Thank you all for your comments on my post Where The Path Leads. I think I have worded my post in a way I hadn’t intended, and I’m responding in one fell swoop.
First of all, I have been a life-long sufferer of mental illness. I have been diagnosed by four professionals as Clinically Depressed, and suffer from Severe Anxiety. You see, I’m not the kind to take the opinion of one single doctor. I seek out second, third and maybe more. I pushed for a referral to a Neuropsychologist to test me so that I could receive targeted treatment, because I was frustrated with the failures of the wrong medications.
The 5 hour test validated what all the other psychiatrists had diagnosed me with. Severe Clinical Depression and Severe Anxiety—with some obsessive thoughts and a bit of Attention Deficit Disorder. The psychiatrist this doctor sent me to after the test, suggested I may have Bipolar II.
The need to make sure I obtain more and more opinions, is why I am also a cancer survivor.
Before blogging in 2011, I was at one of my bottoms of the bottom. With a lot of work on MY part along with medication, I felt as if I were making some sort of progress, but could not move beyond the crippling fear of cancer returning. At the end of 2011, I sought out professional therapy. I made a bit more progress with the help of my therapist.
Since March of 2013, I reached that bottom of the bottom once again. In between there was nothing. No feelings except anxiety. The kind which hindered any desire to leave my house, get dressed, shower, I isolated myself, and I didn’t want to live. I had reduced some of my fear of cancer, but that took more sessions, and more work on my part.
What an oxymoron–I didn’t want to live, but I was extremely afraid of a cancer relapse that could kill me. Go figure.
I have been on and off so many SSRIs, SNRIs, and medication for anxiety most of my adult life. Life without them is non-existent.
I started to blog to pull out anything I could find inspirational to encourage myself to live and not give up.
About 3 months ago, I saw a new psychologist who took the time to listen, and has been working with me. I am now on a mood stabilizer – Lamictal. Along with Lamictal, I am taking Wellbutrin, Fluoxetine, and Xanax for the anxiety and for sleep.
This saved my life. A life I had no desire to live anymore. An extremely painful mental existence.
I began to read blogs which centered around depression, and found they only made me more sad, so I stopped reading them. Recognizing that a depressed person writing about the pain they are experiencing was of no help for the depressed to read–it only creates more depression. I also tried to discontinue writing about it.
The only thing I might have slightly accomplished, is to help those who don’t understand mental illness, see what it’s like from our perspective.
I was starting to feel better, I started looking forward, I discovered a reason to live, a reason to get out of bed. That reason is ME. I was extremely compliant with my doctors advice–every last one of them. I needed to pull deep from within myself, and write about more positive things to encourage others, as well as myself.
However, I kept writing about how hard it was to move from a home I was familiar with for 47 years.
How hard it was to lose my grandpa a year after moving.
How hard it was to lose one of my old, well loved 4-legged family members.
How hard it was to have my first born leave the nest and my second born leave 6 months later—across the country–back to home.
How hard it was to not be able to assist my mom who was a caretaker for my dad who suffered from Parkinson’s with Dementia.
How, while on a visit to Washington State for a vacation two years after we moved, my mom and I discovered my brother’s body.
How the day after my brother’s death, my mom’s mom passed away.
Three months after that, my dad died.
I entered the world of menopause (a real treat for y’all who haven’t reached it yet).
I had my gallbladder removed the first part of February 2011, a week and a half later I ended up in the emergency room with excruciating pain. They discovered I had two gallbladder stones stuck in my common bile duct. Another surgery.
They also discovered I had a nodule on my left long. After a bunch of “interviews” with a bunch of doctors who poo-pooed my anxiety, I found one who agreed to biopsy the thing. Yeah, it turned out to be cancer. The end of May 2011, I had part of my left lung removed. It was called a lung segmentectomy.
This is the point where I sought professional therapy and was beginning to feel a bit more optimistic.
In March 2012, my sister told me she was in end-stage heart failure, and end-stage kidney failure. She lived until early March 2013. With a positive attitude, and a strong will to live. She just so happened to be a part of my foundation, a part that was propping me up.
We lost another old, well loved 4-legged family member.
March 2o13, after the death of my sister. I reached bottom of the bottom–again. Nothing left in me. Nothing left for anyone else.
But I kept writing about my struggles and losses, because I believed that if I got it out, I would feel better. However I found that by continuing to write about it, I was staying stuck in the cycle of depression.
I continued to work very hard with my therapist, quit reading other blogs where people are stuck in their depression, and tried to reach a point of happiness.
I am now at a stable level. I am not cured. I still have bouts of depression, insecurity, and anxiety. When I reached this stable level, I found a bit of my humor. Aha! Something more positive to write about to keep my mind from being drawn back into the bottom of the bottom.
Do I sound like a depressed person? Do I sound like an anxious person? Do I act like I have a mental illness? In my mind I feel greatly improved, but I’m sure there are people who don’t see the struggle I have been through, and continue to fight with. Nobody reads the dark stuff I have written because I don’t publish it. It’s the negative that keeps me in the negative, and I have been striving to not give those thoughts an audience. Including the audience of one—me.
My point yesterday, was more of a pondering. I am at a state that actually feels like a life. A state that took me two years of therapy, medications, AND hard work with participation by ME to get here.
I can make plans for the future and look forward to doing them. I can set goals and am learning how to reach them. However, in the back of my mind, I worry about the day this will all come to a halt. What I have read, nobody can be cured, only managed. The fear of returning to where I was, scares the crap out of me.
I’m in a good mental state at the moment, not excellent, but I DO want to live–an improvement. I have learned how to accept myself, to quit criticizing myself (which may not seem apparent in my writings), I actually like myself–someone I have NEVER liked.
I was choosing to believe that one can’t be cured from depression by expecting that WE don’t have to put in some of our own sweat and tears. We can’t go to the doctor and walk away with a prescription and expect it to cure us. We can’t go to therapy and talk, but not act, or think about what WE can do for ourselves. We can’t be helped if we don’t acknowledge we have an illness to start with. The effort we put forth for recovery is an important part of the equation.
I was wondering if this was a trick my stable mind was playing on me. That I won’t continue to remain stable. Were my doctors wrong? Am I not really feeling the effects of the therapy, my efforts, and the medication? Am I delusional?
But—what if it comes back?
Any interested, here is a link to famous people, intelligent people, writers, etc. who suffer or have suffered from severe depression. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_people_with_major_depressive_disorder