It is the silence that kills

I have suffered for most of my life with depression and anxiety. The depression was identified but not controlled for years. There just wasn’t any effective diagnosis or prescription treatment of either depression or anxiety until recent years.

When I was in my teens, I was told by “experts” “pull yourself up by your bootstraps and get on with things”. The general consensus was that if you got involved with activities, worked at getting friends, and “showed some interest”, you’d shed that depression. The fact that depression prevents you from doing ANY of these things was lost on them. Sure. they MIGHT have worked if I had not been depressed AND shy.

Correct diagnosis, appropriate medication, and insight has gone a long way. But it is silence that kills. I have learned that I have to be aware of the signs of impending crisis and being open about when I am heading into and in a depression or feeling anxious. Sometimes, it is a matter of deciding I need to take my Ativan (the “crisis” medication that has saved my live more than once) when and for as long as I need to take it. … once or for a few days or a week. Other times it is a matter of telling family and friends… or my doctor… that things a a little or a LOT bad. “Not wanting to bother anyone” not just CAN be dangerous, it IS dangerous.

I’ve been lucky — very lucky that when I have had a serious crisis that I have been able to count on the love and concern of family and concrete help from my doctor.

I have also failed to get the help I needed and hit bottom. Bottom is not a place to get to. My most serious bottom was in August 2001. Pure luck… serendipity, as I prefer to call it… saved my life. In this case, it was serendipity in the forms of a Great Blue Heron. I survived. I might not have, otherwise.

Today os a bad day. However, I was able to cry, which I haven’t been able to do in some time and a friend has offered to have me over to watch a movie. Hopefully, that’s all I need.

I were able to offer advice to anyone suffering from depression or anxiety:

Recognise the signs in yourself.

Speak up and speak out to family and friends.

Let your family doctor know what the problem is. If they can’t or won’t help, be persistent and ask for a referral until you do find someone who can help.

Don’t be afraid of being medicated but if your medication isn’t working (it takes a while to work) be persistent about getting something that works.

Don’t be afraid of therapy. It can work. Be aware… In Ontario, psychiatrists are covered by OHIP, psychologists are not and they can be expensive.

Complicated

I am so tired of life being so damn complicated. So many little (or big, depending on your point of view) things converging. In the last few month, I’ve been feeling pretty good. Not having to rely on anti-anxiety meds. Feeling pretty good about even the possibility of not being employed for the foreseeable future, feeling a little excited about getting back into the artistic side of things…. even feeling good about Mom’s health.

Then a big hiccup… and then another little hiccup, then another… and while the odd hiccup might be fine and “bearable” when I get stressed about something, usually something I feel I don’t have too much control over, I fall back on the old patterns of worry… usually about things that “might” happen… “what ifs”… feeling like it’s my responsibility to deal with other peoples’ issues… wanting to do the best job I can but being unable to because of either someone else’s “issues” or because I am so bogged down in my own angst to be able to rationally deal with what I can and let the chips fall where they may where the problems aren’t really mine. Or knowing that the best I can do just won’t ever be enough.

The problem is that, even when I know that I’ve done my part, I don’t like feeling like people are judging me when someone points at me for THEIR failures. And, of course, when I am sitting around waiting for the other shoe to drop when there might not be a shoe ready TO drop.

In this case, there was the Board stuff and then the crappy General Meeting where if fell to me to stand up to ‘splain “our side” of what went wrong, the responsibility of deciding whether I was going to go back on the Board, at least for an interim period, whether the Board was going to include one of the people I had had a disagreement with (it does), and whether I would let down some people who have a great deal of faith in me (I didn’t). Then, when it became apparent that I would have to work with the person who I had a disagreement with… what was I going to do? I did what I had to do. I went over and talked to her and we buried the hatchet… or at least it appears that way. We shall see what happens. But, of course, I feel a great deal of anxiety over what the next few months will hold. At least I feel confident that things will be different this time around. This time, there are two men on the Board, one I KNOW won’t brook and crap (and was on the Board with me previous to this last term) and the other who I have heard has a fairly strong personality and probably won’t take any crap. There is another woman who I know is pretty strong-minded and I am hopeful that things will be very different.

Then, the other day, a family member, 13 years old, ran away from home after being charged with truancy. She was finally brought home by the police but she’s troubled, and with good reason. She was molested when she was little, by a family member and despite the law being there to “protect her”, the police failed her, the Courts failed her, the Victim assistance office of the Court failed her, the CAS failed her and she is a wounded child in need of healing. I am angry because I did what I could to try and get her justice. Her family tried (they were forbidden by CAS and the Crown from being in the courtroom… CAS threatening that if her parents went into the courtroom, they would take the children away). The ONLY reason I was able to make a victim impact statement on behalf of the family was because the DEFENDANT’S lawyer insisted that my statement needed to be part of the record. Even so, I wasn’t allowed to READ it. It was given to the judge during his deliberations.

If I am angry and heartbroken, you can imagine how her step-father feels. He tried to protect her and feels he let her down, even though he was the one who caught the perpetrator in the act of molesting her and, instead of killing him like he could have, he called the police believing they would protect her and justice would take its course. It hurts to feel so helpless.

And the pain that he feels won’t ever go away. Neither will her pain, or her mother’s pain… or my pain… I know. I work every day with the legacy of physical, mental and sexual abuse. from the Indian Residential Schools. I know that people carry this pain for the rest of their lives and while redress and apology helps, it doesn’t make all the pain go away…. ever. And we can’t heal her. We can only give her the support she needs and hope that she will accept that support… and hope that it isn’t too little… to late.

This is rambling. I know. It’s just how things are, at the moment.

One day at a time… one day at a time.

The one thing I can say, though, is that I have had some kind words and support, when it has counted, from some dear friends. They know who they are… and I love them dearly… If only I could give back half as much as they have given me.

Smile as though your life depended on it… and…

And another thing…

This is a repost of something I posted some time ago which for some reason jumped up to the top of my postings when I corrected a typo.

It always kills me when someone comes up and says tome how “When I am feeling down…” and then tells me that their “cure” for depression is to smile. or stand up straight, or hang a spoon on their nose. “I feel better right away!”

Well, lucky you….

They have always read a study or a book or watched something on TV about how some New Age crackpot has “cured” their “depression” simply by smiling.

The fact is that actual scientific research shows that none of these supposed “cures” for depression does anything for clinical depression. And I can assure you that if smiling like a maniac all day every day cured chronic depression, I’d have been smiling until my face fell off for Lo, these 50-odd years. If forcing your back into an upright posture did anything but make you stand up straight, I’d have been doing that for years, too.

Fact. If your “depression” is cured by smiling like an idiot, you aren’t depressed.

Waking up on the wrong side of bed or feeling sad isn’t depression.

Spending every waking moment for weeks on end feeling like slitting your wrists is depression.

Spending every day for weeks on end praying for a bus to run you down is depression.

Being unable to get out of bed but being unable to sleep while in your bed is depression.

Spending every waking moment for weeks on end with a feeling of dread and panic is being depressed.

Being unable to articulate your fears….

Contemplating suicide

Being afraid to talk openly about how you feel because the only response you get is  “Get some fresh air! That’ll make you feel better!”

“Meet new people! That’ll wipe those cobwebs away!”

“Try a new hobby! That always makes me feel better!”

“Smile, things can’t be all that bad!”

Don’t tell me that smiling, getting a hobby, wearing bright colours, buying myself a new pair of shoes, or listening to dripping water is going to “blow those blues away”.

Don’t tell me that the pills I am on are doing me more harm than good “because the pharmaceutical companies have people convinced that they are depressed”. I am on medication because it has saved my life.

Don’t ask me how I feel and then get all uncomfortable when I tell you “I am feeling down”.

If you want to really help me when I am depressed, give me a hug. Tell me that you’re sorry to hear that I’m depressed. Talk to me.

Joy in life or lack, thereof.

This may seem like a big whine-fest. It isn’t. It’s how I feel.

I wish I could truly say that on a fairly regular basis, maybe not every day… more often than not… that I experience joy in life.

There are moments which are happy and moments when I find a true  joyful moment. I laugh. I enjoy a good joke and have a good sense of humour. I love listening to music. I love my nieces and nephews (for the most part). I like my work (for the most part). I have some friends that I love.

But experiencing joy in life… in my life… I can’t say that I have ever felt, as an adult, that I enjoy my life or that I have a life I enjoy.

For the most part, I spent a lot of it going through the motions. Part of it, I guess, is that I don’t love me.

I was sort of off the cuff calculating the other day… I spend about 40% of my thinking about killing myself and 40% of my time trying to keep myself from killing myself and the other 20% of my time just humping along.

I don’t think that’s what life is supposed to be. Do you?

I mean, I know that life isn’t a giant bowl of cherries all the time for everyone and I know that my life isn’t “horrible”. I just don’t enjoy it.

Having to look after an ageing parent with a number of health issues, of course, doesn’t make things anyone’s dream life. I have no one to share the burden with… and I don’t mean sharing the day-to-day necessities and demands… I mean that I don’t have anyone to turn to and cry on their shoulder.  I don’t have anyone to just curl up with and not talk about things. Hell, even my cat doesn’t “curl up with me”.

I have always been a solitary person. Not necessarily by choice. I didn’t have any really close friends when I was little and we moved a lot and I changed school so frequently that either I didn’t have time to make friends or didn’t keep them. I suppose all those “abandonment issues” also meant that I tended to sabotage relationships because I inevitably thought they would end, and not end well.

Even now, with a number of good friends, I tend to spend a lot of my time alone out of habit. As well, most of those friends have families and relationships which limits the time we can spend together, anyway.

In some ways, I have always found it “safer” to be alone. But it’s “alone”. That isn’t conductive for forming a healthy attitude to life.

I have gotten involved with things but often find that I am more interested in the activities or events than the others are and they gradually drift off and there I am, alone, again.

I seem to go through phases, and I don’t know what brings them on, where I feel absolutely at the depths of despair. I could blame the news of my mother’s diagnosis on Thursday. But in reality, I have been feeling crappy since before Christmas. Christmas will inevitably throw someone for a loop. Some say that it is one of the most stressful things in your life.

It could be winter doldrums. Of course, I get them in spring, summer, and fall,as well so….

In the past, being able to have a good cry always helped a bit. I wish I could. I don’t know if it is the medication I take but every time I am on the verge of what I know will be a good cry, I end up having a gigantic yawn and the feeling goes away. I actually managed to have a little bit of a cry during Star Trek NG, if you can believe it. I fell a little better as a result.

Maybe I need to sit down and re-read The Diviners by Margaret Laurence. The ending ALWAYS makes me cry and cry and cry and I fell all the better for it.

Years ago, when I was living in New York, my miscarriage was still fresh in my mind and I was watching an Oprah program about the right (and necessity) of grieving over miscarriages and still-born babies. I was just starting to finally cry and my landlady knocked at the door. When she saw me crying and found out what I was watching, she dragged me out and refused to let me watch it.

I truly wish that I had stood my ground and watched it. I probably would have finally done my grieving, which I still haven’t completely done, 16 years later.

Trouble is, there are so many ungrieved things bottled up inside that I worry that if I actually let go and le them out, I’d explode….

I guess it is one step-at-a-time and one grief at a time.

I started to look for images to express joy for this post. I came actoss this one and staring at it actually made me feel good!

Joyful Heart

Here we go again…..

I am experiencing the first unsettling twinges of another bout or anxiety/depression.

I’m hoping it is simply the post-holiday and pre “start-of-a-new-work-year” anxiety. Being at the distant end of the chain of work-scheduling leaves me waiting for work at this time of year. But it’s more than that and I’m feeling unsettled and anxious about just about everything.

Of course, I don’t do myself any favours not forcing myself into a regular sleeping routine. I find myself futzing around at 2 am doing something I suddenly thought of trying or looking up or researching just as I was planning on turning the computer off and going to bed. It would be handy if we all came with some sort of timer that forced us to simply shut down at a certain time. However, since we don’t, I am going to have to start forcing myself to do it.

I suppose this is “sort of” a New Years resolution. I don’t make them. The only “resolution” I make is “Do nothing to upset the balance of the Universe” which I have managed, as far as I can tell, to stick to.

The August doldrums are wafting in…

doldrums-see

Don’t know if it was Mom’s “turn” yesterday and the inevitable visit to the hospital (she is fine ….) or the lack of sunlight because of the crappy weather or… well…. a certain anniversary looming… or all of the above. Feeling blue as I usually do in August.

And I am feeling gun shy about taking the last 5 days of any leave I have left for the year in case I am stuck taking unpaid leave for some stupid accident, after having used up all my sick leave, emergency leave, family leave, and holidays which is where I am with the exception of the 5 days annual leave left….

Mom wants to go out to Thunder Bay and then to Rainy River to see my sister. If I take holidays, I want to stick closer to home… day trips and perhaps a weekend camping trip.

If only Mom was able to fly or take a train by herself, now. We can’t afford it.

I would like some time to myself… a few days not having to worry about a trip to the hospital or having her calling because she can’t figure out the TV remote. We need some time away from each other.

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