Life with MS

One Woman Wins Her Battle With Depression

By Pedra Blackwell

This is the worst sadness you’ve ever felt. No, it is more than sadness. It is hopelessness, despair, and a disappointment in yourself and life in general. You don’t feel like doing anything: bathing, dressing, or combing your hair. You just want to be left alone. You want to be by yourself. Depression makes you feel miserable.

I’ve been there. I cried every day, for nothing in particular. I just cried. I never left the house, refused phone calls, and sat in my chair all day, all night, day after day, focusing on my pain. I suffered like this for almost a year. I knew I couldn’t live the rest of my life like this.

I felt sorry for myself and had a longing to be free from pain. I thought that I was a burden to my family and was useless to everyone, including myself. I thought that the world would be a better place without me. I started talking about suicide, and it was my plan to do it. I thought that suicide would end all my suffering.

The details of the plan don’t matter here. What you need to know is that I had every intention of going through with it. But, before I did, someone called me and asked me why my husband was acting so strange. I hadn’t noticed it. I was too focused on me to notice anyone else.

I finally saw my husband. He looked miserable and concerned about me and my suicidal talk. I also heard my brother, trying to cheer me up with his corny jokes. I saw my daughter, preparing my favorite foods, trying to make me happy. And when I looked at someone else besides myself, I really began to cry! Not for myself, but for what I was doing to them. How could I do this to them?

I realized, then, that suicide was a selfish act. I realized that I was loved, and I knew that I didn’t want anyone that loved me to find my dead body. I changed my mind and stopped thinking about me. I was still depressed, but I changed my focus to someone besides myself.

I’m here to tell you this because I changed my mind. I didn’t change how I was feeling; I changed how I was thinking. Suicide is a permanent outcome for a temporary situation. If you’re thinking about it, you too can change your mind by changing your concentration from you to anything else.

When I changed my mind, my life also began to change. I got up out of my chair. I wanted to do things and to go places, and I did. When I moved, I felt less depressed. My plans changed. I made sure that I always had something to look forward to: going to a play next month or going on a weekend trip next spring.

I had been prescribed an antidepressant medication by my neurologist. I was still depressed. I had been going to a psychologist every week. I was still depressed. I decided to stop seeing the psychologist; for me, it was a waste of  time and money.

But I didn’t give up. I took charge of my life and was determined to get control over my depression. I then made an appointment with a psychiatrist because, unlike a psychologist, they are physicians and can write prescriptions. 

She determined that I was given the wrong dosage for the medication that I had been prescribed, and also, I was prescribed the wrong medication for my depression. When the medication she prescribed made me feel strange, I asked her to change it. She also encouraged me to go into depression group therapy. When I resisted, she kept urging me to attend.

I went. I listened to their stories. There are many reasons why people are depressed. We all talked while a social worker facilitated. We were helping each other work through our issues. This was important because you knew that you were talking with someone that could commiserate with you, someone who knew how you felt. We were able to give each other another point of view regarding the situations we faced.

It has now been more than 10 years since I was going to commit suicide and three years since the change of medication and group therapy. In summary, I got up out of that chair, even though I didn’t feel like it at that moment. I took charge of my life and made certain that I was prescribed the correct medication. I went to group therapy – being with others is also important. Most importantly, I changed how I was thinking and what I was thinking about.

I am now depression free. If I did it, you can too.
Pedra Blackwell was first diagnosed with MS in 1990. She started with relapsing-remitting but now has secondary-progressive.