Thursday, January 26, 2012

Jeanne's Story

In the style of the old Paul Harvey commentaries titled "The Rest of the Story" Jeanne has graciously agreed to let me post all of her comments as a follow up to "What a Smile Hides" where I used just fragments of what she had to say.  Here, in her own words, is Jeanne's Story:
- - - - - - - - -
My name is Jeanne Buzzell Mason and I suffer from clinical depression. I am 68 years old, a daughter and granddaughter of alcoholics. I believe the reason my father and grandfather were alcoholics is they also suffered from clinical depression. However, I have never drunk alcoholic beverages, but since it seems to run in families, I wouldn’t dare try. I have a younger brother who was an alcoholic and suffered clinical depression, his son is also an alcoholic, and I know his daughter suffers from clinical depression.

I have a Bachelor of Science Degree in Food Science and Nutrition; and my brother had a degree in psychology. I throw this information in just for information on the background of some of the people I have mentioned.

I have suffered with clinical depression for almost 30 years. I was president of the women’s organization at my church when it began to be manifest. I had to ask to be released from this office. My husband and I both feel it was caused from the stress I felt in this position. My doctor (a general practitioner) referred me to a psychologist for therapy, to which I faithfully went for about 3 months. This therapist wanted me to take Prozac, however, I resisted because I didn’t want to be under the control of chemical substances, as my father had been. Part of my problem with clinical depression was my being an Adult Child of an Alcoholic, which in itself causes problems that come with living with an alcoholic parent – hiding my true feelings, being afraid to speak about my feelings, and shutting myself up inside – sort of like sweeping the dust and dirt under a rug – pretty soon the rug can’t hold it anymore and it comes spilling out.

I had been estranged from my father for about 12 years after my parent’s divorce, when he called one day and wanted to be a part of me and my two brother’s lives. This was very emotionally draining on me because I lived the closest (when I was home to work during the summers of college) and I spent more time with him. He would tell me that my mother left him in “his time of need.” I wanted to tell him, but couldn’t, that he left us in “our time of need.” My mother raised three children alone without any financial help from my father. She struggled and we had only the basic necessities: food, clothes, and a home, nothing fancy, but we survived. It wasn’t until I went to college that I learned we were living below the poverty level.

I finally agreed to try Prozac. It was several weeks before I felt any effect, and when I did feel it, it made me feel like I had come out of” dark clouds into the sunshine!” I took Prozac for several years until my g.p. again suggested I try to get off of it, which I did. After that, I felt I was in those dark clouds again.

Several years later, my younger brother took his life and I began to be concerned that I might need something again. My g.p. prescribed Prozac again, but this time it didn’t have the same effect on me as before. It didn’t do much at all. So I tried almost everything that was prescribed for depression, including self medication with herbs.

A few years ago a sister-in-law told me about a new prescription medication, Cymbalta. My doctor agreed to prescribe it and I have been taking it for about 6 years. It is OK, but still not like Prozac was for me, originally. When I take Cymbalta, I don’t have much energy or enthusiasm in my life. I feel like I am just floating along, but at least I can usually cope with life!

I enjoy traveling, and gratefully I have a wonderful husband that plans trips for the two of us. I like going to parties and gatherings of friends, but have a very difficult time planning them and being in charge.

If one suspects they may have any type of depression, see a doctor and/or get some therapy. It does help somewhat, to deal with life.

I want people to know that clinical depression cannot be cured by being more religious, reading the scriptures more, praying more, fasting more, and helping others more. Yes, these things can temporarily help, but are not a cure. I also wish that all people with clinical depression have a spouse like mine that was willing to stand by my side, even against his parents, when I couldn’t deal with their criticism of me. He doesn’t always understand but also doesn’t criticize me. He does the laundry and vacuums and cleans the floors on Saturday. I fix meals (sometimes very simple fare) and do any mending of clothing that needs to be done during the week.

Clinical Depression is not something I would wish on anyone! Having Mental Illness is not as socially acceptable as having a disease like cancer.

No comments: