Monthly Archives: November 2010

Coming Out Mental

Well, today I took a big step and told my supervisor at my new job about my Depression. She was pretty cool about it and asked if everything was ok, and if there was anything she could do. I explained this was a longstanding issue and nothing new. Also that I was on top of it and getting help was part of staying healthy. And that it had a big genetic component as well.

What initiated the conversation was I had to schedule an early therapy appointment, so I was going to be late for work. I texted my boss to let her know, and she asked if the appointment was regarding work. Without even thinking, I texted back that no, I had a therapist appointment. Oops, probably not the best way to handle things. Who the heck texts the boss to tell them they are seeing a shrink????

Well we caught up later in the day and she was really nice about it. I’m just crazy paranoid after previous job experiences like the one where I got written up for going to the doctor. Yep, you read that right. When else are you supposed to go when they work business hours too? So I’m out to my boss, and she and I had a brief discussion about treatment, counseling and medication. We also talked about dysfunctional families and how common they really are. We are all dealing with something was the conclusion for both of us. And I did get some praise about how well I’m doing at my job. That always helps when you get positive feedback. Particularly after therapy.

So I felt kind of relieved. At least it’s out in the open in the event I have any future problems with job performance or “negative attitude.” I can at least say we have discussed my disability and my boss is aware of it. Just in case. Guess you can tell I’ve been traumatized before in the workplace while dealing with Depression. Now I know I have rights because Depression is a chronic illness. Discrimination is no more appropriate than if I had heart disease or diabetes.

I won’t be scheduling anymore morning therapy appointments though. My butt has been dragging all day…it’s just so emotionally draining and hard to focus afterwards, plus I look like hell after crying.

Blue Most of the Time

Blue Morning, Blue Day  – lyrics by Foreigner

Out in the street it’s 6 am, another sleepless night
Three cups of coffee, but I can’t clear my head from what went down last night
No we won’t have our own little ways, but somehow we keep it together
You hear me talk, but you don’t hear what I say, I guess it don’t even matter

Blue morning, blue day, won’t you see things my way?
Blue morning, can’t you see what your love has done to me?

Sometimes you can be with someone and still be so alone. So contradictory but  what I am living now. And apparently I’m the only one who sees it or sees it as an issue. Terribly frustrating. I feel like I have failed at intimate relationships as well, since I seem to make such bad choices, and none of my relationships have lasted past 6-7 years. I want to move forward in a number of ways, and apparently I have to do it on my own.

Holiday Anxiety

As the major holidays approach, I find myself with mixed feelings, swathed in a layer of anxiety. There is always some “expectation” of what the holidays should be being marketed to us every day by Martha, Oprah, Rachel or Paula or perhaps some other maven of domesticity that is the hot ticket of the season. If we just decorate a certain way, or set the table festively, or handcraft all our gifts, our joy will be complete. When I was married, I really did believe that I could have it all. I did decorate, created hand-painted wrapping paper with my young son, cooked delicious meals and celebrated with family and friends.

So many things have changed. Two generations of divorce and a family chock full of depressives makes for some less than festive times. Of course my marriage collapsed during the holiday season so I always have that reminder of what was. And the loss of family members has upset the balance of what family was, so everyone seems to go their separate ways. It’s sad, but I think my grandparents were the glue that held everyone together, and now that they are gone, there isn’t anything that binds us.

I think the holidays tend to be a melancholy time of year for many people who have lost or never had family or friends with which to share it. It is very difficult for a depressed person to put his/herself out there for fear of being rejected. Some people just don’t have anything to celebrate. It sounds harsh, but it’s true.

So, I struggle on, trying to pick out useful but meaningful gifts for family members and close friends, hoping they come across as thoughtful. Maybe a few handmade things as well if I get motivated. Trying hard not to have any expectations about what the holidays should be, and just being in the moment. I might even acknowledge it this year with a few pictures. Couldn’t hurt, right?

Waterworks

I’d like to think that I’m doing better since starting new medication and being in therapy for a while now, but I doubt myself as usual. I guess one thing that makes me question myself is that I find myself in tears nearly the entire therapy session. Now granted, I’ve always been more toward the overly emotional side of things, and my heart is not on my sleeve but dangling somewhere by a thread, and getting kicked around by steel-toed shoes.

It was actually rather darkly humorous that we didn’t even begin to talk and the tears started to flow. I laughed about how she brings out the angst in me. We couldn’t decide if it was the place or her, and I said we would have to run into each other in a public place to see if I had the same reaction.

So all the waterworks does very little for my already congested sinuses and chronic headache. She is taking a vacation and promises she will be all stocked up again on facial tissues when she returns. That’s a promise I expect her to keep. We’ve been having some tough conversations lately about intimate relationships, and I’ve had to admit to some big mistakes and bad judgement. Yes, you heard right. This gal has made mistakes. Not perfect. And I’m working on being ok with that. I hope others can be too. Now if I can just address my situation…

A Word That Should be Weighty

Melancholia would still appear to be a far more apt and evocative word for the blacker forms of the disorder, but it was ursurped by a noun with a bland tonality and lacking any magisterial presence, used indifferently to describe an economic decline or a rut in the ground, a true wimp of a word for such a major illness. —-William Styron

For those of us who have suffered this major illness, it is rather difficult to hear others throw around the word depression rather lightly. To hear it used in context of discussing trivial matters such as a bad hair day or missed social opportunity just diminishes those of us who suffer with Depression. It is a serious illness that deserves the same respect as any other medical problem. I’ve co-opted some stuff from another website below.

Snap out of it!

There are many ways to insult someone with depression, without even trying very hard. These days just snap out of it lacks imagination. The best way is to give some unsolicited advice. Something simple, profound, and potentially life changing.

Here are the some ideas:
“You don’t like feeling that way? So change it!”
“Life isn’t meant to be easy.”
“This is what life is like. Get used to it.”
“Pull yourself together.”
“Who said that life is fair?”
“You just have to get on with things.”
“At least it’s not that bad.”
“Stop feeling sorry for yourself.”
“You have so many things. What do you have to feel down about?”
“You just need to cheer up.”
“Quit trying to be a martyr.”
“Stop taking all those medicines.”
“I know how you feel. I’ve been depressed for whole days at a time.”

These are my favorites:
“What you need is a good kick up the backside.”
“Go out and buy yourself some clothes. That will pick you up.”
“Are you sure you don’t have a mental problem?”
“How about I cook you a good meal. That will make things better.”
“Have you tried acupuncture?”
“Get a job!”

And the all time best:
“Why don’t you try not being depressed.”

Nothing cuts deeper to someone with depression, than when their serious condition is trivialized by another who doesn’t understand it.

Depression is an illness that can be life-threatening. Everyone should take it seriously and think before they say something that may diminish someone else’s sense of self. Thanks for understanding, and share this with friends and family!

Optimism vs. Pessimism

Excerpt from the essay “One Cheer for Melancholy” by Susanna Kaysen

A couple of my friends are chronic optimists. They are often disappointed because things didn’t work out as well as they have expected. I have never had such a feeling because I’m a pessimist. I get my disappointment over with beforehand. If things don’t work out, I’m smug because I predicted it. If they do, I’m pleasantly surprised. Any psychiatrist can tell you this is a standard defense mechanism against disappointment and loss. But so is optimism—and optimism is a lousy defense mechanism because more than half the time it leaves you feeling bad.

My main objection to optimism is that it’s incorrect. Things are somewhat more likely to turn out badly. Taking the long view, things are definitely going to turn out badly, since we all die at the end. I once read a study of “depressives” and “normal people” predicting outcomes in real-life situations. The depressives’ predictions were more often right. The pessimistic outlook is actually the realistic one.

If the price of being happier is an occluded worldview, I don’t want to pay it. I’d rather see things clearly. Seeing things clearly, for me, is a sort of happiness, even if what I see is banal or sad. Does one of my friends turn on me every time I get depressed? Does another get pleasure from putting me down? Do the idiotic events of history continue to repeat themselves, with tragic consequences? Yes, yes, and yes—but at least I know what I’m up against.

I also know that I am supposed to say that there are serious drawbacks to the melancholic temperament. Deep depression is debilitating. As doctors and drug manufacturers like to remind us, depression can be fatal. Public health officials talk about all the time “wasted” by being depressed. And yet, it’s not an uncommon activity, wasting time in this way. If the depressive and manic-depressive constitutions are such a liability, why are they rather prevalent in the human population? One answer may be balance. Together we make a complete picture.

So, I guess that’s why my nursing career has led me to the cheery field of hospice. Suits my melancholy personality just fine, no one expects me to be Sally Sunshine, and everybody knows what to expect at the end. The goal is always the same, a peaceful death. What more can you ask for? That’s pretty optimistic, isn’t it?

Survival in the Fog

That’s the thing about depression: A human being can survive almost anything, as long as she sees the end in sight. But depression is so insidious, and it compounds daily, that it’s impossible to ever see the end. The fog is like a cage without a key. — Elizabeth Wurtzel

Some days are just like moving through a fog…looking for direction, no map, no google, no gps. No one hears your silent cry for help because you don’t want to bother anyone with your silly troubles. You just don’t believe you are worth it.

And where did this fog come from? I don’t remember there being any fog. It reminds me of camping on the coast of Maine… trying to put up the tent and this thick white fog started rolling in between the pine trees. It was like a horror movie, we could hardly see each other just ten feet apart, and we struggled to communicate and coordinate getting the tent poles adjusted to raise the tent before dark. The thick white fog was strange and disturbing at the same time, provoking some anxiety on my part.

The fog of Depression doesn’t roll in rapidly, it is very slow-moving and creeps up on you. You don’t even realize it’s there until you are completely disoriented. Making decisions is difficult, so each day drags on painfully. You never feel you have accomplished anything, so self-esteem remains low. You have to find some way to see clearly to function again. It’s the only way to survive the fog.