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[personal profile] mornglory
Cause [ profile] rockbirthedme said it better "This is for all of us who have had to deal with the shame, embarrassment, inconvenience, discrimination, and inconsideration because people do not understand that just because we walk and talk like everybody else does not mean that we cope like everybody else.

1. The illness I live with is:
Major Depressive Disorder, Recurrent, Moderate

2. I was diagnosed with it in the year:
I'm not entirely sure when I got an official type diagnosis, though I think it was 2001.

3. But I had symptoms since:
I was a child, if I look at it right. Moodiness, tearfulness, thoughts of death, crying jags. I had all of those since I was about nine or ten.

4. The biggest adjustment I’ve had to make is:
Admitting that "being happy" is work for me. My resting mood, when I don't make an effort, is pessimistic and either grouchy or blue. I am responsible for doing the heavy lifting to get to happy.

5. Most people assume:
That depression is something you can just "snap out of." If you just try harder, look at things a different way, see the glass half you, you'll get over it. If people have never experienced major depression they do not understand how insidious or difficult it is to work through.

6. The hardest part about mornings are:
I don't usually have difficulty in the mornings. My hard times come in the evenings, when I start to get tired and my mood gets low and my motivation runs out.

7. My favorite medical TV show is:
I don't watch a whole lot of television, and none of it is a medical show. I have yet to see one that portrays mental illness with compassion and accuracy.

8. A gadget I couldn’t live without is:
My GPS. I tend to have trouble with focus and recall particularly when depressed and being able to externalize the "how to get there" part of driving is a great anxiety reducer. As is knowing I can set myself a detour around construction or traffic and still be able to find my way. Also, knowing my approximate arrival time does wonders for my anxiety about being late. Since I will end up with between 6 and 7 different job sites within a week, this is a wonderful tool for helping me at work.

9. The hardest part about nights are:
Parenting with compassion. I have three small children, one of them still a cosleeping nursling. I get woken up often. This does not help with my mood or with staving off depressive episodes. I need 8 good hours of sleep to be at my optimal level of functioning. Loosing sleep to restless children and midnight nursings is HARD. It is the life I chose and my children bring me more joy than sorrow, but the sleepless nights are very hard to cope with, during the night and dealing with the aftermath of fatigue and low mood during the day.

10. Meds. I take one non-SSRI antidepressant. I have tried and had severe negative reactions to half a dozen others. I have a love hate relationships with meds. They can be highly effective tools that help combat depression, especiall in the beginning of treatment. As a professional, I advocate the appropriate use of them almost daily. On a personal level, I hate needing a pill to be "normal," to level off the bottom of my low points so that they are not dangerous to my health and well being (to the "just miserable" level). I have accepted that my antidepressant is necessary for me to function at a personal optimum level.

11. Regarding alternative treatments I:
Am waiting for more treatment on lightbox therapy. On a personal level I like the idea. I know that my depression has a seasonal component. Lets just saw that its something I want to be able to use to complement traditional therapies, and I've had my providers suggest to me as an augmentation to traditional therapies. I never, ever, ever think it could or should replace the effective combination of meds and talk therapy.

12. If I had to choose between an invisible illness or visible I would choose:
Neither. To be frank, they both suck, and our society discriminates against both.

13. Regarding working and career:
I am blessed that being a psychologist, most coworkers and bosses I've had have been sympathetic and supported me while I got the necessary treatment I needed and continued to work. I have also had to leave a job because my supervisor was completely unwilling to accommodate my illness or acknowledge that it could in any way impact my work capacity.

Being a psychologist has made it much easier to work with my own illness. I already have most of the information about treatment options, and I am not at the mercy of my providers. It means that I generally know what to look for in a provider, even if I hate shopping around. It also means that nine times out of ten I have an insiders track for whose good in town.

Being someone who suffers from depression also gives me a "leg up" as a psychologist. I can grok depression in a way that someone who doesn't suffer from it never can. I find that an incredibly potent therapeutic tool that has more often been an asset than a hindrance.

14. People would be surprised to know:
How often I generally feel like a useless waste of space and contemplate suicide. The thought crosses my mind daily, every time I make a largish mistake, have a bad day, or get into an argument with my children or husband. There have only been a few times in my life I have seriously contemplated it. However, part of my depression is wanting to be able to "make it all stop" and end the pain. I have come to accept that these thoughts are just a manifestation of my my desire not to feel this way, and are just part of my disorder. They do not mean that there is anything "wrong" with me. The most helpful thing I ever read about suicidal ideation is that most of the time, when we have suicidal thoughts its because we want the pain to stop, rather than our lives.

15. The hardest thing to accept about my new reality has been:
How much work it is to feel happy, or to feel good about myself. Hopelessness and excessive guilt are part of depression, and chronic depression means I feel this way more often that I figure out how to be happy.

16. Something I never thought I could do with my illness that I did was:
Quit a job to protect my mental.

17. The commercials about my illness:
Bug the shit out of me because they are funded by the drug companies and only support one prong of necessary multimodal treatment.

18. Something I really miss doing since I was diagnosed is:
Huh? I've had this disorder for a long time before I was diagnosed. I don't ever remember not feeling this way.

19. It was really hard to have to give up:
The illusion that I could "get rid of" depression if I worked hard enough.

20. A new hobby I have taken up since my diagnosis is:
Cooking. I find bread making and baking particularly therapeutic. Being able to make something concrete that also cheers others up is really beneficial to me. This can backfire when I have cooking failures and this feeds the "I suck, I'm not good at anything" loop.

21. If I could have one day of feeling normal again I would:
Treasure it. Any day I can feel happy without mental weightlifting and gymnastics is a day to be paid attention to and valued.

22. My illness has taught me:
That I am a survivor. Nothing, not even my own thoughts and emotions are allowed to defeat me. They may win an occasional battle, but I will always win the war.

23. Want to know a secret?

24. But I love it when people:
Take the time to listen without judging or offering advice. Just having somebody go "yup, that really sucks," is often the most supportive thing people can say to me when I'm down.

25. My favorite motto, scripture, quote that gets me through tough times is:
"Head down, plow forward." Just keep going, one step at a time, no matter how heavy the load.

26. When someone is diagnosed I’d like to tell them:
There are effective treatments, and you won't always feel this way.

27. Something that has surprised me about living with an illness is:
How people who haven't had an episode of major depression just can't get it. Not won't. Can't. If people haven't had the experience of that particular cluster of symptoms, they do not seem able to understand how insidiously draining and devastating it can be. My husband has been with me for 10 years and been with me through my worst depressive episode and held me while I cried and wanted nothing more than to take my own life. He'll still admit that he doesn't understand what that can feel like.

29. I’m involved with Invisible Illness Week because:
People need to know. They need to know and educate themselves on how to view mental illness with compassion and not degradation. They need to understand the real impacts that these illnesses can have on peoples lives, and that people often are trying their best, no matter how it looks from the outside.

30. The fact that you read this list makes me feel:
If you got down to this part having read the whole list, more power to you. Thank you for educating yourself, and respecting my struggle enough to get here.


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