Tag Archives: chronic illness

It Must be Depression

Hard to believe one lousy little blue pill can make so much difference. And I’m not talking about Viagra either.

I spent 4 and a half months unemployed and UNINSURED. Was spending five hundred dollars a month for my medication, but couldn’t afford that little blue pill (It cost more than all my other meds combined). So I thought I could get by with the two antidepressants I could afford. Alas, I’ve come to discover since being employed and having medical coverage that I really do need that drug. It does make a significant difference in how I feel.

I sure could have used that medication as I have had a lot to cope with over the past four months. Apparently I have been too depressed to blog as well. But I was also dealing with a family crisis. My mom was critically ill and hospitalized for nearly two months. She is recovering quite well now, thank goodness, but I spent many hours by her bedside, thinking and praying. I realize now that perhaps I could have coped better if I had all my medication. Damn biochemistry!

Anyone else struggling?

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Mental Illness Awareness Week

Mental Illness Awareness Week  takes place October 2-8 and is an
opportunity to learn more about serious mental illnesses such as major
depression, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.

Mental illness is a medical problem. One in four adults
experiences a mental health problem in any given year. One in 17 lives with
serious, persistent mental illness.

The good news is that treatment does work and recovery is possible. Unfortunately, less than one-third of adults and less than one-half of children with a diagnosed illness receive treatment. The U.S. Surgeon General has reported that stigma is a major barrier to people seeking help when they need it.

That’s why Mental Illness Awareness Week, sponsored by NAMI, is so important. They want people to understand mental illness and join a dialogue in our community. The more people know, the better they can help themselves or help their loved ones get the help and support they need.

The Price of Health

I just need to rant a bit about the cost of health insurance. Having been between jobs, I have had the misfortune of paying for my health insurance through COBRA. To maintain health insurance for myself and my son is costing me approximately $1200 per month. That’s just obscene. And yes, I have tried to apply for an individual policy and have been rejected twice due to having “too many medical problems.” I’m guessing having any problem is too many for an insurer. They only want to insure the perfectly healthy of course. I didn’t choose chronic illness. I didn’t choose to have to take three different and expensive medications to manage my Depression. It’s not like I have cancer or something really expensive to treat. Of course they probably look at the possibility of needing medication, therapy and the potential for hospitalization as just too much risk.

So, needless to say, I am a bit depressed about the enormous amount of money I am spending on insurance. And I still have copays for medications (ranging from $15-60) and for doctor visits ($30). So I am probably spending more like $1400-1500 a month on health care. I truly can’t understand why we can’t have universal health care.

I’ll be using up almost all of my pitiful retirement account to pay for the insurance for the next three months…until I can get on my new employer’s plan. I just hope I don’t have any really serious health problems in the meantime. They say that’s how most people lose their homes, etc. is due to catastrophic illness/injury. I’ll just have to say my prayers.

The Most Common Disability

From NPR’s health blog, SHOTS:

More than 1 billion people in the world are living with some sort of
disability, according to a new international survey. That’s about 15 percent of the world’s population, or nearly one of every 7 people.

The numbers come from a joint effort by the World Health Organization and the World Bank. The last time anyone tried to figure out the prevalence of disabilities was back in the 1970s, when WHO figured it was about 10 percent. The current report suggests the 15 percent estimate will grow as the world’s population ages.

Like the 1970s numbers, today’s figures are at best an approximation. Many
countries don’t collect numbers carefully, and definitions of disability differ
from place to place. The World Bank/WHO folks sought out tabulations of people who have trouble seeing, hearing, walking, remembering, taking care of
themselves or communicating. Worldwide, the most common disability in people under the age of 60 is depression, followed by hearing and visual problems.

The post goes on to say that although identification of accurate numbers is an issue, the bigger issue is providing accommodation. While great efforts have been made since accommodation has been legislated through the Americans with Disabilities Act, not much has been done to address the not so visible disabilities, such as Depression. Of course there may not be a standard accommodation for everyone. Each person has a unique situation and is affected differently by their illness, so accommodation needs to be individualized. The only way this will ever happen is that more people with Depression need to speak up about their illness and ask for accommodations if needed. Don’t suffer in silence.

There are plenty of us out there.

The Pills That Quell Despair

Everyday part of my routine is to ingest a handful of pills morning and evening. Part of that handful are three specific medications to treat my Depression. One a pretty bicolor capsule, one a small blue pill and one a medium-sized white tablet. Without these, my world would be full of gray, melancholy thoughts, escaping into sleep, and thoughts of suicide. Not a pretty picture for sure. Meds make me feel at least baseline functional. They aren’t “happy pills” by any means. Believe me, I wish there was a pill for happiness, I would be queuing up for that one.

How did I get to be on so much medication? Well, I’ve been on lots of other medications along the way. Started out on the miracle drug Prozac when I was initially diagnosed in 1995. Boy was that a life saver. At the time, I was suicidal and homicidal. Scary even to talk about those really dark days. The thoughts were obsessive, and I felt terrorized day and night. Had the most horrible nightmares too. Plane crashes, fires, murders, any kind of violent mayhem you can think of…it’s any wonder I could cope at all. Prozac took all of this away, so I could participate in therapy and work on things I needed to change. It was such a relief not to have those intrusive thoughts, the kind that make you feel really unglued.

But sometimes the drugs stop working for no apparent reason. So I’ve been through a number of antidepressants to manage my symptoms. I’ve been on four or five different medications between Prozac and my current mix. I’m not one of the lucky ones that can be weaned off medication, but I can say I’ve never been hospitalized. I’ve always kept trudging on, maintaining the status quo the best I can. That is part of my disease, I put other’s needs before my own, so that was one of the main reasons for never checking out…people were counting on me!!!

I understand not everyone benefits or even approves of the use of medication. And I’ve certainly done my share to contribute to the wealth of Big Pharma by taking the newest meds on the market. But medication works for my symptoms, and I need to use them in  combination with therapy to get and or stay well.

Wellness is the ultimate goal, right?

Saint Juliana – Patron Saint of Chronic Illness

Depression is a chronic illness for some people (lucky me!). Those of us in this situation are fortunate to have our very own patron saint, Juliana of Falconieri. She was the Italian foundress of the Sisters of the Third Order of Servites. Now I’m not Catholic, but I  think it’s pretty nifty to have a saint that is designated specifically for chronic illness. Her order dedicated itself to care of the sick and other acts of mercy. Not an easy task, for sure. They even wore specially designed habits with shorter sleeves to make working easier. Such industrious women.

Juliana led her order for thirty-five years. She was honored as a saint immediately after her death. Not that I plan on converting or anything, but it’s nice to celebrate someone who was so dedicated to doing God’s work and represents a certain need. She must have been an early version of Mother Theresa. In case you do want to celebrate her life, her feast day is June 19th, the date of her death.

I guess the point is, faith can help us deal with chronic illness and we can access multiple resources besides what we have been taught. Inspiration can come from more than just one source without being sacrilegious.  Hope you find your inspirations.

Post-Holiday Let Down

Now it’s time for the post-holiday blues. All the great expectations we had have passed, all the excitement is over for another year. A time of hope and joy is now a time of reflection on the past year that is coming to a close. Bummer. Yeah, that describes the past few years. Maybe decades ( I exaggerate, perhaps just the past 15 years). I like to frame things in a slightly more positive manner and say I don’t have regrets, because I have gained something from every experience. Problem is, some of the experiences have been quite emotionally painful. Why am I destined to learn the hard way? I just have to conclude I have some bad karma or something that I have to make up for through this penance. Ugh.

So what can I do with this “here I am the holidays are over disappointment now what feeling?” Right now the usual platitudes are running through my head…exercise, eat right, treat yourself to a new hairstyle/manicure/massage. Sounds great if someone else is going to foot the bill. Up to my eyeballs in those too. Just another reason to feel blue. I just don’t feel like I get enough accomplished day-to-day and its soooo hard to be motivated.

 Don’t want to build up great expectations for the New Year either, and be monumentally disappointed. The new job is going well, so I look forward to planning a real vacation as soon as I can scrape some moolah together. Might be tough since I’m preparing to send my son to college in the fall. At least he is accepted to the school of his choice. Some things seem to work out well. I should be searching for scholarship money for him instead of blogging for me. Oh well. If I start now I might accomplish something and not be so “let down.”