Thursday, May 20, 2010

Today I carry a little less....

Ahhhh…..feel the love. That’s how I feel after yesterday’s heart-wrenching post. I feel like I have one big bubble of bloggie love wrapped around me…and it feels good. I’d love to say thank you – and I will and I am – but thank you doesn’t seem to cover what I feel from your responses on a subject that has changed my life. But thank you.


A commenter wondered where my subject was coming from – meaning was I falling again – into the black hole? I’m happy to say I’m all good – no falling here….it’s just a post I’ve felt the need to write for a long time.

Others of you commented that you have been the caretakers of someone going through depression and there’s only one word you can feel when you’re that person and it’s helpless. I do not think any one person or thing – except meds – can bring you out of a bedridden depression. This is my opinion for me. I had people – begging me to live, willing to rip me from the black hole, a husband, a great job – a seemingly perfect life – and yet I wanted to die. There was nothing wrong physically – except a chemical imbalance. It’s like a diabetic needing insulin – I needed serotonin. I knew I had everything to live for – but my body didn’t give a shit. That may be the worst part – you know you “shouldn’t” feel this way – but you can’t stop it. You feel selfish and ungrateful for wanting to die……but you can’t shake it.

While I don’t think anyone can fix this problem – there is something you can do. You take them to a professional. You don’t screw around. You don’t assume they’ll get better in a few days. You drag them out of the hole…..to someone who can fix it. If let go – the progression from depressed to bedridden to suicidal comes fast. And my friends – meds take a good two weeks to kick in…..so for two weeks I couldn’t be trusted to be left alone.

Imagine the relief when you hear that someone gave you meds that will stop this pain – and then the realization that you will feel no relief from those meds for 14 days. My first thought when I heard that was, “No problem - I’ll be dead by then.”

While I can always feel better by eating better and working out – 15 years later I take a daily med. It is the lowest dose possible but it steadies me. I have tried three times to go off it – and within two weeks – I get the “feeling”. Those of you who’ve gone through this know what I mean. There is a feeling – and it is a warning….if you ignore it – you’ll be in the black hole so fast you won’t know what happened. If I ever get that warning – I fix it fast. I panic. The memories come flooding back and I get scared. I only get that feeling back if I dare to go off meds.

Meds saved my literal life and yet I hide the fact that I take them…probably because I’ve seen women here parade their Prozac around like it’s Tylenol and to me – it’s not a joke. Meds are not perfect though. There are side effects like constant exhaustion. And I don’t feel emotions 100%. As women I’m sure most of you cry…most women cry a lot – it is good and necessary. I do not. Meds don’t allow me to feel deep sadness nor deep joy. That is not to say I don’t get upset or am not happy – it’s just I feel everything about 85%-ish….and it’s a price I’ll gladly pay.

A doc once told me if a person tries to go off meds three times and it doesn’t work by then – it’s lifelong. That’s a hard pill to swallow – no pun intended. I struggle knowing I can’t live without help. I’m Superwoman remember? I struggle comparing my life to others because in my head my life is bliss – why then am I not okay? Why is the single mother with more problems than she can count across the street doing fine without meds? Why am I not strong enough? I guess I’m strong enough to ask for help. Still….I wish I didn’t need meds.

The times I went off were great – I felt real and alive and I felt profound, deep emotions every day…but something would happen. And sometimes it wasn’t even bad. Once it was my Grandmother dying of cancer and I took care of her until she died. Understandable. Another time I got pregnant. Happiest time of my life. Not understandable. My body couldn’t handle it though and I was back on meds or I’d have died with a child inside me had I let it go. Good or bad changes – depression knows no difference. It only knows triggers and chemical levels. To pretend I could fix this on my own….well that ain’t gonna happen – believe me – I’ve tried.

My biggest fear in this disease is the hereditary nature of it. Let’s face it – I have a brother and a father who have been down this road and need meds. I have an uncle who took his own life. I have this. My sister has this. I live in the fear I may have passed this on. And once you’ve been down this road – it is nearly impossible to watch someone else go through it.

When my sister went through hers and she’d sob for hours and literally only need to be held…..I did it…while I died inside and put my mind somewhere else to cope. I can’t see someone in depression. I can’t see the pain. Because it is mine too. Seeing it will make me remember – and I’ve blacked that out for a reason. I did what I could for my sister – but mostly – I told my mom what to do from afar. I couldn’t watch someone enter the black hole….she’d have taken me back in with her. So if my daughters ever suffer from this….well….I can’t even go there.

I’d like to say I’ll suck it up and be strong enough – but I don’t know that. This disease is powerful and once you’ve felt it – if you see it in someone else – all your mind can do is scream RUN RUN RUN!

I said before I’d take any physical disease before I’d wish this on anyone – and I meant it. Mental disease has come a long way but in a lot of families it is unchartered territory and it carries shame and embarrassment for parents that grew up long ago. It carries stigmas and words like nut house and crazy with it. It carries discrimination. And it has been minimalized by doctors who prescribe anti-depressants to any child 10 and over whose mother says they are a brat or any woman or man who comes in saying they are not feeling great about something. Depression is not a brat. It is not being upset. It is not even being sad.

When I laid in that bed, I never cried. I wasn’t sad. I was nothing. I felt nothing. Except the will to die to make the pain stop.

I live 15 years later – with a disease I’ve completely managed and most don’t’ even know I have – and a simple depression commercial can take me back in an instant. I turn them off. Don’t make me see “that feeling”. I’ll do anything not to remember. Including hiding the fact that I have this from everyone….because I was taught to and because remembering is just too painful.

Just one more thing – thank you again – to every single one of you for chipping away at the shame I built up about this disease. In my little head I know I bear no blame or shame….but I carry it just the same. Today I carry a little less….because of all of you.



18 comments:

THE DASH! said...

Wow - this post could have been written by me. I have been exactly where you have and it sucks. Brave you for bringing it out in the open. xxx

JourneyBeyondSurvival said...

I too believe that the only thing that can pull you out of a legitimate hard core depression or psychosis is medication.

And the longer a brain experiences it, the more difficult it is to not go back. It physiologically changes the brain. So I understand the lifelong meds thing. Because I'm there too.

I'm learning that saying no to 'too much to do' is not lazy. And that getting my sleep is not indulgent. Having a healthy mental attitude is invaluable, and I guard it with everything I can.

Miss Vickie "The Queen Bee" said...

You are truly an inspirational person. I am sorry for your struggles but it looks like you have come out the other side stronger and wiser. Thank you for sharing a most intimate story. I cannot wait to meet you in Chicago!

Nora said...

Draz - I have to say thank you again for sharing... and it was such a big "ah ha" moment in yesterday's entry and in today's your comment that good or bad it can trigger the same "feeling". I think that is very interesting - because again - from someone that hasn't suffered or completely understands depression - I never thought that the happy stuff could cause changes like that as well. It makes sense but I never thought about that perspective (for lack of a better term) before.

Genie @ Diet of 51 said...

It's generous that you put this out here, for the benefit of others, as well as yourself. A misunderstood condition, and if it hasn't been our personal experience, I'll bet many of us know someone who is/has suffered from depression with or without our knowing it. If that makes sense...

"Book material" is the phrase that comes to mind. I, of course, will be your publicist. Have her people call me and we'll do Oprah. You have the ability to inspire/help others.

You will be appearing in Chicago sometime soon, right?

karen said...

empathy for every word that came out of that head of yours today - Thanks for putting a voice to the feelings that many of us have

Gilly said...

I feel your pain, angel. Literally. And honestly, I kind of blame my meds for making me as fat as I finally got. Sad but true. And I'm off them now, have been for a year or so...but I would be scared to go back on them because of that. Crazy, I know...

Stephanie said...

I'm sorry i didn't respond yesterday, but I was home sick and stayed off the computer all day. When it coems to depression, my mother and brother have suffered most of their lives and are on meds. My father, not only is/was an abusive alcoholic, but also manic depressive and doesn't think he has a problem. I somehow managed to avoid depression in the true clinical sense, but I chose to self medicate with drugs and alcohol back in my youth, so who really knows? Therapy helped me later in life. I knew I needed help last year after the loss of my pregnancy and spent a short time on Wellbutrin, and I am no longer on meds, but they helped me get though a hard time in my life. Thank you for speaking up as I know it may have helped someone out there. You are just so super, you know that? :)

Chele said...

A true hero for opening up and sharing this. It makes it easier for those of us with similar issues come out of the dark and admit we've needed help.

meleemistress said...

Oh good lord yes. It's all so true. And it's such an individual experience. I thought I was done with it all after spending most of high school and college as an undiagnosed depressive, but then a few weeks ago I went back to see some old college friends and BAM! Worst depression I've ever had. Crying for no reason, painful to walk, hard to breathe...

The thing that bothers me the most about it is I can't outthink depression. I can pull some mind over matter tricks with physical illness, but with depression none of that works. It doesn't matter that it's a chemical imbalance, it doesn't matter that there's no reason for me to be sad, it still hurts and no amount of thinking is going to fix that.

Jess said...

You're post yesterday was pretty gut wrenching. Today's made kind of numb.

I don't know much about depression. I always related it to feelings, and yes, thought the "sufferers" were mentally weak. Now I feel like an asshole.

Glad I do and I thank you for it.

e-Love babe

Tricia said...

I just wanted to say that you're still Superwoman. No pill could ever change that.

♥ Kenz ♥ said...

I'm not seeing a reason for shame here..that's for sure. You have and continue to face your demons, and you're living your best life in spite of them. I'd be pretty damn proud of myself if I were you. :)

Crystal said...

awwww - don't worry, we have no problem being your positive comment snuggie!! :) *hugs*

workinprogress said...

*hugs* I see alot of myself in your post. The more we talk about it - the less shame there will be.

Carmen said...

xoxo
i hear ya on not feeling things 100%...when i was on meds i didn't feel anything, i was completely apathetic, not good! i went off meds (the 1st time) after my mom died, i NEEDED to feel it and i wasn't...that resulted in a lot of manic behavior and a nightly breakdown, my brother nearly force fed me the meds, thankfully he did because i probably wouldn't be here if he didn't!

thank you for sharing and i love you to the moon and back!

-Grace- said...

Thank you for writing about depression. I am just starting to find a medication that works for me and I haven't felt "the feeling" in a while. Thankfully.

We're in this together, hun.

Again, love you bunches!!!

Kristen said...

Thanks to Bonnie for mentioning this post..

Since my son was born I've been on and off a few different kinds of meds and I know I'm a better all around person when I stay on them..

I used to think that people didn't "need" meds and they could just find other ways to cope..I now know just how ridiculous that is ..

Someday I hope that I won't need them as I do right now ..but if I am on them for life..and they make me feel they way I do right now..then it's worth it.

Ps. There's a certain comercial that's on these days that I have to turn off.. it's to hard to watch..

Great post ..and ((hugs)) to those out there in bloggy land going through this kind of struggle..