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.

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