Readers following the ongoing saga of my relationship with my husband in my crappy home school marriage know that recently we began counseling with an EMDR trained licensed clinical social worker.
I made the decision to call this counselor for myself. I am unfortunately familiar with PTSD. I grew up in a household run by a personality disordered parent. There was much drama and much trauma in my life at home. And since as a teen, I found some relief from the emotional, psychological and physical abuse by partying, I suffered outside of the home too. (Poor kid. I was doomed coming and going. *sigh*) When my husband would initiate an abusive incident, I not only had the present to deal with but all the PTSD from the past. I need to at least clear out as much of the past trauma response as I can.
As I was talking with the counselor to make the appointment for myself, she compassionately opined that my husband sounds as if he would benefit from trauma therapy. This was in response to learning of his background as a missionary kid who was abandoned and rejected by his parents in favor of "ministry" to Stone Age tribal peoples.
He agreed to begin treatment himself, and in the course of doing his intake it became apparent that he is still very depressed. =( She suggested that the dosage of his anti-depressant might be too low. She also recommended many other avenues of attack for the depression: nutrition, exercise, sleep, building a social life, etc.
As you might expect, I have been researching depression. I especially was interested in how these medications work. I found these links HERE and
HERE to be of great value.
I was completely floored when I read that depression is literally an atrophying brain! That sobered me up about the seriousness of depression. It is as serious and can be as deadly as cancer. AN ATROPHIED BRAIN IS NOT A SMALL THING!! Your brain cells shrink. Literally. Yikes!
Turns out the serotonin uptake is NOT what makes antidepressant helpful, though that is what they were designed to do. They help by facilitating healing of atrophied brain cells.
Let me repeat that: Anti-depressant medications work by facilitating the recovery of atrophied brain cells. If you are depressed, do everything you can to heal your brain! Meds are not shameful! They are not the whole answer, but they do speed recovery. So please don't be afraid of getting diagnosed if you have been struggling for a long time. It could be a key component in saving your brain!
I am very concerned for my husband. If, as the intake indicates, my husband has been depressed for as long as fifteen years, he is in serious trouble. The longer depression goes untreated, the greater the damage to the brain.
What damage? Personality changes (check). Impaired concentration (check). Lowered work performance (sad to say, check). Oh my. Increased irritability (check). Apathy resulting in poor self-care (check). Hostility (check). Damaged relationships (CHECK!).
But medication alone is not enough. It only helps in the recovery of atrophied brain cells. There are other things necessary for healing your brain. Exercise, sunlight and nutrition are IMPORTANT!
Regular exercise is nature's natural anti-depressant, which may explain why my husband did not experience depression during his college years and the early years of our marriage. He was a long distance runner and avid soccer player for many years. When he began to travel for a living, regular exercise fell away rather quickly. :\
Sunshine helps in ways not fully explained, so exercise outside and in daylight when you can. Yard work is healing therapy for atrophied brain cells. =)
Nutrition is far more important than most men will admit. Seems like some have been raised to believe that bad nutrition is a manly ideal. (Get those fresh fruits and veggies into your diet, please!) My husband, I am elated to report, has accepted that the closest a food is to its natural state, the better it probably is for you. This is a new idea, so I am hopeful it will be of great benefit in the weeks and months ahead.
Laughter is IMPORTANT! The act of laughing releases chemicals in our brains that facilitate healing as well.
Friends are critical to healing both because they help us talk through our problems and they make us laugh! Friends are twofers! =)
Of course reparative measures are no good if you don't stop the source of the stress. One must relieve the issue that has been flooding your brain with cortisol on such a regular basis that your brain cells are atrophied. In my husband's case, that means working through childhood traumas. If you don't eliminate the cause of the stress hormones flooding your brain, you can't even begin to heal. Good psychotherapy is critically IMPORTANT!
I could not be more serious about my husband's physical health if he were diagnosed with cancer. This is a physical ailment! It is a debilitating, crippling physical ailment. YOU NEED YOUR BRAIN!
Plus I need to protect my brain and my son's brain. Living with depression affects the whole family. In this way, it can be contagious. Remember the skit persona Debbie Downer of SNL?
I am relieved that now I have things I can do, both to help my husband, my self and my son. I am going to vigorously work for a full recovery for all of us, with all my strength.
I was talking about these issues with a friend yesterday, and it led to us discussing men, depression and domestic violence. According to one of the articles I read yesterday, marriages in which one spouse is depressed are nine times more likely to divorce. That is a telling statistic.
We thought about the murder-suicides you read about. Those brains were not functioning healthily! In my family, I know women who gave up on husbands because the men just didn't care about life, didn't bathe regularly, were hostile and unhappy all the times. Sounds like depression to me. My friend thought of similar situations, and there were many that came to mind. Hmmmm.
Your thoughts, dear readers?