For the first time since my diagnosis in 1996 I’ve felt that I’ve been treated completely differently because of my mental illness. Perhaps it was because I mostly stable for so long and my few people have ever seen me have an episode, but this came from my doctor.
Since we moved to Tucson 8 months ago I had to get a new PCP (Primary Care Physician), I initially wasn’t sure about her, she seemed a little too friendly, and one of the first things she said was that she wouldn’t write a prescription for diazipam. (I didn’t ask, I’d get that from my ENT anyway), but I gave her a chance. I admit I went in there not expecting much so I felt that’s what I got. The second visit was much better. Every time I’ve seen her she hugged me, until I told her about my mixed mania episode. Now things are different.
I saw her on Friday for back pain. I felt like she dismissed things I said. I tried to talk about the back pain and she asked what I wanted to do about it. I said, “fix it”. “How do you want to do that?” I jokingly said, “I want you to fix it.” and I laughted. She said, “I can’t do that”, in a very abrupt way. She immediately said she would refer me to PT. I tried to say that I wasn’t sure it was muscular, I was concerned it may be arthritis. “No. You need PT”. She normally talks well so I can understand and is friendly, on Friday I had to turn my cochlear implants DOWN because she was so LOUD. She didn’t even want to look at my back, when I said where it was, she said she thought it was my lower back….”well bitch if you had asked you’d know!”, I thought to myself. She touched me and said, “I expected it to be tighter”, in a much lower voice to my husband. I tried to tell her that it feels different, but she dismissed me. I needed to go to PT. Fine, I’ll go to PT and I’ll find a new PCP! (you’d think she thought I was seeking drugs but I’m allergic to opioids, and she knows that, so WTF? I just wanted a discussion and maybe an xray)
I may have made the grave mistake of telling her about my episode, but when my drug list started to change, that would be a pretty obvious clue things were changing. I also mentioned I had back pain as a side effect from akathesia due to a side effect form Latuda 2 years prior, I should not have said that…..WAIT!……………
What am I saying?? I should have been able to say all of that!! My general doctor should be able to be aware of my mental health issues and not start treating me like I’m not able to think for myself.
I will be firing her soon and I will make sure that she and the office know why I am doing so. This is crazy, I’m not!
Today’s Mindfulness Monday is not really quotes on mindfulness, they are mindful quotes on mental health. There are more quotes than usual, I actually found over 30 that I liked and finally cut it down to these 7. After each quote I will explain why I chose that particular quote. I hope you will bare with me, as most of you know I’m working through a mental health crisis of my own, and working on this post has helped me feel not so alone. ***Please note that this post contains a frank discussion on mental health issues including suicide ideation.
“Beautiful fake smile.
All it takes is a beautiful fake smile
to hide an injured soul and
they will never notice how broken you really are.”
I chose this quote because we I often use a fake smile to get through the day. Whether it be because of my physical or mental illnesses, that fake smile makes others believe I’m okay, and that makes dealing with the general public, and sometimes even those closest to me, easier. I don’t have to explain, I don’t have to deal with the awkwardness…..the fake smile, is a shield I use to deflect the judgments from others.
“Be proud of every step
you take towards stability,
no matter how big or small.”
I have been feeling like all the work I’ve been doing to overcome this crisis has shown little improvement. I chose this quote because it reminded me that even the smallest steps toward my stability are worth being proud of.
“I’m still me no matter
my mental health”
Earlier today I texted a friend how afraid I am that this is my new normal, all the anger, and simply being a bitch all the time. I’m no longer a nice person. I told her, “I feel like I’ve lost Wendy” I chose this quote simply because it reassured me that Wendy is still in there somewhere.
“It’s exhausting to fight a war
inside your head
every single day.”
If you don’t have a mental illness I don’t think you can ever understand this quote, if you do, I doubt I have to explain why I included it. This constant battle going on in my head is driving me insane….or perhaps I’m insane is why I have the battle in the first place….these are the kind of questions that bombard me all the time lately. Every… Single….Day
“Surviving a psychiatric crisis is one thing.
Overcoming one is something completely different.”
I hope to somehow understand this, and hopefully so will my husband. Right now we are in survival mode, overcoming it is going to be a long, hard process. (I’m not sure it will ever happen completely)
“The bravest thing I ever did
was continuing my life
when I wanted to die.”
Okay, I’m admitting something here so other’s my hear my pain, and will perhaps not feel so alone. Each day since this crisis began has been a fight for my life. More than once I’ve thought it would be best if I were not here. I’m not being selfish, of looking for the easy way out. I’m hurting the person I love most, over, and over, and over again. When I’m having the most severe emotions, rage, despair….and the psychosis (auditory hallucinations) I cannot see that removing myself from this world would hurt him worse, I can only see that I’m causing him so much pain, and at that moment I believe that if I’m wasn’t here it would be better for him…and others I love. I want to remove myself from the situation. Actually, that’s exactly it, I am simply trying my hardest to get away from the war inside me, I simply need to escape. The pain is just too great. Please do not judge me, if you do, keep it to yourself, my psyche can’t handle it right now. I am not in danger, my husband and my psychiatrist know about this and I’m being watched….like a child….I hate it.
”You know when you’re in a bad dream
and you’re trying to run, punch, kick, or scream,
and your body just won’t move?
You open your mouth and nothing comes out.
You feel frozen or in slow motion,
and no matter how hard you try to fight it,
That’s how it feels to battle mental illness.”
When I read this quote I thought….Yes!! It is often like that. I feel like I scream and scream and even when I’m making noise it makes no sense. I’m stuck, I can’t get out. I just want me back again! There are so many people who feel like they aren’t themselves after they start their psychiatric medication, especially those who are bipolar I, like me. I will admit, when I first started my meds I wondered if the changes in my moods were making me less….me. I was losing part of who I identified as me, but after I was stable for a while I realized that the real me was the stable person. I no longer had times of extreme mood swings, I no longer did so many dangerous things, I felt more in control. Yes, I missed being able to pain for days on end, I don’t feel I’ve been as creative, and I miss the times I could read 2-3 books in one day, but I don’t miss buying a car I couldn’t afford, or having sex with someone and not remembering it, or losing days that I don’t remember. That wasn’t me. When I’d relapse, which has never been as bad as this crisis, I’d run to my doctor immediately for help. I didn’t like that feeling at all, I was suddenly not me. And suddenly after 20+ years, I’m having a severe crisis. It scares the hell out of me. I will say, I think I’m better today than I was 2 weeks ago, but I still have a long way to go.
I just want to be Wendy again.
***by the way, the photo above is a self portrait I took a few years ago. I haven’t been in the mood to take many pictures lately, and I felt this photo was appropriate. (all right’s reserved)
I walk around in a daze lately, and can’t see through the fog.
I feel like I’m lost in the dark and the only lights I see are from the flames of hell.
I can’t tell you why.
There is no real reason.
Sometimes I feel like I’m a pawn in someone else’s game. I can see two demons hunched over a game board, we are the pieces they move. We have no control over how the game is played; we can only hope they play fairly, but we all know that demons never play fair.
How can I feel so level headed and focused at one point and so out of control and totally depressed at the next. What changed?
Sometimes the answer is “nothing”. Other times, the answer is more complicated, but the thing is, it’s really not about what has happened on the outside, it’s all about what’s going on on the inside.
Right now I could actually write a huge list of things that have changed in my life, but none of them explain the extreme changes in my emotional state.
I’m not “letting things get to me”, nor am I “too sensitive”. I’m falling apart from the inside out, and it has nothing to do with anything I am doing to myself.
Damn! Does that sound as stupid to any of you as it does to me?
I get so pissed off when someone tells me that they wish I didn’t let things get to me so much, or that they wish I wasn’t so sensitive….yeah well…yadayadayada. I guess, it is all on me, isn’t it? But then again…is it? If it were up to me I sure wouldn’t allow things to “get to me”, and I wouldn’t be overly “sensitive”. Heck, if it were up to me I’d be pretty friggin’ stoic sometimes, but I’m not, I simply can’t be like that. I feel things, very deeply sometimes, I actually envy people who can “bury it” or “put walls up”, I can’t do that. I’ve tried, oh how I’ve tried. I really do envy those people…..sometimes…like now…not always.
Lately, all I want to do is eat, sleep, and cry. In reality I’m not sleeping enough, but I’m spending a lot of time trying to; I’m eating too much, the weight gain proves it, and I’m either crying or pissed most of the time! But I’m trying really, really hard not to be like that. Heck, I don’t even know why I’m crying, and I sure can’t tell you what I’m so mad about. Here’s the kicker, something will happen that doesn’t bother me at all and then the exact same thing can happen again and suddenly I’m so pissed I can’t think straight, or I’m crying so hard I can’t see. What changed there? So…is that all on me? or is it out of my control? More importantly, is this something that is just happening because of outside circumstances and will blow over, or does my medication need to be adjusted? Honestly, I have no clue. (I think it’s probably the later, or maybe a little bit of both?
Even with all I know about mental illness, (from my experiences with bipolar disorder, anxiety, and depression) I still feel like it’s my fault. I never feel like that about another person’s battles with mental illness, why do I hold myself to a different standard? Is it simply because I’m often told, “I wish you didn’t let things get to you so much”, or is it because I think this is a part of me that I should be able to control. I don’t have a lot in my life that I feel I have control over, surely I can control how I react to things. Isn’t that what I’ve been practicing mindfulness for? Simply accepting the way things are and not wishing it to be different. Well honey, I do wish it were different right now, but I am trying hard to accept that it just is the way it is, and I know for certain that things will change. Nothing stays the same, everything changes, I can always take solace in this, unless I’m deep in depression, then I think, “Yes, things change, it could get so much worse!” Aaahhhh….No! I can’t get caught in the future trap! You know that trap, the one in your mind that predicts a future…good or bad, watch out! it’s a trap! Chances are that the future you prophesied will not turn out the way your mind told you it would; staying in the present is the only way to really deal with life’s challenges, it’s it? I KNOW these things. Why then, is it so very hard?
I will try to take it moment by moment and be kind to myself.
I’ll try not to stay away.
I don’t want you to worry.
one moment at a time, I’ll get through this
*photo taken at Tumacacori National Park by W. Holcombe. Please do not use without permission. All rights reserved.
I have been one of those people with good intentions who have simply said the wrong things, and for that, I’m deeply sorry. I have been there, yet I still don’t know what to say when a friend is in their darkest moments. I need to always remember, I didn’t want to die because I didn’t feel loved, I simply wanted the pain to stop. It helped me to have someone sit with me, hold my hand, and simply be a witness to my pain. It helped me to know that they would help if they could, but that they didn’t try to force this false help on me. I know these things, but it’s very hard to do these things for someone from afar. I can’t simply sit with someone when they are in pain if I can’t be physically with them. Often, when I reach out to someone through texts, or messages, I don’t know what to say after that initial contact. Silence is unacceptable when you are texting. I want them to know that I care, and I simply want to be there for them. I know I can’t fix it, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to.
Jack Surguy mentions something that I found helpful for me; by accepting that everything changes I can take solace in knowing that these feelings will not last forever. (even if they feel like they will) When I’m am suffering I know that it will end, that is actually my mantra when my emotions are all out of wack, “this will end”. I guess it’s a variation on “this too shall pass”, but that sounds trite to me for some reason. I promise no matter what you are going through right now, good, bad or indifferent, it will change.
I hope you find both of these articles interesting and possibly helpful.
Right now my wrist is killing me, so I need to stop typing, but after the deaths of Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade, I felt I needed to talk about this, I want to do better. I want my friends (you) to know I love them, that I care, and that I respect their pain. I want them to know this every day, not just times like these.
* photo by W. Holcombe. A red yucca plant viewed while lying down looking at the sky. I found it stunning.
This will just be a short update on what’s going on with me and Akathisia. (literally meaning “inability to sit”). I found a great article explaining this complex side effect to various psychotropic drugs including antidepressants and antipsycotics. If you’re interested: Akathisia by the RxISK Medical Team.
The turmoil I have experienced with akathisia has been unbelievable. The need to move has been overwhelming. I can’t express how intense this sensation has been, it was consuming every part of my life. You can read more about my experience with this side effect in my post “I can’t be still”.
I saw my psychiatrist last week and she took away one of the new medications, but kept me on an antidepressant that often helps with akathisia. I’m happy to say that I’m much, much better. I feel that sitting still is such a luxury.
Finally after a more than a month the restlessness is easing. I still feel figetty and just want to shift and move a bit, but I no longer feel the need to pace until I drop, with still the need to move. My back is still very tense. The muscles have been tense for over a month, they simply do not want to settle. I’m in a quite a bit of pain because of it. I think I may need physical therapy to help calm it down. I’ll be seeing my primary care doctor next Friday for my 6 month visit, I’ll see what she has to say then.
How about side effects with the new medication? After all, can an drug actually cause no side effects? I’m not sure it’s the medication that’s causing it but I’m having a hard time with my cognitive function. That, sounds like I’m brain dead, I promise I’m not, I’m just having a hard time thinking. I have brain fog and I’m very easily distracted, or my short term memory is shot….I’m not sure which, after all my brain is not thinking clearly. Hopefully this is a side effect that gets better. If not, we may be on the search for a new antidepressant. sigh.
I promised this would be short, I’m keeping my promise.
I’m leaving you with a few articles about Akathisia that I found useful during all of this. I learned so much. I’m surprised I haven’t heard of this before.
I want to tell you a little about something that is going on with me. This is very difficult to talk about. Admitting this is happening to me is difficult. Talking about it is difficult. It shouldn’t be this difficult, but it is.
You may remember back in February I was hospitalized for having seizures and it was then determined that I do not have epilepsy. It was thought that a medication I was on may have caused the seizures but that isn’t the case, I’ve had more seizures since being off the medication. (some people prefer to call these seizures events or episodes instead of seizures since the brain is not firing like it does during a true seizure.) I do not have them regularly, and I haven’t had many, but I do still have them.
“A seizure is a temporary loss of control, often with abnormal movements, unconsciousness, or both. Epileptic seizures are caused by sudden abnormal electrical discharges in the brain. Psychogenic (non-epileptic) seizures are attacks that look like epileptic seizures, but are not caused by abnormal electrical discharges. They are stress-related or “emotional.” They are sometimes called pseudoseizures, but “psychogenic non-epileptic seizures” (PNES) is now the preferred term.” -1
The type of seizures I get are psychogenic non-epileptic seizures (PNES). By definition, PNES are a physical manifestation of a psychological disturbance and are a type of Somatoform Disorder called a conversion disorder.-1 “For some patients with psychogenic nonepileptic seizures, the seizures are a manifestation of trauma, which is also known as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. In order to treat patients with PTSD, the clinician has to take the seizure apart to see what the seizure represents in terms of emotions and memory as well as where this trauma is stored in the body.”(Kelley)-1
Since many people with epilepsy have normal reading with an EEG, PNES is diagnosed by an EEG with video monitoring which has to be read by a specialist in epilepsy. Diagnosis this way is nearly 100% accurate. There are about 10% of patients with epilepsy who also have PNES.
“PNES, unlike epileptic seizures, are not the result of a physical brain disease. Rather, they are emotional, stress-induced, and result from traumatic psychological experiences, sometimes from the forgotten past. It is well known that emotional or psychological stresses can produce physical reactions in people with no physical illness. For example, everyone has blushed in embarrassment or been nervous and anxious as part of a “stage fright” reaction. Today, we also know that more extreme emotional stresses can actually cause physical illnesses.”-1
As my psychiatrist said, my brain just gets to the point where it decides it can’t handle any more and says screw it. I’m seeing a psychiatrist for medication to help with anxiety and my normal bipolar stuff, and whatever else comes up. I’m seeing a psychologist for therapy to try to figure out what is causing this. I’m not going to discuss what is causing my seizures because frankly we aren’t exactly sure yet.
Today I wanted to make people aware that psychogenic non-epileptic seizures are real. People cannot control them. People often refuse to accept the diagnosis because of the stigma related to it. Family and often physicians do not understand that the patient cannot control what is happening to them. I wanted you to know that you know someone who is going through this, and I have no control over it. I also wanted people to know they are not as rare as you may think, “in the general population the prevalence rate is 2-33 per 100, 000, making PNES nearly as prevalent as multiple sclerosis or trigeminal neuralgia”.-2
Hello. My name is Wendy. I just turned 53 years old and I have chronic illnesses, including Meniere’s Disease. Unless something amazing happens, they are not going to go away. Sometimes I feel I need to make this statement before anyone speaks to me.
Recently I was asked a few things about my health. This was not by people who see me often, or have much knowledge about my illnesses. This is how I handled a few of the questions, some of it was good, some not so good.
Have you tried yoga? It can really help your balance. I used to do yoga regularly until the Meniere’s Disease got so bad and I ended up on my face during a class. It can only help your balance if you have some to start with! After having a disease ruin your balance system, yoga isn’t possible. (ok, this may have been a bit harsh, and some people with Meniere’s may get some help from yoga, I don’t know. However, anyone as advanced as I am, who has been through Vestibular Therapy and still has balance issues all the time, cannot do yoga. And if you have had a disease the compromises your balance for as long as I have, do you not think I would have heard about YOGA by now?)
I heard about these positions you can get in that will make vertigo go away. Why can’t you just do that? There are maneuvers you can do to help certain types of vertigo. However, there are numerous causes for vertigo and what causes mine can not be helped by those maneuvers. (do people think my doctors would just let me suffer this much if it was so simple to “cure” my vertigo?)
Do you think this could have been caused by all the drugs back when you were younger? Okay, this one caught me off guard. I thought, what the heck is she talking about? I may have experimented a little when I was younger, but she wouldn’t have known that. I must have looked shocked and said,“nooooo?”She then explained, “All those psychiatric drugs they put you on.”I was shocked. How could someone think that the treatment I received for my mental illness caused me to get chronically ill? I’m sure I looked shocked when I answered,“No.”“Well I was thinking….” I stopped and said,“I know many people with Meniere’s disease and really we have nothing in common except some of us have relatives with the same disease. They have no idea what causes this.”“That’s good to hear, I’ve been so worried about it.” “Well there is no need to worry about that. The medication I’ve taken for my Bipolar did not cause me to get ill.” AHHH!
This last question has continued to plague me. Is this one of the reasons people do not seek help for their mental illness, they are afraid of what side effects the medications may cause?
I have Bipolar I disorder. I take medication for it. I also try to keep a good sleep schedule, eat well, keep my stress controlled, and see a therapist…there is a lot more to taking care of yourself when you have a mental illness than just taking your medication.
I have never been afraid of taking my medication. Each time my medication is changed my doctor and I talk about it. We discuss exactly what it is supposed to do, any side effects, if it will react with any other medications I’m on at the time, and if the side effects are worth it. I don’t just take a medication not knowing what it will do to me. No one should do that. If your doctor does not automatically discuss these things with you make sure you ask BEFORE you fill your prescription and start taking a medication you are not familiar with. I also advise you to read the information the pharmacist gives you about your new medication just in case your doctor forgot something. It happens, doctors are human too.
I have decided to take a medication even though I knew there was a chance it could cause damage to my thyroid. It did. I now have to be on medication for hypothyroidism. Am I upset that the medication caused this side effect. No. I went into this with my eyes wide open. At the time there were very few medications to treat Bipolar I and I decided the pay off from the drug was worth the side effect that it may cause. I’m still happy I decided to take that medication and have those years as a stable person. Truthfully, I would take it again today if that was the only medication that would keep me stable.
I would hate to think that people would not seek out treatment for any illness because they are afraid of the side effects of the medication they might be put on. Become informed. Know what the medications will do. Know how it will help you and the side effects it may cause, you decide if it is the right medication for you.
Many of you may be thinking that there are times that a certain side effect is unknown. You are right. There are many stories of someone who took a medication and had a severe reaction. There are stories of people taking a medication and years later they find out that it hurt them in ways they never knew it could. These stories are not typical. We simply can’t live in fear and not be treated because of the “what ifs”.
I can tell you, if I hadn’t been treated for my Bipolar for all these years, my life would be totally different, and not in a good way. I can almost tell you for certainty that I would not be alive to write this post. I will never regret taking the medications that helped save my life.
On this the last day of Mental Health Awareness Month I’ve decided to tell a little about me. I have a story. I feel it needs to be told. If for no one else, this is for me. (This is the very condensed PG version.)
Something was wrong. I didn’t know what it was, but I was wrong. I was wrong inside. I didn’t react to things the way other people did. I knew it. I could see how other people were different. I was always told to be myself. But I just wanted to be like everyone else, I didn’t understand what it meant be “myself”. I spent days in tears feeling like I had this black cloud over me. At a very young age I longed for my life to end. Other days I was flying high. I could not control my thoughts from going everywhere, I could not control my actions, I could only follow them. This wall all considered a natural part of growing up. I was just a moody child, then a hormonal pre-teen, a troubled teen…. I look back and don’t know how I, or the people closest to me, survived. There are many stories from this time that are very hard to tell. They may come out at a different time.
My ups and downs carried on for years, and years, and years…. the older I got the worse it was. After all when you get older your actions have many more consequences. However, when the moods were swinging to either end, those consequences simply didn’t exist in my mind. On the down swings I was fighting for my life, literally. On the up swings I couldn’t rationalize things. I couldn’t see beyond the emotions.
After a failed suicide attempt at 25, I finally started getting some mental health treatment. I was told I suffered from Manic Depression, and was put on Lithium and an antidepressant and started seeing a therapist. Maybe if I had just been able to stay the course that I was originally put on life would have been different, but things changed.
I was re-diagnosed a number of times. Things changed so much over the next few years it was a constant battle of up and down trying so hard to get a grasp on reality. The biggest mistake that was made, I was told that I did not have a mental illness, I had hypoglycemia and the fluctuating blood sugar levels were causing my mood swings. I was so relieved that I didn’t have a mental illness. I was normal like everyone else. I simply had to watch my diet and everything would be alright. I believed this for years and tried so hard to control everything with my diet. If things got out of control, I would beat myself up for not following my diet strictly enough.
People couldn’t see just how bad I was because I was still able to hold down a job, even if I changed jobs frequently, I seemed normal, I was just “moody”. I went through friends like water. Friends I made when I was manic, couldn’t stand the depressive side, and friends I made when I was depressed, didn’t understand the up me. Friends I made when I was in my normal state couldn’t understand my swings and they simply disappeared.
I had a job, but I also had a lot of debt. I lost days. There are huge gaps in my memory. I’ve met people while I was in a normal state and had no recollection of meeting them before. I didn’t remember men I obviously knew very well. I did drugs. I stayed up for days. Risky behavior? There were no thoughts of the risk. Nothing could hurt me. And if it did, so what? In both states there was not much thought about my own safety.
Then the day came when the depression took hold so tightly I held a razor to my wrist and started to slice. I just made the most cursory of cuts, deciding exactly the way I should do this, how deep did I have to go, how much would it hurt, how long would it take….then suddenly I thought….The Mess. There will be such a mess and my roommate will find it. Someone will have to clean up the mess. That thought saved my life. That thought gave me enough pause to call a suicide hotline. I would not tell them where I lived but I promised to go to the out patient center of the mental health department and talk. I drove there, and when I got there I talked and told what happened that night. I could not promise I would not harm myself if I left. I honestly don’t know if I could have or not, but I knew I needed someone to help me. I needed to know for sure that I could get through the next day. I knew if I said I would not be a threat to myself or others then I would not get the help I desperately needed.
Since I was not able to say I would not harm myself I was not allowed to leave, I was told I as going to be admitted to a mental health facility. I admit I actually felt a relief. I suddenly felt safe, at least for the night.
The police came and took me to the hospital. I was entered as a non-voluntary admission. That is the only way my insurance would pay for this, but I had insurance now, this was what got me into this facility instead of the state hospital. I had no idea the amount of debt I was about to get into. I needed help, that is all I thought about. I no longer cared what people thought of me, I no longer cared if this would follow me forever, I only wanted to lie down and never wake up. I knew these thoughts had to stop, I knew if something didn’t change I would end my life, soon.
(If you would like to know more about my stay in the mental hospital please see my post: Inequality in the Mental Health System.) The stay in the mental hospital changed my life forever. I was there longer than I thought I would be. The little overnight stay turned into two weeks, but when I left I was in the mental health care system. I had group sessions set up, I had an appointment with a new psychiatrist and therapist. I had a new lease on life. With another wrong diagnosis, Borderline Personality Disorder.
Soon after starting to see my new psychiatrist it was then determined that I do indeed have Bipolar I disorder. I started being treated with Lithium and other medications again and things finally started to get on track.
It took some time to get the medication just right. It took a lot of time in therapy. It takes a lot of work to get things right and get better. It takes a lot of work to keep struggling through the system. It takes a lot of work to help yourself when there doesn’t seem to be an out.
I’m a lucky one. I was able to find help. I was able to get a correct diagnosis. I was able to get a treatment plant that worked. I’m still able to get the help I need, when I need it. So may people are not as lucky as I am.
There are many obstacles in getting mental health care. I fought hard to get where I am today. I still fight hard to ensure my mental health is a priority. I will never give up.
Too many people are fighting for mental health care and have so many obstacles in their way. If you are one of these people, please don’t give up. Reach out. In my experience, things don’t always go smoothly, but getting help meant my life is so much better than my life was before.
Recently someone asked me to write a post on what I felt depression was like. Funny thing, I had just read a post over at Bipolar BarbieQ that included that very thing, I think everyone could get a lot from her post I’m the Queen of Run-on’s it is an honest gut wrenching post and I wish all of you would read it. (yes this is the second time I’ve shared this post, I really like it.) She also had this really cool graph in her post, so I’m going to steal it.
Most people think that Depression means you are Sad. Even Webster’s Thesaurus will say that Depression and Sadness are synonyms. Well yeah, you are sad when you are depressed, but there is so much more, so very much more.
When someone says they are depressed, that means they are sad, when someone says they have depression, this is a mental illness. When you look up the definition of Depression you get both answers, “(1): a state of feeling sad :(2): a psychoneurotic or psychotic disorder marked especially by sadness, inactivity, difficulty in thinking and concentration, a significant increase or decrease in appetite and time spent sleeping, feelings of dejection and hopelessness, and sometimes suicidal tendencies” (Merriam-Webster Dictionary)
I think feelings of Depression can vary from person to person. Profound Depression is all-consuming. You don’t just feel sad, it consumes you. You have difficulty doing anything else because your feelings are so torn up. It spirals down to the depths of your soul and you are trying your best to claw your way out. Depression can also have states of severe anxiety mixed in, feelings of paranoia, feelings of suicide. When you are just sad, you don’t have all of these other emotions consuming you. With depression you often just feel numb most of the time. Nothing can bring you out of that darkness. You find joy in absolutely nothing.
The definition above mentions “difficulty in thinking and concentration”…yes we can click that off my list. “A significant increase or decrease in appetite”…oh I eat, I want comfort food, or anything that might make it in my mouth sometimes. I’ve actually envied people who lose their appetite when they are depressed. “Time spent sleeping”…now this one is tricky. Sometimes I sleep a lot, sometimes I can’t sleep at all. Normally, I have a very hard time sleeping when I’m very depressed. “Feelings of dejection and hopelessness” YES! That is the overwhelming feeling that I have, HOPELESSNESS. “Sometimes suicidal tendencies”..this depends on just how deep my depression gets. Normally I am not suicidal but I’ll wish I wouldn’t wake up. I’m just so tired and hopeless, I don’t want to have to deal with it anymore.
Something they don’t mention, I cry, a lot. I’m an emotional person anyway, but when I’m depressed I cry every day, many times a day. Not just a few tears, I sob.
There are other feelings that get all mixed up when I feel depressed. I feel very guilty. What right to I have to feel depressed when there are so many tragedies in the world? What am I putting my husband and friends through when I’m like this? Why does it keep coming back, it must be me?
I get angry. Angry at me, angry at everything. I try not to speak to people because the thoughts in my mind are so snide. Why can’t they get it? Why can’t they do things the way they should? Yes, in my mind everything needs to go the way I think it should, then I’d be happier. I want to control, everything. I think that’s because I feel so out of control. I lash out. Some of this must be someone else’s fault, if I can find out who then I will have to feel better. I feel so alone. I try to isolate myself from other people so I won’t hurt them, even though being alone is the worst thing I could do. I never said I was being logical.
When depression takes hold of me I used to believe it would never end. Now I know it will and that helps me get through it. It makes me seek help. I keep telling myself, “This will end. This will end.”
I do not just have Clinical Depression, I have Bipolar I disorder. That means that, unless I’m stable, I will have severe manic states and depressive states. As I said, I used to think when I was depressed that nothing could pull me out of it, but then I’d be okay for a while and couldn’t believe I ever thought that way. Then I’d go manic and think that nothing could harm me. After a manic swing, I couldn’t believe I ever felt that way. I’m lucky that I’ve been mostly stable for a long time now. I will have break through depression sometimes and need my medication adjusted. My new psychiatrist told me that often when people get older they have fewer manic swings but battle depression more. That’s why he prescribed a drug that is for Bipolar Depression, and it seems to be working well.
If you are having any symptoms of depression please seek out professional help. It doesn’t just go away. Psych Central lists the first steps to getting help, and a list of professionals in your area. You can find this information here. Where To Get Help For Depression.
If you are having suicidal thoughts please call
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1 (800) 273-8255