Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Treatment for Depression

If receiving treatment for depression is so important, what options are available for treating this difficult mental disorder?

In my last post I mentioned the idea of not giving up on seeking out treatment for depression.  Having said that, I felt like I needed to follow up with my knowledge and understanding as to what's available for treatment.  I don't want to give the perception that I have all of the answers, because I don't - not even close.  However, I do hope to share what limited experience and understanding I have, in hopes of benefiting another.  Some may have a different perspective than I do, but the important part in all of this is to find a treatment that is beneficial for you in your own personal battle.

I come from a family with medical roots.  I have a brother who is nearing the end of  his residency in gastroenterology.  I have another brother who recently graduated and will soon begin his residency in neurology at the Mayo Clinic.  I have a brother in law who will soon be graduating and will be doing his residency in pediatrics.  I also have a brother in law who is a practicing chiropractor.  If you've ever dealt with doctors and chiropractors, you will understand that they have a different approach in how they handle treatment for various ailments or injuries.  I find merit in both of these strategies depending on the needs and circumstances of the individual person.

In the LDS (Mormon) church we are taught to abide by what is known as the "Word of Wisdom."  These teachings are essentially guidelines which are put into place in order to help us maintain a healthy lifestyle.  We are taught to refrain from coffee, tea, alcohol, and tobacco.  We are also given guidelines, comparable to what many know as the food pyramid, which enlightens our understanding of a proper and healthy balance of food intake.

As members of the LDS church we believe that our bodies are sacred and that they are a blessing from God.  Therefore, we should care for our bodies as if they are a gift from God, and strive to do our part in maintaining a healthy balance.  To me, that summarizes what the purpose of the Word of Wisdom is -  to help us maintain healthy bodies.  

There are many approaches to treating depression and/or anxiety, but the most important part in it all is finding what works for your personal situation.  If I can, I would like to share with you my approach in treating different illnesses and disorders.

I have what is called hypothyroidism, which is an under active thyroid.  Hypothyroidism can create many different health problems, including depression.  To keep my thyroid regulated and prevent additional health concerns I take medication.

I also have a chronic kidney disease known as IGA nephropathy.  In addition to this, I have high blood pressure.  Kidney disease and high blood pressure play off of one another.  Kidney disease can cause high blood pressure and high blood pressure can cause, and also worsen kidney disease.  Therefore it's important to maintain normal levels of blood pressure - to do this I take medication.  Other than regulating  blood pressure, there is not much that can be done medically speaking at this stage of my kidney disease.  However, there have been studies done that have shown fish oil intake to be beneficial in helping to slow down the progression of this particular kidney disease, therefore fish oil has been included as well to my treatment regime.

My oldest son has ADHD, which brings with it another decision process in regards to treatment.  My husband and I have studied quite a bit of information on ADHD and methods of treating it and dealing with it.  My son has seen a professional counselor, he's taken natural remedies and most recently has been taking medication for it.  Our decision to put him on medication did not come easily, but it came as a result of recognizing that his symptoms of ADHD were beginning to affect his self esteem, which in turn can have a great impact on a child's actions and decisions, having a lasting affect on their lives.  When we weighed the pros and cons of each treatment option, we determined for the time being the most beneficial decision for our son was to put him on medication.  This is something that we hopefully avoid having to do long term.  Our hope is that through the use of medication our son will gain a better understanding of how it feels to function without ADHD symptoms.  With that understanding and additional guidance from us as his parents, hopefully our son will recognize how to make adjustments to be able to help himself without the use of medication.

My oldest daughter is currently struggling with what is called body dysmorphic disorder and possibly some mild depression and anxiety.  She currently is seeing a counselor who has been very beneficial for her.  However, we are open to putting my daughter on medication if we feel her situation worsens, becomes very detrimental, or life threatening.  Again this is a situation in which the positive results of each treatment option must be weighed against the negatives.

I experienced what I know to be my first bout of depression within a year after I had my fourth child.  My treatment during that time began with counseling.  Soon after I gained a focus and understanding of adrenal fatigue, which can also be a cause of depression.  As part of my treatment in addition to counseling, I added some vitamins specifically formulated for adrenal fatigue as well as a prescription for progesterone (a hormone). which I took maybe a couple of times.

With my most recent bout of depression, I had to approach treatment in a different way.  I was struggling so severely with depression and anxiety that it became life threatening for me.  This happened within what seemed to be a fairly short amount of time.  I needed to take immediate action to help myself get through this darkness.  I remember sitting in the doctors office and my mind was so clouded and I was so severely affected as a result of the depression and anxiety that it was difficult for me to even answer the doctors questions and make decisions.  I again began counseling with a professional counselor and I started on an antidepressant medication as well as some medication for anxiety.

I think an important thing to keep in mind with antidepressant medication is that sometimes the first medication that you try, may not be effective for you.  There is still a lot to learn about depression and each antidepressant works a little bit differently on how they affect the chemical balance within your brain.  It took me a couple different tries with my family doctor and a visit to a psychiatrist to finally find a good medication fit for me.  This has been a blessing in my life.  Not everyone feels comfortable taking medication.  However for my situation,  it was more beneficial for me to take the medication, than to not.  A reminder once again, that the benefit of pursuing a particular treatment has to outweigh the cost of not pursuing the treatment.

I've mentioned this before in previous posts that another crucial part of my treatment has been through professional counseling.  I feel very fortunate that I was able to find a wonderful counselor from the start.  To me this was a blessing from God.  My counselor has literally been an angel for me, who happened to come in the form of an LCSW.

Finding a knowledgeable, kind, and trustworthy counselor can play a major role in helping to overcome or at least find some relief from depression.  Don't ever be concerned about switching to another counselor if you are not benefiting from your current one.  It may take some time, but the effort in finding the right counselor is well worth it, especially when it can potentially be such a major source of restoring light and hope to your life.

I am also aware of additional options available, which others have found beneficial for treating depression.  Below is a list of resources that I know of, which can help in the battle against depression.

-Professional Counseling (Physcotherapy, Cognitive Behavioral therapy, Dialectical Behavior    Therapy, Electroconvulsive Therapy)
-Fish Oil 
-Vitamins (especially vitamin D)
-St. John's Wart
-Essential Oils
-Guided Imagery
-Massage Therapy

Another resource that I have found very beneficial is the book "Feeling Good The New Mood Therapy," by David Burns.  This book can be used as an excellent companion to cognitive behavioral therapy.  In fact many who have used just the book alone, have found excellent results in depression treatment.

 I hope that this information may be helpful as you strive to find proper treatment for your individual situation. Please remember to keep in mind the potential serious affects of depression and seek treatment that will be most beneficial for you in preventing the possible devastating results of this mental disorder.


Friday, March 18, 2011

Depressed Moms and Their Children

I came across this article today on WebMD.  I took particular interest in it because of my circumstances.  As a mom of four children I have had to gain additional insight into the possible affects that depression can have on families, particularly children.  As I have worked on my own treatment in overcoming depression and anxiety, I also have had to work on understanding how to incorporate some of the knowledge and skills I've gained in order to benefit my children.  As I have worked on my personal battle to overcome these mental adversities, it has also become apparent that my children too are portraying symptoms of similar struggles.  I don't have the answer as to whether or not these are traits that have been passed on environmentally or biologically, but I do know that as a mom to my kids, I have the obligation to help them learn how to cope with these struggles.

As I read this article, I was reminded of the standard introduction that accompanies all commercial airlines before take off.  The flight attendants go through all of the safety instructions, including how to use the air mask.  As part of the general guidelines for the air masks, we are told to secure our own air mask before we help someone else. I think that general rule can apply in our personal and family lives as well.  It's important to recognize that our own well being can have an impact not only on ourselves, but on those around us as well.  It's vital that we remember to care for ourselves.

If you're still searching for effective treatment, don't give up.  The majority of people dealing with depression can find healing, or at least some relief from this disabling illness. 

The link to the article is listed below:


Wednesday, March 16, 2011

"A Significant Work to Perform"

Over the past couple of weeks my family could have really benefited from an extra large roll of bubble wrap - like the kind you find wrapped around fragile items in order to give them protection.  It started off with my eight year old daughter hitting her head on her window seat, resulting in a large goose egg on the back of her head.

The next injury occurred when my four year old son was waiting for his bedtime story, which obviously did not come soon enough.  In frustration, he threw his book from the top of the stairs, thinking that his actions might get him his story sooner.  In the meantime my ten year old son happened to be right in the line of target as the bedtime story came to an abrupt stop when it collided with my sons face.  I never knew books could actually have the power to produce a cut worthy of an emergency visit to the doctor.  I discovered that night how powerful books can be; in more ways than one.

Our next incident came when our eleven year old (soon to be 12) daughter decided to have a hair flipping contest at school with her friends.  Sounds innocent enough.  If you lived in the 80's you'll likely remember back to the unforgettable fashion in girls hairstyles.  The previous evening my daughter had seen "Footloose" performed by the junior high school kids in our area.  The girls in this school production had the classic 80's hair do with their long curly hair and big puffy bangs.  To go along with the fabulous hair do they also did the dramatic hair flipping that was popular during that time for dancers, pop stars, and bands.  Flipping your hair down and quickly spinning your head in a 360 degree motion, will create this popular hair flipping move (for lack of a better term).  This actually can be quite entertaining to watch.  However, in my daughter's quest to win this hair flipping contest, she ended up giving herself a mild case of whiplash.  But please take note, that our daughter did win the hair flipping contest.  Oh, the sacrifice for the important things in life.

Our ten year old son within a couple days  of his first injury became the victim once again.  In the midst of a little sibling squabble, my son stepped back onto a lamp cord, which sent the lamp falling from the top of his chest of drawers onto the back of his head, leaving him with yet another cut.  While I examined his cut, my  four year old son slipped down the stairs, scratching his back, while my eight year old daughter stepped on a toothpick, causing the end of it to get lodged into the bottom of her foot.  My husband worked on consoling the boys while I worked on getting the toothpick out of the bottom of my daughter's foot.  We finally ended that evening of injuries having my son's head sealed with a stitch.

To add to our other previous injuries, my eight year daughter was playing on a slide with her friend, when the two of them collided.  We again ended up in the doctor's office to have x-rays done of her foot.  They sent her home with a splint, and she has had her share of time on crutches and hobbling along the best she could for the past week and a half.  But just to add to the excitement of it all, my four year old son has had a terrible cough causing him to actually vomit on a couple of occasions.

As I've thought about the physical injuries and ailments that have created so much commotion for our family recently, I have also reflected many times on the help that we all have to offer to one another.  My brother who is a doctor, and his sweet fiance, were able to come to our rescue on many occasions over the past couple of weeks.  During this same time I was throwing a wedding shower for my soon to be sister in law. She thanked me for still being willing to do the shower for her, after the many family injuries that had occurred.  But the only response that I could think to tell her was that she and my brother were there to help us through a good portion of our string of injuries, so I turn was just giving back what they had already given to me.  We were both there to help one another.  This experience got me pondering upon how each and everyone of us are here to help and to benefit from one another. 

I recalled many experience's that I have had in which another individual or family along with my own family and me, have both been able to benefit from each others love, compassion, and service.  I thought about the opportunity I had to visit with a friend who had recently lost her husband to cancer and how I gleaned from my visit with her, a deeper gratitude for the gift of life and for the knowledge that I have of eternal families.

I thought about a friend who has shown compassion and understanding to me as I have faced my struggles in overcoming depression.  I also thought about this same friend who's husband is currently unemployed and about the opportunity that my family had to purchase groceries for her family in their time of need.

I reflected on the recent times when I've been able to give back in a small way to my mom as she has been recovering from knee surgery.  And of course, I thought about the many times I've been ill and my mom has willingly done house work, laundry, child care, taxi driving, etc, in order to help me - not to mention the numberless acts of service she provided for me as a child.

I thought about the opportunity I had the other night to give a good friend a ride home and how she in turn blessed me by listening and caring as only a good friend can.

I recalled the recent opportunity I had to care for my sisters children while she was able to go on a weekend get away with her husband. At the same time I was reminded of the many times she has helped with my children and willingly listened to me cry, laugh, and vent.

I thought about two young ladies, both from an inner city who knocked on my door the other night.  Both girls were working on improving social skills and job skills by selling magazine subscriptions.  I took the opportunity to help these kind girls by ordering a childrens magazine subscription for my kids.  These girls in turn opened up an opportunity for me to share with them a "Book of Mormon," (a religious book that serves as a companion to the Bible).  This book is very dear to my heart and this young lady at my front door who had traveled from Arizona, had been yearning for a copy of the Book of Mormon so she could read it for herself.  The desire of these two girls to learn, allowed me the privlege of sharing what I consider to be one of my personal treasures.

I thought about the blessing of being able to serve in the Young Women's presidency in my ward where I get to work very closely with the 14-15 year old girls.  I love these girls and feel very blessed to be able to glean from their energy and spiritual strength. A couple of weeks ago I was able to teach them a lesson on having a personal purpose here on Earth.  As I completed the lesson, I left for home feeling like I didn't do justice to a topic that I feel so strongly about.  Not long after that, I received a text message from one of my young women that I taught.  She simply said "Thank you for the lesson.  I've been wondering about that a lot lately."  Once again an example to me of how we all are here to help and benefit one another.

I think what encapsulates the message that I've tried to portray is a statement that the radiologist made to my eight year old daughter as I was giving her a piggy back after her foot injury.  She said, "you sure have a nice mom, to be giving you a piggy back....but I guess one day you'll probably be doing the same thing for her."  How true that is.

In dealing with depression, sometimes I've felt as if I have nothing to offer.  We may wonder what our personal purpose is, or if we even have one.  In times of such questioning it helps me to remember the experiences that I have had which have allowed me to recognize that each and everyone of us has a purpose, a mission, and a reason that we are here on this earthly journey. Bishop H. Burke Peterson summarized this idea perfectly.  He said:

"Do you think for a moment that Heavenly Father would have sent one of His children to this earth by accident, without the possibility of a significant work to perform?...
"My dear friends, you are a royal generation.  You were preserved to come to the earth in this time for a special purpose.  Not just a few of you, but all of you.  There are things for each of you to do that no one else can do as well as you...If you will let Him, I testify that our Father in Heaven will walk with you through the journey of life and inspire you to know your special purpose here" ("Your Life Has a Purpose," New Era, May 1979, pp. 4-5; italics added).
Do we have a purpose?  We do. All of us do.  I may have the adversity of depression that may cause me to think otherwise at times, but as I recognize the role that we all play in the lives of those around us, I am reassured that you and I, and all of us have a very special and very personal purpose here on this journey.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Lives Lost and Hearts Broken

I previously had written a blog entry concerning suicide.  I was nervous about how to approach the topic of suicide, so I shared more general information in the previous post.  However, since then I've felt the need to share some more information regarding suicide, in hopes that my message might convey my desire to help others 'choose life.'  This is not an easy subject to approach or to share personal insights on.  I have taken time to ponder and to write and rewrite the contents of this post.  I hope that the message I'm trying to convey will touch hearts and the Spirit of hope and love that this is written with will shine through.

As members of the Church of  Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints we are taught of the importance of caring for our bodies.  We understand that obtaining a physical body as we enter into mortal life, is an important and essential part of our learning here on Earth and our progression towards eternal life.

In Moses 1:39  it reads:
"For behold, this is my work and my glory-to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man."
We are taught in this scripture that the Savior's work is to provide for us the pathway to resurrection in which our bodies and spirits will be reunited after the separation of physical death in our mortal state.  As mortal beings we are imperfect and therefore require the atonement to aid us in overcoming our imperfections and to provide us with the strength necessary to be able to bear the burden of our individual adversities and trials.  It is only through the atonement that we are capable of becoming more like our Father in Heaven and obtaining the gift of eternal life.  Having a physical body is a precursor that is necessary for us to obtain in order for our eternal progression to continue.

Understanding that the gift of a physical 00body is vital to Heavenly Father's plan, can help us to recognize the importance of caring for our bodies.  God gave us life when He provided for us a physical body to house our spirits. Because our lives are essentially a gift from God, it is not our right to decide when life should end.  We understand the grave consequences of ending an other person's life, but what about those who choose to end their own life?  What happens to them?

There are still many things about suicide that we don't have answers to.  Knowing that we don't understand and comprehend all things, can help us to find a deeper gratitude for the one who is all knowing.  We can count our blessings that us, with our limited knowledge and understanding are not responsible for judging the acts and choices of others.  There are some things that we have been taught by prophets  that I feel are important for us to understand, concerning suicide. 

Elder M. Russell Ballard provided for us some insights into answers pertaining to suicide.  He said:
"The act of taking one’s life is truly a tragedy because this single act leaves so many victims: first the one who dies, then the dozens of others—family and friends—who are left behind, some to face years of deep pain and confusion. The living victims struggle, often desperately, with difficult emotions. In addition to the feelings of grief, anger, guilt, and rejection which the victims of such a family feel, Latter-day Saints carry an additional burden. The purpose of our mortal lives, we know, is to prove ourselves, to eventually return to live in the celestial kingdom. One who commits suicide closes the door on all that, some have thought, consigning himself to the telestial kingdom.  Or does he? What is the truth regarding suicide
I feel that judgement for sin is not always as cut-and-dried as some of us seem to think. The Lord said, 'Thou shalt not kill.' Does that mean that every person who kills will be condemned, no matter the circumstances? I feel the Lord recognized differences in intent and circumstances: Was the person who took his life mentally ill? Was he or she so deeply depressed as to be unbalanced or otherwise emotionally disturbed? Was the suicide a tragic, pitiful call for help that went unheeded too long or progressed faster than the victim intended? Did he or she somehow not understand the seriousness of the act? Was he or she suffering from a chemical imbalance in their system that led to despair and a loss of self-control?
Obviously, we do not know the full circumstances surrounding every suicide. Only the Lord knows all the details, and he it is who will judge our actions here on earth.When he does judge us, I feel he will take all things into consideration: our genetic and chemical makeup, our mental state, our intellectual capacity, the teachings we have received, the traditions of our fathers, our health, and so forth.
Thankfully, the Prophet Joseph Smith taught this enlightening doctrine:
'While one portion of the human race is judging and condemning the other without mercy, the Great Parent of the universe looks upon the whole of the human family with a fatherly care and paternal regard. … He is a wise Lawgiver, and will judge all men, not according to the narrow, contracted notions of men, but, "according to the deeds done in the body whether they be good or evil," or whether these deeds were done in England, America, Spain, Turkey, or India. … We need not doubt the wisdom and intelligence of the Great Jehovah; He will award judgement or mercy to all nations according to their several deserts, their means of obtaining intelligence, the laws by which they are governed, the facilities afforded them of obtaining correct information, and His inscrutable designs in relation to the human family; and when the designs of God shall be made manifest, and the curtain of futurity be withdrawn, we shall all of us eventually have to confess that the Judge of all the earth has done right.' (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, edited by Joseph Fielding Smith, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1938, p. 218.)

I draw an important conclusion from the words of the Prophet: Suicide is a sin—a very grievous one, yet the Lord will not judge the person who commits that sin strictly by the act itself. The Lord will look at that person’s circumstances and the degree of his accountability at the time of the act. Of course, this gives us no reason to excuse ourselves in committing sins, nor will the Lord excuse us, if I understand correctly. We must constantly strive to do our best in following the example of the Savior in every aspect of our lives. At the same time, however, let us remember that spiritual growth comes “line upon line,” that the key—in the spirit world as well as in mortality—is to keep progressing along the right path."  (M. Russell Ballard, “Suicide: Some Things We Know, and Some We Do Not,” Tambuli, Mar 1988, 16)
Because suicide is such a difficult and sensitive subject to know how to properly approach, I felt it important to refer to the teachings and insights of the church leaders in order to establish a more accurate perception and understanding concerning suicide. was hesitant to expound too much on this topic. As was stated previously, I have felt the need to bring additional enlightenment to the reality of suicide associated with mental illness, and hopefully take on at least a small role in contributing to some prevention of this terrible tragedy.  Although suicide is not a comfortable topic to discuss, it can have such a devastating impact on individuals, families, friends, and communities, that I recognize it as a necessity when addressing the concerns and risks of mental illness.  

Listed below I have included some facts and information concerning depression:
Clinical depression affects more than 15% of the population to an extent that they should seek treatment. People often don't seek treatment however and choose to believe that it is simply a bad mood that will pass. Indeed depression is known as the "common cold" of mental disorders and nearly a quarter of a million people are hospitalized with clinical depression every year. People get depressed over many things such as work, financial troubles, married people are more likely to get depressed than single people and the physical and emotional consequences of substance abuse can often resemble clinical depression.

Clinical depression is much more than being sad over high credit card bills, a missed promotion or loneliness, clinical depression is a serious, disabling condition that can consume life and can lead to thoughts suicide. Like many diseases such as cancer, clinical depression is progressive and will get worse if not treated. Fortunately clinical depression can be a temporary problem, unfortunately some people solve this temporary problem with a permanent action of suicide. It is important to seek treatment now before it gets worse.
National Referral has directed thousands of individuals to the resources they need to find a solution to their problem. Whether it is clinical depression, substance abuse, eating disorders, or co-dependency involving any of these disorders, National Referral can help.
If you or a loved one is having trouble concentrating, is often agitated or non-responsive and is suffering from a disruption of normal activities, we encourage you to call National Referral today. Clinical depression should be taken very seriously and action is required sooner than later.

The call is confidential and free so do call today.

Intervention and Treatment Referral  ("Clinical Depression", National Treatment Referral, http://www.depression-information.net/clinical-depression.htm).

Knowing the potential serious consequences of untreated clinical depression, I want to share with you a personal experience that brought to my memory many vivid and heart wrenching reminders of my personal confrontation with suicide.  I recognize that I am opening up to share some very personal experiences, that are not easy to express.  However, I have been touched by others who have willingly shared with me their personal struggles with depression and contemplations/and or attempts of suicide.  As a result of the courage and the faith I have seen others display in choosing to continue to fight their battle in the midst of great turmoil, I too have felt the need to express the vital importance of continuing to find faith and hope, even, and most importantly, when we feel as if we are hopeless.

One evening not long ago, my ten year old son approached me wanting to show me two animated video clips that he had explained to me as being very sad.  As he proceeded to show me these video clips I discovered that they were displaying experiences of two different children who both had lost a parent. Integrated into these videos was also a portrayal of the troubling emotions and the extreme sorrow that these children were experiencing over their loss.  I initially didn't realize the depth of impact that these two videos had on my son, until shortly thereafter when I found him sitting on the couch with his Nintendo DS.  I approached him to attempt to reinforce with him the understanding that he can come to his dad and me at anytime to talk with us about anything he may not understand, or that makes him feel uncomfortable, or sad.  However, instead of finding him happily entertained by his hand held game, I found him on the couch sobbing uncontrollably.  He was so distraught that he stumbled over his words and he had difficulty in attempting to express his thoughts.  I motioned for my husband to come over, and through a series of questions we discovered his source of anguish.  Having seen these two videos of children who had lost a parent, conjured up a vision in my son's mind of him being in the position of losing a parent.  As he tried to assimilate this scenario, he was overcome with sadness and sorrow at the thought of this possibility.

Seeing my son so emotionally distraught in this situation, caused a recognition in me of how truly devastated my children would be if they lost their mom.  The grim reality and the heart wrenching reminder of my personal experiences set in.  I too was overcome with emotion.  I excused myself to my room where I began sobbing.  I experienced a gamut of emotions as I recalled a night when I was in the midst of one of my very lowest points in my battle with clinical depression.  I was completely engulfed with the overwhelming symptoms that accompany depression.  I felt indescribably hopeless and worthless. It was during this very dark time that I literally was brought face to face in a personal battle between life and death. 

I had never experienced some terrible life tragedy that brought me to this point of contemplation.  However, that is one of the ironic things about depression.  A person does not have to be the victim of a tragic event to become a sufferer of clinical depression.  This belief that is still so predominant creates the idea that if you are a victim of depression and you haven't experienced  a  terrible life tragedy that at least seems to somewhat explain why you would feel the way you do, then it must mean that you are just plain weak.

The belief that depression is only for the weak, has created a barrier that prevents people from being open with the idea of discussing depression.  Although there has been a trend amongst some to more freely discuss depression, the general population still considers it a taboo topic.

The victims of depression can come from any background, race, gender, income level, etc.  However, no matter the varying background of depressed individuals, each will suffer with distorted thoughts and emotions.  The distortions among depressed people are the very things that conjure up suicidal thoughts and wishes.  This is exactly why some individuals can have what is perceived to be a seemingly simple, trial free life, and yet they struggle with depression and suicidal tendencies.  While others deal with tragic losses and events and still remain hopeful and free from the grasp of depression.  It's not necessarily about whatever seemed to be the cause of depression, but it's more about the distorted thoughts and emotions that accompany depression,  which  then leads to feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness, and  in some cases, consideration of suicide. 

"Research studies have shown that your unrealistic sense of hopelessness is one of the most crucial factors in the development of a serious suicidal wish.  Because of your twisted thinking, you see yourself in a trap from which there seems to be no escape.  You jump to the conclusion that your problems are insoluble.  Because your suffering feels unbearable and appears unending, you may erroneously conclude that suicide is your only way of escape.  If you have had such thoughts in the past, or if you are seriously thinking this way at present, let me state the message of this chapter loud and clear: You are Wrong in Your Belief That Suicide Is the Only Solution or the Best Solution to Your Problem.  Let me repeat that.  You are Wrong!  When you think that you are trapped and hopeless, your thinking is illogical, distorted, and skewed.  No matter how thoroughly you have convinced yourself, and even if you get other people to agree with you, you are just plain mistaken in your belief that it sis ever advisable to commit suicide because of depressive illness." (Burns, H. David "Feeling Good, the New Mood Therapy, p. 385).

I too want to echo the words of Dr. David Burns in his bold proclamation that suicide is not the answer!  I have personally experienced both ends of the spectrum and I too can tell you that suicide is not the answer.  As I sat in my bedroom sobbing after my encounter with my emotionally distraught son, I recalled that dark and forlorn night when I almost completely gave up hope. My personal struggle in my fight for life became a very poignant reminder for me as I thought about what might have been if I had made a different choice that night.  I had never really gained such a meaningful sense of gratitude for my choice to live, and to continue to fight my battle, until I saw how profoundly my son would have been affected, had I given up hope. I suddenly was overwhelmed with gratitude for the small glimmer of light that I had left within me that night which allowed me to choose LIFE!  How grateful I am for my knowledge of a Savior who knows and understands my personal trials.  I'm grateful for the blessing that I have had in finding treatment that has been working for me.  I am grateful that my kids still have their mom and that my husband still has his wife.

In Mosiah 18:8-9 we are taught that we should be willing to bear one another's burdens, mourn with those that mourn, comfort those that stand in need of comfort  and to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things and in all places.

It seems to me that many times when we obtain even a glimpse of commonality with other's in life's adversities, that we are better able and more compelled to do what we are taught in Mosiah - bear one another burdens, mourn with those that mourn, comfort those in need of comfort and stand as a witnesses of God.

This was my experience when I saw just a glimpse of the devastating affects that suicide can have on those left to mourn.  I felt even more of a fervent desire to reach out to those whom are struggling with depression.  I know and I understand the depth of anguish that wreaks havoc on depression sufferer's.  I know the extreme hopelessness that can drive depressed individuals to believe that suicide is a possible solution to end their suffering.  I made my decision that suicide is not the answer, but it wasn't until I saw my son's deep emotional reaction to the thought of losing one of his parents, that I gained a better understanding of the immense impact suicide can have on family and loved ones.

I sat contemplating my new found gratitude for life and for the blessings that crossed my path which allowed for me a greater capability to choose to continue my mortal journey.  As I absorbed this new personal realization I also considered other individuals and families who had been in similar circumstances, but yet their outcome was one of tragedy.  I yearned to make a difference however small it may be, in preventing suicide.  My heart ached as I thought of individuals who became so hopeless that suicide became their reality.  I was filled with extreme sorrow as I thought of those husbands, wives, children, parents, and siblings who are left to cope with the indescribable emotional anguish as they mourn over their loss, and attempt to find understanding in the tragedy.  I longed to be able to find a way to make a difference in the lives of those dealing with mental disorders, in order to help prevent suicide.

Many questions ran through my mind as I attempted to sort through my thoughts and emotions.  I analyzed many aspects of dealing with and treating depression.  Could these suicide victims may not have been financially able to receive treatment?  Was their treatment not working effectively?  Were they too embarrassed to seek treatment?  Were they worried about appearing weak, or maybe they didn't know what exactly was causing them to feel this way, so their world seemed like never ending hopelessness and despair?  Many times we don't know the answers to these questions.  So how can I help?

I've decided that for now the best way that I can help is by sharing my experience with others.  Although it's not easy, I want to let people know what I've learned and gained from my personal struggle with clinical depression.  I hope to help others understand that it's okay to talk about depression, and for those suffering with clinical depression, it's important to receive proper treatment.  For the family members and loved ones who are dealing with the affects and devastation of suicide, please know that my heart goes out to you and I pray that you will find a measure of peace and comfort as you search for emotional healing and understanding. If you are currently struggling with feelings of hopelessness, please hang on, seek out treatment, and know that you are not alone in your journey.