October 11, 2014

Life Threatening Illnesses

For anyone who's been following along, New-Medicine-Number-3 worked beautifully.  After taking it just one week, I walked into my doctor's office and said, "I don't want to kill myself today."  What a breakthrough!

Anyway, I recently saw a friend who had fought cancer.  She had lost her hair, and had on a cool head scarf.  She talked with a balding male friend who asked her how she was.  She said she was fine, and joked that she didn't have any more hair than he did.

I thought, wow, what a great attitude.  What a strong woman. She cheated death and can laugh about it.

It took me a few days, but I realized that I, too, had cheated death!  And that I can have a relapse at any time, just like a cancer survivor can.    It's just that my disease isn't really considered a disease by most people. It's looked at as more of a character defect.

And I am so dismayed with myself, because I didn't realize right away that I had given cancer survival more significance than surviving Major Depression.  If I gave cancer more significance, even though I have been an outspoken advocate for the mentally ill and against stigma, then how can I expect other people to take mental illnesses seriously?

The truth is that Major Depression, for me, is a life-threatening illness. In fact, I have been fighting this disease for 48 years. That's a long time to fight; I really need to give myself credit for being a strong woman, too. I came very close to killing myself several times during my last episode.  Yes, I promised someone that I wouldn't do that, but I almost gave in anyway, just to stop the pain.

I survived six months of absolute misery.  I wish everyone could have that feeling just once, so they could understand what it's like and be less judgmental..

I cheated death, alright, but I can't quite laugh about it. Not until other people stop laughing at it.

February 26, 2014

I'm Tired of This Game

Well, here I am.  I'm sorry in advance if I sound whiney.  Sympathetic comments are not necessary.  I just have to write this down.  I feel a need to let people know about the experience of mental illness.

New-Medicine-Number-2 gave me a nice boost to a normal mood.  Unfortunately it also gave me akathesia.  Did I describe that in a previous post?  I don't know, and I don't have the energy to check.  Let's just say it was a horrible sensation and my doctor advised me to stop taking New-Medicine-Number-2 ASAP.

The mood improvement stuck around for a while.  Then it was just the dread of going out of the house that was keeping me from returning to work.  But things were looking pretty good.

Well, the mood boost is gone now. I saw a couple warning signs of deepening depression, then BOOM! my mood dropped very quickly. So here I am severely depressed again.  This is like being in hell.

I saw my psychiatrist a few days ago and we discussed my options.

He said any other meds he could add to my Current-Medicine risk the same side effects as New-Medicine-Number-2.  And since there's a chance those side effects won't go away even after you stop taking the medicine, I'm afraid to try them.

Then we discussed my going off of Current-Medicine and going on a Different-Anti-Depressant that works in a similar way.  That would entail tapering off of Current-Medicine for a week or two, then starting the Different-Anti-Depressant and giving it a few weeks to see if it helped.  Good God, that would be another six weeks of this.  With no guarantee that Different-Anti-Depressant would work.

I practically begged to know if there was anything else I could add that worked via a different mechanism, then he suggested New-Medicine-Number-3.  It works on a different neurotransmitter than Current-Medicine.  So I have started New-Medicine-Number-3.  Now I wait.  But at least, if it works, it will be a shorter wait than it would be for Different-Anti-Depressant.

I have been practicing gratitude.  I am so thankful for my supportive husband and daughter, for the roof over my head, for my husband's hard-work ethic, for our cuddly dogs, for the kind people where I work, for kind friends who send me notes, for this computer, for internet access, for my comfortable bed, for hot and cold running water, for the privileged position I was born in relative to most of the rest of the world's inhabitants, for my job, for my physical health . . . there is just so much good in my life.  I have been practicing gratitude for years.  I understand how lucky I am.

But lately, as I practice this gratitude, it just makes me feel unworthy.  How do I dare be this depressed when all is well in my life?  I feel horribly guilty.  How can a person this fortunate feel like they don't want to live anymore?  I should just go trade places with a homeless person who could appreciate this good fortune.   But I'm also fortunate (or unfortunate, as the case may be) that there are a couple of situations that make me unwilling to take my life.

I was doing so well during the past few years that I thought I had all the tools I needed to stay well.  Apparently I was wrong.  I am hoping I will feel well again.  I am doing psychological work along with taking my meds as prescribed.  I am staying away from politics and other things that piss me off.

But here's the thing. So I get well again.  So what.  I'm just fated to go through this hell again.  It might be months, or it might be years, but it will be back.

I don't want to play this game anymore.