With depression there are things in your life that can trigger a bad episode. The world around us is full of trials, tribulations, and triggers. Triggers are the things in a person’s life that brings on strong emotions that send a person struggling with depression down that dark hole. Triggers are different for each person. No two persons’ struggles with depression are exactly alike and it’s the same with triggers.
As I’ve written in past posts, I’m dealing with degenerative disk disease and narrowing of the spine. I have been struggling with shooting pain that nearly brings me to my knees. When I sneeze, cough, or move wrong suddenly I have a pain that nearly doubles me over. Thanks to physical therapy, the shooting pain hasn’t been as frequent, but it is still bad. I’m struggling; I struggle through work, I struggle doing housework, and I struggle to sleep comfortably at night.
My doctor’s office nurse scheduled me with a neurologist around three weeks or so ago. I worried, I prepared, and worried some more. My mind raced and my insides twisted. What if the doctor says I need back surgery? That would be my eighth surgery. I couldn’t go through another surgery. What if he puts a shot in my back and it is very painful? What if I can’t function after a shot and have to call off work? The worries went on and on.
The night before my appointment I struggled to calm my nerves and anxiety. I felt sick to my stomach. In my head I went over questions I had for the doctor and that night I struggled to sleep. Then early the next morning my cell phone rang. The doctor was called into the OR and my appointment needed to be rescheduled for the following week. My heart plummeted. I felt myself falling into that dark hole again.
Inside I was screaming, “I need to know now what can be done for my pain! I can’t wait for another week! How am I going to control my worries? I can’t do this.”
My support team came to my rescue. My friend Cheryl reminded me to keep busy and stay positive. My friend Amy suggested I write five positive things about my day in my journal. My husband reassured me everything will turn out well and he held me while I cried. My parents listened to me and assured me they and their church were praying for me. My friend Denise walked with me while I went on about my frustrations and encouraged me.
I couldn’t stop the worries for the following week until my next appointment. The anguish of waiting, wondering, and worrying started over again. The emotions ran wild. I went from sad to frustrated to crying. The hole of depression was pulling me down into its darkness. My anxiety was on high. I struggled to keep myself calm so I wouldn’t get sick. The night before the appointment I again struggled with my thoughts, anxiety, and sleep. My husband kept telling me to think of something good so I could sleep, but I found that a struggle. Then once again in the morning the phone rang to cancel my appointment and reschedule it again.
I cried in my husband’s arms. They can’t do this to me again! Didn’t they know I was in pain! How could I wait again? How could I start the emotional turmoil over again? When will I get answers? This time the next appointment would be three days later. I could handle that, right? It isn’t as long of a wait this time. My husband and I had fun things planned and that would keep me busy. Even though I had a fun time with my husband, the worry that the appointment may be canceled again ran through the back of my mind.
The morning of my third appointment I woke up early. My stomach was upset, and my thoughts raced. What if my appointment is canceled again? How much longer can I suffer? What if the doctor scheduled me for the wrong day? What if I get sick and can’t go to my appointment? What if my back never gets better and I have to live my life like this? They are going to cancel. I just know it. I can’t do this. I tasted the acid from my stomach in my throat, and sure enough they canceled again.
I cried. My chest throbbed and my throat felt like someone jammed his fist down it. Depression pulled me further into the dark hole. My emotions ran through me so powerfully I ached from the inside out. I felt like I was falling apart. I couldn’t handle another kick in the stomach again and yet they kicked me anyway. I was holding my self together with little bits and pieces of the strength I had left.
My husband looked at me. “This crap has to end. That is it; call your family doctor now and see if they can find you another doctor.”
I called my doctor and they told me who they were sending a referral to and gave the phone number. I called the place and they said they were still waiting for the referral. I waited until the next day and called them again. The receptionist told me they didn’t have any appointments available until September or October. I asked to be put on a waiting list. Then I hung up and cried.
My mind screamed, “I can’t wait that long! I can’t go through this any longer! I’m in terrible pain! Doesn’t anyone care?”
A co-worker suggested I go to Cleveland Clinic. When I told my psychiatrist I was thinking about going to Cleveland Clinic, he told me they are fast and good. Finally, I had some hope. I called after my appointment. A man registered me and gave me a number to call the next morning. I called the following morning and had my MRI results sent to them. They told me they will call in one to two business days with an appointment. The worrying begins again. Will this work out? Or will this be another disappointment?
For the next few days, I will journal each day and write five positive things. I will lean on my support team, I’ll walk with my friend, and pray each day that things will work out this time. This whole ordeal has triggered my depression, and I must fight it and cope with it. If I don’t, I will fall all the way down that hole again. The trick is to stay busy until I hear from Cleveland and to stay positive.
Life is full of triggers to depression. Figure out what your triggers are and try to avoid them. If you can’t avoid them, then find healthy ways to cope. Make sure you have a support team to lean on to help you through your difficult time. If you have a therapist, he or she can help you find coping techniques to face the trigger and get past it. Triggers don’t have to destroy your journey toward recovery or send you back down the hole again. It’s all right to have depression episodes from time to time. It’s up to you to take control and keep it from throwing you all the way to the bottom of the hole.
Hopefully by the time I post this, I will have an appointment. Until then I will fight my depression, lean on my support system, and cope. By doing these things, I will in time be standing in the light once again.