Monday, May 14, 2012

Depression hurts

No, this is not a post about Cymbalta.

People don't like to talk about depression as a disease. They talk about it as a "mental health issue" - something from which a person suffers, just like she might suffer from low self-esteem.

Sometimes it is. Situational depression is a "response to a specific set of external conditions or circumstances." Someone dies; you get depressed. You lose your job; you get depressed. The thing about that sort of depression is you can point to something and say, there's the cause; and you know it's temporary.

But clinical depression is different. It's a constant state of despair, with no real cause - and no end in sight.

It sucks.

But people don't see it as an illness. Many think people who suffer from depression are weak. "If you need a pill to get through the day, don't bother..." is the attitude most people have. "Just get some exercise or take a vitamin; you'll feel better."

No, I won't.

It's a health problem, just like anything else. You take a medication for a thyroid condition, or allergies, or high blood pressure; I take one for depression. Actually, if you want to get technical, I take a low-dosage medication that treats both depression and generalized anxiety disorder. Living in a constant state of worry is tough - and doesn't do a darn thing to help with depression.

I take medication because my body (and brain) can't get me to the "normal" level most others can get to naturally. Does that mean I'm never sad, or worried? Of course not. It just means that without the medication, I see everything as cause for worry and sadness. With the medication, I'm as "normal" as the next person.

Stuff can still make me sad - and if it's really bad, my mind might not know where the sadness should end. I'm just now starting to come out of a terrible period of both depression and anxiety, that was definitely situational.

To be perfectly honest, it was scary as hell. Thankfully, I have friends who supported me. I keep telling them thank you and they say, "Oh, it's nothing; that's just what friends do."

That may be. But I hate to think what might have happened if I hadn't had my friends - or my medication - during the last couple of weeks.

So the next time someone tells you she's depressed, don't shrug it off, or suggest she just get herself to GNC. It might be a bigger deal than you realize.

15 comments:

  1. Very true and very well written. It surprising to me how many people have generalized anxiety disorder, myself included. It can be very debilitating, but with the correct medication and a great support system it's definitely survivable! Thanks Sue!!

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    1. Thank you! I think some people have it and don't even realize it. I had it for a long time before I realized what was going on, and that there was a way to deal with it. Now I don't understand why anyone would want to live that way all the time.

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  2. Thanks for this post. People that don't suffer from depression and/or anxiety just don't understand.

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  3. Great Post!

    It's wonderful that you give others this insight.
    People consider depression as one of the most over diagnosed disorders of our error.
    And as that MAY be true, for those who really have clinical depression, it sucks to be labeled as "ONE OF THOSE".

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    1. Thank you! Depression may be over-diagnosed. But if you really have it, it does suck. Helps to talk about it, I think.

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  4. I think it's great that you're open about your struggle, every time someone is honest about suffering from depression, it takes away the stigma just that much more.

    When I was found to have depression (many moons ago) I was told so many ridiculous things, from I need to pray more to I just need to pull myself up by my bootstraps (what the hell are those anyway? My boots don't even have straps ;) ) to (this is a good one) don't I think I'm being a little self indulgent...the list of ignorance masking as helpfulness goes on...

    A good support system and medication can go a long way to making life livable again.

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    1. I'm all about helping myself (though my boots don't have straps, either :) ), but I think it's important that people realize depression isn't reserved for the "crazy." People who suffer from depression are as normal as the next person - maybe even more so, since we had to work for it. ;)

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    2. Sue, I've enjoyed your blog for some time, and each time I read one of your posts on depression I wish I could reach through my computer and hug you - I don't mean that in a trite, "pity" way at all. It's out of pure, true, appreciation. As someone who can very much relate, I say this because I love that you put it all in such plain language. I think you speak for, and give clarity to, so many who maybe can't get the swirling thoughts from their head on paper, and that speaking out does alleviate the stigma that only adds to the anxiety, in my opinion. I am posting this comment here in reply to your response to sweetlytart because the second sentence is sooo perfect. Perfect. Thank you.

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    3. Thank you so much. That comment means a lot.

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  5. Amen Sue - could not have said it better myself, now can you go tell my husband this !!!! He is the worst offender of you don't need that "shit" you'll be fine ! And he wonders why I can't stand him !

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    1. I can totally relate. I once had a husband who felt similarly. Sometimes people come around - sometimes they don't.

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  6. Having been previously diagnosed as bi-polar myself, I can totally relate. I, luckily, have been med free for several years now, but there was a time when I carried Klonopin with me everywhere to ward off panic attacks when I could sense them coming on (or when they hit while I was learning my warning signs), as well as took a daily dose of "happy pills". I have a fantastic psychiatrist through that process who really helped me with coping methods and recognizing triggers. (She did make me keep a journal of when I felt the big swings. It really helped identify triggers.) Part of it during that time was definitely situational, but that was really just what put me over the edge to seeking help, it wasn't the root cause. 18 months of meds, 3 years of therapy, and I'm now "normal". I still have bouts of swingy periods, but I have coping skills to deal with them. And I know when I need to seek help.

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    1. I've come to terms with the idea that I may never be med free. I am happy that I've been able to keep the meds at a low dose, and found other ways to cope when needed. Journaling, counseling, distractions...all help me.

      I've never been diagnosed as bi-polar, but it wouldn't shock me. I think it runs in my family. Not having access to a full family history makes it tough to know for sure.

      Luckily for me, the meds I'm on seem to work. Things seem to be manageable, and this particular swing seems to be getting under control through "natural" methods.

      And friends. I'd be nowhere without my awesome friends. :)

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