Depression the “Invisible Illness”

People are so quick to judge Robin Williams for his suicide, and others who have done the same.  Calling them cowards, or selfish.

Depression is very hard to understand if you have never been depressed.  Some people have had  days where they find themselves at a crossroads in their lives, unsure of what to do next in order to excel.  It feels a little overwhelming, and can easily bring you down.  There have been times when a loved one dies, and you are drowning in sadness.  You feel like there is nothing that will ever ease that pain.

I won’t stomp on those feelings, but they are not depression.  People like to say that they’re depressed.  Depression is easily confused with grief or frustration.  They both make you feel bad/sad.  Unless you’ve suffered from it first hand, then you realize that they are nothing alike at all.  Depression is an illness.  It’s a problem that won’t just “go away”.  Not even over time.

Depression is when you’re walking into work on a sunny day, and you’re observing the beautiful blue sky, but you feel nothing.  In fact you feel a little resentful.  You begin to realize that you are going to be sitting in at your desk for the next 8 hours, on sunny days like this for the next 10-20 years at some job or another.  A heavy weight pushes down inside you, realizing this thought.  What is the point?  What is the point of all of this?  Why do we spend all of our time here on this Earth doing things that we don’t want to do, just so that we can spend a few hours in our apartment/home or eat at a nice restaurant?  And in thinking those thoughts, you realize that there is no point.  That you might as well be dead.

Depression is remembering that you used to love going to the park on the weekend.  That you used to love to paint.  But now, you see nothing on a happy, sunny day.  The canvas is blank, and no images form in your mind.  Your brain is an empty space of nothingness that wants to do nothing.

Depression is being a famous actor, known for bringing comedy gold into our households.  Making everyone smile, but having no one really know your secret demons.  Depression is facing addiction, and struggling to escape its gnarled grasp.

Depression is feeling unloved, or unwanted by your family.  Depression is feeling like a failure over and over again.  Depression is watching a car drive by yours on your commute home from work, and internally wishing that they might crash into you.

Depression is hoping that you don’t wake up tomorrow morning, and when you do, barely having the strength to pull yourself out of bed.

Depression is painful, not only mentally but physically.  Your entire body aches, and you are overcome with fatigue.

I’ve suffered from depression my entire life since I was a teen.  For some of us, it’s ingrained in our genes.  For others, its brought on by an event that just won’t let us be.

Depression makes other people feel uncomfortable.  People like to pretend that depression is something that you can overpower if you have the determination.  That if you pretend that it isn’t there, then it will just go away.  Or that if you’ll just “try” and be happy, then you eventually will be.

Depression is a series of physical/psychological problems within a persons body.

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Some choose to treat their depression with medication.  Some choose therapy.  Some need that medication in order to even handle therapy.

I am of the personal belief that medication only masks the symptoms, and that in order to help you cope with (notice I didn’t say overcome) your depression, you need to take part in therapy as well.  I feel like therapy is really the only way to get to the root of the problems that you’re dealing with.  A therapist will tell you how to manage your symptoms, and how to recognize them when they appear.  They will give you the tools to help you pull yourself from that deep hole, and find a way to eventually be happy.

Anytime someone knocks therapy, saying something along these lines, I want to smack them upside the head for their ignorance:

“I don’t need anyone to pscyho-analyze me!”

“I am NOT going to see a shrink!”

“I just need to be left alone.  I don’t need any help!”

Sorry folks, but depression is something you just CAN’T do alone.  The only reason I am alive today is because of my therapist and my network of people who care about me.  I can say with honesty that had I not had friends and family push me into therapy during college, I would be dead.

That might sound dramatic, but it is the honest truth and I am not ashamed to admit it.  I am smart enough to know now that I have a disease, and that I will deal with it my entire life.  I can be happy today because I went to therapy, and learned the tools I desperately needed to survive.  I know how to handle my symptoms without the use of medication because I know what is causing them now.  I know now what brings on my depression, and I also have close family and friends who refuse to let me wallow.  But sometimes, even with family and friends it doesn’t help.

Don’t be so quick to judge those who choose the suicide route.  Yes, you have every right to be furious with them.  Yes, you have every right to be sad.

But you weren’t living their life.  You didn’t know the thoughts they were thinking.  You didn’t have to deal with their personal struggles every day.  Don’t call them cowards.  It is their life.  They are the only ones who have to live that life.  Not you.  Don’t get me wrong, I do not condone suicide.  I am just not so quick to judge having been through depression myself.

I like to say that everyone has a different breaking point.  Some people crumble at the smallest things, and others take enormous loads of stress before they finally crack.  Everyone is different.  What might seem like the end of the world to you, might be a “been there, done that” situation for someone else.  Over time, your breaking point with grow with experience.

When you are in that place, everything around you is like a creeping black void of nothing.  It is like you’re on the edge of a cliff, and a dark monster is grabbing you by the heels, dragging you down.  It would be much easier to just let go and free fall straight into the bottom.

If you’re reading this, and don’t understand it, then try to realize now that you cannot fathom what depression feels like.  And thus, have no place to judge those that do.  Make a conscious effort to be kind and compassionate for the suffering of others.  BE that person who will try and make a difference in a persons life who you know is suffering.

If you know someone who is suffering from depression, I ask you to do the following things.

1.  Talk to them.  Let them know that you are there to listen if they need you.

2.  Offer to help them get help.

3.  Actually listen if they offer up their feelings.

4.  Be attentive, and take any threats they make against themselves seriously.  Even if it sounds like they are joking.

5.  If your friend is threatening suicide, call the police to intervene.  Or talk to their family to have an intervention before anything drastic happens.

6.  NEVER try to play down their feelings, act like they’re crazy, or that they can just get through this on their own.

Keep in mind that those who are depressed enough to hurt themselves will not likely tell you.  Those that cut themselves or do things that seem to beg for attention are crying out for your help.  Take this just as seriously.

Depression isn’t a disease that just “goes away”, but you can help someone suffering know that they’re not alone.

Will you be that person?  Or will you choose to be the jerk that judges those that are truly suffering.  If you suffer from depression, I seriously hope you aren’t judgmental.  Just because you survived, doesn’t mean that everyone is as strong as you.

Depression isn’t weakness.  Eventually people will realize that.

Robin Williams, rest in peace.  I’m going to miss the laughs.

Gift_Aladdin

 

Controlled

Oral contraceptives, or better known as Birth Control Pills, are a topic I’ve been wanting to discuss for a while.

First off, I am NOT a doctor, nor am I a nurse.  I’ve never been to medical school, and  I am not advising you in any way to do anything regarding your health without consulting your physician first.  This post is purely based on observations made by me from my use of oral contraceptives.

Let us start with some honesty.  I’ll start off with how I really feel.

I HATE THEM.  Something I did not realize until a few months ago.

I didn’t used to hate them, and they were necessary for a long time.  I started taking birth control back in 2006.  I had super irregular cycles for the longest time.  Sometimes I’d get one, and then not get one for another three months.  Sometimes two in one month.  Sometimes a six month break.  You get the picture.  Needless to say I was always pretty concerned about having an “oops baby”.  Not that it would have ruined my life, and I find it pretty ironic now given the circumstances.

So fast forward a while to the part where I started having lots of low sided pain.  They misdiagnosed it as a small cysts, and from there I began my birth control journey.

If there’s a kind of oral contraceptive, I’ve probably tried it.  Just to rattle off a few:

Ortho Tri Cyclen
Loestrin 24 FE
Camrese
Yaz
Yasmin
Seasonique

I took so many, and some for only a month at a time.  I’ve forgotten all of their names.  Anyway, back to before birth control.

Any guy that has ever known me can tell you that I’m a relentless flirt.  RELENTLESS.  Anyway, so when I got together with my husband (back then was my boyfriend), he used to complain about my flirtatious ways.  Then one day I suddenly didn’t have that desire anymore.  My flirtatiousness was cut down by more than half.  I was so proud of myself.  I thought, “Wow!  You’ve really matured!  Look at you being a good girlfriend.”

I’d been with Justin for a long while by that time and we can go ahead and cue in the birth control at some point.  I became so docile, and what went from nightly romp sessions, whittled down to maybe one to three times a month.  Libido went down the tubes.  I just decided that it’s something every couple goes through right?  You spend enough time with one person and you just get relaxed right?  It becomes less exciting?….right?

Another strange thing that happened around this time was my anxiety.  I went from having minor anxiety to full blown, can’t leave the house, can’t drive, antisocial, paranoia anxiety.  I also became pretty severely depressed too.  I don’t think I would have made it had it not been for the awesome therapists my college provided.

I can remember asking Justin several times over the years we’ve been together.

“When did I get like this?  I wasn’t like this when you met me.  What happened to me?” I’d ask him, and he’d just shrug.  But nothing significant had happened to me.  I wasn’t raped.  I wasn’t beaten or abused.  No muggings or stalkers.  No car accidents.  Nothing that would make me all freaked out the way I was.

I should have seen the huge red flag the day the gynecologist wanted to put me on this one birth control that required that I take supplement hormone pills to prepare my body for them.  For weeks I cried about EVERYTHING.

I shit you not, I bawled like someone had kicked my puppy at a SUBWAY COMMERCIAL.  Everything I watched, ever song I heard.  I was like a freakin faucet.  But hey, you trust your doctor right?  Eventually my hormones seemed to taper out and the waterworks stopped.

At some point I stopped taking it but when I was diagnosed with Endometriosis in 2008, I was instructed by my physician to take it full time, back to back.  Literally no periods ever.  Okay great, sure that sounds awesome but think about this.

I took oral contraceptives full time for 5 years.  So from 2008 to 2013 I consumed about 1,825 pills that had the potential to cause blood clots, migraines, heart attack, stroke, and now coincidentally there are multiple articles showing that women who take birth control for longer than 3 years (like me!) are at twice the risk of developing glaucoma.  Good thing I’m going to get my eyes checked soon.

What frightens me most of all, is some of the drastic hormonal side effects I experienced from the drugs.  I was put on Beyaz at some point and spiraled into the darkest depression of my entire life.  I thought at the time that it was because of Justin’s grandmother (whom I love so dearly).  She was amidst a losing battle with dementia and all I could think about was the things we would never get to do together.  I thought she was going to die.  I thought it was devastating me.

It wasn’t until one morning when I had no reason to be sad.  Justin’s grandmother was doing better but I was still sobbing hysterically on my couch at 6:00 am.  I decided that everyone hated me.  That everyone would be better off if I was dead.  That’s when I was smart enough to call my gyno.  I made a pretty frantic call, recognizing the suicidal thoughts and realized that they were not normal.  I’d never been this depressed.  My doctor ordered me off it that instant, and a few days later I was fine.  That to me is truly frightening.  What if I hadn’t been smart enough to call them?  What if I’d lived alone or didn’t have the friends and family to point out to me just how out of character I was acting?  It’s a sobering thought.

Anyway this stuff went on for 5 years.  Recently I had surgery for my Endo and I decided to stop taking the birth control.  For several reasons of course, the first being the only obvious reason for not taking birth control.  🙂

But I also wanted to be hormone free for a while.  Just because.  And within two months I began to feel a drastic change.  I literally felt like I was shedding a skin, and leaving a shell I’d been living in for years.

I was laughing more.  Crying less.  Anxious feelings gone.  And I actually wanted to be romantic with my husband again.  Not to mention I was suddenly attracted to guys in general.  Before, a hot dude would pass me and I would think “eh..”.

What the hell happened?  I may not be a doctor but there are too many coincidences here.  And I’ve heard this story from SO MANY friends recently.  Guy friends telling me that their sex lives are dead.  Suddenly killed off without any explanation, and they’re feeling pretty dejected.  And it’s not that their girls are not attracted to them.  They just don’t ever “feel like it”.  Sound familiar?  And the one thing in common amongst all of them is can you guess?  Recent prolonged use of birth control.

I literally can’t express enough how strongly I feel that birth control is just not right for some women.  I urge you that if this sounds like you, to at least go see your physician about it.  It’s not normal.

I can’t tell you how different I feel except that as cliche as it sounds, that the picture above fits it to a tee.  I was trapped in myself and didn’t know it.  My personality was being suffocated.  It makes me wonder really.  The amount of medications we just take without thinking about it.  The medications you hear for silly things like “dry mouth” or “back pain” or “belly fat”.  Things that are normal, but some drug company has swindled a buck out of you to use their phoney medication chronically.

I wonder what the world will be like when I’m old.  And that wonder is often tainted by worry.

Just some food for thought.  While I hope that no one has had as bad of an experience as mine, I’m sure I’m not the only one.

Le Sigh

I can’t wait to have my surgery, for several reasons.  I’ve never been so excited to be cut open and let someone dig around my insides.  I’m sick of feeling sick.  When I don’t feel well I don’t have any motivation to do much of anything.  I’ve got some serious writers block going on, and I can’t seem to get rid of it.  No matter what I do, or the old techniques I try, it just sits there looking all harrumph at me and refuses to move.  I’ll open the word document, read what I’ve recently written and then stare at the screen for half an hour with a blank mind.  I’ve been spending my writing time going to the gym or Facebooking instead.  I guess one of those things is good for my health.

 

You can only go for so long feeling crappy before it sucks you down into a deep depression.  I will never think that people who suffer from depression are weak.  I’m exhausted, I ache like I’m sick, and the littlest things people say can set me off and ruin my entire day.  And I know it’s irrational.  I know it’s not normal, but I know it’s coming from feeling bad.

I came home from work early yesterday not feeling well and laid on my back on the couch, staring at the ceiling until I fell asleep.  The whole time I laid there I felt like I was suffocating.  I hate not being in control which I readily admit, and this evilness inside of me keeps me far from control.  The only thing I can do about it is take pain meds and hope it works.

Speaking of which, I was recently prescribed an opiate; a pill of happy that dulls the pain but turns me into a half awake dummy.  Needless to say, the first time I tried it I was at work and was very lucky that all of the attorneys were traveling.  I spent the day staring at my stapler, eyes half closed.

My older sister keeps me positive about the waiting I’m having to do until July when I have the surgery done.  She pointed out that I’ve dealt with the pain for years, so what’s a few more months?  She’s always telling me that I can handle it.  I hope she’s right.  I’m trying to be a tough cookie, but it’s hard.

I’m hoping that this writers block is just frustration and depression induced.  Maybe once I have the surgery and start to feel good again, the creative juices will start flowing.  Until then I’ll be in a half stupid opiate state and stalking my Facebook friends instead of being productive.  Bleh.

 

 

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