20 May

Recognize Something is Wrong

In life, there are some decisions that are easier to make than others. If you don’t like your current job; you seek alternative employment. If you have outgrown your home; you sell it and upgrade to another. healthyblurbsIf you need new shoes; you decide to go shopping and buy new ones. Those are fairly easy decisions to make. What about when you are sick and need to see a doctor? You make an appointment and consult with your physician. Again, seems pretty easy and straight forward.

Why is it so hard to seek help for depression?

I believe there are many factors that make seeking help for depression a difficult task.

What kind of support system do you have in your life? Do you have people in your life that may recognize a change in your emotional wellness? Would someone you know be aware that these changes could be due to symptoms of depression? A close friend or relative could start the conversation with you about your emotional health. Without someone to raise your awareness to your own mental health, you are left on your own.

Have you suffered from similar symptoms in the past? Have you ever been diagnosed with depression? Do you have knowledge of depression and the symptoms that come with it? If you have never been diagnosed it can be difficult at first, to know what is wrong.

Do you accept you have a mental illness? If you can’t own your illness, you can’t be open to seeing when it has a hold of you. You need to come to terms with the possibility and then, if necessary, the diagnosis of your illness. Awareness is key to maintaining a healthy mental state.

If you’ve never been diagnosed with a mental illness and you believe there may be something wrong, seek the advice of a professional. Mental illnesses do not go away on their own. Click on this link to the Canadian Mental Health Association website to learn more about depression. You need to be your own advocate.

You’ve taken the first step towards getting the help you need. Learning more about mental illness is an excellent way to build ammunition to fight. You now know why life has become such a challenge. You can begin to understand why many of your emotions are heightened.  There are answers to why activities that used to bring you so much joy, now make you feel nothing but emptiness. When I can’t appreciate a spring morning, it usually means something is up with me. It helps to be aware of why making any decision becomes the hardest thing to do. The best thing you can do for yourself is NOT make any major decisions when your mental frame of mind is in question. It is not your fault when the smallest of chores become devastating interruptions in your day. There was a time when needing to stop at a gas station to put air in my car tire was a tearful event. This should not be a normal, acceptable reaction.

If you have been diagnosed with depression in the past; you recognize the symptoms you are living with.  You need to seek the help of a professional; just as you have in the past. This is where I have always struggled. I would attempt to ignore the symptoms. I wouldn’t seek the help I desperately needed. I simply stuffed the feelings. I created the wall of denial. This has never worked to my benefit, not in the 20+ years of dealing with depression.  In fact, symptoms only worsened. Every symptom became exaggerated to its fullest. I ended up seeking care as an emergency measure. Don’t wait to get the help you need.

Here is list of signs and symptoms of depression from Women’s Health Matters.

02 Sep

What’s New?

WHATSNEWThe standard answers to the standard questions.

To the question, “How are you?”  The answer is usually, “Fine, you?”

To the questions, “What’s new?”  The answer is usually, “Not much, you?”  Or a myriad of other very witty responses.

Do you think someone would actually stop and listen if you were to start responding?  Especially if the question is asked in passing.  How do you get the person to stop and hear you.  Do they care?  Why say it?  How about just saying, “Good morning!”, or “Hello, hope you are having a good day!” Asking a question that you may or may not care about getting an answer to just doesn’t seem very sincere.

Not sure where that rant came from.  🙂   Not completely true.  It was a “something shiny” moment.  I’ve committed to myself not to delete.  I just edit for punctuation and grammar and sometimes move sentences around.  So, the rant stayed.  You have to admit, for the number of posts I’ve written, I’m pretty good at staying on topic.

I had hoped I could get my writing to flow easier into answering the question of what’s new?  Apparently not.  Allow me to just tell you.  Here’s what is new today!

  1.  New diagnosis.  Providing answers to so many of the events in my life.  Finally having hope of not just getting through this bout of depression, but being able to be treated properly for my illness.
  2. New medication.  To aid in my recovery.
  3. New therapist.   A specialist in the treatment of this illness.  Has already assigned me homework.  Has similar thoughts to what areas of my life are in critical need of new coping strategies.
  4. New support.  A rekindling of one of the most important relationships a person can have.
  5. New hope.  The light at the end of the tunnel doesn’t seem so far away.  A deeper sense of moving in the right direction.
  6. New level of patience.  Seeing the results of calming myself and allowing things to happen as they will.  Great feeling of reward for being patient.

Needless to say, I have new feelings deep inside me.  I have a calmness that hasn’t been there for weeks, or months.  I have the urge to smile, just because.  I can laugh and feel the sincerity of it.  I know this may just be for today.  I’m okay with that.  These feelings can be added to my tool box.  Tomorrow, if need, I can recall them and remember that I’m on the correct path, I just need to keep moving forward.  It is not a case of one step forward, two steps back.  It is all forward motion now.  Some of it may not feel so good.  That’s okay.  It’s all part of the learning.  It’s all part of getting me to a better place.

 

19 Aug

Let’s Talk About Medication

2015-08-19 18.42.41

I’m not going to write about any specific medication.  I’m not going to tell you that one type of medication is better than another.  I’m not even going to mention any medications by name.  I want to share my thoughts on why.  Why should someone take medication for their illness?  It is a personal decision.  You are right.  It is, and I’d respect any decision anyone made around their own health management.  I feel that if I share my experiences about my medication trials I could help someone make decisions about their medication.

Here are some of the lessons I learned:

1. Unless directed by your physician it is NOT a good idea to stop taking your medication.

Within a year after first being prescribed medication I felt better.  In my mind, you take medication until you feel better, then you stop.  I stopped taking my medication, cold turkey.  I was better.   I was better until the day I wasn’t.  It didn’t take long, weeks perhaps, for me to have a major meltdown.  I returned to my family doctor who put me back on medication.  The problem was, it no longer worked like it did before.  Double the dose (as directed by physician), was better, but still not the same.

2. Don’t assume the “natural” route is better than the prescribed options.

I tried that.  I had gone a year or so with no medications.  Some symptoms started rearing their ugly heads.  (And denial, of course!)  A natural option seemed like a great place to start.  This lasted about 6 months.  And it wasn’t just a meltdown that prompted the need for a doctor’s visit.  It was depression and agoraphobia.  I told my doctor what I had been taking and proudly added, “It’s all natural!”  I will NEVER forget his reply, “So is cyanide.”

3. Medication is NOT a sign of weakness.

Another great conversation I had with my doctor went something like this.

Me, “How long do I have to take this for?”

Doctor, “Forever.”

My eyes teared and I just looked at him like he had given me the worse possible news.

He looked at me and said, “You have an illness.  Diabetes is an illness, diabetics needs insulin to survive.  You need this.”

Suddenly, it made sense.  The depression cycles I had previously experienced were not one-offs.   It was an illness.  It was something I “had”.  There was NO cure.  There was management of symptoms.

4.  Research, research and research.  And if still in doubt, ask lots of questions.

Find out all you can about the medication you are prescribed.  Know it’s symptoms.  Know it’s side effects.  Understand the dosage options.  What dosage are you starting at?  Is there room for increases (as directed by a physician), if needed?  Part of owning your illness, is being aware of all the components.

A few points.  Nothing major or earth shattering.  Just a few things that I’ve learned along the way.  Next week’s appointment may address a change in my medications.  I will try to learn as much as I can.  I will ask lots of questions.  I will do my best to know that this may be exactly what I need for my current condition.  And I will know that even when I feel better, I keep taking what has been prescribed.