Tuesday, December 17, 2013
I saw an article on Pinterest today from Spark and clicked over to read it.
"The Hidden Signs of Depression"
Subtitled: Sadness isn't the only symptom.
I am annoyed. Overall the article is great. It outlines the symptoms of depression in a real life "If my friend told me x, y, and z, I'd take her to a medical professional myself" kind of scenario, which is great. It also outlines some of the more subtle signs of depression like lack of energy, difficulty concentrating or making decisions, and chronic pain. It is truly a very well rounded article that I'm certain has and will continue to help a lot of people.
But I find myself annoyed. Out of a purely selfish and Mouse-colored-glasses way. I rarely characterize my depression as sad. When I first realized that what I felt every day was "more than just a little sad" it was paradigm-shifting. Realizing that and the subsequent realizations finally put me on a path to meds and counseling, but that path took way too many years. In part I think this may have been because I *wasn't* sad therefore not depressed. I had started to see the commercials about depression and, for a very long time, thought "Oh those poor sad people." It took way too long for me to realize that for me depression isn't feeling sad, depression isn't feeling. Not feeling much of anything at all. I said in one of my previous posts I can repeat for hours "I DON'T CARE" in my mind. And I don't. In those times I truly don't care.
I don't care if the dishes get done.
I don't care how long those socks lay on the floor of my living room.
I don't care how high the junk mail and nonsense is piled on my coffee table.
I don't care how long that bowl of last week's supper sits on the end table.
I don't care if I spend the entire night playing Candy Crush.
I don't care if I'm up too late to be well-rested for work.
I don't care.
I remember a friend at my last church finally had her Baby Girl. She had 3 boys and at least 4-5 miscarriages trying to get that little girl and finally it happened. And she hit the post partum wall HARD afterwards. I gave a testimony in front of the congregation about something God had helped me with having to do with my apathy in depression. I remember her walking up to me after church and asking "So, for you, depression is more about not feeling anything?" I was able to talk with her and help her feel more normal about her feelings, or lack thereof, and encourage her to seek medical help, to ignore the morons telling her that "that dosage of meds is so small it can't possibly help anyway, so you should just stop taking it", and to remember that as long as none of the kids are putting their finger in a light socket, all she is required to do is breathe. Because sometimes that's all you can manage.
And I wonder how many of us are walking around like zombies, not feeling much of anything and not even realizing that life can be different. Because for years I had no idea that everyone didn't walk around in a daze, with a mind that absolutely does not ever stop or slow down, and an anxiety about almost every personal interaction they come across, and hit their home at the end of the work day and nearly collapse because they just have nothing left. I had no idea everyone wasn't like that.
I also, oddly enough, could not for the life of me figure out how so many of my friend and acquaintances could get so d-mn much done every friggin day! I could barely drag myself through a work day much less clean the house and make supper and write a book and craft a scarf and god knows what else they were doing that was just so far beyond me I could not wrap my brain around it.
So I wonder, how many other people are doing the same thing as I did for years. Walking around half in a daze. Thinking that they don't care about (insert whatever you want here). Barely keeping their living space livable, maybe even barely keeping their job. And have no idea that some would call that depression and there are medications that might help. They have no idea that life can be different. That there is an alternative to the way they currently live. And that makes me so incredibly sad and angry. Because I know how long it took ME to seek help, and it was WAY too long. I can't even imagine what my life would look like now if I'd realized in college, or high school, or middle school when my mom offered to take me to a counselor!!, that my body chemistry was off and there were options for correcting it.
So I write. I write when these thoughts occur to me. I write when I can't hold it in anymore. I vent and brain-dump my frustrations and anger. I write my truth as clearly and detailed as I possibly can. Because if I can help ONE other person seek help before I finally sought help, I am happy. If I can help one Christian see that yes God can heal us from anything, but if he hasn't healed you from this yet, maybe it's time to seek medical intervention, I am happy. If I can help one other person be honest in their world and say "I am depressed and this is what that looks like for me, and there is nothing for me to be ashamed of in saying this," I am happy.
I'm tired of the stigma. And I'm going to keep writing until the stigma is gone.
Friday, December 13, 2013
I've written a lot over the years about my struggle with depression. The last two posts here were about my struggle with depression. A few days ago I saw a post on Upworthy on facebook called "What is Depression" and it likened it to having a Black Dog*. I finally got a chance to watch the video today (link below). It is pretty good. It is honest about the struggle but it offers hope too. It is narrated by a man and the animation is a guy, which personally I think is better than a woman because the stigma around depression is bad enough, but to be a man and admit that seems an even bigger deal.
Towards the end he says something to the effect that the black dog may always be a part of his life but that he'll never be the beast that he was because "we have an understanding." Meaning he's gotten treatment and has better coping mechanisms etc. It made me wonder what would happen if I started to view my depression as a thing separate from myself. A thing I could have a greater affect on rather than just something that happens TO me. Generally speaking that is probably the hardest thing for me about depression, I can't control it. I can't control if I'm going to have a bad day and I can't control how long a bad episode may last. I can do the things I know help me, but I can't force my body to make the right chemicals etc just by sheer force of will.
So, I may start looking at my depression like a black dog that is always with me, and I may start trying to train her to behave more acceptably. What are your thoughts?
*someone commented on the facebook post that they didn't like the use of the black dog because typically black dogs are the last ones to be adopted from shelters. I know that is a truth and it sucks. But to be honest, seeing this video? Made me want to go out and GET A BLACK DOG! Unfortunately I live in a 2nd floor apt that doesn't allow dogs anyway, but please just see the video for the point it is making, don't get hung up in that details.
Tuesday, December 10, 2013
I have blogged a LOT on my two personal blogs about depression and my own struggles and journey. If you want the links, let me know and I'll post them. I haven't posted as much here. Here I try to be positive and encouraging and "Yes, we all can reach our goals and be happy in our bodies" etc. And there's nothing wrong with that. After the response yesterday, I wonder if it would help if we shared more specifically about the struggles and how we're fighting back and overcoming things like depression and disordered eating etc.
I'm not doing a lot of fighting back these days and no real "overcoming" that I would actually claim. But, I will say that the other problem with depression and the sickening and infuriating band aid answers is that, I think I said this in the previous post, it is a ludicrously simplistic answer to an incredibly complex problem. My depression is multi layered. First and foremost I truly believe my body simply doesn't make the right chemicals and hormones in the right combinations for me to function at my best. Meds stabilize that.
Second, I have too many negative records in my head from childhood. Telling me I'm not good enough, that nothing I ever do is good enough, that no one is proud of me, and they never will be *because* I am seeking things in life they do not value. I also have plenty of negative records from adolescence, boyfriends, media, life. Like I don't get to have what other people have. (husband, house, sex) Even if I could find a guy who was into me, I would be incredibly suspicious because how could anyone love this body??? And if I did lose a bunch of weight and looked fantastic and *then* found a guy, what happens to the relationship after that? I had a boyfriend tell me sincerely once that if I gained a lot of weight he would still love me but he couldn't promise he'd want to have sex with me. Yes everyone has preferences etc, but it gave me a complex. Not to mention, short of full-blown anorexia, my santa belly ain't goin anywhere. I can lose all my weight and look fantastic and I'm still going to have a pooch for a belly. It's just the first place my body puts extra fat.
Third, My life is not what I want it to be. (Again, I swear to christ if one of you pulls out some "if you don't like your life, then change it. you're not a tree!" crap, I will hunt you down and punch you.) I am single at 35. I work a job I don't like, that has started to majorly stress me out, in an industry i fell into by accident. But I get paid too much to step very far down because I can't afford my bills if I make much less than I do right now. Plus the job market SUCKS BALLS, so finding something is ridiculous. I have a good size circle of amazing friends and I see them often, but I always go home alone to an empty apartment and sleep alone in my bed. ten years ago this is not what I would have imagined my life to be. But it is, so I get out of bed, go to work, pay the bills, and try to see a light at the end of the tunnel.
Fourth, Sh!tty life stuff happens. I lost a job in December 2010, which was actually a blessing, but still a stressor. My Dad got diagnosed with a liver full of tumors in February of 2011 and by April he was gone. I started a new job in the middle of that. I had what I thought was a solid faith in God that would get me through, but after a year of grieving, the faith was in shambles, so there is that loss too. Now I feel more trapped in this geographic area so I can be close to my mom and trapped in some routines because she is alone so much and so incredibly looks forward to my visits that I can't let her down. Oh, yeah, and a few months after Dad died, my sister got a wonderful boyfriend who she's been with ever since, so there's that bittersweet in this mix too.
And those are just the things I can think of off the top of my head. Someone recently got snarky with me about me drinking Coke and after the fact all I could think was "If you had any idea what I'd been through, you'd be pretty g0ddamned impressed that I'm not crazy morbidly obese. You'd be proud that I'm maintaining right where I'm at when all I want to do is eat my weight in pasta and chocolate cake, or drink myself into a blackout, or start smoking to settle my nerves. You'd be effing proud that my "vice" is a coke or three a day."
All of this to say, telling me to "just do something" or "just be happy" or "exercise is the 'best' medicine" is insulting.
That's a revelation. *That's* the thing that infuriates me about this whole conversation. I hadn't thought of it until I wrote that word.
For you to look at me, after I've shared that I'm struggling, inside my own mind, inside my brain, where I can't see or examine or tell if there are changes, I'm fighting a constant battle to keep my head above water, after I've shared that struggle, for you to glibly say "Exercise is the best medicine" is effing
Exercise won't bring my dad back. Exercise won't make me like my job. Exercise isn't likely to force my body to start making the right chemicals (although this is actually possible for some of us, I just don't believe it is the case for me personally). Exercise isn't going to erase the negative records that repeat in my mind. It is such an oversimplification that it makes me want to cuff you upside the head. Which I won't.
That's my thoughts for today. Who else struggles with some of this? or anything similar? Or just wants to share their experience.
Monday, December 09, 2013
I struggle with depression. I have for years. I am on meds and see a counselor regularly. But some days it overshadows everything else. I feel like I'm walking in a light fog/mist or through hip deep water. Everything feels harder than it should be, my arms and body feel heavier than they should, nothing makes me smile, my brain obsessively repeats
I DON'T CARE.
I DON'T CARE.
I DON'T CARE.
I DON'T CARE.
Stuck in that rut again. I think if I could get back into my workout routine that might help, but then I never actually *noticed* a difference when I was working out before. (shrug). I spent November writing like a fiend and won NaNoWriMo again, which I am very proud of and made a very conscious *choice* to write instead of working out, so at least I'm not beating myself up for "falling off the wagon" or something.
Also, I live in Wisconsin, where it is now winter, I don't care what the calendar says .... it is 11 degrees outside, we got snow yesterday and snow last week and the snow is still sticking around and it's not supposed to get much warmer anytime soon. That is winter. With winter comes early sunset. Which means the sun is usually down and out for the count fully before I even get out of the office. It is barely peeking over the horizon in the mornings when I drag my tired, sorry self from bed. So, yeah, Seasonal Affective Disorder is sliding in on top of the depression.
All of this is coming to this point.
This is all so incredibly frustrating!!!! I believe I could be doing a lot more with my life and with my time. But by the time I finish 8 hours of work with one of the dumbest coworkers I've ever had and fought most days to try keeping my blood pressure down, I just don't have anything left afterwards to give. I have no energy left. No desire to do anything but lay on my couch and stare at the walls. I rarely actually do literally that, but it is typically my only desire. I *force* myself to get groceries or run errands or do dishes or take out the trash or put away laundry or whatever it is that is calling for my attention. But by the time I finish THAT any reserve I may have had prior, has now also been used up. (and I swear to Christ if ANYONE reads this and tries to give me some cock and bull line about positive thinking or "working out helps" or whatever other bumper sticker band aid answer you like, I will hunt you down and find you and punch you in the throat.)
I feel so damn helpless. My life is not at all what I would have envisioned, and no, it's not better. It is not what I want, pieces are good, but the Big Things are not what i want. So I feel stuck. And I've felt stuck for years ... YEARS. Dad dying threw off the standard of all the struggle and ultimately added a layer of sad to everything else. But my life was not what I desired it to be long before Dad got sick. Actually, I think it is just farther from what I wanted now than it was before. Great. That's a great realization to have. (sigh)
Just wanted to rant for a minute and maybe let someone else know they aren't alone if they're feeling many of these same things.
Sunday, September 08, 2013
I keep planning to write up a post about where I'm at these days and what is working for me. But I always think of it at work, where I shouldn't be blogging .... I should be *working*. Now it is a weekend after a lovely Saturday and I have to wrangle my thoughts to figure out what all it is I've wanted to say. May be a little scattered, but here goes.
The dumping the scale thing has truly been wonderful. It truly is JUST a number. It doesn't indicate my happiness (anymore). It doesn't tell you anything about what makes my heart sing and what makes it ache. It doesn't tell you how to make me laugh til tears roll down my face. It doesn't tell you the heartache of the last 2+ years. It doesn't tell you how much I love my friends or how much I love their kids. It doesn't tell you how generous I am or how soft hearted I am. It doesn't tell you how fast I can type or how smart I am. It doesn't even tell you what size clothes I wear for gawd's sake! We all know this. Different brands size differently. Old Navy's pants are long. I tried on a pair of capris once and they looked like barely high water pants, no joke. I tried on dress pants at Kohl's a few months ago and had to go down a size from my usual even though no other brand was correspondingly smaller too. In the end, it is nothing more than a number and putting away my scale has lightened my step and brightened my heart and I don't foresee getting it out again any time soon.
I've been running. Couch to 5k running, so not a steady 30 minutes at a jogging pace kind of running, but more than walking. I've had to make adjustments and pay attention to my speed and my stride and stuff, but i've been doing it. Shhhhhhh, I'm not telling people. I refuse to get sucked into the cult that so many runners end up in that not only extol the virtues of running, but Declare to you LOUDLY how Amazing it is and how WE All Should Do It! And then start asking about 5ks and 10ks and half marathons and ironmans and good god in heaven i absolutely refuse to have anything whatsoever to do with those nutjobs.
But I enjoy it. It makes me feel strong. I had only run a few times when I wondered what the possibly-nonexistent guy behind me might think of me running. Then I caught myself and corrected myself and realized, I am running because it makes ME feel strong. NOT because of how I look. And then this pin came to mind and I laughed and laughed.
I have, however, noticed some side benefits/results from the running. I have lost a few pounds. I put my scale at home away, but about once every other week I check myself on the medical scale at the gym, just to make sure i'm not getting out of control or something. Last time I checked, I was down a few pounds from the time previous to that. I'm also noticing that my belly, where the vast majority of the weight I am specifically unhappy with, seems to be shrinking. But, I have noticed one other thing and it is borderline disturbing. The first time I ran 3 days in a row, it brought my period on a full week early. I've never been that far off in my life. I chalked it up to a fluke (after freaking the eff out about having cancer, for like ten minutes, and then calming myself down). The second time I ran 5 days in a row and forced it to come 4-5 days early. Not sure what that's about, but this time it worked out well because it was due to hit the day of a job interview.
I talked in my last post about having gotten a couple compliments. I have now started complimenting myself. I was brushing my teeth one night and the door of the bathroom opens towards the door to my spare room where I have a full length mirror to check my outfit before I go out. I could see my rear profile in the mirror. Because of the way I was standing my belly was blocked by the doorway, but my arse and legs were fully visible. As I stood there brushing my teeth I started to truly admire my arse and then my legs. I have beautiful legs. For the next few days I would seriously admire it all in the mirror. Now, instead of focusing on this belly I can't do a whole lot about, I am focusing on how my backside looks in pants. And, man, I gotta tell you, I have a ROCKING backside.
I also realized that I love everything about my body from about my hips down, and about my waist up. It's those few inches in between where my belly hangs out that bothers me at all. So, we're just not thinking about that. And when we do think about that, we say
Well, it would make a GREAT pillow, so, it's fine.
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