part to stop seeing you and try to tell you that therapy would not help. I am a huge proponent of therapy...even if everything is perfect in one's life, it always helps to have an unbiased third-party to bounce your thoughts off of. I think you could really benefit from therapy...being able to talk out your past and what you're going through currently.

I started tearing up to what Snowflake said because it resonated so much with me too. Lyn, you and I seem to have had very similar circumstances growing up. The pain of my lost childhood is still very fresh. You have spent a lot of time reflecting on your childhood, which I think is awesome so maybe it's less fresh but I imagine it still hurts, quite deeply. Traumatic childhood events do need to be worked through and as Snowflake mentioned, lost childhoods need to be mourned. This is something I still need to do and perhaps it would help you as well.

Anyways, sending good thoughts your way today and always. I do hope you find what will help you rise above this bump in the road. We're all here for you in the meantime.

Rachel said...

I'd love to see what could happen if you consistently used your light box and took your supplements for... maybe two weeks? Or whatever time frame you can get through if nothing dramatically changes from today. If you think you cannot get through another couple of weeks if nothing changes, I'd say go to the doctor. As I scan over the other comments, it seems like I'm not alone in that opinion.

For what it's worth, I think antidepressants saved my life.

Lee said...

I was diagnosed with CLINICAL DEPRESSION last Friday. I am blogging about it at FromBluetoYellow.blogspot.com

I have been reading your blog 50 Lbs ago. I am so proud of you and inspired too. I finally became a follower.

Erin said...

Lyn, I like your plan, too. Also, like a few other posters, I disagree with the opinion that situational depression can't be assisted with anti-depressants. I know people who've had their entire lives turned around with the intervention of medication. You wouldn't deny yourself insulin if you were in need, so don't deny yourself seratonin-whatevers if that is what you need.

(As a mother of three, I'm telling you, I'd be going absolutely crazy if I were trying to focus on my physical self and trying to nurse a critically ill child. You are putting tremendous stresses on yourself and you need to cut yourself some mental slack, too.)

Jen B said...

You are a single mother with 5(?) children, one of which is critically ill, and suffer from a debilitating disease that affects your every move. On top of that, you have lost 100 lbs.

You ARE working at full speed, laundry be damned. It's a miracle you haven't fallen over from exhaustion.

An imbalance of serotonin levels may indicate depression. If you are concerned about depression, take 5-HTP supplements (avail at local supermarkets). 5-HTP is the precursor to serotonin and help increase seratonin levels. Studies show it can decrease symptoms by as much as 50%. If the 5-HTP does help, it will help you feel better and help determine whether you have depression or not.

Also, just because you have a situational depression doesn't rule out that fact you might have a hereditary disposition to depression too.

Beth said...

It sure reads like depression. I have a critically ill child and it's very very tough. Don't diminish the impact on your mental health. Living with the constant uncertainty, medical decisions and relentlessness of a child who is ill takes it's toll. And I only have one child, lots of support and a husband right there with me. Still it rips my heart out and tears me up at times and I find myself staring down that dark abyss.

I have found that the problem for me with depression is that it is only after it's gone that I realise how bad it actually was. You probably feel worse than you realise because it comes on by stealth, slowly and we just adjust to it day by day. (A bit like weight gain, I suppose!)

Please do what you have to do to help yourself. Fighting the food fight when depression is all over you is tough, really really tough.
I hope you find your way through this unscathed.

Leslie said...

I haven't had a chance to read the comments yet, which are probably great, but I just want to send you support. You're in the midst of huge HUGE changes that have your body chemistry in a different place than you've known in a while. Also, for me the holidays always bring some layers of sadness that aren't there the rest of the time. Don't know why, but it always happens for me. My aa sponsor reminds me that TG and Christmas, each, are "just another day", but they carry memories of past times that really can impact our day to day for awhile. Hugs -

Anonymous said...

Wish I could do more than just throw you a tip, but here it is: I know that you feel almost unable to get the basics done (everything seems so hard) but you may find that you do have what it takes to focus on just one special project for a while, it may even lift your spirits. I'm not talking about tossing the basics, but instead of soaking up the internet or tv during down time - why not delve into totally organizing a space in your home - one that will pay off in big feelings of accomplishment. Maybe, if you have the funds, even do some improving, like a new paint color or furniture item? I realize that you may not have the focus or desire to do this, but I thought I would throw it out there bc it's what works for me. I can put on some music and dive into a project and get amazingly focused on it. Not the answer to the big picture, but just a tip for today.


Anonymous said...

I know this will come across as incredibly rude, but did you actually tell any of the stories that you told here to your therapist? I find it hard to believe that anyone that heard any of these would say you couldn't benefit from some talking therapy.

Debbie said...

I feel for you. I have lived with depression for 16 years. At times I have struggled to survive the day and at other times I have flourished. I agree with Rachel, anti-depressants have saved my life. They aren't a magic potion--you don't take one & poof your life is better. It does take time & work to find the type & dosage that works best for you.

That said, do what you know to do, use your light box & take your supplements. I know that is easier said than done, because at this point in time doing anything other than breathing takes a herculean effort. But if you do those things and they don't help. Contact a professional who can help you. With depression, the longer you wait to treat it, the harder it will be to treat.

You are in my thoughts & prayers, I mean it. I wouldn't wish this life on anyone.

Anonymous said...

I have been follown ur blogs for a few weeks now. I love them ur so open and candid, thts a great thing. Now I dont know a whole lot about medications for depression I've never had to really deal with that. Jus readn ur blogs lately I do think it sounds like depression tho. U have ur hands full 5 children and one of them a sick child thts absolutel a lot to deal with. Do what u feel will work for you. Godspeed to u!

internet mama said...

I worked as a psychotherapist before I had children and I have to say that I am very surprised the previous therapist said you should not continue counseling.

It may very well be that your depression is situational. Certainly you have had some major adjustments and concerns in your life, even now. On the other hand, it seems as if you have been feeling depressed or showing signs of depression for some time. Whether the depression is situational or clinical, it needs to be addressed.

I would call your doctor and ask for a referral to another therapist. A good therapist will help you work out a plan for what you want to do, help you understand and be able to deal more effectively with your emotions and provide you with techniques/tips on how to manage your depression.

Personally, I would also ask for a referral to a psychiatrist also. This does not mean automatic medicines. Certainly many cases of depression are well treated with talk therapy and work you do at home. But a psychiatrist can help decide if the depression might respond to antidepressants. The choice is always yours about whether to take or not. And, as I said, you may very well not need them.

I have been lurking for a few months now and have been very inspired by your blog. You have certainly overcome many challenges in your life and continue to strongly move forward. I am working on my weight loss and have found lots of support in just reading your posts and others' comments.

Take care and know that all of us are supporting you.

Judy said...


Just sending you some (((HUGS))).

This time of year is difficult enough for those who are *normal*.

I too, have struggled with my childhood monsters, divorce, single parenthood (still!), and now - - perimenopause. I know I would have never made it this far without medication. It is not a sign of weakness and it's definitely not "all in my head"!

I agree you should see a different therapist/doctor who will take the time to listen to you and understand what all you have been through and what is happening now in your life.


Colleen said...

In defense of the therapist who is catching a lot of flack from commenters- his advice worked *at the time*, right? It sounds like it was a different situation then. I would definitely revisit the issue if the feelings do not pass in a week.

As for antidepressants, if you go that route look into which ones are most likely to cause weight gain. Paxil is what caused me to pile on 80 lbs. in 3 years (it is notorious for being the worst SSRI in terms of ravenous hunger/weight gain). It saved my life, yes, but looking back I should have switched to something that would have been gentler on my body.

Anonymous said...

I just want to hug you. I'm sure you're going to get tons of advice, and hopefully you'll be able to piece together the exact mixture of things that will work for you.

Here's my two cents. First, I agree completely with Snowflake. The holidays can be hard. My childhood was thankfully great, but I lost my mom several years ago and the holidays are now the hardest times of the year.

Second, I think some of it may be a little subconcious, self-sabotage. You are doing so great and so close to your goal, that maybe the part of you that is still scared of being thin is pushing against you.

Finally, in my opinion not all depression is the same. Some you can try and pull yourself out of (situational) and some you can't without meds (clinical). But, just because situational depression is an approriate response to your present circumstances it doesn't mean you have to suffer through it. The way out probably isn't medication, but there are other treatments and coping techniques that will help you (in addition to the vitamins and light box)...everything from therapy, meditation, prayer, creating distractions, changing your behavior, etc. Please find a doctor who can help you with those coping skills so you can pull out of this before it become clinical depression. The fact that it's getting hard just to function and you've never felt like this before sounds like you could be headed towards clinical depression. If you are, don't beat yourself up for not doing enough to snap out of it. You can't "snap out of it." It takes the right treatment and therapy.

Again you're going to get so much advice, please take it all in and find what works best for you.

Anonymous said...

((( hugs )))
Wow, you're going through so much and you've rec'd some great advice here. I don't have a lot to add (except I wish I could come & help you) but I also have SAD and my "sadness" began just before Thanksgiving - and I got the light out and felt better within a few days. It really helps me. I do have the "other" depression, which manifests itself by me crying all the time for NO reason, as well as panic attacks - I think it's a hormonal fluctuation since I didn't have any issues going on that would normally make me feel sad - I would much prefer not to be on medication, however, without it, I wouldn't have a life. Sooo, for me it's a necessary "evil". I am so thankful for medications that make it possible for me to live a "normal" life - many women years ago were not so fortunate. I have been off of the medication a few times but the longest I lasted was 8 months :( . Praying for you.

Anonymous said...

PS A few clarifications:
I'm in Canada, so "thanksgiving" was mid-October here.
My depression (I'm told) stems from lack of vitamins as I was a undiagnosed celiac for 30+ years. Lack of vitamin absorption can cause many, many health problems.
I also take my D vitamins.

gaelowyn said...

ditto last poster who said not all 'depressive' episodes are the same. and to the poster who begged you not to try anti-depressants... well I won't say it because it's not nice.
Not all medications for depression are 'poisons'.
Anways.. what's important is that you are seeing that things aren't responding to the usual go-to's. If things don't turn around over the next week after implementing your plan.. I to say go to your doc or therapist. Situational depression can spiral into clinical depression quickly. BTDT.
God bless.. I hope things turn around soon.. your family sure does deserve it!

Anonymous said...

It sure couldn't hurt anything to be re-evaluated for clinical depression again. Even if you don't have it; the doctor might be able to recommend some things that might help you.

I'm praying for you to have peace and some energy.

Tammy said...

I sure hope it's not depression, but if it is, get it fixed. It's totally manageable. I'm on the lowest dose of Zoloft...50 mg...and it's like night and day...literally. :)

Anonymous said...

I am sure 50 million people may have already mentioned this but have you had your thyroid hormone levels checked recently. I was depressed, sluggish, cranky, thrush, rashes all kinds of problems for 2 years and didn't know it was all from Hypothyroidism which can easily be taken care of. Just a thought.

Lyn said...


I had a thyroid panel this spring along with a bunch of other bloodwork, and it was all normal.

Thank you all for the suggestions and kind thoughts.

Anonymous said...

I don't understand your therapist at all. So what if your situation would make anyone sad? That can still lead to depression. I don't know if you have it or not, there are some quizzes and stuff online you can take (now granted most of them are sponsored by drug companies so take what they say with a grain of salt!) but you can get a good idea from there. I'd say get a new therapist and a second opinion.

I'm not saying you need drugs. I had a health problem with one of my kids 3 years ago and it was almost impossible for me to function then. I was going through the motions. I had to pretend to be happy and productive....it was torture. I went to a therapist and that helped, but I realized that my brain didn't know how to not be depressed...it needed a teeny chemical boost to bring it back into balance. I took anti depressants for 4 months and it helped me a lot. It took me a couple of months to wean off the medication, and that was hard, but it was worth it.

Get your light box and your clock, take your supplements, and see if you feel better. If not, it might be time to get a second opinion. You are worth it!

LHA said...

I am so sorry you are struggling. Let me add my voice to those who are saying that they, too, have been depressed and that your description of your current feelings match theirs. It is a horrible, crushing feeling. I have taken antidepressants for over a dozen years and they help enormously. I would not, under any condition, go back to life without them.

I also have experience with having a chronically ill child, as well as caring for my other children while I was depressed. It is difficult beyond description. I wonder how many of us with serious weight problems also have mood disorders, either diagnosed/treated or not?

I found help not only through psychiatrists and psychologists but also the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI), a group devoted to providing support and information on mental illness to families affected by it. Feel free to contact me by email if you would like any information or just to talk more about what you are going through. I would be happy to respond.

I wish you the best of luck and continued success.