Heavy Cloak of Fatigue – Janaki’s Story of Depression

This story is purely fictional and is not intended to represent a real family. Any similarities between this family and a real life family are purely coincidental.

The phone rang for the sixth time. Having been deep asleep, Janaki merely heard a soft musical sound in the background that became integrated into her dream as she fell back asleep. About an hour later she slowly arose to find bright light coming into her room. She felt some panic, as it was January and the mornings are not so bright. She looked at the clock and it said 1:30pm.

Janaki scrambled to the phone and called her good friend, Deepa.

“Janaki, where are you? We’ve been calling you for over an hour!” asked a concerned Deepa.

“I just woke up. I’ve been feeling very tired lately,” explained a groggy Janaki.

“You just woke up? Are you feeling ok?” After a pause, “Oh! Are you pregnant??” Deepa asked excitedly.

“No definitely not,” said Janaki who felt a wave of frustration that yet another person in her life would ask her that question. “I think I might be getting sick. I’m going to skip this lunch but have a good time and say hi to the girls for me.”

Janaki, a 30 years old Gujarati girl born in the United States, had been feeling fatigued and weak for a about 3 months. It began with headaches that would last through multiple doses of asprin. She attributed it to the stress of her new job as an artist for a children’s book publishing company. The work had been demanding from her first day and she assumed that since she had been unemployed for so long, the transition was taking a toll on her body

Soon after the headaches began, though, she started to feel this wave of fatigue that she could not shake. At work she began having coffee every couple of hours, which became noticeable to her coworkers. One day, one of her coworkers asked if she was getting enough sleep as she seemed very quiet and tired most of the day. Janaki explained the fatigue to which the coworker responded by telling her the benefits of exercise on countering fatigue.

She invited Janaki to her favorite kickboxing class to help kickstart her energy. Janaki went for a couple of weeks but the effort it took to leave work, attend the class, and take a shower after began to wear on her. She stopped going, giving the excuse that the evenings of the class were the same evenings her husband came home and they liked to have dinner together that night.What she did not tell her coworker is that instead of spending time with her husband, she would eat half of a meal and sleep around 8pm as the fatigue and weakness would take over her body.

Janaki had been married for 1.5 years to a man she had known for 5 years prior. Their relationship was strained for a while when Janaki was unemployed. She would be frustrated by her job searching activities every day and the stress bled into their relationship. However, since she began her new job, they have regained health in the relationship and have minimal relationship troubles since.

Her husband began to notice Janaki’s lack of energy and constant headaches. He also noticed that her social calendar was far emptier than usual. One night, after dinner, as Janaki was headed to sleep at an hour only young children end their day, Rohan asked her, “So when was the last time you went out with your friends?”

“Oh I don’t know,” she replied wearily.

“I was just looking at the Google calendar and it doesn’t look like you have anything scheduled for a while,” he asked.

“What so you’re spying on me now? Who are you the friends police or something?” she snapped at him as she took her 6th asprin of the day.

Rohan knew something was wrong with his wife. She had been acting like this for months and he couldn’t pinpoint what it was.

“Janaki, will you make an appointment with the doctor? I’m worried about your headaches and your constant tiredness,” he asked compassionately.

“Maybe,” she whispered as she headed off for another 12 hours of sleep.

The following weekend, her best friend Isha dropped by on a Saturday afternoon. Janaki did not know that Rohan had called her to come by and talk to Janaki to see if she could get Janaki to open up about what is going on. After the initial pleasantries, Isha asked, “So what’s going on Janaki? You’ve missed the last 3 girl’s lunches, you don’t pick up your phone anymore. What’s happening?”

“I don’t know,” Janaki sighed. “I feel like I’m getting sick but I never actually get a cold or the flu or anything. I’m just tired all the time. And I have these terrible headaches that don’t go away no matter what I do.”

“You’ve been almost getting sick for 3 months?” Isha asked skeptically.

“I don’t know,” Janaki sighed.t

“Do you think this is connected with your miscarriage?” asked Isha carefully.

“I don’t know! I don’t know! Why does everyone ask me questions that I don’t know the answer to?” Janaki raised her voice and it was the most emotion Isha had seen from her since she found out she was pregnant 4 months ago. “My head hurts. I’m getting an asprin.”

To Isha, it felt like Janaki’s body was sitting on the same sofa but her mind was 1,000 miles away and just could not be reached. When Janaki went to get the medicine, Isha mentioned to Rohan that she also thought something was wrong.

“Maybe you should call her doctor and tell him the symptoms. That might get her to go see him and get treated for whatever this is,” Isha suggested. “She doesn’t seem to have much energy so she might not fight you on it.”

Isha was right. When Rohan suggested that Janaki see the doctor at a time he had scheduled the appointment, her answer was of complacence as she did not have the energy or desire to fight his request. The doctor did a full physical and quickly determined that there was no physical basis to her symptoms and that most likely she was depressed. It was difficult for Rohan to hear but he was relieved that there was an explanation for the symptoms. The doctor gave them the option of taking anti-depressants or seeing a therapist first. They both chose the latter and have scheduled her first appointment.

This story shows some of the realistic obstacles that are encountered when talking to a person is depressed. Many times they don’t know why they feel what they feel, while friends and family try their hardest to help without much avail.

If you or someone you know might be depressed, please see your physician or a mental health care professional right away. Depression is one of the most easily treatable emotional health conditions and with the right treatment, you can resume living a healthy life.

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