Wednesday, February 23, 2011
I just took a quiz on depression, and after it was all done I read the comments underneath. I have to admit I got a little upset with some of the cavalier and dismissive comments left by some people who either don't care or have never dealt first-hand with depression.
I have been suffering with depression in varying degrees all my life. As a matter of fact I almost lost my life in my teens to a major depressive episode that left me severely ill and hospitalized, first in an intensive care ward for a week and then in the psychiatric wing for a month after that. It was NO fun and not an experience I ever want to deal with again.
I am appalled and disgusted by those that took this survey shrugging off the thought that depression isn't a major cause of suicide. Excuse me but, if you weren't depressed, why would you want to do that in the first place? Why would you even think it was an option? Because depression messes up your thought patterns, that's why! Yeah, you can appear perfectly "normal" on the outside and interact with people in general as if there's nothing wrong, but your mental processes are misinterpreting just about everything that is said or done and it affects you so that you react very inappropriately and you make totally inappropriate decisions.
I have since been overmedicated by doctors that think all women are depressional (we aren't), all women are looking for attention and sympathy (we aren't), and that all women will do whatever a doctor says without question (we don't). I have been INSULTED to my face by doctors that think that depression is a reciprocal cause of obesity. No, it isn't. I'm not depressed because I'm fat, and I'm not fat because I'm depressed. I'm fat because I can't afford to eat properly, and my family history is RAMPANT with cases of depression and anxiety disorders. Not one physician looked at my family's medical history, and indeed, only one ever even asked for one.
Finding a friend isn't always possible as nowadays, people are more inclined to find their "companions" online so we don't actually have to see them or, more importantly, show them our true selves. Face it...would you be happy showing your "true self" to a total stranger if you weigh in excess of 300 lbs.? No...we hide behind an avatar or false image of ourselves so the "other person" will want to continue speaking with us. We have a completely negative view of ourselves and how others see us.
This is a multi-layered problem that needs serious discussion, consideration, and compassion. Those that have been or are currently undergoing symptoms of and/or treatment for depression will understand. Those that have a loved one or friend that is dealing with this will understand. Those that have suffered a loss due to depression will understand.
It's NOT a mental illness. Depression sufferers are NOT lunatics, although we feel like it when the disease it at its worst. Suicide attempts are not a cry for attention (I had one social worker insinuate that when I attempted what I did that it was the same as my father getting drunk...a cry for help). Excuse me, if I knew I needed help, why would I do that? Wouldn't I have just asked for help? Father is just an abusive drunk and knows it's wrong (he kept saying so and that he didn't care what anyone else thought). Suicide attempts are a direct result of the lack of self-esteem and hopelessness a sufferer is experiencing.
My point is: Don't dismiss someone just because you found out they're depressed. Their inability to deal with the world around them isn't just an inconvenience for you...it's a terrifying and unbelieveably horrible experience for the sufferer. There were months I couldn't leave my house. There were weeks I didn't get out of bed except to go to the washroom. These extremes have happened more than once.
For me medication, I've discovered, is NOT the answer. My husband, bless his heart, actually told me long before we married that if I didn't get off the meds we would be through. I had no life, no spark, no desire to do anything except just breathe. No fun, no laughing, just, well, "nothing". That was it. The medications simply and completely deadened everything, including the good feelings it was supposed to be helping come to the surface.
What I need is to get OUT of the house, to get exercise, to have someone or something with me that loves me unconditionally. I might be allergic to her, but to be honest my dog has been a better remedy for me than any medication. She sits in my lap (she's 41 lbs) and gently licks tears from my face. She comes and lays on my feet if she thinks I need company. She stares at me from across the room, seeming to be assessing my mood to be sure I don't need her attention. I should have named her "Prozac". She sure works better! I've had her for the last 10 years and while she's getting older, she has more than earned her keep just in helping me "keep it together" when I felt my worst.
If you know someone well enough to know when things are "off" with them, don't let it go and figure they will "shrug it off". Be their friend, take them out of the house even if it's just for a cup of coffee, or show up at their door with coffee, or a card, or send them a silly email, or do SOMETHING to let them know they are in your thoughts. You will NEVER know how treasured you are, but trust me...your efforts will be more appreciated than anyone could ever express.