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When a Quarter Friend Needs A Quarter Back, My Story

Editor’s Note: The following is a guest article submitted by a reader of Healthy Midlife.

I have always been the shoulder for everyone, as my friends like to call me “their quarter friend.” For those of you who don’t understand….when I was in college, my Mother told me, whatever you do in life, wherever you go…I hope that you remember to always be a quarter friend (well, she said dime, but inflation you know).

When I asked what she meant, she said, “you need to be the person that when someone needs a friend and they only have a quarter (dime) in their pocket…it is you that they call. Be the most reliable, supportive person in the lives of others, and they in turn will be the most supportive, reliable person to you.” And so, I lived my life being the “quarter” friend to everyone I could possibly be.

When my brother died of brain cancer in 1999, I held up my family. I did the same for my Mother in 2002 and my Dad in 2006. When my best friend’s father died, who was also a great friend to me, I tried my best to be that quarter friend. When my good friend’s husband died, again, I remembered to be her quarter friend. When my brother in law went through his divorce…I made sure he had a “quarter friend” in me. When my only son went away to College, I was so proud of his accomplishments, that I would not allow myself to understand that not having him at home was a change.

When the real estate market started going south, and friends were losing their way of living, I tried my best to be their “quarter friend.” When my family needed a cheer or a supportive smile, I was there.

And then one day about a year ago, I awaken to night sweats, and a feeling of pain and a feeling of being all alone, that words can not describe. I am not going to pretend that there were not environmental factors that contributed this feeling. My lifestyle was changing due to the economy, I realized that I had never grieved the loss of these most important loved ones because I was so busy being supportive of others, and I was so busy working and being a Mom that for years, I had failed to take care of myself.

But, the end result was the same. I was in a midlife depression. To which I could not find my way out. I was spiraling downward, and even though I had the love and support of my wonderful husband, son and friends…as the cheerleader…I didn’t know, and I could not ask others to cheer for me. I first went to my primary care physician, who was ever so happy to prescribe an anti-depressant and send me on my way.

Unfortunately, I have what is called Serotonin Syndrome, and the first three meds sent my entire body into overdrive. Finally the doctor found a medication that helped the suicidal tendencies, but they never addressed whole health.

After stumbling for months, doing unhealthy things, alienating myself from the ones who most cared about me…I found a Doctor to address whole health. First, he told me to rely on the friends who have relied on me. Then, he got me back on a low dose anti-depressant, he made me keep a journal of my moods, talked to me about all the changes in my life, and told me to add exercise, and personal meditation (either by reading or by quietly reflecting) to my schedule. By use of the diary, we discovered that the depression levels had a direct link to my natural female cycle.

We also discovered that I did not utilize the support of the many friends I had because for some reason I felt I would be letting them down if I showed the “dings in my armor.”

We also discovered that many women, like me, suffer from a depression, primarily brought on by the physiological changes associated with what we call “mid-life.”

I am not yet rehabilitated, but I am on a better path. I exercise for at least 20 minutes per day, I spend at least 15 minutes in medication or in prayer, and most importantly, I am working hard on trusting the friends who have trusted me to be their “quarter friend” to be MY “quarter friend.” I must say the latter is the hardest, because when one is the cheerleader, it is hard to sit down and allow someone else to cheer for you.

If you find yourself in this situation, this “midlife funk” as I call it, regardless of all the other things that may be going on, I encourage you to find a professional who is willing and able to address “whole health.” Please know that you are not alone, many women suffer from depression who have never been a depressed person. In fact, it is harder for us, because we so know how to lend a shoulder, while never learning how to accept one. And when the cheerleader can no longer cheer, don’t be afraid to pass the pom pom to a friend who can cheer for you.

Guest Writer Profile

Karen is an active reader of this site and is on her midlife journey. While reading an article on Healthy Midlife entitled “Don’t Sweat Menopause: You are in Control”, she decided to share her story. Karen is actively working towards a healthy midlife transition and looks forward to brighter days ahead.

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