Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Depression Rebooted

The other day, I wrote a piece about being depressed, and about being diagnosed with depression.  Y'all are awesome.  I had such an outpouring of private messages showing support and encouragement.  Lots of friends said they were glad that I shared my story, and several shared some of their own journeys.  Incredible.  All of you are just stinkin incredible!

There were a couple of questions that y'all asked that I do want to address and give some clarification to, I hope this makes things easier to understand.  :)

A diagnosis:

I think that, in general, there is a rush to receive (or hand out) a diagnosis without a full picture of what is going on.  It was easy for my doctors to say that I was clinically depressed instead of realizing that I had just had a baby and was in a stressful situation and those two things were causing chaos in my brain.  I think it was easy for my medical doctor to tell me that I just need more sleep and prescribe me a sleeping pill instead of listening to the fact that I was overwhelmed by an abusive situation and needed help.

Please don't misunderstand, I'm not bashing doctors in general.  They are overwhelmed, and don't often get a chance to take enough time with each of their patients in order to really know what's going on.  Sadly, this is how the biggest problems are missed.

To get a clear, accurate picture of your mental health, you really need to meet with someone more than once.  You need to establish a relationship where you can trust them, and they can see who you really are.  Ultimately, you need a "No BS Zone".  Ok, obviously, if there's a situation where you're seriously freaking out and losing your last shitake mushroom and immediate intervention is necessary, then go with that.  Get that help - for your own safety and for the safety of those around you.  But, if the words you're using include "just a little" or overwhelmed, stressed, tired, worn out, frustrated, confused, hurt, bothered ... then going to see someone on a regular basis and laying the groundwork is much preferable.  Consider working with a team of a therapist and/or psychologist and/or psychiatrist.  And when you get your diagnosis, be ready to make a plan to live with it, and possibly even beat it.  The key is not just to survive, but thrive.

Personally, in the last year, I have seen a psychiatrist and a psychologist, and have spent extensive time with therapists.  Essentially, I've done nothing but talk (and listen) for the last year.  (Luckily, I'm really good at both, altho Hubby would say I certainly excel in the talking part, lol) ... After all of that talking - and listening - it has been determined that I don't suffer from clinical depression, or bipolar, or anything else ... except a lot of stress.  Which ... you know ... obvious considering the circumstances.


I am not, nor have I ever been, anti-medication - for anything.  I may have sounded a bit like that in the previous post, but I'm really not.  I vaccinate my children, I take acetaminophen if I have a headache, and if anti-depressants were necessary, I would not be opposed to them.  I have taken them in the past, but always had really strange results (including one making me crazy and sending me in to the hospital) ... I'm fairly sure now that was probably because the meds were trying to fix something that wasn't broken.  If you have that established relationship with your caregiver, then trust that the medications they think you should take will be best for you.  Take them, and get healthy.

There were two conversations this week that really stood out to me that I'd like to share ...

The other night one of our friends was over and he said, in general, that he just kind of skimmed through my post, but didn't really understand what the big deal was.  I love this friend of ours very much, he's so analytical and nonchalant - it really does take a lot to throw him for a loop.  For him, saying you have a diagnosis of depression is no different than saying that my Hubby is bald, or Dad has COPD, or that J-Lo has a big butt.  These are all things that just ARE.  It is that simple, it is that black and white.  I wish we could all have that same outlook.  Unfortunately, and as I explained to him, we live in a society where mental illness has a stigma.  People are ashamed and embarrassed.  Well ... STOP THAT.  Because that attitude is hurtful.  And it stinks.  So, just stop.

The other words came from a very wise and good friend ... I hope she doesn't mind that I quoted her here ...

Psychiatry is just as much an art as it is a science.  It takes a long time of experimentation to get just the right fit, however once you do, it can change your life dramatically.   It's also difficult to even find a psychiatrist, but they are out there.  It's not to say that even the right medication doesn't have something you don't like, but medication is not just about you, it's about the ones you love.  The unfortunate reality is, it is hard to watch someone suffer and its hard on the family to have to also feel the effects.  Living with someone who is depressed is not easy.  Unrealistic harsh responses to normal woes in the household is not easy on them either.  Mental health issues and family disfunction due to those realities  are generational.  They move from one to the next.  We teach our children to just suffer thru, when getting appropriate health care (and mental health is healthcare) is the crucial lesson  they need to lean. They learn what they see and hear.    Bi-polar disorder doesn't go away and is not cured.  It can only be treated with meds and hopefully therapy.  Bipolar individuals can go a long time appearing and feeling normal because it is like a seesaw---sometimes you can balance in the middle, but not forever.  Additionally, what goes up, must come down---it is the law.  Depression in and of itself is treatable and curable, sometimes on it's own, and sometimes not.

All that to say ... If you're struggling, talk to somebody - a friend or family member, your doctor, a help-line ... anyone!  You're not alone - the responses that I received in the last couple of days can more than vouch for that.  It is NOT a sign of weakness ... in fact, getting help is a sign of strength.

A note to all of you "support personal" out there ... I know that it is just as hard on you as it is the person you love.  Don't ever hesitate to find a support group or therapy for yourself.  If nothing else, just msg Hubby and ask him how he deals with my insanity ;)

Love you all ...

1 comment:

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